Handheld Adventures interview
Adventure Gamers interviews Eugene Evans of Infinite Ventures, a company producing adventure games for unconventional platforms such as the Pocket PC and Game Boy Color. They have already released Shadowgate on Game Boy Color and Pocket PC, Déjà vu I & II on Game Boy Color and Pocket PC and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective on DVD. Upcoming adventures are Dracula Unleashed on DVD and Uninvited on Pocket PC.
Tell us a little about Infinite Ventures’ company history.
I formed IV in 1997 as an independent production company. The idea was to represent developers in their relationships with publishers, license and produce games based on properties owned by the IV and produce new product. We’re not a development company; we don’t have full-time development teams. We hire the best people we know to create the projects we produce.
Which platforms have you released games for, both in the past and the present?
We’ve licensed games for Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64. We’ve produced and published games on DVD Video and Pocket PC.
Which of your games are you most proud of, and why?
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective on DVD Video because people see it and say “Wow, I never knew a DVD player could do this!” We created a game on a standard DVD player. It’s fun, playable on any DVD player, the PS2 and the upcoming Xbox.
What makes your company so dedicated to adventures?
It’s been mainly driven to date by the products to which we owned the rights. We’ll keep doing adventure games but do want to explore other genres.
The adventure genre is said to be dying. What is your opinion on this?
It’s ridiculous and shows a very narrow point of view. Strategy games were “dead” until they went real-time with Dune/Warcraft. RPG’s were dead until they went online with Everquest. Everything had to be 3D but games like the Sims do great! It’s typical of the state of the business, the publisher’s point of view of what sells and what will work is based only on history and not re-defining it! Someone will come up with a way to re-define adventure games and suddenly they’ll be cool again.
What compelled you to release adventure games on handhelds?
There weren’t any! Why shouldn’t there be adventure games on handhelds? They actually work, you can re-enter them anytime. It’s like carrying a good book. If you travel with it, you can be constantly thinking “How am I going to unlock that door?” when inspiration strikes you the game is right there in your pocket.
Most of your handheld games are re-releases of old classics. Do you plan to make any original games for handheld platforms?
Yes, you can expect to see our first original game this year. However, we may base it on one of the current product brands.
Do you expect more companies to get into the handheld adventure game niche?
I don’t know about adventure games but I think you’ll start to see many more games on handhelds other than the Game Boy, e.g. the Palm and Pocket PC.
Will we be seeing new games for PC or next gen consoles from Infinite Ventures?
In time but right now we’re focusing on this niche.
What difficulties and advantages are there in developing a game specifically for DVD players, which were not designed as game machines?
Developing for DVD players is very tricky. They have a trivial programming system and literally 16 BYTES of memory. It’s a totally different experience than developing for regular game machines. You really have to develop for the limitations.
With the popularity of DVD players, there’s a huge potential market for these games. Have sales reflected that? Do you expect that to change in the future?
Yes, sales have only gone up. We also think that unlike games on regular game consoles our DVD games will be selling for many years. That’s because it’s less about new technology breakthroughs and more about great stories.
What capabilities for games does a DVD player have? What potentials are there in this platform that have not yet been exploited?
There are basically no limits to the quality of the graphics because we can play back anything as a piece of video. The only limit is the extent to which you can interact with it. We haven’t really pushed the special features such as multiple camera angles.
Many “hardcore” adventure gamers balk from playing adventure games away from a PC. How do you intend to get them interested?
Once they see how much fun the games can be, they’ll be ready to play.