Javier Cabrarera Talks Cypher

Cypher Logo

TitaniumBasher and I had an opportunity to chat with Javier Cabrera of www.cabrerabrothers.com via Skype. Together with his brother, Javier created the exciting, text adventure game, Cypher. You read that right, folks. It is a text adventure, and it is thrilling. Don’t believe me? Just check out what Javier has to say and apologize to me after.

TitaniumBasher: Hey, Javier!

Cabrera: Hey, here we are.

Digital Distraction: Hello.

TitaniumBasher: So, what kind of game is Cypher?

Javier Cabrera: Well that’s a really good question because everyone jumps on the text adventure definition and CYPHER goes a bit beyond that. CYPHER is a text adventure, as you may know by now. But it is also a fast paced game. We wanted to make a Saturday night game, something you can play with your friends or alone on a boring Saturday night and get a good bunch of action scenes and drama.

TitaniumBasher: You can play with your friends? That’s cool.

Javier Cabrera: Not in a multiplayer way, it’s a single player game. Most text adventures are frustrating and hard by definition, so back in the days we used to play text adventures in groups. You could see a bunch of guys playing text adventures in the computer science club of any school. They would gather around someone who was playing and make suggestions. Everyone would participate, everyone would throw in their own moves. It was really one of the first forms of multiplayer

TitaniumBasher: What are some ways you are going about making a Text Adventure exciting?

Cypher - Police Car

“We are sick and tired of having to save the damn world every time we play a video game.”

Javier Cabrera: Well, first: Fast paced. On CYPHER you play as Dogeron Kenan. Dogeron is a smuggler being chased by a bunch of mercenaries from the first second you start playing the game. So you are in a run-hide situation here. During the whole game people are trying to kill you. That’s something different from the usual exploration-mode most text-adventures offer. Here you will jump buildings, get into trains while you are being chased, have a firefight in a nightclub, etc.

2nd: CYPHER runs on a 3D engine (something quite unique) so we have on screen items and 3d sounds.

Digital Distraction: What’s the inventory management like on these items?

Javier Cabrera: You see the items on screen and you can use them like with any text adventure. If you turn on a plasma cutter for example, the item will turn on right on your screen with sounds, animations, etc. If you have to use the items, you just type in what you want to do with the item.

That brings us to the parser. CYPHER has a custom built parser.  That means you need to type something like “use plasma cutter on Rick Grimmes”.

TitaniumBasher: Does Dogeron’s story lead in to a larger series of events?

Javier Cabrera: Not in this particular CYPHER story, but in the future yes. In this particular CYPHER story, Dogeron is the kind of guy we want to really be. We are sick and tired of having to save the damn world every time we play a video game. There is always someone to save, something to do, a planet that is moving closer and the earth is in danger, etc. Dogeron is just a smuggler and you play as a smuggler trying to make it through the night alive in a city where everyone (including the police) wants your head.

Digital Distraction: Ah, I see.  No time for the hero.  Just pay me and let me live kind of feel.

Javier Cabrera: Not hero at all, here you will play as the criminal actually. A low life two time loser criminal who is worth nothing.

TitaniumBasher: A day in the life of a smuggler. Good times.

Javier Cabrera: A different perspective from the white knight trying to save the world. CYPHER is Blade Runner, meets Akira, meets Heavy Metal, meets Commando!

Cypher - Rooftop

“We wanted to make a Saturday night game, something you can play with your friends or alone on a boring Saturday night and get a good bunch of action scenes and drama.”

Digital Distraction: I love Akira!

Javier Cabrera: We loved the 80’s, the movies, the culture, etc. We felt we needed a retro game, but not in graphics: in content. 1980 all over again. Michaels Dougles Black Rain. Blade Runner. That kind of feel. Something you can play and feel like it is 1980. We have a bar called TecNoir, we have a prostitute with 3 boobs, we have videophones, etc.

TitaniumBasher: What time does the story take place?

Javier Cabrera: No sorry, 4 boobs.

The far far future, Cyberpunk era. A dark future, a nasty future. Nothing shiny and utopia-like about NeoSushi city. Worst place on earth, technology junkies on the Harajuku Market buying illegal body parts and modifications.

Cypher - Prostitute

Because two breasts on a prostitute is never enough!

TitaniumBasher: OK. NeoSushi city. How did that name come about? Haha.

Javier Cabrera: Ohh about that

Digital Distraction: (chuckle)

Javier Cabrera: That has to do with the second part of the game (which won’t be a text adventure, but a graphic adventure)

TitaniumBasher: Well I hope for more awesome names like that.

Digital Distraction: So there is a cybernetic arm that is used for data storage and transfer? Interesting.

Javier Cabrera: Yes!

Digital Distraction: So if Dog isn’t paid, does he decide to track down the secret of the pass code for himself?

Javier Cabrera: hahaha you’ll have to finish the game for that answer 😉

Digital Distraction: Body modifications.  Is Dog able to decipher these modifications at a glance?

Javier Cabrera: The ones the “Retrievers” are carrying are quite extreme. Some went too far (On the homepage of www.cabrerabrothers.com you can see how a retriever looks like).

TitaniumBasher: What kind enemies can we expect Dog to run in to?

Cypher - Technoir

“We felt we needed a retro game, but not in graphics: in content.”

Javier Cabrera: You have cops from one side (he’s a criminal) and mercenaries on the other side (the ones trying to kill him). These are guys who have heavy body modifications and can run faster, hit faster and kill faster than Dogeron.


Digital Distraction: So is Cypher’s ending open?  Can there be multiple outcomes or just one?

