The Moment of Silence
20. August 2003
Interview von slydos mit Martin Ganteföhr von House of
Usually we have the following order: design document - engine - scenery/characters - implementation - video production/motion capture, dialogue - testing/bugfixing - dubbing - final testing - release.
And thats what we do. :-)
We are right in the middle of development - but things are drawing to the Happy End with determination.
That sounds good. Can you perhaps describe this a bit more detailed - the fans would like to know, how long they have to wait.
The Moment of Silence is expected to be released in the second half of 2004.We have taken all precautions to release it in time, and we will do our utmost to meet our deadlines.
Your last adventure game, "The Mystery of the Druids", takes place at conceivable locations with conceivable characters. But finally the action leads into a mystery-story, which wouldnt be possible in reality. What can we expect of "The Moment of Silence" in this respect?
Of course we are using various locations known by name. But the game takes place in the future and we take quite a lot of liberties. Weve done a very long and careful research of the future scenario. What we tell you about the social structure and technical development makes sense. Many details will be true too: If we mention street names, this streets really exist, if we name dates, this are the correct calendar dates. However TMOS isnt just doubled everyday. The Moment of Silence is a fictitious game, no history- or travel-guide-title.
We create a possible future, and were sure, that the game takes its relevance and fascination from that.
New screenshots - Click to enlarge
What will capture the gamers beyond the scenario?
The Moment of Silence lays claim to create real movie atmosphere. We will much more use film-dramaturgical means than previous titles did. Where you could earlier watch rather theatre-like static takes of interacting characters, we also use interesting in-game cuts and close-ups. The camera will become an extra actor at the scenes - this is important, because graphic adventures are very much visual narrative media and so movie-like features just suggest itself. So far they havent been applied enough and we change this.
Gamers will be surely fascinated by our realtime facial animations too. Characters in The Moment of Silence show facial expressions in the game and this is why interesting close-ups and dialogues become possible. In the past we had to avoid it, as the gamer would have looked into screen-filling rather mask-like faces. In MOS for the first time characters become actors, who can perform feelings visually instead of only talking about them.
"The Moment of Silence" - the title gives way to many associations of ideas (we have actually had an example of a moment of silence or standstill in North America). Why this title?
Because its so poetic. :-)
But to be serious: Silence is a condition, that only few people are used to. Silence is peace but also a kind of threat. Silence lets even tiny noises seem absolutely dominant - only silence lets you realize a second, softer, unknown world going on, which is otherwise drowned in the normal everyday background noise. This is exiting and a bit eerie. The title will stir up such feelings in the gamers.
Silence is of course central to the game, because our hero Peter is confronted with a world full of information explosion, where silence is not on the agenda, but an exceptional case. I dont want to betray more about it, the game will provide the background, and I think the players will be fascinated.
With whom do we find ourselves up against in "Moment of Silence", how many characters will be there? Whose role do we take over? Does 'female lead character mean, that we look through her eyes and get the game going? Can the players select their character?
Around 35 talking characters appear in the game, additionally we have a whole lot of extras.
Peter Wright is our lead character, Deborah Oswald and her son Tommy are additional main parts.
One part of the game will be controlled by our female lead character Deborah, also Tommy is a controllable protagonist for a short time. Weve got a very special surprise concerning the Bad Guy" - which I dont betray of course. The games dramaturgy influences, who is when important for the course of the game. And we decide about that. -)
Talking about actresses - as is known, there are above-average female adventure gamers. How do you explain that ... and ... do you take that fact into account in some way?
I think were doing this in several ways. The involvement of a female main part is surely a factor of idenfication for female gamers. However we havent cast a woman as lead character because of marketing calculations. The protagonist of our game is a man, and we have good reasons for that.
What goes without saying, that he is no brainless, shooting macho and no sexist either. Besides he is not the only important character. In the end the game has three differently assessed main parts. The gamer will play all of them, and it will become important to understand each of the three different characters and take them as companions in distress.
"The Moment of Silence" will have two different endings. Will there also be two long, independent strands? How much freedom will the gamers have? Is the structure more or less linear?
We certainly claim control to the story. We believe, that an adventure can only be told well, if theres a practical relation between the freedom of the gamer on the one hand and the dramaturgic needs on the other. In MOS the story is revealed to the gamers in an interactive way and they have lots of opportunities to return to locations, make decisions, choose the order of tasks and explore the subplots of the characters. In this sense the game is indeed non-linear. But there is no pool of story parts to build your own completely independent storyline. The game has two endings, which are both totally plausible if you look at the development of the story. An important, suspense-keeping factor is in addition, that the story is not inevitably aiming at the classic world-saving-happy-end.
