Adventure-Treff: Hello Rand, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Can you tell us what is Obduction about?
Rand Miller: Obduction is actually fairly easy to explain on a high level: It’s about what would happen if you, not somebody else not some character you play but you were abducted. What does that feel like. And that’s the same kind of feeling that we tried to get with Myst. We take you to a very unique place. We put you in this place without a lot of instruction and we let you explore to find out what the story is and what happened and how you can affect this area.
A-T: You don’t want to give away to many details for the game in order to keep it a surprise. But are there any more details that you can reveal to our readers?
Rand: The structure of our games is that the story is the reward, the places are the reward. You uncover something as you solve puzzles and you learn more about the story. So everything we reveal about those places and the story it takes away a little bit of the game itself. But I guess some of what we described is that you are put down on this planet. You don’t know where it is and oddly enough it looks like an alien landscape except for a white farmhouse with a picket fence. And I should say that as you explore the area that there is something almost like a little town or village of very odd structures nearby. And it looks like other people have lived here or live here. And so you start the experience with a lot of places to explore.
A-T: When did you get the idea for Obduction?
Rand: It’s been on my mind for many years. I think ten years ago we started writing it down with different stories and different gameplay trying to figure out what it would be. But it was actually in my mind before that. But over the course of ten years we’ve evolved Obduction in different times into different games. But in the end when we decided to do this kickstarter and we went back to the original design as a scene. And we decided just to use that and grow that into the new game.
A-T: Are you fed up with Myst-titles? Why isn’t it Myst 6?
Rand: (laughs) That’s a good question! Designing any game is an interesting undertaking. It requires a lot of energy. And particularly adventure games and exploration games are very non-trivial. To build the landscape and the story and the puzzles and the characters and have all of that weave into each other it’s like weaving an complex tapestry. And so it requires a lot of design energy. We thought when we started this Kickstarter that we might want to do a new take on Myst. That we would sit down and almost reboot the entire MYST series. And we started discussing what that would mean and how we would do it. And I remember going home and starting to think about that. I took mental notes and I was getting very, very frustrated, it’s almost like I lost energy instead of gaining it. And I think the reason was because MYST has so much very rich history and a canon of how things work and how things have played out. It’s been years designing all that history. And it felt like this wasn’t the right time to get back to that. It felt like working in mud. I’m not precluding that in the future but when I started fresh, suddenly I was excited, my energy level went up. I could design things in a whole new way. And so we talked about it in the team and everybody felt the same way. I don’t think we would ever say no to another Myst title. It has to be the right timing and the right energy. Letting go of the Myst world for a while will help to feel better about that. The timing wasn’t right. Obduction is a fresh take, it let’s us start from scratch. And who knows what will happen in the future?
A-T: You will use the Unreal 4 engine. Can you tell us something about that?
Rand: The Unreal engine 4 is exciting because it’s state of the art. In the past, mostly in the Myst universe, we’ve done a variety of 3D work to make those worlds feel real. But we never have actually built a world what we considered to be technology that is on the leading edge of graphics developed by another company. What that means is somebody else is right out in front making use of the latest hardware and technology for the most part doing it for products that are different from us. Let’s face it: We’ve all played current games and they are amazingly beautiful. Even if they are first-person-shooters you wander around and see the beautiful locations you’re at. It fits perfectly for what we do. We take out the bad guys and replace them with a more of a puzzle-type fiction that gets built into the environment. But with the most beautiful, realistic environments to lose yourself in that we can possibly build and so it’s very natural for us to use the latest and greatest engine technology.
A-T: Will the game have the WASD-movement?
Rand: It will but it will also be like the Myst games. What we are doing is we are building at least two interfaces in. One is WASD-typical first-person-shooter- control but the other one is something that Myst players will be more comfortable with. It’s moving a mouse to a point on the screen and clicking. You can turn around freely and get to the next screen with a click.
A-T: Will the game include FMV-scenes with real actors?
Rand: We’re still keeping our doors open on how to represent the characters in the game. Because of the length of the project we want to make sure we’re considering all of the budgetary constraints, latest technology and artistic constraints. We want to make sure we balance those things and represent the characters in the best way we can. So I don’t think we’ve nailed that down yet.
A-T: In the community there was a discussion like “Well, it’s Cyan, it’s gonna be great. But if we look at Riven we are not quite sure whether they will make it in the time they say they’ll do”.
Rand: (laughs) Those are very smart people! Making this adventure exploration software is difficult. I have to say that. But I think the way we are looking at it for our base price on the kickstarter we are making an adventure that is probably a little bit smaller than Myst was. And we have a lot of experience I mean, this is a lot of years that we have been building worlds. And I think we know what problems we might have and what issues might come up. It doesn’t mean that we are perfect, don’t get me wrong. But we have a good chance to pull this off in the time frame that we set.
A-T: Is there an idea how to get more money after the kickstarter project?
Rand: If the kickstarter works and we get our base level it would be great to get more money. And I think once you get funded you get credibility in your project. Then there’s a lot of people who can see “Oh, cool, they got funded” and that adds credibility. We are already thinking about post kickstarter ways to add a little more to the budget. We’ve got a few interesting ideas that I don’t want to go into know because we are so focused on the kickstarter right now but stay tuned!
A-T: Thank you very much and good luck with Obduction!