GameBoomers Talks to Jane Jensen
Among adventure game diehards, writer/designer Jane Jensen is best known for the Gabriel Knight trilogy. Sins of the Fathers, The Beast Within, and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned all receive many votes every year on the GameBoomers' Annual List. Ms. Jensen designed the games while working for Sierra On-Line (nostalgic sigh). She has since gone on to design games for Oberon Media and I-Play, including Inspector Parker, the Agatha Christie casual games and the Women's Murder Club games. She has also written novels, including Dante's Equation, which received a special citation of the Philip K. Dick Award.
Currently, Ms. Jensen's highly anticipated adventure, Gray Matter, is in the final stages of completion. The story of street magician Samantha Everett, and of Dr. David Styles -- researcher in the fields of neurobiology and the paranormal -- is about to begin. The adventure game community is awaiting this event with bated breath. Keep breathing, fellow diehards, it's good for the brain!
GB: Gabriel Knight and Grace Nakamura are two characters from the Gabriel Knight series that have achieved a kind of immortality. Years after playing the Gabriel Knight games, people are still talking about them. How do you achieve that kind of engagement with characters in the games you design?
GB: In the short story on your blog, "Twas the Night Before," Sam seems to have chosen to separate herself from family, friends, and everything familiar. Is the resulting loneliness important in shaping her character? Or is her isolation chiefly important in that it makes her unusually vulnerable?
GB: In the trailer on the Gray Matter website, there's something strange about David's face. In the "Artworks" section, he wears a white half-mask. Does David's face reflect an inner torment? Is his personality... Phantom-like?
GB: Are top quality voiceovers more important than top-of-the-line graphics?
GB: From a designer's standpoint, is it important to make it possible for every gamer to finish the game? How do you keep a player from being hopelessly stuck on a timed sequence, for instance? What are your thoughts on Hint features, or the option for the player to select different difficulty levels?
GB: Some aspects of your previous games have been controversial -- notably the religious themes in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, which preceded the similarly controversial religious themes in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. How does the inclusion of a controversial storyline affect a game? Do you expect parts of Gray Matter to be controversial?
GB: How does writing for a game differ from writing for a book? Is writing for a game more difficult? Is pacing the story a problem with a game?
GB: Would your career in writing and game development have been different if you had been born a man? What advice would you give to young women just starting out as game developers?
GB: We have been thrilled to see that, via Good Old Games (GOG), Activision is releasing versions of Sins of the Fathers, The Beast Within, and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned that have been updated to play on newer computers. This argues that Activision is paying significant attention to the Gabriel Knight franchise. Have you signed any interesting Non-Disclosure Agreements recently? You know, the ones you can't talk about?
GB: You were in on the ground floor with the casual game phenomenon. How did you first become interested in developing casual games? What effect does the casual game industry have on adventure games?
GB: Do you see any future for co-op adventure games -- where gamers can solve a mystery alongside another player, either on a home LAN or over the Internet? (The idea would be to involve at most three players, making it possible to play alongside a friend or family member, with each gamer having a character to control.)
GB: Can you tell us about any of your other future projects? Do you see Gray Matter becoming part of a series?
*The information from the introduction to this interview is from Wikipedia and Moby Games.
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