• Log In | Sign Up

  • News
  • Reviews
  • Games Database
  • Game Discovery
  • Search
  • New Releases
  • Forums
continue reading below

Jonathan Boakes interview

Jonathan Boakes
Jonathan Boakes

Adventure Gamers last spoke with Jonathan Boakes back in 2003, when he was finishing up work on his second game, Dark Fall II: Lights Out. Since then he’s gone on to create the Aggie Award-winning The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure, which proved to be another cult hit among his growing following of horror fans. But there’s something about the Dark Fall universe that seems to draw Boakes back, and Adventure Gamers right along with him, as the acclaimed indie designer is returning to the series this year with Dark Fall: Lost Souls. With work on the new game well along in production, we knew it was high time to flag Jonathan down again for a little chat… or as it turned out to everyone’s benefit, quite a lengthy and insightful one.

Adventure Gamers: First of all, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. Before getting into details about your latest work, can you give us a brief history about yourself, and how you got started developing adventure games?

Jonathan Boakes: Hello, this is Jonathan Boakes, of Darkling Room, here in Cornwall. It's nice to be here, chatting to you. First off, I have to admit that I hadn't actually played that many adventure games when I first got started. The UK game scene is much smaller than, say, the USA or Europe, so many titles released in those areas failed to materialise in this country. But, I did get to play a few marvelous titles, which left me wanting more, and inspired me to give game development a go of my own. The first game, The Displacement, was a small photographic game, with lots of puzzles and a simple story written around the full eclipse of 2000. I keep meaning to get that game online, as a free download, but the time just goes....! Those who did play it, which was mostly friends and family, really enjoyed the title, and got quite competitive with each other. I was getting phone calls in the early hours from people begging for clues... so they could finish first, and brag that information around town. Funny times.

Image #1

The Displacement


After the fun, and minor success, of The Displacement, I decided to tackle a larger project. Point and Click adventure games had all but disappeared in 2000. I can't think of many that stood out, or grabbed attention like a few years previous, so I was very aware that I was creating a 'homage' or tribute to a long lost genre or style. I was studying Digital Arts at the time, which took in all forms of the creative process, so I pleaded with my tutor to allow me to make a full game for my final piece. He thought I was mad, making something purposely archaic for my big graduation project. I had to explain why I liked the genre, and why it had failed and disappeared. Of course, I was hopelessly wrong, which was a wonderful twist to the story. It was only after launching a small website, and writing a few 'making of' articles that the US and EU gamers got wind of what I was producing, and got in contact. I was truly amazed to find a massive online community out there... somewhere... desperate for new titles. The spooky, haunted house sub-genre was a popular one, so I was dead excited to be producing something that people would actually pay for, and enjoy. It was the start of a marvelous adventure for me!

AG: What were some of the games you mentioned that really inspired you?

Jonathan: I had to make an almost impossible decision, just the other day, on the Facebook social networking site. I had to pick my Top Five games of ALL time (with no genre restrictions). Problem was, I found myself torn between several games, which had, without doubt, thrilled me and influenced what I think games actually are. In that Top 5 you'll find 3 of the games are adventures, which is a great sign. It's proof that those games really made an impression. The 2 non-adventure titles are No One Lives Forever 2 and System Shock 2 (something about 2's obviously!). I have a sneaking suspicion that quite a few readers of this very website have also played and loved those games, but for the sake of the genre, I'll talk about the other three:

Riven: What can I say that hasn't already been said? Not much, I am sure. But it's so damn pretty and involving, it just springs to mind when I think about why I like the genre. There's rarely a week that goes past when I don't think about that game, or reminisce about the look, tone and... yes... the 'feel' of the thing. I guess it was the first fully realised 'photographic' game that I played... long before Morrowind and the other RPG's came along to conquer the (mise-en-)scene.


