Adventure-Treff: Thanks for taking your time to answer our questions. We really appreciate it in the middle of a kickstarter campaign. Can you please introduce yourself and Skygoblin to our readers?
Theodor Waern: Hey guys! Thanks for taking your time! I'm Theo, one of three SkyGoblins and I mostly work with puzzle design, writing and backdrop art. I'm the guy who originally came up with "The Journey Down", but it has since long become a series that all three of us contribute to equally. SkyGoblin is a small Swedish independent studio who's been around for roughly ten years. Other than me, the team consists of Henrik, the artist/animator and Mathias, the writer and programmer.
A.-T.: If the Kickstarter project fails, how will this affect the development of episode 3?
Theo: To be honest, we're afraid that if we can't secure funding from kickstarter, it will significantly hurt the scope and bombasticness of the final episode. It will get made, one way or another, but kickstarter is our chance to make it as grand as we wish for it to be. Also, if the KS fails, we're going to have to spend more time scrounging up funds from other places, which means there will also be a pretty serious delay, if the kickstarter fails.
A.-T.: After creating the original The Journey Down in Adventure Game Studio you decided to develop your own engine, Gobby, in order to create the HD version of the game. Wouldn't it have been easier to choose something like Unity instead (with for example mobile support out of the box)?
Theo: Well, first of all, keep in mind that while Unity did indeed exist back then (nearly four years ago) it's support for 2d game development was extremely limited. Not to mention it's portability. Regardless, one of the main reasons for us to build our own tech was to - from the ground up - create a pipeline designed specifically for our technical needs, no more, no less. One of the technical perks with gobby, for an instance, is how fast it loads images. This has enabled the game to feature tons and tons of pre-rendered data, which in other engines would have loaded a lot slower, and thus created slow loading times between rooms. Something that I detest with a vengeance.
A.-T.: What were the key influences for coming up with this kind of story? Any books, movies or personal experiences that lead to this unique setting and content?
Theo: The original idea of the African-inspired setting comes fro my childhood. I grew up in a home full of African masks and music. That's he base. On top of that I think the main inspiration has been my love for adventure and exploration, whether it's exploring Melée Island or real life traveling to Tanzania, I always enjoy exploring new settings and moods, and that's the core of what TJD is. Exploring settings. As for specific works of art that have influenced me, I'd say a lot comes from my love of traditional adventures like the Indiana Jones movies or the LEC catalog of point & clicks.
A.-T.: The game world of TJD plays in looks profound and fascinating, and it would be a waste of potential to only use it for TJD. What vision do you have on how to further use it? Adventure games? Other games? Other media? Do you have any plans for the time after TJD?
Theo: I have all sorts of ideas on how to keep on producing stuff in the world of TJD after the trilogy is done. I've got one interactive-novel type idea, one zelda clone and at least one more idea for a traditional point & click in the same universe. These are all prequels/sequels/paralellquells however, and are not part of the main TJD trilogy story arc. Indeed, I would hate to leave the wonderful world of TJD after the trilogy is done, though I'm sure we'll want a break from it for a little while before we delve in again.
A.-T.: A lot of crazy ideas and characters made it into your games. Do you think this would have been possible if you were under direction of a publisher?
Theo: Nope, not unless it was an extremely laid back publisher who put insane amounts of trust in our abilities. I firmly believe that the overall high standards that we've been able to keep in TJD are due to the fact that we've been able to work on the games without outside pressure. We've been able to allow ourselves to write and then rewrite and then rewrite a hundred times more, manic about the quality of the end product. A publisher would never let us do that unless they had an extreme respect and understanding for how important it is for a point & click adventure to grow organically. The basic script and design always suck. It needs a thousand rewrites before it's good. It's that easy. Since we're independent we can allow ourselves to always let the quality of the product come first.
A.-T.: Are you afraid of offending feelings unintentionally (for using racial stereotypes)?
Theo: We've got goofy black characters, just like a lot of games feature goofy white characters. For us it's not a matter of race or stereotypes, it's just goofy characters, their color of skin or accent aren't relevant to us. We do realize it's a potential minefield though and always try not to offend anyone. Fortunately we haven't received any negative feedback in that department whatsoever, so it appears we're doing pretty good in that respect. :)
A.-T.: Many people approved the reggae-influenced score of the first part. We suppose this couldn't have been done without a certain amount of love for the genre on your side. Can you recommend five reggae albums or samplers that we heavy-legged Germans should give a try?
Theo: During a long period of my life I listened to a lot of reggae. I won't point out any specific albums, but some of my favorite artists include Burning spear, Peter Tosh, Toots & the Maytalls, Jimmy Cliff, and naturally, Bob Marley.
A.-T.: What is the biggest advantage of making point-and-click adventures in your opinion?
Theo: Being a backdrop artist at heart, I always love creating living, breathing worlds. Worlds that you can feel. No other type of game does that as well as a point & click adventure game, where the player is free to soak up the world at their own pace.
A.-T.: How important are sales on mobile devices for The Journey Down?
Theo: Right now, sales on iOS are superior to our desktop sales, so I'm VERY happy we are on mobile. Relying on one platform only would have been way too shaky for us.
A.-T.: Thank you very much for taking your time and the best of luck with the campagin!