Specials: Interviews:

Interview with Charles Cecil (english)

Adventure Corner: (AC): First of all congratulations! After almost three weeks of Kickstarter, what are your thoughts on Kickstarter so far? Was it everything you had hoped for?

Charles Cecil:
It was a lot more! Now obviously the primary objective of Kickstarter is to raise the funding and I've been quite clear that a new 'Broken Sword' game was expensive because we had the choice to either reduce the production values and do something that looked and felt cheaper, which is what most people would have done, or to hold out for something with a higher production value. And we were fortunate enough due to revenues from our previous games - directors cut of the first game and the second, on new platforms like iOS and now Android – and so we were able to develop the project over 6 months and then we came to people and said look, this is what we've done. Will you help us to finish the game? And the response has been very generous, financially but actually also interestingly with the level of comments. What's happened is that we got this fantastic group of fans who have been galvanized by this and they've come together and have been so supportive that it's given us great confidence. More than that they've also come back with really valuable comments. You know in days gone by, you would have payed an agency a huge amount of money to get this information. Now people offer it, both by way of compliments but also in terms of constructive criticism. And that information is very useful. You know, we're not going to do everything that we're asked to! But the vast majority of the feedback that we get we think is extremely valuable. So people commented that George's face was not quite right. So we changed it. There are elements of the 2D look, which we're addressing as well. So we really do value the comments that are made and we feel that through this Kickstarter project this new game is very much a collaboration, we're writing it together. And that is fantastic because it means that we're communicating directly with our fans, we're working directly with our fans and we're funded directly by our fans as well. So that's really the relationship. It means we don't have to go through retail, we don't go to publishers, we don't go to distributors, we don't go through financiers. So it's a much purer relationship. It means that we can focus on what we think our fans want, rather than what financiers, publishers and retailers think is best.

AC: So since it's going so well. Are you planning on doing another Kickstarter... maybe next year?
Charles Cecil:
This 'Broken Sword' game it's taking every bit of our focus plus a lot more. It's insane getting in the office early. It's lovely receiving so many communications but it takes an awful lot of time and we'll be really working 24/7. And obviously the Kickstarter finishes on Saturday and one of the things I am very keen to do is to not interrupt our production. A lot of people say don't get any production done during that money. Well, for us it's vital that we do. For a variety of reasons not at least because we committed to finishing the game in 2013. So we've been sort of juggling. We have people working full-time on Kickstarter, on community relationship and that is great. From my perspective I've really been going between the two. Between continuity development on one side and the Kickstarter message on the other.

AC: So total focus on 'Broken Sword'!?
Charles Cecil:
Very much so.

AC: And what's the plan. Let's say you reach 650.000 Dollars. How many hours of gameplay do you think we can expect?
Charles Cecil:
That's such a difficult question to answer, how many hours of gameplay. One of our pledges was to restore the directors cut and we're absolutely thrilled to have reached that first one, which we were sort of hoping we would. So that would be implementing an additional three screens an extra three or four characters, but what that really allows us to do is to make the game feel wide, feel broader. The ability to go to different places at different times and get a sense of the world is a lot more responding to you. If we get to the next one, then we will be adding a new section. But our ambitions for the game changed quite considerably over this 'Kickstarter' period, on many many levels. Because of budgeting constraints we thought the game would need to be reasonably small so perhaps it should be split into two. Now we're saying the game will have to be an epic. This is what people have pledged for. So our approach for the game has changed quite radically over the last three weeks.

AC: And the budget seems pretty decent right now, together with the money you already invested in the project.
Charles Cecil:
Yup. And every cent whether in Euro's, Dollar's or every penny of money we receive will go in the development of the rest of the game plus the enhancements that we promised. But I failed to answer the question... how many hours of gameplay. Originally we said about the size of 'Broken Sword 2'. Now I would say that it's gonna be larger in terms of puzzles and locations.

AC: Okay. That sounds good!
Charles Cecil:
That's a definitive pledge from us.

AC: Concerning rooms... if you reach 650.000 Dollars, how many rooms, how many characters will there be? Is there any number, a guideline?
Charles Cecil:
I'm cautious because we are expanding at the moment and what we need once the Kickstarter is over, is reevaluate and reschedule. So I can't give you a definitive answer.

AC: So reevaluating and rescheduling... is there a chance to get a live orchestra for the in-game music? Because that's what backers usually are interested in, a live orchestra.
Charles Cecil:
That's great. I need to write this down! I think that's a great one. Yeah. Right. The other thing people are usually keen on is Alexander's George. And off the record we'll be announcing very soon that we will be definitely playing George again. German George.

AC: That's very good!
Charles Cecil:
And (we're still off the record) maybe Franziska as well. But we haven't reached an agreement with her yet.

AC: Great! And how about the puzzle design. Because I'm thinking about the last two 'broken sword' games and they felt pretty different in this respect. On the one hand to me it was interesting because it felt so different, on the other hand I guess that more people will expect something more like part one and two for 'Broken Sword 5'. So what direction is the puzzle design going. More in the classical direction or will there be elements we know from the newer games?
Charles Cecil:
We're very much going back to a game design which will be similar to one and two. This is not 3D like the last two games, so it's going to feel much more classical.