Image #2Titanic: Hmm, that's a bit of an 'out-there' choice, as so many people absolutely despise the game. I love it. It's one of the few games that I lend out to newbie gamers to get them interested. The characters, the puzzles, the Titanic! What's not to love? It's as camp as the Mona Lisa, but I find each playtime differs from the last, depending on my actions and interests, so it's proven to be great value. The technique used to animate the people looks rather bizarre; it did upon release, but I find it so endearing and strange. They are mad, mostly comedic grotesques, which definitely influenced me, when thinking up spooks for the abandoned hotel in Dark Fall.

Zork: Nemesis: Huge in scale, with lots of twists and fabulous locations. The Conservatory Concert Hall and Dorms seems to be the favourite with fans, and what a great choice. I re-played Zork the other day with a fellow developer, and he too loved the thing; the music, the tone, the puzzles and the atmosphere. Nemesis was the first game I paid a lot of money for, being £40. That would be $70 now! It was back before I'd joined the internet and discovered the naughty perks of the walkthrough, so the game took an absolute age to finish. Frustrating in places, but such good fun.

There were other games, of course, but I'd say those three had the biggest effect on me, and what I think of as 'adventure games'.

Adeventure Gamers: You are an active "ghost hunter" that goes on paranormal investigations, correct? Do you have any memorable encounters that really stick out in your mind to this day?

Jonathan: There's quite a few!

Ghost-Hunting is such a bizarre and esoteric thing to get involved in. I can't say that I am totally convinced by the existence of souls wandering about around us, but I like to keep an open mind. There are so many dodgy photos out there, claiming to show a ghost or spirit, but closer scrutiny reveals the 'ghostly' content to be a camera strap, a cloud of breathy condensation or just a good ol' optical illusion. Most people can see that, straight off, so the ghost-hunting activity is seen as pointless and... well... a bit daft! But, in its defense, I will say that ghost-hunting is a fun (most of the time), intelligent and thoughtful pursuit. You get to look around great locations, after dark, in places that few people get to see. Part of my interest stems from a desire to learn about human fear... fear of the dark, or the loud noise, or the voice on the breeze... it has proven to be great research, and adds fuel to an already fertile imagination.


Image #3Of the spooky encounters I have had, the most startling occurred when making The Lost Crown, and not while actually 'ghost-hunting' in a team. I was photographing the inside of Duloe Church, Cornwall, for a nocturnal sequence seen in-game (TLC fans will remember the scene where you place 'Old Nick's' hands back on the statue). I should add that it wasn't actually night time, but a dull afternoon in March. The ravens were quieter that day, keeping to themselves, so all was peaceful and still. I wasn't thinking about ghosts that afternoon, but I often carry the ghost-hunting gadgets with me in my camera bag, so the EMF Meter was hidden in there, somewhere. The EMF is a simple device that detects and pinpoints a disturbance in the electro-magnetic field around us. The device activates near sources of electro-magnetic energy, which includes anything electrical.

The church, as you can imagine, has very few sources of electrical current; the lighting is simple, basic and outdated... like many rural churches... so I was more than a little alarmed while photographing 'Old Nick' to hear the EMF screaming out, from the bottom of my bag, a good few metres from where I stood. I've only ever heard the thing react like that if near a microwave oven, electricity meter or some other powered-up source. There really was nothing that could be causing such a violent and unexpected reaction! I moved away from the statue, towards the camera bag, only to hear the EMF 'cut out' as quickly as it had started. What had caused the reaction? A moving form of energy? What sort of entity, creature or force could do such things? Suddenly the church felt slightly less welcoming, and lonely. I began to feel as if someone, or something, was in the ancient building with me. The EMF had acted as some sort of trip wire, alerting me to the presence of another.

