Interviewed by Andreas "Interman" Misund
Finally the time has come when a lot of new and exciting point-and-click adventure games are released... after many have claimed they're dead for many years. Coming to the rescue is Zima Software and Got Game Entertainment, who will unleash an epic adventure game Time Guard in Q1 of 2003. Recently we've had the chance to have a chat with the Zima Software about this very promising game and more.
Hi, please introduce yourself and your company to our readers.
I’m Jan Budin and I’ve been with game developer ZIMA SOFTWARE for 5 years, this last year I have acted as sales manager for the company. My colleagues Radek Smisek (development director), Roman Dzupinka (musician), Daniel Falta (graphics designer) and Miroslav Sabo (screenwriter) also helped answer questions. ZIMA SOFTWARE is an independent game developer based in the Czech Republic. Founded in 1995, ZIMA SOFTWARE has successfully developed and published several games in various genres since its launch. The most popular company titles are adventure games. “Time Guard” is a continuation of our “The Cop” series -- and certainly not the last installment! Although it is part of an ongoing series, Time Guards’s excellent story easily stands alone. We are also developing the eagerly awaited action/survival horror "Bloodline". And, for those who are interested, I am 30, single, have an economic/technical/business educational background and wear a size 42 shoe.
In an adventure game the story is always very important. Could you tell us about Time Guard's?
Through the dynamic powers of a time machine, the game's hero, private investigator, Pankrac, visits each of several time periods that comprise the world of the game. Every era is accurately and vividly represented via visual appearance and the other game characters. Pankrac's adventure begins when Russian scientist Santusov requests the investigator's help when Santusov learns that the Russian Intelligence Service has its own dark ambitions for his latest invention - a device that can control human minds and force people to use only one language. When Pankrac travels to the future using Santusov┬┬┤s time machine invention to verify whether the scientist’s dire predictions have come true, he finds the world again in the hands of an expanding Russia. As Pankrac prepares to return to present time, the machine malfunctions and he is trapped in the future. Now, our hero must search the ages to find Santusov, the only person who can repair the time machine.
What kind of locations will the main character travel to, and what kind of people will he interact with?
The story opens in Hawaii where Pankrac is on holiday with his girlfriend. When his adventure begins, he is in today’s Paris and then travels the ages, both future and past. For example, he visits the Primeval Ages where he appears near a village of primeval people and must learn the local language and change his modern clothing for primitive leathers. Moving forward, he finds himself in a gloomy near-future controlled by a re-united communistic New Soviet Union. He also finds himself in the middle of the French Revolution, 18th century Egypt, and several other locations. In each location he meets various people. Some help him, while others try to mislead or confuse him, or ask him for something in exchange. The dialogues in the game are very important. The player cannot just “click them away”. The dialogues force players to think about them, move the story along, and help to solve logical problems and puzzles.
What was the biggest challenge when creating a world filled with people who gamers can care for?
A real challenge was in creating a variety of game characters who not only exhibited credible behavior, but whose roles could keep the game moving forward. Interestingly, the most difficult aspect may have been for the sound guys in creating music material that complimented the various times and locations in the actual game. Also, creating sounds was not an easy task as our goal was to not interrupt the mostly calm atmosphere in the whole game. Fortunately, the game engine enabled us to use all sounds in stereo and, also, all dialogues were compressed in mp3 format.
Adventure gamers usually love puzzles, so could you name a couple of Time Guard?
The game contains a lot of them. It’s hard to mention just one. But we do think one very cool one is where the player must learn the language of a medieval tribe or another one where our hero must free professor Santusov from prison using a doughnut and two old-fellows playing petanque.
Did anything particularly funny happen during the development?
We have funny story from the recording studio - the actor who dubbed our main hero for the Czech release is a very popular comic actor in our country and he had a lot of other work and a lot of text to read. Exhausted, he fell asleep during dinner break, so we quickly took advantage of the situation and recorded his snoring!
We've heard that character appearance, behavior and dialog have been especially emphasized. Could you elaborate?
Yes, this is true. We did our best to make every game character unique and realistic. The game is more dynamic this way. Every character speaks and acts in such a way as to describe the time and environment in which they’re placed.
What game would you compare Time Guard to, and what audience do you aim for?
For us, it is difficult to compare Time Guard with other games. In general, it is a classic adventure game. That is, everyone who likes a thrilling, well-told story with attractive puzzles and environments will appreciate this game.
How much is left of the development process?
The English-language voice-overs and subtitles are all that remain!
Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap this up?
We appreciate Gamer's Hell taking the time to interview us and we hope your readers enjoy Time Guard. We think they will!