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How a Soviet secret police escapee came to make a survival driving game

"Definitely a significant event [in my life] was our escape from, at that time, totalitarian Czechoslovakia in 1984,"  3D artist-turned-game developer Ondřej Švadlena recently told Kill Screen.
"I began to see the possibility of building immersive worlds where the players would be allowed to absorb the atmosphere at their own pace."

- In a chat with The Guardian, artist and animator Ondřej Švadlena remembers why he settled down to make a kind of survival horror driving game.

3D artist and animator Ondřej Švadlena lives in Germany now, but he was born in the Czech Republic when it was still under Soviet control as part of Czechoslovakia.

In a recent conversation with The Guardian, he remembers how he fled the country with his family at a young age to escape its secret police -- and why he's now spent so much time teaching himself to make games in order to develop a sort of survival horror driving game influenced by his childhood experiences.

The game itself is yet untitled -- curious developers can check on its progress via its TIGSource forum thread -- and at this stage it's a post-apocalyptic fantasy, not a direct reimagining of Švadlena's escape from Czechoslovakia to Austria to Canada and, eventually, Germany.

However, the developer's background helps shed light on the game's unique aesthetic: players drive a boxy European-looking car across a dark wasteland, pursued by cars full of hulking figures. If they catch you, it's game over -- much as it would have been for Švadlena, who still remembers the orange Dacia (Automobile Dacia is a Romanian car maker) that his family drove from Czechoslovakia to Yugoslavia before abandoning it in a forest to continue on foot.

"Definitely a significant event [in my life] was our escape from, at that time, totalitarian Czechoslovakia in 1984,"  Švadlena recently told Kill Screen. "It was an eight hour night hike across the mountains dividing Yugoslavia and Austria, where somewhere in the middle of that journey, we were above a border crossing station where soldiers with machine-guns were searching the surroundings with floodlights accompanied by the sound of barking dogs."

You can read more about that, along with details about Švadlena's process of becoming a game developer, on both Kill Screen and The Guardian.

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