So, with some nervousness, I plucked the EMF from the bag, and wandered that little corner of the church, with the EMF unit in my hand. The thing crackled occasionally, indicating localised power sources, but there was nothing significant... until, that is, I moved back towards the statue. The thing went mad! Just like before. It's a horrible sound, a full EMF reaction; it's a kind of squeal, high pitched and uncomfortable. It made me jump, and I could feel my nerves beginning to stir. Then, once again, the thing went dead. I was left alone, in the quiet, in the now peaceful church. I don't know what set off the meter, and wouldn't dare hazard a guess, and this is not the scariest story. Instead, it's the most alarming. I depend on technology in pretty much everything I do, so there was something very surprising, and unexpected, about a simple gadget reacting so strangely. I believe a power source, a paranormal force, passed through that corner of the church that dull afternoon in March. Which is, in all honesty, creepy enough for me!

AG: Have any of the cases you experienced influenced story ideas in the games?


Image #4Jonathan: Yes. Like the above tale. That was an interesting turn of events; reading Man-Size in Marble as a child, finding 'that' statue in Cornwall, and then including it in the story for The Lost Crown. Having a 'strange' encounter while filming the statue finishes my mission, and adds a paranormal flourish. I don't know, or can't say, whether there was some form of precognition involved, or whether it was coincidence (finding a real handless statue), but it certainly sticks in the mind. The statue in Duloe Church does seem to fascinate people, and I often find myself giving tours of the church, and talking about the statue. Each of the tourists pay a donation to the church, which is in dire need of repair and restoration. Many of the places featured in The Lost Crown may not be with us in ten years time. They will become 'ghosts' of their former selves.

AG: Care to share your personal views on what ghosts really are, and why they linger?

Jonathan: Linger? Saying 'linger' suggests there is some choice in the matter, which is interesting. Like any mortal being, I like to think there is something (anything!) after death, but have no idea if it is true. I only have my faith, I guess. Do the souls of our nearest and dearest really hover around us, watching our progress through life? It's a lovely idea, but ghost-hunting can never confirm that fact, no matter how many flamboyant 'mediums' claim to converse with the dead. Personally, I suspect there is a huge technical advancement waiting to be made, involving supernatural / paranormal forces. Phenomena is only paranormal before it is explained, and accepted as truth. I always like to use the microscope example when talking about these things. Bacteria and viruses were invisible to mankind before the microscope, but people were able to witness the effects of the bacteria and viruses, without knowing what or why the effects were occurring. Primitive cultures would have blamed some deity or god-like being. But, of course, the reality is far less esoteric. I believe a gadget, a machine, or a technique, will reveal what causes certain paranormal phenomena, but that doesn't mean to say it will be any less strange, or frightening. After all, we can now see a virus, but it doesn't make them any less terrifying, as they mutate, and evolve, to threaten our existence. Perhaps ghosts would be revealed to have a similar agenda.

Adventure Gamers: With your earlier games, you were basically working alone with a lot of the material. Is this the case again?

Jonathan: Yes. I am back on my own, stuck at the old train station and hotel... listening for voices in the dark, or faces at the windows. But I haven't always been alone...

I needed help, quite a bit of help, with The Lost Crown. It was a brand new way of working for me, and offered lots of exciting possibilities. Movement was my main desire, so I was thrilled to see many reviewers picking up on how much effort had gone into the world movement, (even if the characters’ animations were a bit robotic). That kind of stuff takes absolutely ages to do, so it's no surprise the game took 3 years! I sought advice, and tutorage, from a few individuals. They were all 'indies' like myself - like Matt Clark at Shadow Tor (who created some wonderful particle effects) and Jan Kavan at Cardboard Box Entertainment, who wrote some fool-proof tutorials. But, once I was happy with my skill base, I set out to work in the same way I have with previous titles... on my own.

Image #5

The Lost Crown in-progress


This time round is a little different. I am completely on my own. It is a pleasure to revisit the old Train Station and Hotel from Dark Fall 1. I really do feel as if I've climbed back through the tunnel, and entered a well known space, to survey the area and show through Lost Souls how the place has changed and deteriorated. Working alone in the dim light of the Darkling Room is the best way to approach this next game. It needs one mind, one pair of eyes, looking very carefully for clues to where the place is going. I create the games in the late evening, mostly, after work. My faithful old friend, the BBC World Service, plays out in the gloom of the Cornish evening, as I piece back together my favourite game location. It's an eerie, isolating experience.

