Charles Cecil interview

Adventure fans from York and the surrounding area turned out on 15th November to have Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner sign their copies of Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon. No doubt lured by the promise of original hand-drawn cells from the first and second Broken Sword games, and a copy of the "making of" DVD, fans were attracted from as far away as Middlesbrough and Leicester. It seems that no one left disappointed. "It really means a lot to the fans to have something given back," commented Gavin Eliot.

Charles Cecil

Such feelings were reciprocated by Revolution MD, Charles Cecil. "All that really matters" he said, "is that people want to play the games and buy the games. It is a real pleasure to meet everybody."

Those attending were most impressed by the personal touch Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner gave to proceedings, taking time to really talk to the assembled fans. Christiaan Moleman commented "It’s a nice gesture. Normally you only get this with books. It’s really interesting to see the people who actually designed the game, and the 'making of' DVD is nice too."

Charles Cecil was kind enough to answer some questions for us at the signing:


How do you feel about how the game has been received so far?

I am really pleased. If you think about where we were two years ago when we decided to write the game, I thought it was really important to move into 3D. We really didn’t know what the end result was going to be, which was quite scary, as it might not have worked. We looked at other games like Monkey Island which hadn’t really quite worked and there was a real leap of faith. I am pleased that THQ backed us… there was some doubt as to whether the adventure as a genre really worked. THQ have been delighted by the sales, as we are. The irony is that the model at the moment actually means that it is very difficult for a developer to make very much money, which is why so many are going bankrupt. But so long as you sell enough so that it is worth producing more games, then that’s all we really care about.

We put all these component parts together, not knowing which would work, or if they would even work together… I think people feel it has been quite a brave move. One of the interesting things about Beneath A Steel Sky say, or Lure of the Temptress, is that though they had plenty of faults… the fact was that they had new ideas…  We can’t compete with [games like] Final Fantasy, they spent $40 million… but what we are trying to do is innovate.

What did you think of the initial outcry when you announced that BS3 wouldn’t be a 2D ‘point & click’ adventure?

I was delighted. It meant that there was a passion for the games. If nobody said anything or were indifferent, than there would have been concern, but people weren’t indifferent--they really cared. Maybe 25% hated it, 50% were waiting to see what happened, and 25% thought it was great.

Just Adventure published something where somebody wrote to Ray Ivey, saying I was 'a faggot that should be taken out into the streets and shot.' Then a number of gay magazines in America took that literally and assumed that I was gay, which I’ve got no problem with, but they approached DreamCatcher asking if they could do interviews with me, because they liked the idea of a gay video games designer.  I welcomed the coverage, but couldn’t hand on heart say I fitted that bill!

Did you have any favourite points in the development of Broken Sword 3?

Very early on, I went over to Germany where they have a TV show called Giga TV. It’s two hours live everyday, and they had a poll at the beginning, where one of the questions was ‘should adventures move to 3D’.  The vast majority said ‘no they shouldn’t’, and I did two hours of live TV and showed the game, and by the end almost nobody was saying ‘no’.  That was great… as the first vindication that what we were doing was right, as a huge number of people… four or five hundred thousand people, all hard core gamers, many of which knew Broken Sword were commenting. This was great as a lot of people were very negative [at the start], but I stuck to my guns. I felt fairly clearly that I was right, and I have been proved right I think. Whatever you say about the game, it doesn’t feel unnatural in 3D. That was the key thing. One of the things I have been very pleased with is the way the control system works--it doesn’t feel like a 3D game, but like a 2D game that happens to be in 3D, with all the advantages of 3D.

Any favourite moments in the actual game?

What we wanted to do with this Broken Sword was use the 3D environment to create something that felt like an adventure in the wide sense. I personally think that Indiana Jones is the best example, particularly the first one, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is a brilliant film [and one] that it is impossible not to reference. You’ll find yourself in an area that feels very Indiana Jones-ish and when in that area, you have to put in the references… [like] the spikes that come across.  At least we laugh at ourselves; we know that we’re copying them, so hopefully we do it very much tongue-in-cheek!  The 3D environment allows that temple exploration really well, in a very different way to Tomb Raider.

So, what are your plans for the future?

We’ve got a secret project that we can’t talk about, that we’re working on now. It’s really hard work, as we’re finishing off Broken Sword, but starting a new one at the same time…  I guess the big question that we get asked all the time is whether we are going to do Broken Sword 4. The honest answer is that we are considering it, though there is nothing in development at the moment.

What we are thinking of doing is asking, once people have got to play Broken Sword 3, whether there should be Broken Sword 4.  We got a lot of feedback at the start, which we took very seriously.  There was a lot of forum discussion… I felt it was probably better not to get directly involved, but we read what everybody said, and took a lot of notice [of their views]. It was very important that the game appealed to the hardcore fans. We wanted to go wider, but our strategy was to write a game that hard core fans would still love, but that felt contemporary and had the production values to go wider.  We’re very lucky… because we have a thriving community of people with an interest.  We’re proud that our creation is creating this level of interest.

We really, really wanted to appeal to the hardcore adventure fans, the bedrock, and it's brilliant the support that you have given us... All the best!

Very special thanks to Tony Warriner and Charles Cecil for allowing me to conduct this impromptu interview!


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