Digital Jesters Ė EGN/ Game Stars Live
by Laura MacDonald
When you walked in the front door at the GameStars Live area
of Excel. It was hard to miss the Digital Jesters, because the very first
thing you see is their booth and the crowd gathered around trying to catch
beach balls and such being tossed out by the infamous DJ Booth Babes. I
wonít get into much detail about the DJ booth babes, but they were also
impressive and gathered a lot of gaming traffic for Digital Jesters. *laugh
They had playable versions of their gaming catalog scattered
inside and outside the main display area. Several PCís set up in the front
had a short playable version of Sherlock Holmes. I was sorry to see that a
demo for Moment of Silence was missing, but the people there were happy to
discuss this title as well as the rest.
They also had a very nice set-up across the hall at EGN for
press inquiries. Since they had a great spread including; wine, juice and
assorted beverages, it was a needed stop for this press person. More
importantly, I was thrilled to find Kevin Leathers there. We finally got a
chance to meet face to face and had a great chat about their new Sherlock
Holmes: Case of the Silver Earring game as well as Moment of Silence. Kevin
turned out to be one funny, articulate guy and is apparently quite mad for
adventure gaming. Did I mention how clever he is? Well, enough of this
stuff. Onto the interview...
Kevin Leathers, for Digital Jesters
LM: I am standing
here talking with Kevin Leathers, of Digital Jesters. And yes, that is his
real name. The first time I saw it, I thought hey, thatís a very clever
KL: *laugh* Well
LM: We are in the
process of talking about the new Frogwares game, Sherlock Holmes: The Silver
Earring and then we will find out some things about House of Tales newest
project, Moment of Silence.
LM: For the benefit
of folks out there, what is your role or position within Digital Jesters?
KL: I am the PR
Executive for them. Basically I am doing PR work for any of the games we
have coming out in the UK and where ever else we publish them. Thatís me.
LM: Now were you
with them before the company re-grouped as Digital Jesters?
KL: No, I came on
board about two months after they started up. Which was straight after
Christmas 2003. By today, we have a very healthy selection of titles, I
LM: OK now here's
your chance to say Digital Jesters is a fabulous place to work, they treat
you like gold and you love everyone here.
KL: Itís a fabulous
place to work, they treat me like gold and I get drunk every other night as
well Ė so yeah... Itís great! *laugh*
LM: Oh I want to
work here too then! Back to the upcoming games. The new Frogwares game,
Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Silver Earring has just released. How has the
response from gamers been so far?
KL: In all honesty,
we are surprised really. Adventure games we know are really good and they
have a very hard base of fans. However, they are not as large a group as
some other gaming styles. But, the game has done extremely well its first
week. It has gotten to number 14 in the PC chart in the UK, in its first
weekend Ė straight away. Well itís fantastic really!
LM: Ahh So now
you guys are looking for a Sherlock number three? *smile*
KL: Oh very
possible! Oh yeah, so long as itís Frogwares, we love Frogwares!
LM: If you were
going to summarize it for people. What do you think are the main selling or
I suppose marketable points about the Sherlock game? Perhaps as compared to
other titles out on the market?
KL: I would
say...storyline for this game. The story in Sherlock Holmes is unbelievable.
Itís so well told, well done. The characters themselves are so believable;
you would think they were ripped right out of the books. It is absolutely
fantastic. The graphics are some of the best I have ever seen in adventure
games or any games, really. The mixture of 2D and 3D is amazing. The voice
acting as well. I just love the end movie, where he does the whole Sherlock
Homes thing. It is absolutely great. I really loved that.
LM: What was the
response to the use of in-between chapters to test out or check the playerís
progress through the story logic and the case?
KL: Ahh the quiz
KL: The quiz is,
well that section is slightly hard. I know a few people have had a couple of
issues really. But this is an adventure game. You have got to be Sherlock
Holmes. You have to be looking at everything, watching every single detail.
You have to play as Watson as well. You must investigate people. They didnít
have the answers given to them very easily. So, this is just like being them
really, unless you want to just use a walkthrough.
LM: Your other game,
Moment of Silence is completely different departure from what people will
see in Sherlock Holmes. It seems very futuristic, big brotherish, sci-fi.
KL: A lot like Blade
LM: Yeah! How has
the response been here at the show?
KL: We have had a
fair amount of people wanting to talk about Moment of Silence. Most of the
people, who have tried Sherlock Holmes and then saw MOS on our website, have
been real interested in this game as well. One thing a lot of people are
commenting on is the FMVís. These are some of the best I have ever seen as
A company called "The Lightworks" did them, they are the same
people who did the FMVís for Factor 5ís game cube Star Wars game.
