Interviewed by Gareth Von K.
Recently I had the chance to get the skinny on the new game Post Mortem from the folks that brought the thriller to life.
How did you get into the industry and what projects have the design team worked on previously?
I come from the pen-and-paper gaming industry, having done everything from working in a game store to writing supplements and games, to being in charge of public relations in a small company. Having a programming background helped also...
I’ve worked with Max Villandré (the lead Artist), Hugues Richer (the lead Animator) and FranÃÂ§ois Tetrault (the lead Coder) on Road to India, so this was our second adventure game as a team. Let’s just say that things went a little smoother on this one...
Describe how the idea for the game came about.
We wanted to continue the strong push into the adventure genre that games like Syberia and Road to India had provided. Plus, adventure games are cool! So, with that in mind, we tried to figure out what would make a good story and we came up with the idea of setting it in Paris between the Wars.
What is the backstory of the game and its setting?
You get to play an American private investigator, Gus Macpherson who has given up the life in order to become a painter. A mysterious dame, Sophia Blake, comes to him one night and tries to hire him to find out who killed her sister and her bother-in-law. Things are not what they appear and there are many twists and turns to the story. Of course, the fact that our hero has psychic visions is a good start...
Going into this game, what are the main objectives you wanted to achieve in regards to content and gameplay?
One of the things that were really important to us was to try as much as possible to allow the player to progress in whatever fashion he wanted. By this I simply mean that most adventure games are extremely linear and that is something we tried to stay away from. The player should always have choices on how to progress and, with the help of some puzzles, allow him to come up with different solutions. Of course, this is still an adventure game and the primary thing is the story, so some sense of linearity had to be retained, but overall, we believe that the players should be pretty satisfied in the way the game handles. If we are to believe the reviews out there, I believe that we’ve succeeded pretty well.
What do you think were the biggest obstacles in designing the game?
We did have some challenges, and the biggest challenge was also its biggest asset: the need to be as historically accurate as possible without falling prey to accuracy at the same time. When you do a game of this type, you need to take certain liberties in order to be able to concentrate on what is important: the gameplay and the story you are telling. If you spend too much time looking up obscure facts, then the gameplay and story will suffer. At the same time, there is a real need to keep the flavor and accuracy to a maximum. The tricky part is balancing the two.
In regards to content, what features have you included that will make this game stand apart from others in the genre?
Flexibility. As I said before, adventure games in the past have always been very, very linear. We believe we’ve actually broken that curse...
What features are being included for multiplay?
Well, unless your girlfriend is sitting besides you when you play... none. This is an adventure game, right?
How long was the development cycle for Post Mortem?
A little under two years, from initial conception to going gold.
What sort of weapons will the players have?
Oh boy... weapons... None. This is an adventure game, right? What you have is your wits. And a notepad and pen. Maybe a camera later on...
What would you say are the biggest problems facing game developers today?
Conformity. You would think with the amount of games coming out every year, there would be more creative games out there. Most of them are just happy to grab a tired old gameplay and smack a tired excuse for a story atop it. At least, the graphics are getting prettier...