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Interview with Jane Jensen


Interview with Jane Jensen

We had the pleasure of speaking to Jane Jensen, who participated on the development of minor works such as Eco Quest and big adventure games such as King's Quest VI in Sierra, but whose biggest merits come from her own adventure game series: Gabriel Knight. Considered by many people as the best series of the genre, Gabriel Knight baptized Jane Jensen as she's today worthy known: as the "Queen of the adventure game".

# By Paco García, translated by Gabriel Sanmartín | March, 2002

AyC: A lot of professionals of the entertainment world have said that the adventure game genre is practically dead, despite the heaps of fan lovers of the genre. Many experts claim that the bad thing about adventure games is the impossibility to replay them once you have finished them already; others say they will die because the unability to use the last technologies and the on-line feature on them. However, your games had always a steady technical progression (cartoons, FMV and finally real-time 3D). What will be the next step?

Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of th

Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is the culmination of Jensen's stardom. With it, she gave a lesson to all those who used to say that the adventure games and the 3D were incompatible concepts.

JJ: Well, if I do make another game –and I would like too– eventually I would love to work in true VR. But that is quite far down the road. If I were to make a game next year we'd probably still be working in 3D, albeit better 3D. Personally, I think adventure games are more like film than any other kind of game. Does anyone say you shouldn't write a book or make a movie because you can't reread/rewatch it? What does that have to do with anything? How many times do people really spend replaying action games? Especially where there are always another 20 NEW action games released any given month?

AyC: Some others claim that making a good adventure game is too expensive, and the companies prefer to go safely rather than making an adventure game which won't propably be productive (in the US; in Europe the genre is between the three most sellers). Still, the amateur scene is becoming very popular, entertaining thousands of players with few resources and without using the newest technologies. What do you think is the reason of this contradiction?

Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within

With Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within the Pennsylvanian designer excelled herself showing a truly unusual narrative talent. As truly unusual as it was the huge investment done for that game…

A possible solution to this problem would be the creation of generic engines that many companies could use, as they do with the first person shooters and 3D arcade games. Do you think this could be possible? Some time ago we read about the unlucky Leisure Suit Larry 8, wich was going to be released featuring real time 3D graphics. Was Sierra planning to use this engine in your Gabriel Knight 3, and in the future production, like was did years ago with AGI and SCI?

JJ: The problem is that the game market expects and demands the latest, hottest technology. It's not just the fans but the media. A game that is not using the latest/slickest "look" will probably get entirely ignored by the media. And yes, it is too expensive to develop an adventure game in that environment. Right now an adventure game vs action game is like an independent film vs a Hollywood action movie. If independent films cost as much to make as, say, Terminator then you wouldn't see any independent movies because they'd never make back that investment. And that is the problem we have with adventure games. They DO cost as much to make as the big action titles. That is a problem we need to solve. Would going to a single engine like the old days of SCI solve it? I do think that's a viable solution. But it would take a company committed to producing adventure games to make that happen and enough of a media venue for these kinds of games to get promoted to their own audience.

AyC: According to the "legend", only three days after the release of Gabriel Knight 2 the first petition for a third part was made. Something similar happened with Gabriel Knight 3; lots of fans are still requesting a new sequel… Many of us still remember that reference in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned when you typed "GK4" in Sydney. Were you actually planning to make that sequel? Was it going to be as the computer said?

JJ: Yes, you can see in the ending of Gabriel Knight 3 that there were plans for a sequel. If I had thought "this is the last" I would have tried to wrap things up more neatly. And yes, my plans for Gabriel Knight 4 at that time involved ghosts and was to be set in England.

AyC: In the last weeks some rumours were going round, and seem to have enough substance behind them. These point out that Sierra Studios is about to revive one of the best series of the old Sierra On-Line: Space Quest. We can't avoid to ask you: What do you think about this? Do you think it is possible that the "new" Sierra will give another chance to its classic series? If Sierra asked you to do it, would you make another Gabriel Knight 4? Do you think this could actually happen?

JJ: It does seem as though the new management at Sierra is looking once again at Sierra's older properties and wondering what might be done with them. It's an encouraging sign. As for what may happen with Gabriel Knight or any of the other Sierra series, I really don't know at this time.

Gabriel Knight: The Sins of the Fathers, book vers

As Gabriel Knight, Jensen also devotes herself to writing. So much so that no one but she wrote the books of her acclaimed series.

AyC: Now you're totally focused in the literary creation. You've now published Millenium Rising, besides the adaptations of the Gabriel Knight series… Haven't you ever felt like coming back to the gaming world since 1999?

JJ: I have enjoyed the "time off" and wasn't really interested in doing another game right away. But I'm definitely feeling it's time to get back in there. If I get the chance to do something in the gaming world, I will.

AyC: Finally, a classic question: What would you say to that amount of fans that want to be like Jane Jensen?

JJ: I never know what to say to aspiring designers/writers other than to read and/or play the best stuff and not the crap because what you read/play will effect your own voice; learn what you really are drawn to and love because that's your field and you have to know what that is; and put your energy where your mouth is. Design if you want to be a designer. Write if you want to be a writer. Natural talent has an impact, yes, but just like a star athlete or musician, what counts in the end is the amount of time you are willing to put into practice, practice, practice.

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