Available :6/29/04

Missing: Since January© The Adventure Company
Develop Diary by Eric Viennot

Developer Diary #2

Welcome to our second Developer Diary! I’m Eric Viennot, author of MISSING: Since January. Creating a game like MISSING, that so finely blurs the line between fiction and reality, almost guarantees some funny stories or amusing anecdotes. This brings us to the top of our next diary...

The Anecdotes

Murder scene

There was one memorable occasion while shooting a murder scene, when everyone repeatedly got the giggles. I remember we were filming in the cellars of a suburban house. It so happened that the house was up for sale and a very classic couple came to visit it. The thing was that one of the extras, who was dressed as a priest with a slit throat (which looked 100% real, believe me), went to answer the door. Imagine the faces of those guys who came to visit the house when they saw that priest open the door! The girl just screamed and began to run away... I don’t think they bought the house!

Prague police officers in “Missing: Since January”
Missing was much more than a simple job for us. In fact, we had to make a real investigation on events (murders, sudden deaths and so on) that happened several centuries ago. In Prague, for instance, we were trying to locate the house of an alchemist that was very important for The Phoenix. The only problem was that NO book gave us any idea of where the place could be.

After days of investigation in all the libraries of the city (we even had to lie and send a fake student to access some forbidden books), we eventually found the place. No sign mentioned how important the house had been in the past centuries.

We began to shoot... but all our efforts of the previous days had been noticed, and so police officers came to interrogate us about what we were doing! Let’s just say those guys were not happy. But the situation of being questioned by actual policemen was so great that we decided to film the scene very discreetly. And at the end of the day, we kept the sequence... and put it in the game.

Julie’s new friends (and enemies)
In the European version of “Missing: Since January”, the girl that assists players is Julie Massenet, one of Karin’s friends (“Julie Cathedreale” on the net). As many players tried to reply to her emails, they realized that Julie was not just a bot, but actually talked to them in a very normal way.

We’ve got to say that we’ve made many efforts to make her real. Several months before the game, we created a real background for Julie on the Internet: she’s got her own site, belongs to many online communities, shares her comments on consumer sites on the books or movies she liked... and also has her picture on one site. Believe us, she is QUITE pretty.

So, exactly what we thought would happen, happened. Thousands of male players wanted to become friends with her (“I have the same interests as you, we should get to know each other better, and believe me, I don’t care if you’re pretty or not”).

One of them, an Italian guy named “Paulo,” chatted a lot with her, and so Julie decided to write a few words in his online guest book. Both knew it was all about role playing. But... Two days after, we received the following mail from Maria:

“Dear Julie,

I don’t know who you are, but I beg you. Please stop it, in the name of the Lord. I’m pregnant, and in the name of our baby, please don’t do anything with Paulo. He may be weak, but I love him and I know he loves me.”

Poor Paulo, we imagine it was quite hard to explain the truth: “I swear honey, Julie doesn’t exist, she’s just part of a game!”

SKL criticized in the French press for its wage policy
As you might have noticed, SKL is quite a dynamic company and looks for new employees from time to time.

One year ago, SKL needed an intern in web design (as a matter of fact, Lexis also needed one for one month). The proposed wage was what is commonly proposed to interns in France. But back at this time, there was a great debate in France about wages and short-term employment.

A major newspaper decided to write a long article about this polemic. And to make it clear, they decided to take an example. They just decided to write about SKL, this world-renowned company that didn’t want to hire long-term employees but preferred taking on an intern...

It was quite hard for them to learn, once the article had been published, that SKL didn’t actually exist...

Jack sightings
After a teaser campaign in Europe where we posted a thread about the missing persons in a forum, we had to send out a detailed press release explaining that Jack Lorski hadn't actually been abducted.

We had received about 900 emails from various countries from people trying to help, ready to track The Phoenix to save Jack and Karen. We even heard from about 100 people who claimed to have "seen" Jack in their city.