AG: Why do you prefer this type of solo approach?

Jonathan: I don't. I'd love some company in those gloomy corridors, but no-one will put up with me! I'm too specific and particular about things, leaving little or no room for second opinions. But, there's also the hours to consider... they are nocturnal hours, of concentrated work, which doesn't always go in the expected direction. I jump from one task to the next (sound, to art, back to sound, and then onto modelling), so any team would feel mightily confused. Plus, there's the small matter of how much I enjoy working on my own. I believe my games are interpreted as very personal, small games, with big themes... (life, redemption, death, the afterlife, the soul, purgatory)... which come from my own thoughts and observations. The worlds of Saxton, Dowerton or Fetch Rock are created from an informed imagination, using textures and sounds from the world around me. I think a little of that personality would be lost, if tackled by a small team.

AG: You’ve given some insight into this already, but what does a typical working-day-in-the-life of Jonathan Boakes look like? Or is there no such thing as “typical” when you’re an independent, ghost-hunting game developer?

Jonathan: Well, I don't get to work on games full time. I'd like to, but it's not going to happen any time soon. Publishers are the problem. But I do enjoy making games, so there's still plenty to come from me. The 'typical day' sees me spending A LOT of time standing at rural train stations, getting to and from work. I'm a big fan of the traditional notebook - big ones, small ones, old ones, battered ones, useless ones full of ranting notes and mad ideas - so I find myself scribbling endless notes and sketching objects and rooms for 3D construction. You'll see from the scan I've provided how useful/useless the notes are... but they are my main 'game document', when it comes to working. I have about 15 small notebooks, packed full of game ideas. Some are huge, needing a big team behind them, and some are wonderfully small, requiring a single individual to make the idea a reality. I often share my ideas with other small developers, to see if they want to use them. It's not all ghosts and spooky English ghost-towns.

Image #6


So, no, I don't have a typical day, or plain way of working. I tackle whatever comes to mind, and produce the games as I go along. It's a very informal way of doing things. Bottom line, really, is the desire to make things as enjoyable as possible, both for myself and the end gamer. It's not a mechanical, or planned, way of working, which I hope seeps through the gaming experience.

AG: In Lost Souls, we know that players will be going back to the haunted train station and hotel from the first game. What inspired you to make another game in the same location?

Jonathan: I love that old train station and hotel. It was a grotty pleasure to work there, back in 2001, and it is proving to be a derelict delight, once again. The Dark Fall 'world' was based upon several locations - some real, some based in other fiction - and seems to capture many aspects of what people believe English train stations to feel like. They exhibit a kind of fallen grandeur, of a more industrial and vital time, long since passed. It's the perfect place to tell a ghost story, as people are not supposed to stop and stay in those places. They should not stay for a long period of time. But the Dark Fall characters do stay there... through no choice of their own. It's almost as if they are waiting for one last steam train to come rolling into the station, to take them to the next life.

AG: Revisiting Dowerton seems like a challenge to make it not feel like we've already been-there-done-that. How are you going to tackle this issue?

Jonathan: No, not an issue, not for me. I get asked to set a game back at the old train station, several times a week. The place really seems to have implanted itself in people's imagination. In many ways, I think some gamers feel as if a little piece of themselves still resides there, in the dusty, creaky, old hotel hallways... waiting for their next opportunity to explore the battered old buildings, and look further a field. There are still plenty of stories to tell, left over from Dark Fall, and some locations which play a much more important role. Plus, you will be travelling away, for certain scenes, to places as yet unseen. It's going to be very exciting.

AG: Will we see any familiar faces from Dark Fall: The Journal while we’re there?

