“Oh sure! I can see the
future, but I can’t see when my flashlight is going to go out? That’s
It’s been a long time
since we welcomed an unlikely hero into our hearts, and the magic that is
Delaware St. John now beckons. He’s an ordinary guy – smart, good looking
and has a self deprecating wit that is easy to like. Perhaps ordinary is
not quite accurate, for Delaware has one trait that makes him most
decidedly not ordinary; he sees visions of the dead.
Since childhood Delaware
has heard a cacophony of voices from the beyond, at first tentative
whispers, but then raising in pitch and urgency as he grew older,
demanding they no longer be put aside. Bewildered and feeling very much
alone, he has a fortuitous meeting with Kelly Bradford, who runs a
bookstore and is a part time paranormal investigator for paying clients.
She’s attractive, smart, sassy and knows how to focus the maelstrom within
Delaware. She’s also practical, organized, and often exasperated with
Delaware, who doesn’t share those same traits. They’re a good balance for
each other, whether they admit it or not.
Game: Curse of Midnight Manor
Check! Voices from beyond? Check! I think this place just might be
The voices are
insistent. In Delaware’s nightmare they talk at once at different speeds,
making understanding impossible. His subconscious listens, really listens,
and hears a plea, “Delaware, please!” He awakens, and lets his special
senses guide him to an old dilapidated mansion, Morrisville Manor, or as
the locals have tagged it, “Midnight Manor” for its haunted reputation. As
Delaware walks through the eerie halls, he sees visions from the past, and
knows he must solve this mystery to once again have a restful sleep and
The movement is point
and click, by accessing directional arrows. An eye icon indicates an
object with which you may interact. The interaction may be to view an item
more closely, to hear a comment from Delaware, to use the item in some
manner, or to pick up the item to place into inventory (becomes the
grabbing hand icon). The inventory panel is below your main screen, and
besides the objects that you have placed in it, there are also the
controls for your Visual Imagery Communicator. This device can photograph
or record areas of possible paranormal activity that are not seen by the
human eye, and transmit the data to Kelly Bradford, who can then interpret
what Delaware is encountering. In addition, Kelly can often provide
helpful advice. From this panel you may also save, load, adjust volume,
and exit the game.
The game is played from
a first person perspective, and you are playing Delaware in this first
story. Activating a vision, whether inadvertently or completing part of
the story line gives a thrill. Some visions are actions caught in time for
your viewing, but there are others with which you may interact, which give
a most unusual tingle.
Like the Nancy Drew
games, there is also a tutorial available, so that the very newest of
adventure game players will feel confident.
The game’s musical score
is intriguing, promising yet untold stories from beyond the grave of past
horrors, of playful sprites, of elemental forces that lurk just beneath
the physical world. It is at once energizing and bittersweet, and gives
notice as the story changes.
Interview with Bryan Wiegele:
very dark here, and it won’t let me out!”
GameBoomers caught up
with the very busy Bryan Wiegele, the creator of Delaware St. John, and
the following is a reflection of this interview:
How did you come up
with the idea for an adventure series? Has a character like Delaware been
forming in your mind for a while? How did you come up with the Delaware
The idea for a new
adventure series has been rolling around in my head for years but it
wasn’t until last year I actually sat down and fleshed it out for Big
When I first set out
creating the main character, Delaware, I wanted someone who was a loner,
a bit separated from society but at the same time likable, someone you
could relate to. The name “Delaware” is actually a name I’ve been fond
of for quite a while, kind of an odd name and I thought it fitting since
Delaware himself is kind of an odd character. The name does have
relevance to the storyline of the game series that will come about
Is the main character
a lot like you, or someone you know, or is it inspired by a fictional
detective? How much of your personal philosophy is imbued in the
I think inadvertently
Delaware does reflect some aspects of my personality and beliefs as well
as traits of people in general. I believe it’s crossed everyone’s mind
every now and then “what’s my purpose? Why am I here?” but Delaware asks
himself this much more often. He’s trying to figure out his place and
why he has a gift that, more often than not, brings him nothing but
I know of Inherent
Evil and Whiplash, but there’s also a Bryan Wiegele listed as a designer
for Command and Conquer – is that you also? After venturing into other
genres, what made you return to adventures?
