Developer Diary -- Eric Viennot
Topic – Concept, why this style, why does this game fill a need. (June 14th)
Eric Viennot, author of Missing: Since January
I’ve been reading detective stories and thrillers since I was 15 (I’m a great fan of Elroy, Connely or Maurice G. Dantec), but I always found it very hard to feel the same kind of excitement while playing videogames.
Only very few adventure games dealt seriously murder investigations, dark events or maniac characters, let alone serial killers.
That’s probably the reason why I decided to make my own game; I wanted to create a game I’d be exited to play.
I quickly realized that I wanted to create something as realistic as possible. Usually, when you talk about “realism,” the first thing that comes to mind is real-time 3D with very high level detail: hair that floats in the wind, water that actually looks and behaves like water, characters’ faces having realistic expressions, and so on...
But, in doing so, you’re only talking about technology, and you can forget the most important questions:
- Is the story addictive?
- Do you want to know what will happen next and how the heroes will overcome seemingly impossible obstacles?
- Do the characters obstacles complete realistically?
- Do you believe in the characters, and do you feel compassion for them?
- Do you think about the story even when you’re not playing?
So, I began to work on a scenario (It took me about four years from the first ideas to publication), and I tried to collect as much accurate information as possible about the background. Everything is accurate, from the historical facts, to the esoteric references, to the way journalists work.
Then, I tried to focus on what would make the difference between a movie concept and a videogame. I realized something very important: in most games, you play someone else and you use his/her very special skills (strength, beauty, knowledge of a certain field etc...) to achieve your goal. This is very exciting, but there’s always someone between you and the story. You didn’t make it through, the hero did.
In Missing, you play your own role, with your own tools (internet, your email address) and eventually you are the hero. You don’t play someone that will succeed at something, you are the one that might save two innocent from a terrible death.
And the concept of Missing has been developed around this idea: making the player believe that he/she actually has an important role to play. Finding information on the actual Internet, receiving emails to your actual email account, being asked for help by characters who actually expect something from you... all of this creates gaming situations that have not been explored much up until this point.
Using full motion video with real characters was also an important choice (which cost a lot as we had to shoot in seven different countries) that goes in the same direction: making the characters closer and more credible.
You don’t want to save a silicone 3D model; you want to save a real man and woman that you’ve come to know better and better.
All of this, I hope, makes Missing somewhat of a special game that will provide players with a quite different experience.