Published on June 17th, 2013 | by Joshua Philipp0
Interview: The Maker’s Eden Dev on Digital Storytelling
The Maker’s Eden is a futuristic noir adventure game presented in the style of a motion comic. We (TZ) had a chance to speak with developer Jaco Gerber (JG) about what we can expect from the upcoming title.
TZ: Just for starters, The Maker’s Eden has an interesting style, with almost a comic book look. Could you tell us about why you chose this style? What do you hope it will lend to the game?
JG: In all honestly, the small development budget had a lot to do with it. The elevator pitch was basically to create a slideshow style adventure game using hand drawn art, as opposed to 3D. It’s much easier to end up with 3D that looks cheap / low budget than well-painted art.
The jump from just hand-painted to hand-painted with comic book bits has to do with motion. Since we have no animation budget, activity has to be presented as stills, and the theory is that since people are already familiar with the way comics work, they’d accept this form of presentation easier.
In addition to the normal comic book styling of the dialogue and some “cut scenes” we also have a number of scenes in the exploration view constructed in layers, where we’ve added environment effects, some camera tricks and animation – much like they do in motion comics. This is purely just to create a bit more immersion and make it feel more alive. Using comic styling is certainly not a new idea though. The first time I saw it used as a way to present a game, was a 1986 ZX Spectrum game called Redhawk and have seen it used to good effect in Hotel Dusk.
(Interview continues after video)
TZ: In terms of the story, you mention that The Maker’s Eden has a “deep layer of socio-political commentary surrounding your personal story.” This sounds really interesting. Could you explain this?
JG: There are a number of things going on, mostly to do with the state the world is in. Unfortunately, revealing too much jumps right into spoiler territory. Some of what is there is purely matter-of fact, while other bits relate directly to your not-yet-revealed purpose in the story. It tackles issues like class-ism, while other parts are about what it means to be sentient and our nature as humans, good and bad.
We’re leaving enough clues and info scattered about for the player to be able to form a picture about how things are in this world, and with any luck also form opinions to discuss with others. There will be some players that just blaze through the story without stopping to smell the engine-grease, but the types of people that will get the most out of it are those who cheat on advent calendars to eat all the chocolates on day 1.
TZ: In terms of the story, it’s a retro-futuristic noir game based strongly around narrative. I know there has been a lot of discussion about games as a form of storytelling. How are you approaching this with The Maker’s Eden?
JG: In a lot of ways this leans more towards the “interactive story” or “visual novel” side of the “is this a game” scale. Where we are using the “game” part of its DNA more is how we’re leaving scatterings of info around for you to find and form a picture about the world outside the main story. The more you see, interact, explore and absorb, the more you experience.
There are puzzles in the game, but in general they are fairly easy and such that they don’t break the flow. “It’s dark, find a light switch” rather than “It’s dark, light up fluorescent tubing by rubbing it against wool”.
TZ: Is there anything else you’d like to say?