Yes, I worked on
Command and Conquer: Yuri’s Revenge, the expansion to Red Alert 2. It
was a real treat to work on such a high profile game and was a great
experience to learn how the RTS genre worked. From there I went on to
work on Whiplash, which was also a terrific experience since I have a
soft spot for 3rd Person Platform games, especially the cartoon ones.
While I was working on
Whiplash I realized I really missed working on adventure games and
towards the end of that project is when I began to think about what I
would do for a new adventure game. Inherent Evil had some flaws that
always bothered me and I really wanted to take what I learned from
working on that game to make a much better follow up game. When I had
the opportunity to create a new adventure game, I leaped at the chance,
I really love telling stories and no other gamer appreciates story more
than adventure gamers.
Have you written for
media other than games? How important do you think good writing is to the
success of a game?
I think writing is
very important, even in games where story is second or third priority.
Bad writing is bad writing and will detract from the overall game
I had written Inherent
Evil and did some very minor writing on the other games I worked on but
up until now it’s just been for games. I say up until now because I’m
currently working on a complimentary book series about Delaware and
Kelly and the events that happened up until The Curse of Midnight Manor.
It will be a young adult novel that would give players an in-depth look
at the characters when they’re not “out on a mission.” I’m aiming to
have the first draft finished by June.
You’ve been quoted as
saying that you’ve been influenced by The Beast Within, Phantasmagoria,
and the 7th Guest. Is that accurate? Will Delaware be like any of the
characters in those games? There seems to be a similarity between Delaware
and Gabriel Knight is that so or how are they different?
Yes, it is true. “The
7th Guest” was one of the first adventure games I played and I was in
love with it. To this day I love the story concept and it remains one of
my favorite games of all time.
I played through the
Beast Within and also had a very good experience with it. Although I
will admit I got through the last 25% of the game with a walkthrough. I
found the game to be a bit difficult towards the end.
I’ve played two
Gabriel Knight games; “The Beast Within” and “Blood of the Sacred, Blood
of the Damned” and quite honestly I think Gabriel’s character in TBW was
better. I found BOTSBOTD’s Gabriel to be a bit crude and less fun to
As far as comparing
Delaware to Gabriel, I would have to say they’re two very different
people. Gabriel is very much aware of his place in life and is
comfortable with it. Delaware is young and, up until his pairing with
Kelly Bradford, very uncertain of himself or what’s going on around him.
Delaware has a personal tie to the mysteries he’s summoned to, where I
feel Gabriel is there because it’s what he does; he solves mysteries.
Something that I
think is important for a game to be complete in my eyes is a powerful
score. Have you used music in your game? Is there spoken dialogue, and if
so, is it professionally voice acted?
I agree with you. From
the beginning I insisted we wanted to create a score for the game that
would really be more movie-like and set the appropriate mood for the
game. I found a very talented musician, Todd Kinsley, who not only
provided the musical score for the game but also found us actors for the
game characters. For Inherent Evil I did the acting along with friends
of mine and I learned that lesson the first time, so Delaware, Kelly and
all other characters in the game were voiced professionally.
While you may have
been influenced by other games, I noticed that Dark Fall must have been
influenced by Inherent Evil, i.e. the scene where the ghost switches off
the lights one by one. Frankly, I loved most things about IE, except the
save system (I Know...). How much of that game are you bringing to this
series – will it be as scary? What do you think makes a game scary? Is
there a difference between scaring and horrifying? I don’t usually like
mazes, but the one in IE was a work of art, and it demanded appreciation.
Will you be using something like it in the new game?
It’s funny you mention
the “Stair Maze” from Inherent Evil, hands down that’s the number one
thing I really heard back on negatively! Inherent Evil had some scary
moments but I think there’s more atmosphere built into the Delaware St.
John series that makes it a bit scarier.
I think there’s a HUGE
difference between “scary” and “horrifying.” One of my favorite
“horrifying” games is Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams, it’s such a great
story that’s filled with grotesque and scary moments. And while I do
appreciate games that create scares with horrifying images and events,
for Delaware I wanted something more along the line of “Poltergeist” or
“The Ring” where the atmosphere and events are oddly creepy and the
scares come from pacing and tension building up.
Back to the “maze”
question, the new game does, in fact, have a puzzle involving following
directions but it’s much shorter than the “Stair Maze” from Inherent
What did you learn
from the development of IE, and what did you make sure you did differently
in this game? Were you able to do everything you wanted to do with the new
game, or were there technical limitations?
