Specials: Interviews:

Interview mit Aaron Conners (Teil 2) Englische Version



Click here for the first part of the interview (August 2008).

Click here to watch the 3 Cards to Midnight-trailer.



Adventure Corner:
Hello Aaron, and welcome to the 2.nd part of our interview. The time has come and your new and highly anticipated title 'Three Cards to Midnight' is ready for release. Before we´re getting into details about 'Three Cards', please tell us something about your company Big Finish Games, its origins, who´s responsible for doing what etc. In addition to that, please introduce the philosophy behind Big Finish Games, considering storytelling in computergames.

Aaron Conners:
Big Finish is a company founded by myself and Chris Jones a couple years ago. I have my own company, Wordplay.LLC, and Chris runs TruGolf, but we wanted a separate business entity for our collaborative projects. Our philosophy (which you’ll find on the main screen of our website ;-) ) is that we’re committed to creating the very best story-driven games. It’s also important that, no matter what the game is, players will be allowed to choose the difficulty level of the gameplay so they can enjoy the story without getting stuck and/or frustrated.

Adventure Corner:
Please describe the plot of 'Three Cards to Midnight' (and the main character Jess Silloway) to our readers from the author´s perspective.

Aaron Conners:
Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but it begins with a complete stranger telling Jess that she has blocked out all her memories of the past few days and that she has to find out why as quickly as possible. As the story unfolds, Jess starts to recall bits and pieces of past events until eventually all the pieces come together in the spine-tingling finale!

Adventure Corner:
How does the interface of 'Three Cards to Midnight' work in terms of gameplay? How do we explore the world of the game, and what kind of gameplay can we expect from your new game in general?

Aaron Conners:

One of the puzzles featured in 3CTM.

There are two elements of gameplay: (1) In every location your goal is to unlock up to four “lost memories”. Each memory is represented by a keyword; the gameplay is to deduce which objects connect to the keywords and, when you find all the correct objects, the lost memory is unlocked. (2) In most locations you will either find an object or recall a memory that unlocks a unique puzzle. Solving these puzzles will always reveal a big piece of the story.

Adventure Corner:
The trailers and screenshots deliver a gripping atmosphere for sure, so, how would you describe the mood in the game and its psychological effect on the player?

Aaron Conners: It’s quite disorienting at first; the memories relate to lots of different things. But very soon, you’ll start to connect the memories and things will start to fall into place. As the story develops, it actually gets pretty scary and the tension builds to a big climax.
People who have played beta versions of the game have described it as “mysterious”, “dark”, “creepy”, and “intriguing”.

Adventure Corner:
In 'The Pandora Directive' you introduced us to a very enriching form of non-linearity, in 'Three Cards to Midnight' you´re partially going back to non-linearity, resulting in different endings for example. How exactly does that element work within the game?

Aaron Conners:
Jess’s story is linear...because it’s already happened – she just can’t remember it! The player, however, can unlock Jess’s memories in many different sequences, so it will be at least somewhat unique for every player. The story also has three different possible resolutions. The player will make choices to determine which ending occurs and the player’s performance throughout the game will have a big influence.

Adventure Corner:
One thing that is obvious, by the two trailers and the participation of Matt Heider, is the circumstance that the acoustic aspect of 'Three Cards to Midnight' is on a very high level, no matter if it comes to voiceacting or music. Please talk about the importance of sound in this particular game, and where you found such professional voiceactors.

Aaron Conners:

The insanity asylum.

Audio was always a top priority – something we learned back when we did the 'Tex Murphy Radio Theater'. People really enjoyed it, even though we were using only voices, sound effects and music. Our plan for '3CM' was always to deliver high quality audio and then add visuals to compliment it. Initially, our graphics were very simple and unanimated. As the project progressed we decided to go with a more complex approach. As for the voice acting, we’re fortunate to know a lot of people who were willing to lend their talents to the production. And, of course, what can you say about Matt Heider? He’s the best composer I know.

Adventure Corner:
'Three Cards to Midnight' was supposed to be out in November, now the release takes place in May- not really too much of a delay compared to other games. There´s something special about the time inbetween though, as you made a decision in November to change certain elements of the game, and that´s what you did throughout the last months. How did you come up with that decision, what particular things have you changed and in how far does the completed game differ from your original vision?