Jonathan: Yes, absolutely. There are a couple of characters returning for one last chance at freedom. They want to get away from the place, once and for all. The owner and staff of the hotel have all moved on, as they played such a narrative role in Dark Fall, but there are a couple of guests who have unfinished business. You could say that those particular ghosts never really left me, and have been waiting for this opportunity for nearly ten years! I've left them, cooped up in their old hotel rooms, for quite some time. Another decade has almost passed since we last heard from them, so I am wondering what kind of personalities we are likely to find, waiting for us, in those old hotel rooms. Will they be willing to help us, for a chance to 'move on', or will we be expected to make some sort of offering, or perform some all-important task? If so, you may find yourself contemplating whether you can really believe in promises offered by the dead. Too much contact, and sympathy, could see you taking a hotel room of your own, and joining those unfortunate souls... trapped forever.

Adventure Gamers: With your previous games, players were treated to different types of equipment to use to "ghost hunt", such as voice recorders and EMF meters. Will we be seeing any new gadgets, or even new ways to ghost hunt?

Jonathan: Very perceptive! I've decided to let Lucy Reubans and Nigel Danvers experiment with the 'traditional' ghost-hunting gadgets, in their very own sequel (come 2010). They used quite a few in The Lost Crown and are ready to proceed to the next level. The fact that they are novice ghost-hunters means I can introduce new experiments, to the gamer, and have the characters do the explaining. Whereas, with Dark Fall: Lost Souls, the gamer hits the ground running, with no time to fiddle with EMF meters and camcorders. Instead, the main protagonist (you!), will be utilizing anything that comes to hand in your quest to communicate with the dead. Part of my enjoyment, when ghost-hunting, comes from using odd, strange or downright domestic objects when out 'in the field'. Basically, it doesn't have to have flashing LED's, harmonic beeping noises and nite-vision to tell you something strange, and possibly threatening, is right over your shoulder. So, get ready to do some paranormal experiments, retro style!

AG: Will Lost Souls be as non-linear as the previous two Dark Fall games?

Jonathan: To a point. It will be like Dark Fall 1 (The Journal), meaning you will perform some simple tasks, like conduct a preliminary recce, before embarking on the main mission(s). You will be able to approach several puzzles at once, which are neatly contained, and piece information together at your own pace. Some gamers really enjoyed just wandering the old train station and hotel, so I am trying to make the game as visually interesting as possible. There's plenty to see and do, and experience!, at your own pace. You will find your natural instincts and common-sense lead you through the game, avoiding the need to constantly peek at a walkthrough. If you don't feel ready to tackle a puzzle, it will be because you are not ready, rather than feel as if you are missing some esoteric detail. Lost Souls will feel like the most natural ghost-hunting experience to date, but certainly not the easiest, or most comfortable. It will feel very dark.

AG: Does the story of Lost Souls in any way connect to the events of Dark Fall II: Lights Out?

Image #7Jonathan: No, not at all. Also, apart from the setting, and a reappearance of certain ghosts, you do not need an extensive knowledge of Dark Fall 1, either. Lost Souls is a stand-alone title, which completes the Dark Fall games. Lights Out was a spooky game (well, the Director’s Cut is much spookier thanks to some additions), but climaxed with a sci-fi resolution which some liked, and some didn't. Lost Souls is a very traditional style ghost story, to begin with, which simmers with possible explanations right up until the last minute. It is at that point that the true meaning of the game is revealed. Gamers will have to make a very important decision, at the end there, which will change the way they perceive ghosts... perhaps forever.

AG: Your previous Dark Fall games have all used slideshow-style backgrounds, but Lost Souls is promising some freedom of movement. Can you explain how the interface will be different in the new game?

Jonathan: There is freedom of movement in some scenes, which changes depending on the action required. It depends entirely on the scene, and what I hope gamers will 'feel' towards the world.

