Game-Over! interviews Tony Warriner (Director) Revolution Software.
Q: How long did you work on Broken Sword, and how big was the development team?
A: We started work on the conceptual aspects of Broken Sword about six months before 'Beneath A Steel Sky' shipped in April 1994 - so development time has been 2.5 years. The development team started with two designers and grew to include a producer, a layout artist, 6 animators, a layout colourer, three programmers plus external animators, a musician and a sound effects composer. Not to mention dozens of testers.
Q: Broken Sword is based around the Knights Templars - Was there any specific reason for this? Or was it just the way the story developed?
A: The Templars offered fascinating subject matter because of the intrigue and conspiracy concerning their history. Perfect for a story aimed at an older age group.
Q: A number of references are made to the history of the Knights Templars. Did you have to do a lot of research into the Templars or did you use some poetic license? :-)
A: We did a vast amount of research and got as much solid evidence as possible. But there is so much speculation that when we added our own, it became impossible to tell where the two merged.
Q: The user interface makes a lot of use of the right mouse button. I personally liked this, but I suspect that a number of people will find the interface 'cluttered'. Have you had any feed back on this and if so was is favourable?
A: The feedback on the interface was that it was intuitive. So far there hasn't been any negative feedback.
Q: What do think makes Broken Sword better than other graphical adventures?
A: We still have most of those people that worked on "Lure of the Temptress" - and so after six years we have a highly experienced team. Our aim with "Broken Sword" was to use this experience to maximise gameplay by focusing on the relevant elements - puzzles, script, graphics, music and sound effects. We have identified and concentrated on each aspect of gameplay. Firstly we have applied traditional story telling to a game - an area that has not been taken seriously in the past by the games development community. Layouts were hand drawn by a professional layout artist. Animation was drawn by cartoon animators. Music was composed by Barrington Pheloung - whose credits include Inspector Morse. Sound effects were composed by a professional effects studio.
Q: Will there be any changes/improvements to the user interface in the sequel?
A: The interface is being re-designed at present - so yes, there will be changes but they are not 100% decided yet.
Q: The graphics are all hand drawn - have you any plans to use FMV in the sequel?
A: I would consider FMV to be the playing of video sequences - not necessarily using live actors. So strictly speaking we used FMV in Broken Sword. We do not intend to use live actors in the sequel.
Q: Do you think that FMV makes an improvement to graphical adventures? Or does it distract from the story line?
A: The games that have featured FMV heavily have generally not delivered gameplay. People enjoy rewards and I think carefully judged use of FMV is suitable for this purpose but we wouldn't be interested in using it to any greater degree than it was in Broken Sword.
Q: The user manual has no section on what to do if the user cannot get the game to work for some reason. For example there is no section on setting up config.sys and/or autoexec.bat, only a phone number for support. Is this because you think people never read the manual? or do you feel that the installation process is sufficiently clever that it is not necessary?
A: Most of this information was contained in the read_me file. The packaging was created by Virgin who, having found that the install coped with most situations, decided not to dwell on a problem section. People don't like to read a manual - neither do I - because it is the developers responsibility to make the game work without having to resorting to fiddling with the autoexec.
Q: While I liked all of the characters, I felt that some of them appeared to be caricatures rather than real people, the policeman Moule for instance. Was this deliberate?
A: We found that graphically, a character could be pushed to a certain limit before it looked like a cartoon character. We tried to push all our characters (apart from George and Nico) to this limit but not beyond. If they looked like caricatures then we obviously went too far!
Q: All adventures games these days give a limited choice of what the central character can say, where as with the older text based adventures you could type in anything. Admittedly 90% of what was typed in was not understood, but do you feel that being able to type in your own questions/words would improve the game play?
A: This is very difficult to implement. The wider market wants a simple interface, the more die hard adventurers remember text adventures with great affection. We are exploring ways to combine the two - giving people more flexibility in what they say and do without cluttering the interface. There's no reason why a graphic adventure should be any less interactive than the old text games when you think about it.
Q: Are there any undocumented features in the game?
A: No ;-)
Q: Is there anything that you would have liked to include in the game but couldn`t for whatever reason?
A: Not really. I guess that's why it took 2.5 years to finish.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the project you and your team will be working on next?
A: We are playing with a number of ideas - but none of them are firmed up. One is a sequel to Broken Sword - ask us about this after Christmas and we will give you firm news.
Finally can I say thank you for not only producing an excellent adventure game but also for answering my questions.
No problem :-) - Tony Warriner (Revolution Software)