Javier Cabrera: We wanted CYPHER to have a linear story so we could deliver the best story we could in 1 ending instead of 40 bland open endings. So we did just one “strong” ending .

TitaniumBasher: Take that Mass Effect!

Javier Cabrera: The last mission is a classic cyberpunk.

“The Run”

If you are not into cyberpunk then you may never heard of the run. The Run is a term where you have to infiltrate into a facility. In this case, a building. Can’t say much about the last mission. But you will have to aid a runner through a virtual network to open doors, change the building temperature, etc. The runner infiltrating into the building is a double infiltration process. Both a physical and a virtual infiltration.

TitaniumBasher: So is Cypher just the first part of a larger story?

Javier Cabrera: Yes, a really big story. We want to create an IP with CYPHER.

Carlos and I are working on another game and it is a bigger project than CYPHER. And since it is quite big, it can get kind of heavy on production. You finish the story and design phase and all you have then is finishing the production phase.

Digital Distraction: Is it the same genre as Cypher?

Javier Cabrera: Not even close. That’s why we did CYPHER. Because we were having a bit of sickness from working on the other project.  So we put it on hold for what we thought was a weekend and started CYPHER.

TitaniumBasher: Will Dog have any help along the way? Or is he alone on his quest?

He will have plenty of help from a beautiful broad.  She will carry you through the most difficult parts of the game.

TitaniumBasher: The 4 Boob girl?!

Javier Cabrera: Hahaha. Not her. Although she plays a part on the story. You will get help from talking to vendors on the market, talking to people over the phone, etc. The game is fast paced though, you won’t have much time to socialize when there is a group of mercenaries tailing you every move.

Cypher - Sewers

“Dogeron is the kind of guy we want to really be.”

TitaniumBasher: What platforms is Cypher available on?

Javier CabreraPc/Mac. We got coverage from The Verge, Kotaku, RPS, GameZebo, PcGamer, etc

Digital Distraction: Very nice!

Digital Distraction: So what’s the new project you mentioned you were working on?

Javier Cabrera: Well, besides TheFreeBundle.com I just launched on Monday, we are doing another game for a game jam. It will be a terror game. Based on my ebook http://www.cabrerabrothers.com/mythos

Digital Distraction: Text based?

Javier Cabrera:  This new game won’t be completely text based, but there will be text there.

TitaniumBasher: Well, you got me excited to play a text adventure game for the first time since high school. Is there anything else you would like us to know about Cypher and Cabrera Brothers?

Javier Cabrera: CYPHER was a quick project we did in five months and became our first indie game, although Carlos had worked on xbox and nintendo titles before. We made a fast paced, action based text adventure in a world you won’t be able to see anywhere else. The game comes packed with digital feelies, which are our version of the old school feelies from infocom. This is the first attempt from making a commercial text adventure in a long long time, and so far it has been a hit (named one of the Top 10 Indie Adventures of 2012 by indiegames.com).

With the new Cyberpunk game coming from CD Project, this is one of these games you have to keep on the HD to play from time to time.

TitaniumBasher: Great! Where can we keep up with all your work?

Javier Cabrera:  www.cabrerabrothers.com and www.thefreebundle.com

We will have a good bunch of other free games up there soon. TheFreeBundle is a project we did to help other indies gain some exposure.

TitaniumBasher: Good business. It was great chatting with you Javier.

Digital Distraction: Thank you so much! It was great learning about Cypher.

Javier Cabrera: Great! Talk you guys later then. Cheers!

TitaniumBasher: Good night.

Digital Distraction: (wave)

Want the background story to Cypher?


It is the year 2242. Corporations have become the new government in a world ruled by technological dehumanization since the “TITA” asteroid collided with the moon nearly a century ago.The dust from the impact poisoned earth’s atmosphere killed billions around the entire globe. History books call it “the moon incident”. NeoSushi employee handbook calls it “foundation”.

In a technological effort without precedents, japanese mega- corporation NeoSushi transformed its headquarters into a giant artificial lung that swallowed every micro particle of moon dust before it could reach the stratosphere saving the lives of entire island’s population overnight. Sadly, other nations were too slow to replicate NeoSushi technology. Millions perished during the incident and millions after, but Japan prevailed. Repopulation plans began immediately after politicians changed Japan’s capital’s name to NEOSUSHI in a futile attempt to regain people’s sympathy, but democracy as a form of government had suffered a fatal strike that would change human history, forever. Over the next twenty years the corporation began to charge an strict monthly fee to those living closer to the artificial lung alleging they were using more resources than those living outside the designated safe zone. Sectors were diagrammed based on habitants education and income level.The first step for people’s industrialization had began.

Almost 62 years after the cracked moon incident, you find yourself in the shoes of Dogeron “Dog” Kenan; a low life data-smuggler living beneath the gray skies of NeoSushi.Your job is simple, the client stores a complex 768-bits encrypted passcode into your neuro-synapse through a USB connection installed in your right arm then you transport the passcode (or encryption key) to the download point which can be located anywhere in the world. Once you reached the destination the passcode is deciphered and extracted from your brain after your agent in Japan confirms the full transfer of the funds to your international account. Of course, most jobs never turn out that easy. Since moving passcodes through international borders without corporate approval is considered highly illegal (and in most cases will certainly falls under the death penalty) airports are always updating their scanning software, making your job highly dangerous.

What does a passcode unlock? there is no way to know for sure. It can be the blueprints for some military prototype, bank accounts numbers in Zurich, books from the forbidden literature list or anything the client wants to keep under the corporation’s radar.

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