My desire is to offer up a fully realised corner of the modern English landscape, which feels like a real place, on a real night, with real dangers. The only way to bring that across is to offer a more complex way of looking at the world. There are several tricks being used to bring the Lost Souls closer to your world. But, I will say that traditional adventure gamers will have no problems with the interface. I see the new style as a continuation, or expansion, of the classic adventure game style. I want gamers to really 'feel' the world around them; to feel the crumbling walls and peeling paint, or to choke on the smoky fumes from the boiler... or genuinely feel as if someone is standing right behind them, whispering unmentionable messages in their ear.

I learnt lots of new things, and tricks!, making The Lost Crown, so my aim is to bring some of that new knowledge and technique to the next Dark Fall, which is first-person perspective and mouse driven. But I do have to be very careful. One innovation too many and I could alienate the fans, and audience. So, it's proving to be an exciting, and nerve-wracking task.

AG: The Lost Crown was quite different from the Dark Fall games, with a unique style of its own, the black and white backgrounds and third-person gameplay. Will we see some of that influence in this game, or will it stick solely with the original Dark Fall format?

Image #8


Jonathan: The Lost Crown is a very specific, and unique title. It is my own, personal love letter to the dark, children's fantasy serials I enjoyed as a child and teenager (and still enjoy to this day!). They were often rather wordy, stunted dramas, made on a tiny budget, in the English landscape. I am thinking of dramas such as Haunters of the Deep, Tarry Dan, The Owl Service and Shadows.

The game was my first attempt at a third person adventure, and as such, took a long time to create. The look, sound and texture of The Lost Crown divides the audience, with most loving it, and others left scratching their heads. I would go as far as to say that the game is purposely unwieldy and complicated, both in style and execution, very much like the material which inspired it. Whereas the Dark Fall games are surprisingly commercial in comparison. They are/were much more like the classic adventures, such as Shivers, Myst or Blackstone Chronicles, but perhaps a little more 'English', again both in style and execution.

My plan with Dark Fall: Lost Souls is to update the look and 'feel' of the series, while retaining that all-important English atmosphere and personal touch. I am very close to the previous two games, the first one especially, so it's a ghastly delight to be back. I am bringing new found skills to the workplace, to add life, movement and horror to the series, but people will find, after a few minutes play, that they are familiar with the gameplay, even if a little disturbed by the darker tone.

Adventure Gamers: How many of the unresolved questions brought up in the previous games are going to be answered?

Jonathan: What questions? I've stated many times that certain elements are left open, for personal interpretation. Dark Fall: Lights Out actually features a very simple story, which seems to puzzle some people beyond its intentions. But, sci-fi concepts can be a little hard to explain, without resorting to spouting techno-babble and time paradox theory. The recently published 'Lights Out Companion' includes lots of information about what, who and why things happened on Fetch Rock.

But, if you are referring to Dark Fall... well, there's not an awful lot to say here that hasn't been discussed elsewhere. Again, I believe the story to be a simple one, but I do not go as far as to name, or classify, what the Dark Fall actually is (and never will). That would be rather foolish. To name and explain the force would defeat the object of the game... that being to present a formless, existential horror, that exists purely in the mind of the gamer.

Image #9One person's perception of hell, limbo and the afterlife is a very personal thing. I'm not sure I want to state what I believe exists in the next world, or whether anything exists at all. The writing in Dark Fall leaves each gamer to come to their own conclusions in regards to concepts such as ghosts, evil, death and purgatory. I'm not a big fan of Christian and Catholic propaganda, so certainly wouldn't fuel any single ideologies... you know.... one person’s faith is their own.

But, if you wanted answers to something more simple, which you believe to be unanswered by the fiction, feel free to ask. I have often found myself wondering whether we actually 'defeated' the Dark Fall, in part 1, or just subdued the power until a later date? The next game will tackle elements like that. But, there are also more silly questions that can be looked at, such as why Nigel and Polly had no sleeping bags, in DF1, given that they planned to stay for several days. Where did they sleep, and where were the Takeaway dinners delivered to?! The mind boggles.

