At now, Pig-Min did an Interview via e-mail with 'Jonathan Boakes' who made [Dark Fall].
Korean version of this interview.
You did legendary indie game work with [Dark Fall]. Made by only 1 man
-> Advertised through Adventure forums as GB -> Made contract
with 'Adventure Company' even with unmade sequel at then. It's very
successful for 1 man army indie work, and many people might be curious
about the story. Could you please tell some Episodes about that?
interesting question. Looking back, to 2001, it does seem very
unbelievable that such a small indie, self-made garage game could go
onto to spawn a sequel (with another in pre-production) and get
globally published in 6 languages, including Russian and Italian! I'd
love to inspire, and comfort, future indie game developers by saying
that the process and creation of an adventure was easy. It wasn't. It
was a task that required great determination, patience and a little
insanity. I remember working on models for Dark Fall (my first
experience with both 3D modelling and game coding) until 5am each
morning, and rising again at 10am. I was working, part time, as a sushi
chef, throughout the production, which was exhausting work. Working
such long hours, alone, during the dark night hours obviously
influenced the actual game. Gamers have described Dark Fall as a
lonely, dark and haunting experience. I often used to listen to the BBC
World Service (a 24hr global radio station) throughout the night, which
may explain why many of the ghostly characters encountered in Dark Fall
are just voices, with no solid presence. I encountered lots of spooky
moments while creating the game. The most chilling involved
someone/something tapping at the window, at 2am. London is a big, busy
city, so there is always the chance it was someone playing a prank, but
the fact is, I couldn't see anyone outside the window, or in the street
outside. Perhaps I like to think that supernatural forces were at play
while creating the first of the spooky Dark Fall games.
2. Are you satisfied with 'Adventure Company' as distibutor?
Dark Fall, and
Lights Out, did appear on shelves across the US and Europe (for a very
short period, in some cases), so I was satisfied with that. Beyond
that, I can't think of much to say. Publishing independent games has
changed in recent years, as larger publishers ignore the genre, and
newer (more funky, and lively) publishers appear to take up the
challenge of getting games into peoples homes.
After [Dark Fall], many other Indie Adventure Games are made &
published. Some are self-published, and some got contract with
distributor. You are pioneer of those new market. What do you think
about new breeze like that?
is not only an excellent option for new developers, it pays well too.
There are so many plus sides to the experience that it is hard to think
why more don't give it a go. The positives include: knowing how many
copies you have sold, how much the publishing costs were, who is buying
your game, where did they find it and creating artwork yourself, that
explains the content of the game, rather than hides it under gloss and
false promise. All of the above can be hard to achieve with a
commercial publisher. It is well known, and almost stereotypical, that
publishers do not like to part with money, especially royalties. With
self publishing, you can make as much money, honestly, as you work for.
Promoting a game on adventure forums is only the start. A printed
magazine, non-game website, newspaper or radio show will provide
advertising space to an independent in much the same way as a
commercial publisher. Obviously, an independent doesn't have the
initial financial support like a commercial, so you have to pick your
targets wisely. Paying for advertisements in the game magazines is pure
silliness. You are competing with the big titles, with all their glitz
and gloss. It is far better to focus on a publication that suits your
market. For example, the recent indie adventure 'Barrow Hill ( http://www.barrow-hill.co.uk )'
was advertised in science fiction fanzines, archaeology journals and
magazines regarding the supernatural. The advertisement space was
affordable, and got the game noticed by those who would buy it.
self-publication can be the start of bigger things. A game which
gathers some successful reviews is bound to be more appetising to
publishers. There are publishers who look to get indies on shelves, and
promote them correctly. Sadly, there are not that many, which means
competition is not too good. If approached by a publisher, always ask
other developers (who have been published on that label) about their
experience. You could save yourself a lot of heartache, misery and
poverty by asking the simple question: "What has your experience been
like with the publishers". Some developers may not answer, but some
will. A little information is always better than no information.
4. Did you have any Job contract with another Game company, due to success of [Dark Fall]?
I was approached
by a few UK based multimedia outfits, and one in Venice!, who wished to
create a game using their work force. These companies were producing
websites, Shockwave material and menus for DVDs. They expressed a
desire to move into games, after witnessing that indie games can sell
well, and gather good reviews. I met some great people during that
period, some of which I still work with today. Rather than join a
company, and move from London, I decided to change my existing one-man
XXv Productions to an umbrella organisation known as Darkling Room.
There's no actual office building, or permanent team, instead I offer
recording equipment, a skill base and specialist software to those who
need it. In return, I get to ask difficult questions of professionals,
and seek advice from those who have far more experience than I do. I
couldn't have created my new game, 'The Lost Crown: a ghosthunting
adventure ( http://www.thelostcrown.co.uk
)' without some guidance with scripting, animating and postproduction.
No money changes hands at Darkling Room, as it suits us better to share
what we have, and support each others projects.
5. Can you tell me how you chose Horror genre?
I love it! But,
strictly speaking, Dark Fall and Lights Out are not 'horror' games as
such. There's no blood, gore or monsters. I prefer to think of them as
supernatural thrillers, ghost stories or detective fiction. There are
ghosts, but they are not dispatched with guns or actions. Whereas The
Lost Crown, does involve blood, a little gore and some menacing foes.
Some will be conquered using your wits and ghosthunting skills, whereas
others will require you to hide, escape or exorcise them. Dark Fall, on
the other hand, was much more about understanding why ghosts exist, how
they are created and what they need to leave the mortal world, and
travel on into spirit.
