Adventure Corner: Thank you for taking the time. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Mark Fillon: Hey, I’m Mark Fillon, Creative Director and Game Designer at General Interactive Co. Been at for about 5 years now, but have been an obsessive admirer and informal student of video games since the day I held a control pad.
AC: When did you start working on the cybernoir point and click adventure game 'Chinatown Detective Agency'?
Mark: I came up with the idea just as we were wrapping up the production of our first ever video game, Terroir, so this was in mid 2017. We started pre-production in early 2018 and started working on it in the summer of the same year.
AC: 'Day one' is the prologue of your new game. It will be released on Steam in only a month. How big is the full game going to be compared to the prologue?
Mark: The game has three story arcs, led by three different key characters who act as the main character’s clients. You can only work for one client per playthrough. The Prologue features the first mission for each of these three clients. Eventually, we’re looking at around 5-7 missions per client, plus the main plot missions (or main quest, if you will).
AC: What can you tell us about the story and setting?
Mark: The game takes place in Singapore in the year 2032. The world is basically on the verge of a total breakdown of order, thanks to years of economic stagnation spurred on by the pandemic and geopolitical tensions. We follow Amira, an ex-Singapore Police Force detective and INTERPOL officer, who quits her full time post and opens a Private Detective agency in the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood. She’ll run into an international crime syndicate, a for-profit religious church, corrupt government officials and rogue A.I.
AC: What movies, books or games inspired you to make this game?
Mark: We were inspired mainly by hardboiled detective fiction, as well as both Western and Japanese sci-fi. The very long list includes but is not limited to Ghost in the Shell, Akira, The Matrix (and the Animatrix spinoff), Black Mirror, Altered Carbon and The Fifth Element. From a game design point of view, this is an unabashed homage to the classic “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” series of games, as well as what is, in my humble opinion, the best pure detective game in recent years, L.A. Noire.
»We were inspired mainly by hardboiled detective fiction, as well as both Western and Japanese sci-fi.«
AC: We read that you are aiming to blend retro design with innovative mechanics. What innovative game mechanics can we expect? Can you give us examples?
Mark: I wouldn’t say it’s totally original, as it is a blend of different things one can see in other games, past and present. But perhaps the biggest thing is that Chinatown Detective Agency asks players to do real world research to solve cases. That means jumping on Google, or Wikipedia, or searching on your phone for clues and leads that will crack a case. There are also minor management mechanics, as you’ll need to make sure Amira’s bank account is never empty, or risk being late on your bills and getting booted out (which means game over). You’ll need to make sure Amira is well-fed and rested as well. So it’s a genre-bending kind of game - the kind we see ourselves making more of.
AC: According to Steam 'Chinatown Detective Agency' will be out early 2021 on PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch. Are German voice overs a possibility or will it be German subtitles only?
Mark: I’m afraid as of this moment, we’ve only got German subtitles scoped for the game. But we never say never, and we’ll have to wait and see how the launch goes before we make plans for multilingual audio.
AC: Is there anything else you would like to mention to our readers?
Mark: No, that’s pretty much it. Really glad to speak with Adventure Corner, and if you’re reading this, please do check out the free Prologue “Chinatown Detective Agency: Day One” on Steam, and do wishlist the main game, “Chinatown Detective Agency” for more updates!