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Tony Warriner Interview!

Here we are with our second interview! This time we had the honor to have a chat with Tony Warriner, Revolution Software co-founder, Programmer and Designer. One of the heads behind milestones like Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword, and creator of Virtual Theather, one of the best engine for point-and-click games. A big person. Enjoy the interview!

Er`Pupo: Let’s start from 2006: The Angel of Death was the last installment you made for THQ. What did you (as a team) do in the three years before the partnership with Ubisoft and the release of Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut?
Tony Warriner.:  Well, in truth we really didn’t think there was any way back for us to make adventures. Charles did some consultancy work and I did some web work, and some games dev for my friends at AI Factory.
Er`Pupo: Why were you thinking that there was no way back? It was a personal choice or due to the maket that tend to reward more other kind of titles?
Tony Warriner Because it was very tough for small or medium sized developers to get deals that were actually worth signing. It was even harder if you were producing adventure games. Remember, this was at the height of the ps2, and before mobiles. A wilderness for indie devs.
Er`Pupo: Yes…we all remember what Charles said about adventure games..so how did the project for a remastered version came up? Was it a Ubisoft request or was it submitted by you and your team?
Tony Warriner As far as I remember, it was a case of both sides saying something along the lines of "what can we do together?".

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Er`Pupo:  And fortunally you come back to the industry with this move. How the idea of a crowdfunding for Serpent’s Curse? Have you followed the example directly from Tim Schafer and his DoubleFine, or have you try to find a publisher for first?There was optimism about the success of the project?
 Tony Warriner  No, we definitely didn’t talk to publishers first. For a high budget adventure game, like Broken Sword, there would be no deal worth signing. There hasn’t been for a long time. So yes, we watched DoubleFine quite closely and figured we had a reasonable chance of being successful. That said, there are few things as terrifying as running a Kickstarter campaign. You end up a nervous wreck!
Er`Pupo:  But finally Broken Sword:Serpent’s Curse is out! Teams such as Wadjet Eye Games and Daedalic Entertainment, with help of communities and softwares such as Adventure Game Studio and Visionaire Studio are keeping up the adventure game genre and pushing it forward in many different and interesting ways. What’s your opinion about this? What position do you think Serpent Curse will have in this adventure games’ renaissance?
Tony Warriner  Well, I think we’ve shown that you can be very ambitious and succeed with an adventure game. It is great that there are lots of indie adventures coming through, but what I hope now is that their next projects aim higher and reach into the mass market, not just a hardcore adventure niche. This is what’s really needed.
Er`Pupo: I Played BS5 and I can’t wait to play the second part (perhaps with the same Italian voice of other broken sword), but my opinion is that you did not want to make it too difficult for players who approach the graphic adventures for the first time (the tutorial at the beginning of the game seems a proof of this), because most of the puzzles are much logical and intuitive than those of previous chapters. Do you think you could be more daring?
Tony Warriner We have some pretty interesting metrics for Broken Sword 1 and 2 that tell us where people get stuck, and unfortunately give up. We wanted to smoothly ramp up the difficulty level so it gets harder more gradually in BS5. Obviously the hardcore player might feel it’s too easy, but the vast majority of our players these days are on mobile, and so we have to take them into account too. Personally I actually thought it was quite hard in places when I first played it as an actual game, mind you! Nonetheless, expect some harder puzzles in Part 2 :)
Er`Pupo:  And you did it very well, it’s exactly the feeling that I had playing it. I was also certain that the game will raise in the second part, so much that I wrote it in the review of the first part. You put in your games your own "solution center", that not give directly the puzzles solution, but in the Google era puzzles tend to loose a lot of their charme when they are too challenging: a lot of the audience will inevitably find hints through web searches. Most of the Graphic Adventure games released recently moved to storytelling more than puzzles for this reason as well. Do you think your choise is the best to give right balance between the two aspects? Or do you think there may be best ways to do that?
 Tony Warriner:  We want to tell a story and have puzzles! But we don’t want players to be so stuck that they stop playing. We put quite a bit of thought into our hint system as a result. I think the way it gives you hints before just telling you what to do is important, as the first hint might get the player moving again, but they’ve still solved it themselves. I think it’s probably the best solution in, as you say, the google era.

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Er`Pupo:  About the story: who or what inspired the plot and the puzzles of Serpent’s Curse?
Tony Warriner  The ideas date right back to the time when we researched BS1, in-fact. From visiting Cathar related sites in France, and so on.
Er`Pupo:  Nice! But now…let’s get technical! What do you consider to be your best design tool?
Tony Warriner  Brains are the best design tools! Followed by your word processor of choice – google docs in my case. We actually have very few custom implementation tools for BS5. It’s something we need to develop further in the future.
Er`Pupo:  Virtual Theatre is a your creation. How it evolved from Lure of the Temptress to Broken Sword 5? was it always the same with some changes or did you develop a new one?
Tony Warriner It’s been completely re-written many times over the years. There’s really no similarity between VT7, that runs BS5, and the Lure engine. The biggest difference, though, is that the new engine is platform and screen resolution agnostic.
Er`Pupo
have you any fun memories or fun facts occurred during the develop of some games to share with us?
Tony Warriner  Writing games is actually very hard work. But these days I take hundreds of photos of the team as a project progresses, and what you see, looking back, is that actually people were really into what they were doing. And actually it’s pretty good fun making a something from nothing. I recommend it.
Er`Pupo:  I’ve a good news for you: this is the last question! But probably the most important: have you return the money loaned by Charles’s mom?
 Tony Warriner  Ha, yes, many years ago :)
Er`Pupo: It was a pleasure, but even more an honor for us to chat with you. Thank you so much for giving us this interview. We will always be vigilant on your works! (give us Beneath a steel sky 2 soon as possibile, please!)
 Tony Warriner  No problem, and thank you :)
On the subject of Steel Sky, I can only remind you to indeed, be vigilant.

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per gli amici Timo, è in realtà Marco E. Giammetti, sul pianeta terra dal 1979 e grafico dal giorno prima. Ha cominciato a mettere le appiccicaticce manine sui videogame all’ età di 3 anni con un Vic 20 e non ha più smesso di giocare da quella data in poi, frequentando sale giochi malfamate e rischiando più volte la bocciatura a scuola per tentare di uccidere quell’ ultimo maledetto boss.

08 febbraio 2014 Categoria: Speciale

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