6. Did you get some influence from Book - Movie - Music - Game, when you made [Dark Fall]?
I grew up
watching lots of ghost stories, both on television and film, as well as
listening to spooky stories on the radio and reading strange tales late
at night. There is no one definite influence on Dark Fall, but the
ghost stories from the 20th Century and British supernatural children's
television would be high on a list of suspects. Time travel fantasy
such as Sapphire & Steel and Doctor Who would have influenced
aspects such as character and location. The haunted train station and
hotel, seen in Dark Fall, were inspired by a story regarding an
isolated rural train line and the story Room 13 by the famous writer,
7. Do you have some connection with other Indie Scene, not just Adventure Gaming? Gave & Got some influence from them?
I often hear from
new developers, especially independents, who like to say 'hello' and
talk about their project. I wouldn't say I influence any of them, but
it's good to feel that people can approach me and ask advice, should
they need it. I worked quite closely with Shadow Tor Studios in the
summer (Barrow Hill) and provided some voice work for MDNA's game (Time
Stands Still) and Nucleosys (Scratches).
8. Can you pick your 'Top 5 Game' list? (If you can, each list for Major / Indie. Or just whole 5 list.)
Top 5 games, yes?
Both indie and none indie? Hmm, that's going to be difficult, as I've
played quite a lot of games. Let me think....
Ok, Major Commercial games would be be:
1: Morrowind: Bloodmoon.
was an expansion pack for the popular RPG. It features some brilliant
puzzles, spread across a chilling landscape. The action can get a
little boring, but the quests, characters and cleverness help promote
this game to all-time-favourite....for now!
sequel to Myst is still a favourite. The landscape is gorgeous, the
music is haunting and many of the puzzles were brilliantly integrated
into the world. I should mention that it does get bad points for that
last puzzle. Picking up and positioning rubbish looking coloured dots
is a terrible way to finish off a gaming experience. Thankfully,
memories of the main game help me to ignore that aspect of the game.
3: Zork Nemesis:
of the Zork games tend to criticise this instalment into the series for
being too dark and miserable. I don't see that myself. It's full of
sophisticated, dark humour and inventive puzzles. This was the first
adventure that I played, and it stays in memory as being one of the
4: Condemned: Criminal Origins:
might think this is an odd choice, but I absolutely loved this game.
It's brutal, violent, sadistic and utterly bonkers. The story shifts,
twists and spirals out of control. Favourite moments include the moment
when a dirty shop dummy blinked at me, and them attacked, or being
hunted through an abandoned house by a masochistic and lethal killer.
5: No-one Lives Forever 2:
'action' game. This has enough adventure elements, and story, to
warrant a look-in by the adventure purists. Locations like the Indian
Streets and the Siberian Military Base are beautifully constructed and
feature lots of detail and gaming experimentation. I particularly liked
hiding in the darkened military barracks, watching soldiers come and
go, visit the toilet, chat with each other and share cigarettes. Maybe
that says far too much about my personality, but I found the experience
fascinating. It was a crime that a third game was not produced.
Top 5 indie games, should be easier to pinpoint:
1: Barrow Hill:
was an easy choice. Some may smirk at my choice, given that I was
involved in some parts of the production, but simply put, it's one of
the best indie adventures ever produced. It features logical, world
based puzzles which build to a larger enigma, a spooky (but fun)
atmosphere and an enlightening story regarding ancient pagan forces.
It's a 80% non-linear experience and features multiple endings! What
more would an adventure gamer want? I see the Korean 'Post Adventure'
website gave the game 85%, so I'm not the only one who thinks Barrow
Hill is a great adventure title.
2: The Agon series:
a same there's no sign of the new Agon chapter, as this is a brilliant
adventure series. The Private Moon developers prove that independent
doesn't mean 'amateur'. A few trashy, badly constructed and composed
indie titles have damaged the adventure scene, which companies like
Shadow Tor and Private Moon help to re-balance. These games definitely
deserve to be published for global gamers to enjoy.
atmosphere and detail in Scratches is very impressive. I particularly
liked wandering around the deserted country house on a rainy Sunday
afternoon, while thunder rumbled outside and something nasty stalked
the hallways. The puzzles are not the best feature of the game, so
great sound design and music help make this a favourite of recent
years. In terms of a debut effort from the developers, Nucleosys, it's
a fantastic effort.
Mueller's lovingly produced Myst/Riven homage is easy to like. The
puzzles are brilliant brainstrainers, the locations are solid enough to
feel interesting and the rusted/derelict atmosphere is positively
decadent. More often than not, I felt like I was wandering around some
long lost cold war installation, left to crumble into nothingness.
5: The Carol Reed Mysteries:
have, so far, created 3 adventure games. I think that's incredibly
impressive. The games are enjoyable, light and unpretentious (which may
be why they are lesser known). I personally like to play each new title
with a group of friends, with some good wine and endless snacks! The
slide-show, paint effect graphics are always pleasant, and evoke
feelings of nostalgia or lost memories. Basically, they have a dreamy,
existential quality which I haven't seen in other games.
9. Have you ever experienced, or even heard about, Korean Games?
know. Many games, by the time they arrive at European shores, have been
localised and changed for the market. I play a lot of Playstation
games, as well as PC, so I am bound to have experienced some Korean
games. I am a big fan of Korean horror/supernatural cinema. Particular
favourites include: Whispering Corridors, Into The Mirror and A Tale of
Two Sisters. These films appeal to my tastes in the supernatural and
feature super, intelligent stories which have left me thinking hours
after the DVD has stopped spinning.
10. Can you send some promo copy for next game, to PIG(http://www.pig-min.com) and PA(http://www.postadventure.com , Korean Adventure Zine - Forum)?
Yes. Definitely. I am more than happy to make sure that news regarding my games travels as far and as wide as possible.
11. Please leave some message for Korean readers.