Le Santcuaire de l’Aventure

-Hi John Green. Can you introduce you to our readers in a few words ?

Hi, my name’s John Green, and I’m an artist in New York City. I write and produce comics for Disney, plus I illustrate and co-publish a few comic books that I created with my friend Dave Roman.

-In France, French and Belgian comic-books are very popular, on the other hand, most of well-known American comics are Disney, Super Heroes (Marvel and else…) or underground comic-books. How do you position yourself as comic-books drawer in United States ? Who are your favourite authors ?

It’s always been very interesting to me how comics books have such a different reputation in America than in the rest of the world. For quite some time comic books have been disregarded, considered junk that’s just for teenage boys. It’s been quite a stigma to have to deal with. But currently comics, specifically “graphic novels”, are beginning to get more acknowledgment as legitimate forms of art and literature in the U.S. (partly in thanks to how well “manga” is selling.) It can be very hard to make a living working in comics, though. I do it because I enjoy doing it, and I’m just lucky when it ends up paying off. I can’t really think of any all-time favorite writers or artists, but right now my favorite book is “Scott Pilgrim” by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

-You have a big comic-books drawer experience, is Nearly departed based on one of yours, or did you imagine a brand new story and characters for your game ? Can you describe the framework in a few words?

Nearly Departed is based on an idea I had for a comic book but never actually made. I can only work on a few comics at once, but that doesn’t stop me for coming up with ideas. A few years ago I came up with the idea for Nearly Departed and did some sketches, but I never did anything else with it. When I decided I wanted to make an adventure game, Nearly Departed seemed like the perfect premise for one.

-How many people are working on Nearly departed ?

Primarily just me, but my fiancee (who’s also an artist) might assist me with some of the art. There’s also Greg MacWilliam, the creator of the LASSIE game engine, and there’s Mark Darin from Pinhead Games. I wouldn’t be able to do the game without them.

-The main Character is a zombie, do we know his name? And how did you think about such an original idea ?

You will know his name, especially if you finished the demo. The character’s name is a tiny little mystery, so you’ll figure out what it is early in the game. Your name doesn’t really give you too much idea of who you actually are and how you became a zombie, though. 

-We can, on a certain level, think about Tim Burton’s universe in your game (a living dead hero, evening locations…), what are your graphic influences (or movies, books, music, etc…) ?

I was very heavily influenced by Star Wars as a youngster, plus a lot of other science fiction like Bladerunner and fantasy like The Dark Crystal. Comic books of course were a big influence as well. One of my favorite books of all time is Neuromancer by William Gibson (and I loved the adventure game on my Commodore 64), but these days the books I read most are the Harry Potter books.

-You own a “cartoon” style, a specific style which, in adventure games, remembers the golden age of adventure games in the 90’s. What are your best adventure games ever, and why ?

My favorite adventure game would be Curse of Monkey Island. I love the style and animation of the game, not to mention it was really funny. Almost all of the LucasArts adventures are favorites of mine, from Maniac Mansion to Fate of Atlantis, to Sam & Max.

-Your game seems to be of good quality, why did you choose a freeware online distribution for it ? Is this game for you an exercise of style, or a try, which could be, in the future, the starting point to create other games, with a commercial distribution ?

Making games has in the past been a hobby for me and it had been quite some time since I made one. When I found the LASSIE game engine, it seemed like the perfect tool to make an adventure game. I never really gave much thought toward selling my game, as I’ve never made money doing it before. I mostly just want to make something that people will have fun playing. But you’re right, making the game is sort of an exercise, which could be a portfolio piece, and could hopefully lead to creating games for commercial distribution.

-On the web site of Nearly Departed, it’s written : “Pinhead Games will also be assisting in
the production of certain aspects of the game”, which ones ?

Pinhead Games will primarily be taking care of music, sound and voices. They’ll also be assisting with promotion, marketing and distribution.

-There are no music and voices in the demo, can we expect some in the final game ?

Yes, thanks to Pinhead Games.

-How long will it take to the player, approximately, to end the game ?

That’s something that I find very hard to estimate. For instance, some people have been able to get through the demo in twenty minutes, but others have been stuck in the same place for an hour or longer. That could be my fault since I guess some people found the puzzles too easy and others found them too hard. But the full game itself will be much longer, nearly ten times longer, so I’d say multiply however long it took you to complete the demo and that’s how long it will take you to complete the whole game.

-On which developing stage are you? When can we expect playing the whole game ?

It’s still very early on in development. It’s slow going because the game is just one of many other projects I’m working on. Hopefully it will be done by the end of the year.

-Why the choice of 2D, is it because of your drawer experience, is it simply a graphic preference, or a technical choice ? Do you consider doing a 3D game one day ? (like Bone, The Westerner or Ankh, keeping a cartoon style)

It’s 2D mostly because that’s what I know how to do, and I can do it pretty much all by myself. I’ve never worked in 3D, so I’d need help to do a 3D game. Also, it is a style preference. While the freedom to move around in 3D is nice, it still seems computer generated. In 2D it can still have an organic, hand-drawn look. I much prefer the 2D of Curse of Monkey Island over the 3D of Escape from Monkey Island. However, some day, making a 3D adventure might be a fun challenge. It mostly depends on if the story will work in that style better than it would in 2D.

-How is the interface working ? Will the story be linear, or will there be multiple choices which could influence the game unfolding ? (like different ends,…)

The story is primarily linear, though you don’t have to solve puzzles in order. There will be times when you can go to this place to try to figure out a puzzle here, or go somewhere else and tackle the puzzle there. There are some puzzles that have multiple solutions planned, and there are some choices you can make that will change the ending of the game.

-How many locations and characters will there be in the game ?

There will be around 40 rooms and about a dozen characters.

-Joker question (but I’m afraid I already know the answer…!) : will there be a French translation (any subtitles ?) ?

I’d love for there to be translations of the game, but of course I’d need someone else to help me with that. First I’d like to finish making the game, though.

-Thanks for the interview, good luck for the work on your game. Anything else for our readers ?

Thanks for the interview. I hope everyone will enjoy playing my game as much as I’m enjoying making it.