Specials: Interviews: Our Still Unnamed Project Joe:

Interview with the developers of Project Joe

Synthetix Interactive, the Netherlands: Jeroen de Cloe (Project director and Programmer) and Mikel Fick (GFX Artist) currently work on the adventuregame 'Our Still Unnamed Project Joe'. Fortunately, they were kind enough to answer Adventurecorner some questions.

Hi Jeroen & Mikel. At first, please tell us a bit about the characters we are going to meet in 'Project Joe'. Who exactly is Joe? Can we expect a new game hero?

Jeroen: Well, Joe doesn't have big boobs, a cute hairtail and a gun in each hand, so it won't be a typical game hero as you see in most game nowadays. Perhaps that is what Joe makes a real hero; an ordinary bar owner, standing up for his rights. There isn't much known about his past, except he has lived in Contamination Creek for a while now, close to his bar. He doesn't visit Morkash City often; however his problems require him to be there too. Other characters are Guiseppe, Antonio and Luciano, mafia trio in Joe's bar. DJ Brutal, a loser and very inconfident, but somehow his reputation as a agressive DJ is still going strong, mainly thanks to his manager. Other characters are Bunny Linda, the Jaguars' pleasure girl, and Mr.Barf, who has a restaurant selling gruesome burgers, called "Barfburgers".

Is 'Project Joe' going to be a classic adventure?

Jeroen: Simply: yes. It will use the same interaction as in Monkey Island 3, or Full Throttle.

Please tell us something about you and Synthetix Interactive.

Mikel: We play a lot of adventure games (old and new ones) to see what we like and dislike like about them in order to reflect those flaws on our own game. For example: We wanted to get rid of static backgrounds and add more life to them. To accomplish this we added some characters in the game that have a little life of there own. They wander around and even talk to each other.

When and how did the idea of doing an adventure came up?

Jeroen: Funny enough, in a bar. Almost three years ago. We started representing us on the web soon, to gather a dreamteam and the know-how, which only has been there recently. Therefore a lot of people are asking "when is this game going to be finished", but we've come a long way getting on a level we wanted to be.

Why is the game called 'Our still unnamed Project Joe'?

Jeroen: Actually we internally speak of "Project Joe" now. People were asking "what's this game called" and we couldn't give them an answer. Therefore it became "still unknown". The title "Project Joe" fits perfectly IMHO.

Have you ever been 'inspired' by another game while producing Project Joe?

Jeroen & Mikel: Sure, a few names for great inspiration are: Runaway, Syberia, Longest Journey, Full Throttle, Discworld, Monkey Island, Toonstruck, Grim Fandango, Phantasmagoria, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, Larry etc.

Why did you choose to make a 2D cartoon-adventure instead of using 3D?

Mikel: First: We made this choice because of the atmosphere we were trying to achieve. Somehow, as a developer, you get the feeling you HAVE to make anything 3d nowadays. If it adds nothing to the interaction or experience of the game, then why use it? I think this game will be more unique due the fact we choose 2D.
Second: This game is ment for gamers who loved the classic adventure genre, it's almost some sort of a tribute although we put in some new features in it to make the world a more lively one. This does not mean we don't use 3d in our development. There are number of pre-rendered graphics and effects used in the game.

One of the game features is that there are more than only item-combining puzzles. Do you have to solve the puzzles in a fix order or are there multiple solutions?

Jeroen: It's multi-linear sometimes, in the way you can solve several puzzles in different orders, but in the end, it leads to one plot. The focus is on combining-items puzzles with some exceptions (in the city slums e.g. you have to do secret handshake combinations with some locals).

How long will the game last when it's finished?

Jeroen: A hard question to answer. I guess Monkey Island 3-sized.

You are producing an adventure game. Do you think that this genre has got a future? What is your opinion about the current status of the genre?

Jeroen: I think the genre has a future, ESPECIALLY nowadays. I guess that's a whole different opinion as some other *cough* big companies *cough* have.
I see the adventure genre as an opposite to all the, for some people, over-complex games out there. Sometimes people just want to play without dealing with player stats, server browsers, installing patches, etc. I see it as a "relaxing" game, like playing a book, instead of reading it.

What difficulty level will the game have? Is it rather aimed at beginners or just at adventure freaks?

Mikel: It's aimed at intermediate adventure gamers. Most of these gamers will recognise the way in wich some puzzles are set up. Project joe used pretty logical puzzles and follows some classic rules of puzzle solving. I don't think adventure experts will have much problems with them though. We try to balance the difficulty.

You want to transform the project into a commercial one. Where did you find English voice actors for the localiuation? Have you already tought about publishing the game in Germany or Switzerland?

Jeroen: Yes. Going commercial is essential for succes. This is what we want. This way we can speed up development. The game started with English as primary language, so in that way, it isn't localised. Finding the (incredibly talented!) voice-actors was part of gathering our dreamteam. Basically, it just takes a lot of searching, time, and communication. As for publishing the game in Germany or Switzerland, we haven't thought of that yet, but it's a good idea :-P

When will the game (presumably) be released?

Jeroen: That depends on if and when we're going commercial. Can't tell.

And last but not least: what do you think about LucasArts' decision to stop production on 'Sam & Max 2'?

Jeroen: A darn shame. I heard production was almost done. It must be terrible for the team who worked on that game to not see their work end up in the stores. When I heard, it felt slightly de-motivating for me personally. But soon as I realised that the decision was so incredibly unrealistic, I felt much better. ....And, when I see a Star Wars game in the stores, made by LucasArts, I'll put the boxes behind adventure games. Join the resistance! :-P

Thank you for your time!

Deutsche Version | English Version

geschrieben am 22.03.2004, Philipp Thalmann

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