LM: Oh thatís
KL: So the quality
is very high. Especially the main intro film. Itís actually fantastic. House
of Tales has made it clear, this is a pure adventure game. Any action
sequences that do exist in the game will happen in the FMVís. The game is
purely adventure, purely puzzles. If you want a classic adventure game,
Moment of Silence is definitely the way to go.
LM: What would you
say about the main story line for MOS?
KL: Moment of
Silence is set in the near future. Though it is in the future, a lot of
things will look very familiar. But they have enhancements. Like he has sort
of a super PDA, which acts like a credit card as well. The time frame is
like 2044, 1920 or 1927. Something like that.
LM: So not too far
off then. Tell us about the main character.
KL: You play a guy
named Peter Wright. His family has been involved in a car accident.
Obviously this guy doesnít want to speak to anyone or be around them. He has
just had his family taken away from him. So he isnít going to be the most
happy person in the world.
LM: Right, I can see
that. So the guy is hiding out from the world.
KL: Sure. So he is
trying to piece his life back together. He is about to start on a government
campaign for freedom of speech. It is also about how Big Brother type
tactics are going on about him. What starts this is he sees his neighbor
next door taken away. An NYPD SWAT team breaks into the guyís house, scares
his wife and kids and then take him away at gunpoint. Obviously, being the
curious person that he is, since it isnít every day the SWAT team takes out
a flat on your apartment block. He goes next door to comfort the guyís
family and find out what is going on. He checks into things and learns there
are no records or any info about having this guy picked up.
LM: So there is no
record of any of that?
KL: Yeah and then
the conspiracy gets deeper and deeper as he tries to figure out what has
happened to this man.
LM: I remember some
footage from a German gaming site. It looked like the open to the game is in
black and white?
KL: The FMVís are
in full color. It must have been a cinematic for the trailers.
LM: Oh I see, that
makes sense. What about the interface in the game. How is that set up? I
know its point and click. But in terms of visual movement Ė are there any
panning or 3D aspects?
KL: It is pretty
much similar to the Sherlock Holmes game. The same sort of gameplay. If you
double-click he runs over to that point. You right click to pick something
up or to use it. It has a very simple interface... If you right click
anywhere on the screen the icon bar comes up. You can select what you want
LM: Weíve got a
certain schism in the gaming communities right now, between story intensive
and puzzle intensive preferences. Though in a great game, I would think both
would be addressed. Some people prefer puzzle-laden games others like story
heavy, puzzle lite or at the least puzzles that are practical inventory
based challenges. How would you categorize the challenges in MOS?
KL: The puzzles are
very logical. They are set in the near future, so there are also
computer-based things to figure out as well. For example. You have a small
kid living next door. He has been traumatized by his father being dragged
away like that. So he isnít speaking to anyone. So you have to try and find
something to give him that might make him open up to you. Then you can give
him the object and say, ďHere ya go mate, you want to give this a try?Ē I
return, he gives you something his father gave to him that is a clue to the
game plot or path. Well maybe I should stop there *laugh*
LM: Sure! We donít
want to spoil anything too much for gamers. Is the game third person
LM: Is there
anything else you want people to know about this game?
KL: I would like to
emphasize that again this is one of those well-written story driven games.
Itís one of those games that makes you think. Not just about the story in
the game, but what is happening in the real world as well. You have these
spy satellites and stuff and the truth is you have no real idea what they
are actually doing, really. Itís the same kind of thing in this game. There
could be something truly sinister going on and it would be difficult to
learn the truth of it.
LM: Oh sure, I know
what you are talking about.
KL: I think people
will be able to really relate to the ideas and fears in this game. There are
a few people who wonder about the smart TVís and snap shots of your PC when
you go on the web. In some ways itís a very standard adventure game, however
it has no action sequences that are interactive in the game. And you will
really get sucked into the story line rather quickly.
LM: OK so what you
are saying is that if there are any action events you are just an interested
observer, you donít have to do anything in that scene?
KL: Thatís how
Martin from House of Takes said it. In adventure games, if thereís any
action you just want to watch it. You donít want to interact with it, die or
have some instant death sequences. You want to just have a good fun
LM: Well that sounds
wonderful to me and I know there are a lot of gamers who will be happy to
hear all this. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk. Anything else
you would like to say?
KL: Buy the British
version of Sherlock, you know you want to!
copyright © 2004