How many blondes does it take to escape
from a desert island?
In a world fascinated by
Paris Hilton types, itís probably about time we got to play one. So Blonde
gives us Sunny Blonde - 17, pretty, rich andÖblonde. What starts as a
cruise around Bermuda ends up with Sunny all at sea on an island with no
shopping mall, no mobile phone reception and lots of pirates.
Written and designed by
Steve Ince, whose most notable projects to date include the Broken Sword
games, but who has contributed to games as varied as In Cold Blood and The
Witcher, So Blonde looks likely to appeal to everyone with an eye and an
ear for some good-natured fun.
GameBoomers recently had
the good fortune to speak to Steve about the project.
Tell us a little about
the inspiration for So Blonde?
contacted me and said they wanted a writer they already had a couple of
backgrounds created for the beach and the pier and had a number of
character sketches. They knew they wanted a story based on the idea of a
spoiled blonde becoming stranded on a mysterious tropical island. So I
had the great pleasure of taking it from there.
Everyone has a favourite
blonde joke, but were you at all concerned you might draw the ire of any
portion of the gaming public?
No, because itís not
about poking fun at a specific group of people. What weíve done is to
take that stereotype, have a little fun with it in that form and then
take it beyond the stereotype. If Sunny didnít have something deeper
within herself she would never get off the first game location.
Adventure gamers love a
good story, so it must have pleased you to have the script nominated for a
Writers Guild Award?
Very much so. Having
my work recognised in such a manner suggests to me that I must be doing
something right (or Iím good at fooling people). What pleases me as much
as my personal recognition is that itís a real shot in the arm for the
adventure genre as a whole. To all those who claim that the genre is
dead, we can refer to this nomination and say that perhaps they might
like to reconsider that view.
When starting something
like this, what comes first Ė a vision splendid or something far more
The high-level vision
must be created first because itís this which drives the project forward
and unites everyone into seeing the same goal that weíre all working
towards. Because there are a lot of talented individuals working on the
game (Wizarbox have a great team), a common vision allows them to
maximise their talents in ways that enrich the vision.
You coined the term
interaction density to describe each location having plenty of things to
do Ė can I assume we will get plenty of that here?
The artists have had a
lot of fun with background detail and weíve taken that on board so that,
yes, there are always things to interact with, even if they donít always
move the story forward. We have a lot of fun with this kind of thing.
And plenty of characters
as well? Including a parrot no doubt?
I went to great
lengths to ensure that all the characters were a vibrant part of life on
the island. They all have a role to play in the unfolding story and
there are many times when re-visiting characters through the game gives
new information and helps with both the story and gameplay.
What is it do you think
that will motivate players of So Blonde to stay with Sunny till the end?
Iíd like to think that
the way weíve entwined the story and gameplay together will make it a
fun experience throughout. Players will quickly become engaged in the
islandís mystery and Sunnyís role in uncovering and hopefully solving
Getting the dialogue
balance right can be tricky Ė too much and some players get bored, too
little and exposition is jeopardised. How did you handle that here?
With it being a comedy
game, itís easy to have a lot of fun with the dialogue at the same time
as being informative where appropriate. Iíve tried to be quite succinct
in any exposition and not overdone it at any one time.
I note your role was
described as story, gameplay design and dialogue Ė does the design include
the puzzles? Any puzzles you are particularly pleased with?
I did the broad,
top-level design, which included a lot of puzzle design, but I worked
very closely with Jerome Britneff-Bondy, who did a lot of the design
detailing, created a lot of the specific puzzles, created the mini-games
and generally helped make my puzzles better.
I donít have a
particular favourite, but I love the way we have the puzzles and general
gameplay overlapping and building on each other.
I read there are some
mild action type sequences (catching raindrops for instance). Should
players be concerned they will get stuck on these puzzles?
No. These puzzles are
what we term mini-games and each of them has an option to cheat if
players really feel itís not for them. However, they are just meant to
add a bit of fun to the variety and I hope that players will enjoy.
Itís worth noting that
completion of some mini-games will help towards triggering one of the
Do you get to play as
anyone other than Sunny?
Yes, you get to play
as two other characters for brief periods.
What about fashion? Even
deserted on a desert island, a 17 year old blonde has to have a wardrobe
change or three?
She lands on the
island without a change of clothing and as soon as she reaches the town
she spots a beautiful dress sheíd love to have. Unfortunately, she has
no money to pay for it...
How about the game
interface Ė can blondes manage it?
Apart from the
mini-games, itís a traditional point-and-click interface which even I
can manage to use.
Nico in the earlier
Broken Sword games was a strong and resourceful persona. Is Sunny the
complete opposite or are there some inner strengths?
Sunny is certainly a
very different character to Nico, but she surprises herself with some of
her resourcefulness, which grows throughout the game. If Sunny ended
the game as the same person she started it, I think the game would have
become boring very quickly and players would probably have been
irritated with her character.
Most of the adventure
games you have been involved with can be described as having an animated
comic book graphic style. What draws you to that as a design platform?
The art design
decisions are mostly out of my hands, so the fact that many of the games
have this kind of luck is a happy coincidence. I must admit that I
prefer stylised graphics to photo-realism, particularly when player
characters have to be carrying the contents of a small shop around with
So how many blondes
does it take to escape from a desert island?
Thatís an interesting
question. Do we know if Sunny escapes or not? With multiple endings, do
we know what the outcome might be? Does she settle down with a herd of
geese and a cow, or is there something else that fate has in store for