Wael Amr from Frogwares, the Sherlock Holmes Trilogy

Πέμπτη, 09 Απριλίου 2009, Συντάκτης Dream Specialist, Fallen Angel

Wael Amr from Frogwares, the Sherlock Holmes Trilogy

Hello Mr. Wael Amr and welcome to Adventure Advocate. Could you introduce both Frogwares and yourself to our readers?

Frogwares is an independent game studio working on adventure games since 2001. Our games are based on our trademark Sherlock Holmes and other popular heroes of the litterature. I'm Wael AMR CEO and Founder of the studio

How many people does Frogwares currently have in its work force? How many of them are working on the story-line and characters' depth?

45 people are working at Frogwares

Frogwares is one of the most productive adventure game developers nowadays, producing two new adventure games yearly. What are the challenges you face in this endeavor? What would you answer to those that think quantity, when applied to intellectual products, unavoidably becomes the enemy of quality?

I absolutely agree with you, we spend almost 4-5 times more ressources than any other adventure studio to make our games, so we are certainly on the verge of quality according to your statement.

Most of your adventures, have been "borrowing" their characters and/or the fictional universe from literature. Wouldn't this choice mean an increased effort from your part in order to stay true to their literature origins? Wouldn't it be easier to create something original from scratch?

I think it would be a terrible mistake to create a copy of Sherlock Holmes while the original character is so deep and interesting. We are creating games with original IP's but they are more on the side of entertainment than the elitist setting of a Sherlock Holmes game.

Do you tend to listen to the gamers' feedback? Is the remastered version of the Awakened a result of this, or is it something that you have intended to do anyway?

We do that all the time, and yes the Awakened remastered is a result of players advices. It was the permanent topic on adventure forum, "2D or 3D ?", "1st or 3rd person ?" "which one you like more ?", that pushed us to solve completely the problem and propose to all players the game they can and want to play. According to a recent poll, 50% of the adventure players want to play 3rd person, 20% 1st person, 30% can play both. With the technology present on Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper, 100% of the adventure players can play the game. Consequently players feedback, when progressive, is certainly the best thing you can have.

We have seen that you announced an open-beta for Sherlock VS Jack the Ripper. Does this mean you are not satisfied with the quality of the beta-testing your games went through in the past or that you are simply trying to make sure no bugs will slip through this time? Is it a move that we should be expecting from you again in the near future?

Public Beta tester are not supposed to find functional bugs internal (even if they find some:)) QA takes care of this, Public testers are suppose to give a feedback about the game, before it's released and leave us the possibility to polish the game, and mostly remove misunderstanding inside the game, it goes from changing some interfaces to modifying some dialogs. A game like Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper with 75 000 words of Dialogues, huge game documentation and around 1,2 million different files is not a boat easy to maneuver so we have to be careful near the launch time. Players input in these cases is a blessing, they see with a new eye all things we've been seeing for 18 months and rise some issues that were buried deep into the production.

The difficulty level of all the Sherlock adventures is above average. Although this is a characteristic that hardcore adventurers like, many casual adventurers reprove it. Why do you choose to have such a difficulty level in most of your adventures? Have you considered including a difficulty level choice in your games?

To create "difficulty levels" goes with adaptation of the story to this levels and if the story is modifiable therefore story is secondary and can even not exist. Our Sherlock Holmes games are before all stories, and I agree that might be one of the weakness of our games, but this is also their strength, we try to deliver a total interactive story with the best production value you can find in the adventure genre today.

There are some puzzles in your games (usually the ones of advanced difficulty) which require certain knowledge on various fields and even some web search in order to be solved. Some examples are the safe puzzle in the Awakened, the kings puzzle in Lupin, the piano puzzle in Dracula Origin, etc. Don't you think it would be preferable to provide more clues/hints in-game?

It's a very good remark, In the Awakened remastered we provide a progressive walkthrough, so players won't have to leave the game to play further and are never stuck. But for Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper you need to have this guide at the time of the release and it is not always possible, so we add some help inside the game specially at the moment when the puzzles become tough. However all players are today connected and can find games walkthrough on the net if they need to, it's also a way to get the community to work together, when I see excellent adventure web site as www.gameboomers.com lead by the fantastic Marita Robinson, I believe it's good to have a community.

Frogwares has always given us adventure games with great visuals -especially with the help of Ageia Physics the results are remarkable. Do you believe graphics are important in storytelling, in creating the world where the story unfolds?

If you find any links between Newton, Gravity and Loreal make up, patent it. Nvidia physX (ex- ageia) is made to create physical behavior in games not too make them more beautiful.

