Interview: Marco Rosenberg of KING Art Games talks The Raven, Kickstarter and inspiration
Something I’ve noted before is how little attention the good old-fashioned Point ‘n Click adventure game has been getting for the past couple of years, always on the cusp of a come back, with many developers taking to Kickstarter as a means of funding some rather cool looking games from this ‘uncool’ genre. KING Art Games are looking to change that and bring the genre back into the lime light with the rather spectacular looking episodic adventure The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief.
Set to released later this year, The Raven puts you in the shoes of Anton Jakob Zellner, a Constable in the Swiss police in search of one more chance to prove himself as a great policeman and detective. The Raven was once a master criminal, responsible for stealing some of the world’s finest jewels and art pieces but now, years after his alleged capture, a copy cat has emerged and it’s up to you to stop him.
Combining some amazing visuals with everything you’d expect from a great adventure, The Raven is shaping up to be a great experience. Luckily I had the chance to sit down with Marco Rosenberg, Director of KING Art Games, to discuss The Raven and a little about its development.
As a multi-platform developer, what challenges do you face, specifically with the Xbox version, that you wouldn’t experience with other platforms?
[laughs] well we’re still working on the console version but I think it’s equally hard to do because Unity3D, the engine we use, isn’t as easy for ports as people think. There’s a lot of stuff we have to tweak and work arounds we have to make. It’s tough work if I judge it by the angry shouts of our programmer. I couldn’t say which console is harder, compared to the PC version it’s a lot of extra work because not only do we have to put the game on there one by one, we have to change the whole control system. You obviously don’t have a mouse so you control the character directly so we have to find a way to show what the character is looking at and how we can convey this to the player, so it’s a lot of extra work.
What point and click games do you draw inspiration from?
Well of course the old LucasArts classics like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango, but we don’t have any specific adventure title that we’ve drawn inspiration from for this one [the raven]. We’ve been adventure game fans for many years and we try to get the good things, the feeling of those old classics, over while adding some new things and fine tuning the controls.
What is it about the point and click genre that draws you into creating more adventures?
Well we like the exploration in an adventure game, it’s kind of like a movie that you watch only you can participate in the story and decide which way the story goes. That’s what we like about adventure games, many people also like the pace of the genre, you don’t need great reflexes, it’s kind of the counterpoint of action games.
The Raven has a very specific art style, what influences your art style for different games?
For this one we looked at the movie adaptations of Agatha Christie novels and movies like the Thomas crown affair or The Sting and tried to capture the mood and feeling in the era of the 60s. We did the same with the music, we looked at movies of that period and composers of that period and our composer tried to emulate that while bringing in his own coloring and style into the music.
So the art style was a reflection of the time period you chose, did you consciously choose the time period first? And if so what made you decide to make that step back in time?
Well the interesting thing about crime stories is searching for clues and stuff like that and it’s in a way much more interesting to do it in an older era rather than today. Today you’ve got a cell phone to call people whenever you want and you have digital cameras and other stuff which would make it much too easy to collect evidence and record stuff which would ruin the story. Back in those days it was more work and kind of had more flair, we were influenced by whodunnit stories and movies which tended to take place in the 60s or around that era. We really liked that time period and wanted to have our own story take place there.
With so much influence taken from Agatha Christie novels and whodunits within that period, did that impact why you chose to have a much older protagonist as opposed to that typical young and cocky all American hero?
He’s a little bit inspired by Poirot from Agatha Christie, we also wanted to have a hero that’s not the typical cliché hero who’s muscular and young who can do all kinds of action moves. We wanted to try something else and have a contrast to other games and game genres where you always have that prototype cliché heroes in which old people seldom play a very big part, maybe they’re their Grandfathers. We wanted a character that people would remember and that made sense.
The raven is an episodic release, was this something you decided straight off the bat or did you perhaps toy with the idea of a full retail release?
No we thought of an episodic release from the beginning, we wanted to have that cliffhanger experience that you get with a TV series or epic movie three-parters. We wanted to create that buzz around it so that after one episode is finished people can talk about it and speculate how the story will continue and which of the characters is most suspicious. The best part is no one can spoil the ending.
If you were talking about The Raven to someone who was completely new to the genre, what would you say makes it stand out from any of the other titles around today?
First of all it’s really beautiful with the overall presentation. We’ve put a lot of effort into the graphics and the lighting effects, which are very finely tuned. We have direct sun light, at night scenes we have torch-light and all kinds of lighting. It’s a very cinematic look and feel within the game, its got many camera changes and a lot of camera movement, also we have more character animations than all our previous games combined, it’s a very dynamic and cinematic feel we’ve achieved.
We’re at a point where the games industry is changing vastly, with mobile gaming growing ever popular and building a pretty big library, as well as many citing this coming generation as the last of the home consoles. Where do you see the industry moving in the next few years? Do you think consoles might disappear in favour of mobile and pc gaming?
[laughs] I think we haven’t thought that far ahead just yet, especially since adventure games don’t play a big role on consoles any more. We really hope that our game will become part of a movement that will make adventure games popular in the public again. I think each platform is suitable for special kinds of games and it’s still in an experimentation phase for what games best suit each platform. While tablets are a nice idea, and you can take games with you, the graphic power of tablets isn’t as good as consoles or PC and Mac just yet, so you can’t take any kind of game and put it on mobile devices. I think there will still be differentiation between different platforms, it’s still an experimental phase as to which game will win on what platform.
Recently you successfully received funding for Battle Worlds: Kronos on Kickstarter, which has recently become a popular place to fund Point ‘n Click games (in fact they are the most backed of all games on there to date) do you think this will help to see a rise in popularity for the genre?
We hope so! We’ve also backed those other Kickstarter projects ourselves and we’re looking forward to seeing those released. Each new adventure game, especially on Kickstarter, brings more attention to the whole genre of adventure games. Lets hope those games are good and more people will want to play them and adventure games will rise up once again! [laughs]
I completely agree with Marco and can’t wait for the day when gamers display their mental prowess just as proudly as their itchy trigger fingers.
Thanks to Marco from King Arts games for sitting down to have a chat with us and if you haven’t already, then head over to the official website and check out The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief. If you’re itching for some gameplay in the meantime you can head over here for a rather cool interactive novel which acts as a sublime prequel to the forthcoming Raven title.