Inherent Evil was an
interesting experience for me. It was the first game I ever
created/worked on so that alone was a big undertaking. I had designed
the game and story and we were midway through development when we signed
on with a publisher. The publisher had their own contributions to the
design process and the game shifted a bit from the original design. With
Inherent Evil I felt it wasn’t as polished as it could have been, some
items were hidden unfairly, and the lack of an in-game save was a big
I’m very happy with
how “The Curse of Midnight Manor” turned out. The game has a built-in
hint system to aid players when they’re stuck, has a save feature that
allows the player to save almost anywhere in the game and is a more
unique approach to adventure gaming than Inherent Evil. There were
aspects of Inherent Evil where we spoofed “traditional” adventure game
elements -- with Delaware I think we’ve expanded on those game play
Have you had
paranormal experiences, or an interest in the subject? Will the characters
be using ghost hunter equipment?
I’ve never had a
paranormal experience myself but the subject matter does interest me a
lot. I have a short list of “haunted” places across the US that, when I
get free time, I want to visit and stay at.
Kelly is the ghost
hunter, complete with testing equipment while Delaware comes with his
ghost hunting technology built in. In the first game Delaware
investigates Midnight Manor alone but Kelly is able to “tag along”
thanks to a communication device she bugs him with. Later in the series
Kelly will be a playable second character that will investigate scenes
using her ghost hunting equipment, for now it’s just Delaware and his
What do you feel is
the best part of the new game? The story, puzzles, dialogue? What sort of
puzzles should we expect? Is it point and click? 2D rendered graphics? On
your site it mentions “outrun the evil beast” – are there timed or action
parts to the game? Is the game aimed at a particular kind of gamer? Is
there mature content? How many hours of game play?
Honestly I’m not sure
I have a favorite part in the new game just yet. I usually develop a
fondness for a game setup after I’ve walked away from it and played it
later on. I hope gamers will like Delaware and Kelly as a team and want
to see where their adventure leads. The “puzzles” in TCOMM are a mixed
bag of logic as well as the common sense “lock and key” setups. There
are also a few timed action sequences such as a creature that’s loose in
the manor where Delaware has to run from it.
The game is point and
click, 100% traditional pre-rendered adventure game. In the late 90’s
the “future” was moving adventure games into 3D and honestly, I can’t
think of a good “3D” adventure game. I think the focus was so much on
technology that less love went into the games themselves.
This is a game that I
hope will be appealing to everyone: men, women, boy and girls. My
intention from the beginning was to create a story and characters that a
wide variety of people would enjoy playing along with. Delaware’s
adventures, while creepy and filled with tense moments, aren’t going to
be gratuitous. I believe you can make scary games without the use of
intense violence and gore. We’re anticipating 4-5 hours of gameplay.
We’re aiming to have people finish the first game and give it a quick
second run through as the second game nears release.
How many people are
working on the games, and what role do you play? How long did it take to
complete this first game, and do you still believe it is realistic to have
a new game every six months?
A total of eleven
people worked on the game including programming, art and game scripting.
We began TCOMM in November 2004 and completed it the end of April 2005.
I whole heartedly believe a quality game can be completed in 6 months as
long as there is good planning from the beginning.
My role on TCOMM was
“Creative Director” I wrote the game, hired the artists and scripted the
game. I also bug tested the game and made sure it was fun.
What are the system
requirements for the game?
requirements, while not officially revealed, will be very low. A PC with
Windows XP can go as low as 800GHz and run well.
There’s been much ado
about Star Force protection on the gaming forums. Will you be using it?
I’m aware of Star
Force but at this point we have not decided if/which anti-copy measure
should be taken. In general the adventure community is pretty honest,
they realize pirating a game, especially a game from a small development
house, will only ensure the company closes down and no further games
will come from them.
How did you feel when
the first game was completed (it is, isn’t it?) and what were you most
proud of? How would you like people to remember this game?
I felt tired! Haha.
Just kidding, it was a good feeling, having it completed and ready for
the next (and most exciting) step and that’s to make preparations to get
the game into gamer’s hands.
I would like people to
remember this game as a great beginning to a story they loved…as they
complete Volume 10.
Is there anything I
haven’t asked you that you think is important for our members to know
about the game?
I think we’ve
covered just about everything. I thank you for the opportunity to talk
about Delaware and I really look forward to the response from adventure
gamers when it comes out. Thank you.
Thank you Bryan, I
can’t wait for the game to be released!