Adventure-Treff.de: „Hello Christopher. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Please introduce yourself to our readers.“
Christopher Brendel: „Hi everyone, my name is Christopher Brendel, and I run Unimatrix Productions, an independent computer game company out of Aurora, Illinois.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „What are you doing when you don't create games?“
Christopher Brendel: „Right now, I'm finishing my college degree. After attending college for some time, I decided to drop out to start Unimatrix Productions and make games full time. About a year ago, I decided to add some validity to my love of game development, and so I returned to school, where I am majoring in Game Design.
When I'm not in class, I like to write. I've always been a writer at heart, and it is my interest in storytelling that brought me to where I am today. My other hobbies include music composition, cooking, reading, and playing basketball. I'm also a big movie buff.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „What are your favorite adventure games, which ones influenced you the most?“
Christopher Brendel: „Oh wow, this is a hard one. I have played so many games over the years. In fact, as a recent college assignment, I was asked to make a list of every game I have ever played and rate each game from 1 to 5 stars. As of now, the list is at 577 games...and more get added regularly! My absolute favorite game of all-time has to be a little-known horror adventure called Realms of the Haunting. It came out in 1997 and was published by Interplay. Though it isn't a pure adventure game (as it has some first person shooting elements), it encompasses what I love most about adventures--an amazing story. Plus, the game was quite scary for its time! My upcoming game Stonewall Penitentiary has Realms of the Haunting to thank for its interface. Realms of the Haunting was unique in that, though it was an adventure, it had a first person shooter-like interface and controls. It is what inspired me to attempt making an adventure with a first person shooter interface.
I have also been greatly inspired by the Gabriel Knight series. These games, to me, represent the pinnacle of storytelling in the genre. Never before had I become so attached to characters in a game. Gabriel, Grace, and the others all felt like real, three dimensional characters. I knew them as well as the characters in any novel I had ever read. To this day, I still hold out naiive hope that a fourth game will be made.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „After Lifestream and Shady Brook, The Filmmaker is the third adventure game you have finished. What is the main difference between The Filmmaker and your previous projects?“
Christopher Brendel: „The Filmmaker is a complete departure from my previous works. Lifestream and Shady Brook were both driven by their storylines. The former told the story of a complex, troubled, lonely man and his growing discontentment regarding his faith. The latter dealth with a small town shrouded in mystery, its citizens holding a dark secret.
The Filmmaker, in contrast, is a puzzle-based game. On occassion, I like to go back to early adventure games, to remind myself of the genre's roots. One day, I was playing the original Myst, and I - expectedly - was stuck on one particular puzzle. While trying to figure out the solution, it occured to me that most modern games don't have puzzles as complex as the one on which I was stuck. I then looked for other older puzzle adventures that I had in my collection. After completing Myst, I played The 7th Guest, Shivers, and Shivers II. These types of games, where puzzles take center stage and you discover the story through exploration and reading instead of cinematic cutscenes, aren't really made anymore. I decided I wanted to make one.
So The Filmmaker was born. It doesn't contain the same depth of story as Lifestream and Shady Brook; instead, it features a complex series of puzzles, combined with lots of exploration and discovery, that harken back to those early adventures.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „How did you get the idea to let a game play inside of movies?“
Christopher Brendel: „This is an idea that I had as a child. I have been interested in game design my entire life, and by the age of twelve, I had already come up with several game concepts. This was one of them. As a kid, I was obsessed with video games; I played them all the time. I loved movies, too, but I was always annoyed that they were non-interactive. Video games at the time didn't have outstanding graphics by today's standards, of course, and so I wished that someone could find a way to take a movie - with all its visual wonders - and turn it into a game. I started to imagine what it would be like to go into my favorite movies and alter their plots, changing the outcomes. It didn't take me long to realize that this concept would make a great game.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „What audience is The Filmmaker made for? Can it be compared with previous games from other developers?“
Christopher Brendel: „The Filmmaker is geared toward adventure gamers who prefer 1st person puzzle-based games to 3rd person story-based ones. Fans of games like Myst, The 7th Guest, and Shivers, should really enjoy it. Those who prefer lots of character interaction and dislike puzzle solving will probably not.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „You have stopped the development of Stonewall Penitentiary to finish The Filmmaker. You first announced that it is canceled and now that The Filmmaker is done you want to continue it. What's the reason? Did the process of making The Filmmaker inspire you to continue Stonewall Penitentiary or is it just because you've spent so much time into development in the past?“
Christopher Brendel: „Stonewall Penitentiary was never announced as cancelled. I had originally announced it as "on hold", which is where it remains today. The story of Stonewall Penitentiary is important to me, and I think it will be very well-liked. Also, I firmly believe that the user interface and gameplay elements of Stonewall Penitentiary are revolutionary and have the potential to change the genre. As such, there is no doubt in my mind that the game will be completed...eventually. I simply want to wait until I have the resources to complete it well, serving my original concept justice. If I were to rush its completion now and turn over a poorly-designed product, then it wouldn't only disappoint me, but gamers everywhere. Though it may be a while before work on this project continues, I think that it will be well worth the wait!“
Adventure-Treff.de: „Stonewall is very much different from The Filmmaker. While The Filmmaker is a puzzle based 1st-Person-Adventure, Stonewall Penitentiary is full 3D and uses controls similar to a First-Person-Shooter. Do you think this involves the player deeper into gameplay or did you just want to try something different?“
Christopher Brendel: „This harkens back to my all-time favorite game, Realms of the Haunting. Realms of the Haunting featured a first person shooter-like interface and controls. When I played the game, I thought I'd soon start to see similar games on the market. Yet, the concept never seemed to catch on. I do think that a first person interface such as this immerses the player more heavily into the game's world than other interfaces. I've played many FPS games, such as Half-Life 2, and I've always thought that the adventure game industry has potential to utilize this kind of interface. It is my hope that Stonewall Penitentiary will tap into this potential.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „What about your older games? There are not much copies left of Lifestream and Shady Brook is out of stock. Are you planning to re-release them in versions that are compatible with newer versions of windows? Maybe as a compilation?“
Christopher Brendel: „I'm not planning on that at this time. Lifestream and Shady Brook will always remain dear to me, as they were my first works. But right now, I'd like to focus on the future. One day, I may consider re-releasing them with a graphical update, but there I have no concrete plans to do so.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „You are selling your games as boxed versions only. Do you have plans for digital distribution? Are there plans for translations?“
Christopher Brendel: „I am actually considering digital distribution, and I have been in talks with a few people regarding this option. Nothing has been set in stone yet, though. If my games do go up for sale digitally, it won't be for at least a few months. I don't have any plans for translations at this time.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „Do you have any plans for future projects after Stonewall is finished?“
Christopher Brendel: „I have several projects in the works, actually. Some of them may even be completed before Stonewall Penitentiary. I am not ready to discuss any of them quite yet, though. I will say that a few of these projects are actually not games, but should still appeal to fans of my other works.“
Adventure-Treff.de: „Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview.“
Christopher Brendel: „It's my pleasure! Thank you for the opportunity!“