AC: There's often the fear that the support of mobile platforms might lead to a more casual type of
gameplay. How do you respond to this fear?
Charles Cecil:
I would say that the original 'Broken Sword' and the 'Broken Sword - Director's Cut' worked extremely well. We're not gonna dumb it down to a hidden objects game, I think that's what people probably are more worried about. 'Broken Sword - Director's Cut' was really really well received by the wide audience. On Android it scores I think 4.8 or 4.9 out of 5. My feeling is that the way we've approached 'Broken Sword' we've appealed to a very broard market, both the hardcore and the more casual audience. And that is what we continue to do.

AC: And before we get to 'Beneath a steel Sky'... is there anything else you'd like to say about 'Broken Sword'?
Charles Cecil:
No, just to emphasize how thrilled we are about the response, the generosity on both terms, the money that they've given and the comments that they've posted. You may...if you've been following... somebody came up with the idea of the order of the goat, in response to the goat puzzle. 777 because it's much more evil than 666. And that's a thing we're absolutely thrilled by, that people have this passion. Also a number of people have emailed to say that the games had a profound effect on them when they were younger and that's so moving. You know there was one person who talked about playing this game with his grandmother. His grandmother took him into a gameshop, so he can have any game he wants. He chose 'Broken Sword', they played the game together. And these are memories of his grandmother who is now dead, of playing 'Broken Sword' and the joy of doing that. And we've received so many, so many messages like that. It's only when you get these messages that you realize really how important a medium is. Every bit is relevant as television, film or theater. And for certain types of games like 'Broken Sword' emotionally everybody is important as well. So that's message number one.
The other message is of course that it's very easy for us to be arrogant and assume that everybody has a credit card to pledge and clearly in Germany particular you are much more used to other types of payment. So we have recently introduced PayPal and we are having it in parallel. So if people do want to pledge and don't have a credit card then of course we will be absolutely delighted to accept pledges or the equivalent of pledges because obviously in PayPal the money comes straight out but PayPal payments should have exactly the same terms and exactly the same rewards as kickstarter would.

AC: Yeah, we put out a news already to inform people that it is possible now to pledge via PayPal. And I think the fans are so passionate about 'Broken Sword' and your whole company because you and your team are also that passionate. I think it is some kind of bond, both are passionate and both do love what they do. You are producing games and we are playing them.
Charles Cecil:
Lovely. I can't image a better job, can you?

AC: (laughter) No! But I also still remember playing 'Broken Sword 1&2' and it's long ago!
Charles Cecil:
Germany has always been a fantastic market for adventure games. You guys never gave up on them, did you?

AC: Obviously not. It's good that it is this way.
Charles Cecil:
Very much so.

AC: I think now we can talk a bit about 'Beneath a Steel Sky'. I love the game and I really want to see a sequel so I have to ask this question. The 1 million stretch goal sounds really intriguing and let's say for a moment that this becomes reality and you make this million, what would be the plan for 'BaSS2'. I mean obviously the money wouldn't be enough to make a complete game, would there be an additional kickstarter campaign then or how would this work?

Charles Cecil:
It certainly would need additional funding in some way or other. What we have tried to clarify is that any money pledged for 'Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse', all that money would go into that game and none of the money will go to 'Beneath a Steel Sky 2'. So what we are saying is that from our own funds we would do a certain amount and that we would need another way of funding. Whether that would be a kickstarter... It's not something we have given an enormous amount of thought to.

AC: Let's say you don't make the 1 million stretch goal, what needs to happen to make 'BaSS 2' come true?
Charles Cecil:
Oh, the response and the generosity we have had for 'Broken Sword' has given us a real confidence. So, we would definitely want to... Dave Gibbons and I have spoken about this at great length. He is definitely keen to do it and he has even made an announcement that we are working on a game together, which was news to me, but it would be a real please to work with Dave again, he is a wonderful guy, very crazy, very talented. 'BaSS 2' would be the obvious vehicle to do it.

AC: Very good to hear.
Charles Cecil:
There is an awful lot of enthusiasm. What we would need to do of course, it's like with 'Broken Sword', we need to convince the new audience that it would work for them as well as the people that played it the first time around. And I am sure we can do and you know the great force by kickstarter is that people are very honest. They are honest not only with their comments but they are honest with their funding as well because by funding they let me know that they have confidence in it.

AC: Would there be maybe a 'Beneath a Steel Sky: Director's Cut' in some time?
Charles Cecil:
There could well be. I promise you, it's not something we have talked about. We are quite a small team and we have quite limited resource. We find it quite hard to keep on top of all the commitments we have got, you know, finish the Android version of 'Broken Sword 1' and you know probably not very far off the Android version of 'Broken Sword 2'. All effort is on 'Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse' we acknowledge that and then we have people coming through. So everything is still up for grabs at the moment.

AC: Have you played some new adventures lately?
Charles Cecil:
Phew... The new one's. I'm afraid to my shame I have... gosh what's it called... the psychopathic rabbit?