Aaron Conners:
As I just mentioned, the graphic quality is what has been changed the most. When we first discussed doing this project almost two years ago, downloadable games were very different than they are today. The level of quality and sophistication has gone way up, so what we had in mind originally just wasn’t going to be good enough. We sent a demo out to some people back in October and they gave us some very good feedback. We decided that we really needed to revamp the entire “look” of the game. The story was always the same (and people always really liked it), but the way we presented it changed quite a bit.

Adventure Corner:
Your new game will be launched as a downloadtitle. Do you consider a boxed version to be possible, if the game is succesful? Despite that there is a question that some of our german readers may ask themselves, do you see a chance for different language versions at some point of time?

Aaron Conners:

Meet Jess and her boyfriend Daniel.

Honestly, it took all our resources to get this game made. In order to offer a boxed version, we would need to spend a lot more money before we sell even one copy! A boxed version would be great, but we really have no idea how many people will want to buy our game. This is our first experience with a game that should appeal to more casual gamers as well as traditional adventure gamers. Unfortunately, we won’t be releasing any localized versions of the game. Players really need to be at least fairly fluent in English to complete the gameplay, so we didn’t see any reason to translate any part of the game. However...any other game franchises we release (from now on) will definitely be translated into German (and other languages). I promise!

Adventure Corner:
While the classical adventuregenre, as we´ve known it, is in a real struggle concerning the sales (beside other factors), websites like PlayFirst, Big Fish -and online distribution in general- offer completely new possibilities to developers, in terms of reaching a bigger audience, giving a hand to the growing world of casual players. Please tell us in how far this new audience affects the whole approach behind 'Three Cards to Midnight' and the chances you see in this new and growing audience for the future.


Aaron Conners:
I think the survival of the classic adventure genre may depend on the growth of the casual game audience. Most everyone agrees that adventure games are no longer as lucrative as they once were, which makes it hard to get funding to develop them. Casual gamers, however, seem to be more and more interested in games with adventure elements. To me, this suggests that many “casual” gamers will eventually evolve into “adventure” gamers, and then the audience might become big enough to bring true adventure games back to the market. For '3CM', our first concern was to make a good game that we would be proud of. The second priority was to make a game that would SELL! For that reason, we found out everything we could about the casual market and then went to work creating a game that would appeal to both our fans and the huge casual game audience.

Adventure Corner:
Putting a game together with a small indie company is a new experience for you two. While financial restrictions automatically are something you get confronted with doing it this way, isn´t it a very liberating feeling to have all the creative control in your own hands and not to being forced into compromises? Please talk about some of your experieces being an indie developer now.


Aaron Conners:

Come out and play!

Of course we love having total creative freedom! I’ve worked on many projects with many companies and, even though I’ve had good experiences in almost every situation, the creative process can be really frustrating when too many people are involved. I’m not saying that my ideas are always the best, but when ten different people have to agree on something (especially if Marketing is involved), it’s going to take a long time...and probably end up being pretty mediocre.

Adventure Corner:
The updated 'Three Cards to Midnight'/ Big Finish Games website mentions the two next Big Finish projects, 'Three Cards to Dead Time' and a project with the workingtitle 'Fedora'. It might be a little early for this, but is there anything you can tell us about the '3CTM' sequel by now?

Aaron Conners:
After you play 'Three Cards to Midnight', you’ll realize that these events are part of something bigger. There’s no “cliffhanger” or anything ridiculous like that, but the seeds will be planted for future stories. Most of the characters we meet in the game will play important roles in the sequel (and beyond). I’ve already outlined the whole story for 'Three Cards to Dead Time' and we’re starting development on the game this week.

Adventure Corner:
This brings us to 'Fedora': Concerning your recent statement about the future of Tex Murphy (click here) and the license situation, most people will have something very concrete on their mind, when they hear about a project temporarily named 'Fedora'. Is there anything you can say about the project at this point of time and its relation to someone who is coincidentially wearing a Fedora?

Aaron Conners:
I’m afraid I have to say “No comment” for now, but I’m very hopeful that we can make an official announcement sometime later this year.

Adventure Corner:
Thanks a lot for doing these interviews, Aaron. I hope 'Three Cards to Midnight' turns into a great success and this is just the beginning of a long and succesful road for Big Finish Games and the philosophy behind it. We´d like to see you back for a new interview right before the release of 'Three Cards to Dead Time' of course, maybe joined by Chris Jones. All the best to you, we´ll keep our readers informed about your work!

Aaron Conners:
Chris and I would be happy to talk to you any time!


geschrieben am 05.05.2009, Ingmar Böke




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