Adventure-Treff: Hello Thomas, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! In a nutshell, what is The Realm about?
Thomas Sziertes: The Realm is set in a far distant future, so it’s kind of our world but in a future where civilization has passed and nature has reclaimed the earth. And it’s also a time where there’s a return of myth and magic. So the age of science is gone and people go back to simpler lives and people are starting to believe in magic. The story follows a girl called Sarina who lives in a small village. Her mother falls sick and basically there doesn’t seem to be any cure for her. But Sarina thinks there’s a cure in a mystical flower. So she goes on a quest to find this flower. And on that journey she meets this giant stone Golem called Toru who’s like a creature of legend and they both kind of become friends. And the crux of this adventure game is this journey from the village and the quest upon the flower. But I don’t want to give away too much of it. But that’s essentially what the story is about, and the relationship between the two characters. And I think that’s the interesting thing about the game. You don’t see it too often that there are truly two character games and that’s something we are very interested in. You’ll get to use both character abilities in order to solve the puzzles. And also you’ll get to see how their relationship differs.
A-T: Andy mentions Machinarium as an inspiration for puzzle design. Does this mean you will have little or no dialog in the game?
Thomas: No, we plan to have dialog in the game. It’s not gonna be a silent game although I don’t think Toru is much of a talker. The way I imagine it is that there will be story development and items you might collect and maybe read. But it’s not gonna be text heavy. We are going to try it as much visually as we can.
A-T: How much playtime do you aim for?
Thomas: It’s not going be a long game, as we are aiming to create a very high quality. We have obviously budgeted a small game but we hope the length will be similar to a game like Machinarium, this will depend slightly on whether we hit our stretch goals.
A-T: The projects you list as a reference are not adventure games. How did you get the idea of creating and adventure?
Thomas: Well it was something that we all really wanted to do and something that fits just perfectly with our skill set and team size. We wanted to play to our strengths and that is in telling great stories and creating immersive game experiences, plus we had the talent 2D art skills of team at Atomhawk who had already started to develop the unique visual style of the Realm. We didn’t want to go and try to raise a 3D shooting game or FPS. The budgets involved and the way it would fit the game just wouldn’t be right. So we wanted to make a project that we could create a high quality experience that people would really enjoy but in a manageable budget and within a manageable time frame for raising the money for it. And we went for an adventure also because we really, really love playing these games and feel that modern console games have lost some of the imagination that historical adventure games have.
A-T: Would you say making a profitable adventure game is difficult?
Thomas: I would say it is difficult but we’re not so interested in making profit, you know, this is a project we really want to do. We’ve all worked for big game publishers and done many cool projects. But this is something that’s close to our hearts, it’s really our thing. And thanks to Kickstarter we’ve got our creative freedom. The main goal is to create a product that we are really proud of and that we can share with others. But If it makes money then that’s brilliant.
A-T: In your campaign you are saying that you are going to reinvent the Adventure genre. Why is that? What are you planning to do?
Thomas: Well it’s more like an evolution. Some of the things we found a bit frustrating in some adventure games was having to hunt around and trying to find items you need to interact with. Or if you end up with a big inventory and you’re just trying each item with the object you’re supposed to be interacting with and just hope that one of it works. So this is the kind of stuff we’re trying to remove. What we have is a contextual menu system and that means that when your character approaches an object it highlights and then a set of contextual menus appears nearby the object. And depending on the context and the character there will be different sets of actions. And also we have this thing were Sarina can teach Toru things, so there’s a learning mechanism there. So in that sense it’s quite different from a very traditional point and click adventure where you find an object, pick it up and try to apply it to another object to solve a puzzle. We are trying to do something a little bit different here.
A-T: 195.000 Pounds is a rather small budget, do you have any other funding sources?
Thomas: Yeah, we are kind of funding it ourselves and we are also talking to investors as well. So that it all kind of adds up.
A-T: In the FAQ you are saying that there will be a German version as well. Will it have voice overs?
Thomas: It depends on the money. At the minimum there will be text in English, German, French, Italien and Spanish. And we are definitely having some voice over in the English version, although we don’t know at this stage how much it will be. But it’s something that we’d like to put in there. It’s not confirmed and we don’t have any specific goals for voice overs.
A-T: Thank you very much and good luck with The Realm!