AG: I was referring to the bigger picture issues, but the smaller details you mentioned might just warrant a replay. Along those lines, you’ve recently re-released the first two Dark Fall games in updated editions. What prompted that decision?

Jonathan: With Dark Fall: Lost Souls on the horizon, it seemed an appropriate time to re-evaluate the original games. After some thought, it was decided the time was right to update the games to run on newer systems, and also fix a few nagging issues which were present in the original versions. After tweaking a few things in Dark Fall, I found myself playing Lights Out and wondered why so much detail was removed during production....then I remembered the publisher, and it all came flooding back. Not a good time. So, I grabbed the Spring Cleaning Bag, my old notes and scripts, and got to work re-vamping the game, and pushing it up onto a new level...that of a Director’s Cut. Most have loved the new additions, changes and 'scarier' bits, but some feel I've "done a Lucas" and fiddled with a classic. I don't think Lights Out is a classic, but is instead a thoroughly enjoyable paranormal, time-travel romp involving a traditional old lighthouse. Phew!

I also wanted to get back towards self-publishing, so offering the older games in a Limited Edition (Pins & Needles), with soundtrack, seemed a great opportunity. You must remember that my first game, and first experience of other gamers, came through self-publishing Dark Fall back in 2001. I highly recommend the venture to any new, indie studios, based upon my experience. It has never been anything less than a joy to converse with gamers directly, from all walks of life, and all corners of the globe. Even a mega-publisher cannot post games to some corners of the world... whereas I am more than happy to do so. I have a frightening pinboard world map in the studio, with pins for each country I've sold to. It's looking very spiky, after all these years.

AG: Do you think Lost Souls will be the last Dark Fall game, or do you see the series continuing?

Jonathan: Hmm, not sure. I like Trilogies, they tend to work quite well. Returning to face the Dark Fall, one last time, would certainly wrap up the series. I'm then moving on to The Last Crown, which will take a good year to produce (not as much to learn this time round!), so I'm tied up for a while. Plus I'm planning a new horror franchise, with Matt Clark, at Shadow Tor. We have a shared love of European horror movies, so it would be great to get something going. The series would be quite striking, and technologically progressive, so watch this space, come 2011.

Image #10

Dark Fall: Lost Souls


AG: Much to look forward to, then! But first Lost Souls. We've just heard the good news about Europe, but what are your publishing plans for elsewhere? Do you plan to release it yourself or through retail publishing partners?

Jonathan: There are lots of options at the moment, which is more than I can say for 2008. Lots of publishers and distributors went bust, or went mental, leaving the adventure scene rather desolate. But, in all honesty, I'd love to see Dark Fall: Lost Souls on shelves... and not just in game stores... which will soon be a thing of the past. Wouldn't it be great to see new releases in the big super stores and bookstores... something a little different. I am talking to new publishers who are keen to get games in new locations, so anything could happen. Hopefully, fingers crossed, the game will be available in the late summer, or autumn. I like that time of year... Bonfire Night, Birthdays and Halloween! I've got a lot planned for that season, including a 'live' broadcast Ghost Hunt from the dark, damp pinewoods of Cornwall. News of that, and production on Lost Souls, will be appearing on my blog: www.jonathanboakes.blogspot.com.

AG: Well, whatever forms it comes in, we’re really looking forward to it. Thank you for joining us, Jonathan, to help us patiently bide our time until then.

Jonathan: Great! I look forward to seeing what Adventure Gamers make of the next game; as far as I am concerned it is my best game yet, but I think The Lost Crown has a few fans loitering in the forums. They won't have too long to wait for a sequel, planned for 2010, so it's a busy time for me and Darkling Room. Things change, move on, or stop, but I'm going to be making games for some time to come. It is a great time to be an independent developer! Thanks.

Leave it to Jonathan to tease us with another new sequel just as he's departing, but we'll leave him be for now or he'll never get them all done. In the meantime, if a five-page Jonathan Boakes retrospective still isn't enough, there's a great image gallery still to come, filled with additional photos of the man himself, several making-of technical images, and even more seen-only-by-a-select-few screenshots of The Displacement! Enjoy.

