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Interview: Jörg Beilschmidt, Marco Zeugner (english)

del 31 Ottobre 2006
Interview: Jörg Beilschmidt, Marco Zeugner (english)

A cura di Adriano Bizzoco

A warm welcome to Jörg Beilschmidt from Creatown and Marco Zuegner from Animation Arts (from left to right in the picture). Secret Files: Tunguska obtained a huge success in Germany, with great review and is a top selling game. Could you tell us something about your team and background?

Jörg Beilschmidt: The German development teams of Animation Arts, Fusionsphere Systems and Creatown (the creators of Tunguska) already have a wealth of experience in game development. We have been involved in managing projects such as Patrizier 2, Anstoss 4 and Port Royale 1+2 (Ascaron Entertainment) as well as Robin Hood and Chicago 1930 (Spellbound).

What are your favourite adventures and your most important inspiration's source in developing Tunguska?

JB: Our most important inspiration’s source is definitely our own creativity. We’ve spent month on the definition of the different locations, the development of the characters and the problems they might face. Of course, some games offered some ideas concerning the storytelling and the creation of certain atmospheres. But these inspirations were more abstract. We wanted to create our own game, with its own atmosphere, fresh ideas, unique characters and a thrilling story. Still we have our all time favourites though: Simon the Sorcerer 2 (brilliant humour) and Day of the tentacle (the weirdest but still logical puzzle design) are for sure two of them.

Marco Zeugner: I want to add Broken Sword Part I and Black Mirror. They both had very good stories and a great atmosphere.

What difficulties did you face during the developing of your first adventure game? Have you learned something or there are some mistakes you won't commit again?

JB: How much time do you have? ;) Of course we made mistakes. Although we did a lot of research and had great help from some really experienced guys, there are still so many traps you can easily get caught in. But this is okay, as long as these mistakes lets you learn how to improve your skills and as long as you are capable of compensating them.

The game is based on the Tunguska's mystery. Why did you choose this particular episode? And how much time did you spend to do the necessary researches?

MZ: The Tunguska mystery is one the greatest riddles in earth’s history, because the reasons of this catastrophe are still unknown. But in different to similar mysteries like the UFO crash of Roswell, Area 51 or the Bermuda Triangle, the Tunguska theme is fresh and quite unused. We spend a couple of weeks in research the background an then we developed a background document, that contains the different theories about the catastrophe, a timeline of the important events in Tunguska’s history and important characters (like Kulik). The main sources for research were the internet, books and the “Tunguska” episode of the X-Files series.

Nina Kalenkov is the main character of the game. Could you talk about her personality and her interaction with the other character, Max?

JB: We wanted to create a protagonist with which the players could find it easy to identify themselves with. Therefore it was important that Nina is actually a quite normal girl, just forced to develop some heroic characteristics. Her way of dealing with problems and fear is humor, but there will also be situations where despair and sadness will get the upper hand. The coop mode will not be available at the beginning. As the story develops the relationship between Nina and Max will become more intense and so the level of cooperation does. Still it varies: Sometimes you play only one character, sometimes both in different locations (so you can switch forth and back, just in case you got stuck in one location) and finally both in the same location. E.g.: Nina has to find two items, combines them and then hands them over to Max. He adds a third item and returns the modified item back to Nina, who then uses it to solve a certain puzzle.

In Tunguska there is the choice to use an in-game help in every moment. This feature often divides the adventure gamers. Why did you choose to use that system? Is it a way to increase your customers’ target?

JB: Designing an adventure game is quite difficult. On one hand we want the hardcore community to like our game. So the puzzles have to be new, logical and challenging. On the other hand you have the casual gamer who merely wants to be entertained. And as frustration is definitely not very entertaining, you’ll have to give those players some features at hand, which enables everyone to see the extro – without downloading a walkthrough the internet. You don’t have to use the help, it just gives you some hints in case you got stuck.

The dialogue in the adventure games are often dull, a simple choice from various option that usually do not make any change. Do you think there is a way to realize more dynamic dialogues?

JB: The mechanics in adventure games are different than those of e.g. a role playing game. In RPGs the world is way bigger and so the freedom is. Various options in dialogues are more easily to realize. Why? Because most quests are: Run around and kill monsters. The change comes from the huge variety of monsters and the tactics they use. In an adventure game the world is way smaller but more complex. To give you an example: We have puzzles with different ways of solving them. If putting in one solution takes 2 hours, the second solution takes another 3 hours and the third one might take 5 hours. The reason for that is that in most cases these puzzles are linked with each other. So thinking about a REAL multiple choice option means taking all these links into consideration – in the case of “Secret Files: Tunguska” and its enormous amount of puzzles it would have meant a total overkill.

The 2D Tunguska's backgrounds are beautifully made, do you think to use this system again in the future or do you plan to introduce a full 3D engine?

MZ: Thank you for this compliment. We use this technique of combining 2D and 3D elements in our next game definitely again. Sure we introduce some new 3D features, but the basic system will be the same. The defined camera position and the high detailed graphics are advantages for the gameplay and the stories we want to tell. We think, that full 3D adventure games have still problems with control, camera view, graphic quality and high hardware demands.

How much did your budget amount to, during the developing of that game? Are you satisfied with the result you obtained?

MZ: Our Publisher Deep Silver supported us very well and of course we are very satisfied with the final result.

Tunguska is now finished and released in Europe. Are you working on other adventures, or are you planning a sequel?

MZ: Indeed we're working on the sequel of Secret Files. But unfortunately I can’t tell you any details on story or title. Be sure, that Nina and Max will be back in a great adventure game ;)

How do you judge the current situation in the AG's market? What these kind of games should modify to come back stronger on the shop's shelves?

JB: That’s a quite difficult question. I should probably put on my rose-tinted glasses and talk about the glorious future. And yes, there are definitely some upcoming titles which are capable to push the genre into long forgotten dimensions. But there is still the danger that the promises can’t be kept and that all those still unsure whether to like the genre or not will make their decision – and they might decide against adventure games. I think that the chances to build up a new market are pretty good. But both publishers and developers have to be aware of their responsibility towards the whole genre.

Have you got something to add for your Italian fans? The game is out for release the 12th of October and there is an incredible hype around it.

JB: The next world cup title will go to Germany! ;)

MZ: I hope that our game will entertain the Italian adventure gamers as well as it does the Germans. Please feel free to post your comments and feedback in the official forum. We often are there and search for criticism and inspiration.

 

Info Requisiti
Generale
Sviluppatore: Fusion Sphere / AnimationArts / Creatown
Publisher: Deep Silver
Distributore: Koch Media
Data Rilascio: Q4 2006
Piattaforma: PC
Caratteristiche
Genere: Avventura/Mistero
Grafica: 2.5D
Visuale: Terza Persona
Controllo: Mouse
Doppiaggio: Inglese
Sottotitoli: Italiano
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OS: Windows ME/2000/XP
Processore: 1,5 Ghz
RAM: 128 MB
Scheda Video: 64 MB
Hard Disk: 2,5 GB
Supporto: 1 DVD
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