Recently we've learned that Artematica is developing a new 'retro'-style point and click adventure game. It draws insipiration (and storyline) from the popular comic book Martin Mystere, written by Alfredo Castelliand, telling us a tale of a brave detective. We've had a chance to talk with Riccardo Cangini, the CEO of Artematica, about the game and more.
Can you tell something about your company, past and future projects, and a little about yourself for our readers please?
Artemica was established by me, Riccardo Cangini, in 1996 in Chiavari, but it was an idea I had for a long time - like 1991. It took many years to build the company, to organize business strategies and to find a good team of expert Italian gaming guys such as Max Calamai, Natale Fietta and Mario Brucella. During our history with them and for the Simulmondo company (SH Italiana before) we've developed interesting and innovative games like: 'I PLAY 3D SOCCER, I PLAY 3D TENNIS, FORMULA1 3D, 1000 MIGLIA, le avventure di Dylan Dog, Tex, DIABOLIK' and lots more.
Artematica was launched in 2001 with the game 'Druuna: Morbus Gravis', an adventure that sold lots of copies, with 9 gaming newspapers dedicating their covers to the game.
Currently we are working more on the 'audience specific' side of things in two new releases called 'Pc Kids Game' (a low budget title dedicated to kids that counts as 6 games: Pinocchio, Robin Hood, Sandokan, 20.000 'Leghe Sotto I Mari' (this hits the market in one month), Alice Nel Paese Delle Meraviglie (in development) and Combat Blade inspired by the famous italian tv cartoon 'Bey Blade'.
It's well known in Italy but might be unheard of elsewhere in the world. Could you briefly introduce Martin Mystere?
Martin Mystere is a character born in comics by the incredible mind of Alfredo Castelli, the famous author. The character has been published in Italy for over 20 years and will appear on tv in half of the world as the cartoon series dedicated to him. Copyrights have been bought in many European countries
MM is a detective of impossible things, a detective called into the action anytime that a mystery occurs. He's not a hero, but an innovative mix between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes. In twenty years in his job MM has investigated things like Atlantis, Aliens, Excalibur, The Time Machine and the story of Santa Claus.
Can you tell about the game's setting? Where does it take place and did you select a particular episode of Bonelli comics as a background for the electronic adventure of Martin Mystere?
I would define MM as an adventure with some action influences and kinda retro. The plot has been taken from one of the most intersting stories of the comics going by the same name, though it has been adapted and made longer to allow us to produce a non-linear adventure game.
Who came up with the concept for the game?
I'm involved in every games development, but the task of making the concept was given to Daniele Montella that worked for many months with his team (Matteo Sciutteri, Max Casagrande and Giuseppe Crugliano).
What engine does it use? Did you make use of the third dimension? What about characters models, how much work was involved to get them “up”?
I prefer to not say what kind of engine we used, I can however tell you we used some middleware. The game is in realtime 3D, with pre-rendered backgrounds like 'Druuna Morbus Gravis' and Syberia; to create the models we created layout on paper, with typical octagonal views, then we modified and animated them with 3DS MAX.
Is it hard to turn a comic into a game? Will the game be strictly based on comic and feature Diana, Java and maybe the always naked Angie?
I'm pleased you are an expert in comics and in Martin Mystere....
The game is totally faithful to the comic. The characters and settings are the same you'll find while reading the comic. During the adventure you will see characters like Java, Diana, Angie, Travis and Martin's old enemy (Jinx), taking their part in the story.
We honestly had little problems developing the game from comic. Before starting the project we defined the limits and the character profiles, as this is the field in which we have most experience. We developed games like 'Druuna' and 'Sandokan' (an arcade game inspired by a famous tv cartoon) and previously 'Simulmondo', 'Dylan Dog', 'Tex Diabolik' and 'Spiderman'.
What can you do within the game? Is it strictly a point and click adventure or did you “evolve” the classic concept of adventures on PC?
Like i said, the game is a point & click type with a retro format – but that doesn't mean it hasn't got new innovative concepts.
In your opinion, what are the essential elements of a great title? Will development times and funds make Martin Mystere one, or it is aimed at a local / budget audience?
With MM we aimed for a high quality title, targeted at the worldwide market and expert gamers. The elements are all there, hence the game should be appreciated even by players not familiar with the character, as the plot is extremely intriguing. The views and appreciation of our customers will tell if we achieved our goals.
Anything else you would like to add for our readers? When is Martin Mystere due? Only on PC or there will be console versions? Is a downloadable demo version expected anytime soon? Have you got projects for a series or at least a sequel?
MM will hit the market during 2004. We hope to finish the game for the 1st quarter of 2004 for PC and XBOX. We are also concidering porting it to the PS2. If market expectations give good feedback, we want to release a version for the mac too.
There is no playable demo at the moment because it's too early in development and it depends on publisher's ethics as to whether we can release one.
As for a sequel, MM could not be the part of a single project but for the moment I can't say anything more....
I enjoyed this interview very much and I want to use this occasion to greet my team, because I don't get to do it very often. Maybe doing it this time will make them forgive me for all the times they didn't get to do it in the past.
I'm sorry but i've to go back to work - See you at the next adventure?