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Interview with Wicked Studios' President, Yves Bordeleau

Game: Keepsake
Company: The Adventure Company

With the release of the fantasy-heavy adventure title, Keepsake, we recently got the opportunity to interview developer Wicked Studios' President Yves Bordeleau.

GV: What was the most challenging aspect of developing Keepsake?

Bordeleau: I think that the most challenging aspects of development are the initial phases where all the brainstorming sessions occur. It is quite hard to come up with a good story and, at the same time, finding gameplay mechanics that go well with it. There’s also the usual technical adaptation period that is always a challenge.

GV: How do you decide which puzzles go in the game and where they go? Do you devise of a group of problems and try to fit them into the story or do you just see what areas of the game beg for puzzles?

Bordeleau: Well, we designed Keepsake in a way that the puzzle "fit" in the story; there are no puzzles that feel out of place in the game because of that. In short, the story comes first and then we create puzzles according to the different situations the protagonist will be facing.

GV: What made you decide on the graphical style and implementation of Keepsake?

Bordeleau: We are all fantasy fans at Wicked Studios, so the choice wasn't very hard! Also, it has been quite a long time since a classic medieval / fantasy setting was used in an adventure game. I can also say that the Lord of the Rings buzz was a key factor for us when we decided on the graphical style of Keepsake.

GV: How difficult do you believe this game will be for the average player? What about experienced adventure gamers?

Bordeleau: The game difficulty differs greatly depending on the Hint system usage. Novice players will probably rely on many hints to solve some puzzles, making the game easier, but much more enjoyable for them. On the contrary, experienced adventure gamers will prefer to leave the hint button alone while adventuring (but trust me, even hardcore adventurers will eventually use it later in the game ;) hehehe)

GV: What sources (books, movies, etc.) did you utilize for inspiration for the locations, characters and story of Keepsake?

Bordeleau: Like I was saying, most of our inspiration came from fantasy works like LOTR and maybe a little bit of Harry Potter. We also took some inspiration from old adventure games like the King's Quest and Kyrandia series.

GV: What do you feel is unique about this game? What do you believe will keep Keepsake from being viewed as "just another problem solver"?

Bordeleau: Keepsake is a lot more than a "problem solver". It has a very strong story and a cast of very interesting characters to interact with. When designing the game, we tried to incorporate gameplay mechanics from both third person and first person adventures; thus making a kind of hybrid genre.

GV: What is the biggest obstacle when trying to create an innovative adventure title like this?

Bordeleau: The first thing is the financial limitation. The more budget you have for development, the more you can create a game that will be an accurate representation of the original design. This and the technical limitation of the engine we used were the biggest obstacles.

GV: What is your favorite part or puzzle in the game?

Bordeleau: My favorite part of the game is when Lydia arrives at the higher levels of the school. I really like the mood found in the different classrooms.

GV: What other games have you worked on and how has that experience helped you prepare for this project?

Bordeleau: This is our first project as an independent developer. However, a good part of the Keepsake development team worked creating the MMORPGs "The 4th Prophecy" and the unreleased "Black Moon Chronicles". Those experiences help us a lot in many aspects of development.

GV: How big is the Keepsake development team? How was the work divided among the team members and did your group follow any particular project management strategies?

Bordeleau: Wicked Studios is a development team that focuses on "Quality" and not "Quantity" :) The core team behind Keepsake was only 6 dedicated and very talented individuals. Basically, all the team members are the "one man army" type; for instance, besides working on the administration and management of Wicked Studios, I was also involved in the game design and I also composed a big part of the game soundtrack.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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