Visuals are extremely important, they count for 50% while player enters the game, after if you are hooked in the game, they count for less. It's a matter of seduction actually as everything else. However there is no calculation on our side, it's just consequences, we create beautiful graphics because we love it first of all.

Among all the Sherlock Holmes adventures you developed, which one proved to be the most challenging one in terms of story-telling and why?

Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper without a doubt, the story is real, characters are real, everybody is looking for the legendary serial killer for 120 years, so to propose a real "Jack" is a very exciting challenge, and still that's what we do.

We have noticed on your website that you have developed two casual games: "Mata Hari and the Kaiser's Submarines" and "The adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet". How come you didn't develop them as adventure games?

Casual games are extremely interesting and they coexist easily with big adventure games, so it's absolutely logical to share the productions between big games and smaller games, the audience is not really the same, and they allow us to share risks between games. Also I have to say that casual games are far more audacious in term of innovation that the "big files", now in adventure games, inventory, interfaces, help, accessibility, it's a whole new world of improvement there, and it's good to feel fresh motivation and creation in the genre, that was very dusty generally.

Could you give us a glimpse of your upcoming game plans? Should we be expecting a new Sherlock Holmes adventure, a Jules Verne story, a possible Dracula sequel or maybe a brand new setting?

If I tell you right now, we won't have the pleasure to make an inteview at the next game as you will know everything already :)

Let us talk a bit about your upcoming Sherlock adventure. What made you choose Jack the Ripper as Sherlock's new adversary?

We started a Sherlock Holmes game trilogy in 2005, Sherlock Holmes against 3 powerful nemesis each in their category, HP lovecraft was the first one, then came Arsene Lupin and Jack the Ripper was to be the third one. The games are deeply different in their stories, only the graphical touch is similar albeit improved games after games, and it was important to us to make Sherlock Holmes present into different genre of literature and also in reality, reality is to finish the trilogy.

What makes you put Sherlock against famed criminals that are bound or at least suspected to escape in the end? Don't you find it somewhat decremental for the great detective?

That's an interesting question, but the answer is quite elementary : What Sherlock Holmes is serving, Justice or Truth?

You have stated that Jack the Ripper is going to be the darkest tale of Sherlock Holmes to date. Should we expect a rather high "shocking factor" from this game, with gory moments similar to those in the Awakened or are you going for a different approach?

Actually not, as the game is a real investigation, we made the decision to lower the blood factor compare to reality, it wasn't possible for us to confront our players with heavily mutilated women, I personally strongly dislike free violence, and I use it only if logical and necessary, in Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, we are observing the killed women from a different perspective, absolutely relevant for the investigation and softened in term of visual, with 2D and shadows effects. On the other hand the atmosphere of Whitechapel is something we are very proud of, if some people found Sherlock Holmes versus Arsene Lupin too bright and colorful, they'll find real London smog and dirty streets, full of beggars and prostitutes in Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper.

The story of Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper will presumably offer an explanation for the murderer's identity as well as his motives. Did you make use of an idea we have seen in a documentary/film/book regarding the notorious killer or come up with a completely new version of the story?

We've been working on the case for a long time, and step by step we drew our own conclusions, conclusions that fit perfectly with Sherlock Holmes approach when he says to John Watson "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

Sherlock Holmes versus Arsene Lupin was highly appreciated by the majority of the gamers and the press. What do you think was the particular element that made it so successful and what will be the strong point of Jack the Ripper?

It's not up to us to judge our games, but we are very happy of the Sherlock Holmes games reception, we recently went up the barrier of 1,5 Million copies of games sold, and it's true that it's real recognition of our work, we can only thank the players for this.

The strong points of Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper are:

- You will take part into a fantastic reconstitution of the events that took place in 1888
- You'll meet all the protagonists of this true story, starting with inspector Abberline, the painter Walter Sickert, the witness Georges Hutchinson, the journalist Tom Bulling
- You are to find Jack the Ripper through a complex deduction system, that you will control completely
- You can play 1st or 3rd person, or both, the way you like
- You can play in the Whitechapel district, rebuilt in 3D and meet everybody, from rich dandies looking for fun to the poorest beggars.

We know that you are now going into open beta for this game. When do you expect to release it?

In May I guess

What are your thoughts on episodic games, as far as adventures are concerned?

I think there is no valid business plan for them today, but it might change in a year or two.

Do you play or get regularly informed about the games being made by other adventure developing teams?

Yes of course

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Thanks a lot for your time and keep on playing adventure games!

Thank you for this interview. We wish the very best to both Frogwares and the Sherlock Holmes saga in the future.

Πρέπει να συνδεθείς για να σχολιάσεις
  • Δεν βρέθηκαν σχόλια


  • Δεν βρέθηκαν σχόλια