Lets talk about puzzles. Without betraying too much, what can you tell us about the kind of puzzles in "The Moment of Silence"?
Weve got a good mix of inventory-, dialogue-based and machine puzzles".
Our most important premise was that all puzzles necessarily have to result from the story. You find puzzles where it is reasonable and dramaturgical meaningful. The difficulty level follows the importance of the puzzles regarding the story context.
Sometimes gamers and also game reviewers speak of puzzles as illogical or too difficult. One can thereby watch a trend in the adventure genre, to be everybodies darling by reducing the difficulty level and complexity? What do you think about it?
The Moment of Silence will surely be no easy game. We believe that one can absolutely make demands on the players, as long as the story offers enough motivation. Thats what an adventure game is about. If puzzles are found unfair and annoying, either the difficulty level doesnt match the importance of the puzzles, or the story doesnt provide any plausible reason or youve got too little information for this puzzle. Gamers get annoyed about such puzzles - and they are right. Solving a difficult puzzle itself is no punishment for an adventuregamer, but the highest reward. Solved puzzles get the story going, open new locations, change characters and are thus keys to the adventure experience. The story has to involve the gamers in such a way, that he fights for the solution with all his energy, because he wants to know how the story continues.
Competition stimulates business as everybody knows. Im not asking to rate other games, but do you find time to play games of competitors? And when you do it, are you able to play them 'just for fun or alway with the critical eye of a game developer?
Its true, looking at other titles the analyzing way often spoils the fun. You always subliminal look at technical matters, features and the total impression. But Im glad about the good titles, because they show us, what is possible, what must be topped and also what we can do better than all the others. Thats extremely motivating.
"The Mystery of the Druids" is a mouse-controlled 2D/3D-adventure with easy handling. Compared with this is there anything to improve in "The Moment of Silence"?
There will be always something to improve :-) The controls will remain the same essentially. MOS is a point&click-game, both mouse-buttons must be used and the inventory is opened on mouse-over. Serious changes were only made concerning the dialogue-system, and a few hotkeys are added for certain functions.
What will the dialogue-system look like and can you tell us about the amount of text already?
We calculate about 8 hours of speech.
The dialogue-system will be multiple-choice-kind, we will offer easy access to all dialogue options and in each case the possibility to practically stop a conversation. We learned from our experiences with the Druids, that gamers find it a harassment, to lead a once started conversation to the end - even skipping it with a key doesnt make them feel better. This time we do everything to mediate between dialogue-coherence and flexibility of the gamer.
"The Moment of Silence" should become a game for ALL graphic cards. Is it actually feasible, to include all possibilities and will this time again players with aged hardware cope with it?
Of course we cant garantee a 100% compatibility with all theoretical possible system configurations. But this time we cooperate with a very professional QA-company, and our engine doesnt use any more components, that were a problem in the past. The system requirements will be low in any case, thats the advantage of a largely prerendered game.
This time we apply in this way never seen before 3D-functions - realtime-snow and -rain will fall, and our characters have a multiple times higher resolution compared to the Druids. Nevertheless with our efforts in realtime-3D-technique every low-end-machine will easily run the game.
House of Tales has found a new publisher in dtp tainment, that pays very much attention to adventure games and presents a remarkable line-up. How important is a publisher for success?
The importance of a publisher cannot be overestimated. The publisher must not only have organisation- and distribution capabilities, to place a title on the market, they must also know (and appreciate) the genre and how to reach the target group.
Dtp/shoebox has proved in the past, that they understand the adventure market extremely well and market first class titles extremely well either. Dtp is about to take a top position as adventure publisher. They have a capable, top-motivated and enthusiastic team - and we believe, that they will make a big success out of The Moment of Silence. We feel very comfortable in a line-up together with The Longest Journey, Runaway, The Westerner and Tony Tough.
And of course we would like to head this line-up, we are very immodest concerning this.
Its obvious that we will cooperate with the best adventure publishers in other territories too.
Which territories do you mean? Can you already name publishers?
As soon as we have binding agreements with publishers, we will certainly name them. You can assume that the game will be localized in several languages.
How can our readers get information about the game? When do you plan to release a demo version?
Oh, quite a lot is coming up to you! Next we present MOS at the Games Convention 2003. After that the official website will be relaunched and dtp will gradually publish stuff after the start of the official campaign. We keep our community informed by the HoT-newsletter and our forum.
I dont want to say anything positive at the moment about the release of a demo - it will come, but I cant tell you the date yet.
Many thanks and get on well with it!
I have to thank you. Good luck with your unbeatable site and thanks to the community out there, websites and gamers, who supported House of Tales during the last years. We will repay you with a great game.