A-T: „Hello Teemu, please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your team“
Teemu: „Hello Michael. My name is Teemu Vilén and I'm the project leader of Alpha Polaris, an Arctic horror adventure game set to be released in early 2011. Including me, there are six people working on the project. We have a great team, and needless to say, we are very excited, as this is our first commercial game project. However, we do have a plenty of experience of the Arctic darkness, as our company Turmoil Games is located in Rovaniemi, Lapland, right next to Santa's hideout. :)“
A-T: „Please tell us something about the story of Alpha Polaris and how you got the idea for it.“
Teemu: „In it's core, the story of Alpha Polaris is about human emotions stemming from isolation, night terrors and loss. It tells the story of Rune Knudsen, a norwegian biologist writing his thesis in a distant oil research station in Greenland. As the ion storm of the century isolates the station, Rune has to face a primordial terror lurking beyond his dreams.
The idea got started from a desire to convey a realistic, atmospheric horror story, which would really have something to say to people, and in which they can really immerse themselves in.“
A-T: „So can we expect a good dose of fantasy elements mixed into the setting? Or is the horror part more of a psychological nature?“
Teemu: „The story has a supernatural threat. In that sense, you can expect fantasy elements. However, our horror is more of a restrained and psychological, with the supernatural things used as metaphors for the human psyche and changes the Arctic is going through.“
A-T: „When I hear "isolation" I think of a quite lonely gameplay. Will you meet other characters or are you on your own?“
Teemu: „Alpha Polaris is isolated from the civilization, which is a classic horror trope. Still, human-to-human drama has the utmost importance in the game. We explore the warmth between the crew members and the loss of it. So in addition of a distant setting, isolation also refers to the growing emotional isolation of individuals on the station.“
A-T: „What sort of gameplay can we expect from Alpha Polaris and with which other games can it be compared?“
Teemu: „Expect realistic puzzles revolving around a primordial mystery. Expect working with the other characters on the station. Expect bodies.
For inspiration, we have looked closely at such adventure series as the Gabriel Knight-games, Ben Yatzee's horror AGS games and Secret Files for visuals. Aside from games, we have been inspired by Stephen King novels, Cthulhu Mythos, arctic horror movies and the colours looming above us in the winter sky.“
A-T: „You mention Gabriel Knight, the Yahtzee games, and Secret Files. What did you like in those games and what do you want to do differently with Alpha Polaris?“
Teemu: „We just love the intriguing background stories and the puzzles weaved around them in Gabriel Knight games. However, we promise not to include puzzles involving cats and fake moustaches. :)
I think what is great in Ben Yatzee's horror adventures is the clever use of settings, tight pacing and an intent to focus on characters. He also cleverly uses slasher movie tropes, but we want to steer clear of them. They are entertaining, but don't fit in so well with more realistic setting.
The Secret Files games have great visuals and a very usable UI, and those are things we also want to excel in. Our storyline and puzzles however are a part of a different adventuring tradition.“
A-T: „Why did you decide to do a classic adventure game?“
Teemu: „There's endless possibilities to involve players in intriguing storylines with classic adventure games - and lots of unrealized potential. With Alpha Polaris, I think we are at the same time "classic" but also developing the genre forward, and that is one of the main reasons we are developing it.“
A-T: „Alpha Polaris is planned to be released in early 2011 by Just A Game. That's great for a little independent studio like Turmoil Games. Do you already have plans for a sequel or for something completely new after it is released?“
Teemu: „It's great to work with JAG. They have already proven to be people who understand the problems and worries of a small indie studio.
We have not made any definite decisions yet about our next project, but as I said, we want to develop and test new approaches to adventure gaming. In the future, we'll probably want to include more gameplay elements based on emergence, as opposed to linearity. Still, we'll definetely build on our strengths and on the things we learned working on Alpha Polaris.“