Image #11


Image #12

Image #13

Always scouting locations for inspiration (at least, that's why Jonathan claims he was at the beach).


Image #14 Image #15

Jonathan Boakes and trains: a winning combination (even if he needs directions sometimes).


Image #16 Image #17

Saaaay... where have we seen this bony guy before... ? (Or maybe not – skeletons all kind of look alike to us.)


Image #18

Image #19


Image #20 Image #21

Behind the scenes glimpses into the "making of" a Jonathan Boakes adventure.


Image #22 Image #23


Image #24

Before Dark Fall there was The Displacement, and these screenshots are the closest most of us have ever come to Jonathan's first-ever adventure.


continue reading below

Community Comments

I agree whole-heartidly, cbman. I've asked him about putting "The Displacement" up, and he said he would put it on his scrapbook page here; http://www.darklingroom.co.uk/scrapbook/. At least, "when he has time". Who knows when that'll be. Anyway, since he's so busy with making "Lost Souls", and apparently "The Last Crown", along with his "Ghosthunters" live broadcast around Halloween, I doubt he'll get to it any time soon. One can only hope, as it looks brilliant! I don't mind, since there will be something from Jonathan soon.
Sep 2, 2009
I think that people should e mail Darklingroom.co.uk to pester J.B to get round to that free download of the Displacement! It looks fantastic.
Aug 31, 2009
Even if I'm glad about [i]Lost Souls[/i] and [i]The Last Crown[/i], what I can't really wait is the secret project with Matthew Clarke, whose [i]Barrow Hill[/i] stands out like one of the most frightening games I've played in a long time (the title of most frightening must go to [i]Shadow of the Comet[/i]).
Aug 4, 2009
It's an artist's rendition of Jonathan, not an image from any of his games.
Jul 19, 2009
Hang on a minute. Jonathan doesn't directly explain the header image labeled "teaser" I presume it must be for "the last crown" Or am I missing something is it from a previous game?
Jul 19, 2009
Thats really cool! If I were getting into the industry I couldn't imaging a better mentor. Thanks,Fantasysci5
Jul 9, 2009
"What is the other work he does?"-DuvDeerma I asked him that after the interview was published, and he said, "I teach Digital Arts at the Uni".
Jul 8, 2009
All his works are masterpieces. Lost Crown was my most favorite but I adored the Dark Fall experiences too. Endless scribbling down of notes, wonderful puzzles. There's no one like him! He has so many fans of his work and I cannot wait for Dark Fall Lost Souls.
Jul 6, 2009
So talented.The lost crown is the best indie adventure and among the best 3 in last year. The most artistic presentation ive seen in lots and lots of years
Jul 5, 2009
Fantastic Article Thanks. I am intrigued Jonathan says "Well, I don't get to work on games full time. I'd like to, but it's not going to happen any time soon. " What is the other work he does? Photographer, perhaps? Exorcist? :)
Jul 5, 2009
A new game from Dave Gilbert this summer and a new game by Jonathan Boakes this autumn - two things that makes me a happy man.
Jul 4, 2009
yeah very nice long interview. mr. boakes seems like a very cool guy. i especially liked the lost crown, very atmospheric. im looking forward to his future efforts.
Jul 4, 2009
Thank you very much for this very interesting interview! Defenitely looking forward to all of Jonathans work in the future.
Jul 4, 2009
I'm so much looking forward to Dark Fall 3! The first one is up there among my absolute favourites, such as Riven and Zork Nemesis.:) And The Lost Crown was in my book easily the best game of 2008. Dark Fall 2 was a bit disappointing, but I have yet to try the Director's Cut. Good interview! Boakes is a genius at developing horror adventures and seems to be such a nice person too.
Jul 3, 2009
Post a comment

You need to be logged in to post comments. Not a member? Register now!
Back to the top