AC: 'Edna & Harvey - The Breakout'?
Charles Cecil:
Yeah, I've got that on the iPad and I'm so looking forward to playing it but this thing on kickstarter has stopped me to have any free time at all for Harvey. Of course I've played 'Hector', the crazy detective. I've enjoyed it, very very old school, Well done to them for that. And 'Puzzle Detective' as well I've been playing and I really enjoyed that but I'm afraid over the last months that's been my limit because of kickstarter, planning for kickstarter and then the kickstarter project itself has rather taken all my time.

AC: Of course, that's difficult then. One question that is probably difficult to answer. If you compare adventures from the 90s to the adventures in the recent 10 years, what's the impression, is the genre changing and if so where to?
Charles Cecil:
I think it is changing quite profoundly. I think 10 years ago hardcore adventure players were often frustrated. That's for what an adventure was, where the audience don't like to be frustrated. We have always worked really hard to ensure that our puzzles are not contrived. And I think that people liked that in 'Broken Sword'. If you are writing a slapstick game, then it's fun that your puzzles are contrived. You know, we love the idea of getting a monkey, compressing him and turn him into a monkey wrench. …I think it has changed that a contemporary audience would get frustrated in the way that an audience 10 years ago wouldn't have done by a puzzle that doesn't actually make much sense. We are fortunate in that we always worked to make sure that our puzzles were logical within the game world as such. I don't think we need to change our approach in the way I think others probably will do.

AC: Yeah, probably. Where do you see the genre in 5-10 years?
Charles Cecil:
I don't see any reason why it should change all that much to be honest. For a 'Broken Sword' director, sorry... for a 'Broken Sword' … (skype again.. team?), we are very much writing a game that we see as being the future. We are writing a game that we would anticipate, would still be very popular in 10 years time, in the way that 'Broken Sword' is still popular and that game is more than 10 years old, 15 years old. The great thing about adventure games, as long as it's got very good graphics and as long as it's strong and it's got good puzzles, it doesn't age in the way that obviously driving or first person shooter or pretty much any other genre does. Actually adventure is a genre which doesn't seem to age as technology moves on but we are writing the game in Ultra HD, we will have extraordinary audio, you know we are very much making it look and feel as good as it possibly can, given that the technology is so much more advanced than it was, but we are also trying to future-proof it. As things continue to get better, so we can pull out features that maybe weren't possibly or aren't possible now, but they will be in the future.

AC: One other question considering 'Lure of the Temptress'. Are there any future plans for this game as well? Maybe something similar?
Charles Cecil:
I'd love to get back to 'Lure of the Temptress'. Best Revolution game. Did I ever tell you where the name came from?

AC: No, not us.
Charles Cecil:
It's all a bit insane. I've been working for a company called Mirrorsoft/Mirasoft (?). Mirrorsoft sent me an e-mails, no, they sent me a fax because it was faxes back in those days and they said that we really go to come up with a name for this game, so I came up with a load of names, none of them were particularly good and then out of the bogs it came, “Haha, Lure of the Temptress, wouldn't that be great?” They phoned me back and said that it just has to called 'Lure of the Temptress', because it's such a great name. I said, “it's a great name, I accept that, but there is no luring and there is no temptress” and they said, “Can't you put one in?” and I said, “Yeah, great name, put in some luring and a temptress”. So in the end they talked me into it and they extended the publishing date by about 3 or 4 months and during that time they went bankrupt. So had we got to call it one of the crappy names that I came up with, well I came up with 'Lure of the Temptress' too, but had we come up with one of this actually probably would have published it and the game would not have been nearly as successful as it was, because it was very much due to Virgin pushing it and getting excited by it that it was as successful as it was.

AC: So you hope to get back to this game or something similar?
Charles Cecil:
Yes, I have very fond memories and it would be great, but 'Beneath a Steel Sky 2' is more obvious and it would give us the opportunity to work with Dave again, which I would love to do, so I would say that expect 'Beneath a Steel Sky 2' before 'Lure of the Temptress 2'.

AC: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Charles Cecil:
No, except that you know I'm very proud that Adventure Corner was based originally around a crowd coming together of fans, where one of the groups was 'Broken Sword', wasn't it? Back in the very early days. So, thank you for your support, really, both in a sense you have been playing our games and for those of you who've pledged at kickstarter and obviously if there is anybody who does want to support the new 'Broken Sword' and hasn't done so then you don't have very long, so please do consider going along and making a pledge.

AC: It was really great chatting with you, thank you!
Charles Cecil:
Thank you so much for your time and thank you for your support, I know that you've been great about Revolution and our games and I'm really really grateful to you, thank you.

Interview by Matthias Glanznig and Peter Färberböck.

geschrieben am 07.10.2012, Team Adventure Corner

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Kommentare 2
08.10.2012, 10:16

Danke für die englische Version! Ich hab das Interview auch schon auf meinem Blog verlinkt. :)

Die Geschichte, wie Lure of the Temptress zu seinem Namen kam, ist wirklich klasse. ^^

09.10.2012, 07:31

Gern geschehen und danke für die Verlinkung :top:

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