Ivan Bralic is project leader at Cateia Games, where he coordinates the development of The Legend of Crystal Valley. The interview was first published in the Russian PDF magazine Hotspot Hunt.
Hotspot Hunt: "Please tell a couple of words about yourself."
Ivan Bralic: "Hello. First of all, I salute everybody in The Inventory and all your readers. I'm here to present Cateia Games and my name is Ivan Bralic - Project Leader & Art Director of The Legend of Crystal Valley.
Cateia Games is company for videogames development and publishing from Croatia. I won't go in details now about Cateia Games, for simply more information about who we are and what we do can be found on our homepage.
Currently we are working hard on our hit strategy World under Siege: European front, and, of course, on The Legend of Crystal Valley – point and click adventure."
H.H.: "The Legend of the Crystal Valley was first announced in The Inventory magazine in the beginning of 2005. Then there was a long period of silence. Then Razbor Studios site has been closed at all and the project has been considered dead by many people. Do you know anything about the fate of Razbor Studios? Is it closed? Maybe you even know the reason? "
Ivan: "Razbor Studio does not exist for a long time now. We took the license on The Legend of Crystal Valley (LOCV) back then and finally we decided to “reanimate” the project. Our version of LOCV is based on the same story, same characters and locations, but with completely renewed graphics, motion capture animations, 5.1. sound etc."
H.H.: "How did "The Legend of the Crystal Valley" catch the attention of the "Cateia Games"? You have one turn-based strategy game released and the second one will come out soon – why have you chosen to make an adventure game?"
Ivan: "Well, it is a bit strange that we’ve decided to work on an adventure game. We have huge experience in developing turn-based strategy games, and adventure game is something completely different. But we’ve seen that LOCV is one with interesting story and appealing environment. We’ve realized that with eye-catching graphics (shaders, normal mapping...) and high quality animations and soundtrack LOCV has the potential to become very good adventure game that our audience will appreciate.
LOCV first concept was a budget title production. Now it seems to me that this game is getting much bigger. With a little luck, by the end of the year we will have it ready for all of you who enjoy playing point n' click adventures and I can already promise that you will not be disappointed."
H.H.: "Has the game design of "The Legend of the Crystal Valley" changed much since "Cateia Games" started to develop the game?"
Ivan: "It has, on visual side of playing. I mean, we’ve created all new graphics and other elements of the game. We redesigned main character Eve.
We’ve also decided that we are going to use many of today's spread 3D technologies (DirectX 9). This was a lot of work, because we had to create completely new 3D models and animations, to start producing the soundtrack from beginning... We’ve also decided to add a darker tone to the game – to create much more mysterious atmosphere, which only from time-to-time suddenly changes to fairytale (I like to say that our Eve in LOCV is something like Alice in Wonderland)."
H.H.: "How many persons now work on the game? Do they also do any work for your turn-based strategy game in development "World Under Siege"? "
Ivan: "Only a part of Cateia Games is working on LOCV. At the moment we have 4 artists working on backgrounds and two more on characters and animations. We have only 10 people so far taking part in development of LOCV, but I'm of opinion that this is just about a perfect number for a development team. I, as project leader, always prefer to work with as few people as possible."
H.H.: "It has been written on the site that the game is to be released in the fall 2007 – is it true? How much of the game is already complete?"
Ivan: "It's true! I believe that fall 2007 is very much realistic release period. We are currently looking for a publisher and many things depend of publisher, but if everything goes well, by the end of the year, the game will be ready."
H.H.: "In "The Inventory" preview of the game it was said that there will be different creatures in the game, one of them are splanches. There's a picture on your site with Eve and a creature, supposingly, a splanch. He looks like a very little dragon. Is it a normal size for splanches or other splanches are bigger and more remind of a dragon?"
Ivan: "Eve's “best” friend is a little creature Splanch. Splanch is something between a little dragon and a bat, sunlight sensitive, living only under ground... First time when Eve meets Splanch is after she falls down to the bottom of an old well. Some bad splanches are teasing our good Splanch and Eve is about to help him in that situation. After that, Splanch will be her trusty companion."
H.H.: "It was also said that there will be mechanical creatures. Can you describe one of those? Do such kind of creatures fit well to the fantasy setting?"
Ivan: "Entire LOCV is based on fantasy environment and creatures. There are many kind of creatures (some of them are really funny) and some of them are, as you have just said, mechanical (science fictional). For example, we have a Viking warrior-robot. My favorite is old librarian woman who is (upper) half human, and half mechanical. She drives on wheels around the library. Perhaps, it's best to take a look in Gallery-Artworks on LOCV home page on locv.cateia.com."
H.H.: "As far as I understand, the most part of the game will be situated in the fantasy world. How vast this world will be? Will we travel to different cities in that world or will we see only the part of the supposed world? "
Ivan: "You will se only one part of the world ?: you will see different locations all situated near each other. There are going to be interiors and exteriors and some will be dark and disturbing, but you will not be able to travel on, for example, another continent in this fantasy world :) Sorry. "
H.H.: "Will the game be strictly linear or will we be able to complete some tasks in an order we like?"
Ivan: "This is point and click adventure – it's perfectly ok for it to be linear."
H.H.: "Will there be several endings in the game? Maybe there will be several different ways to achieve one ending?"
Ivan: "No. We’ve written the script once, and since then we’ve been satisfied with it. At the end things will become clear for everybody and, let’s say that we have happy ending."
H.H.: "What kind of puzzles will be in the game: inventory-based, mechanical, time limited? In "The Inventory" preview it was said that in the fantasy world of the game some people can use magic. Will we (or, better say, Eve) be able to use magic or even make (construct) spells?"
Ivan: "That's true. There are going to be characters with magical powers, and Eve will learn how to use some “light” magic, as well. This will help her dealing with puzzles. Speaking of puzzles, we prepare booth easy and difficult puzzles, inventory-based and mechanical, but all the way through we tried to design logical puzzles as well as object use. We hate to see item combinations and puzzles that have no sense. We also avoid any kind of violence as much as possible."
H.H.: "It was said that there will be a hint system integrated into the game. Can you tell a bit about how it will work? Won't it make the game too easy to complete?"
Ivan: "We are not sure about this. At the moment, we have no plans to integrate hint system into the game."
H.H.: "Will there be a lot of dialogues in the game? Young girls (especially blondies) sometimes are such a chatterboxes!.. :-)"
Ivan: "Well, every point and click adventure game has to have many (good) dialogues. This is something of great importance. I know that sometimes people like to use the second mouse button to skip and fast-forward dialogues, and this can never be prevented. But, we can try to make dialogues different and funny. I think that LOCV, with its fantasy world and strange, grotesque creatures, can easily be enriched with such dialogues."
H.H.: "Some developers prefer to make 2-3 hotspots per screen, others prefer to make dozens (with 2-3 really useful). What approach do you prefer?"
Ivan: "Mixed! :) No, seriously, we think that sometimes you must have useless things on screen. In LOCV we use this to describe characters and their past or lifestyle more closely to a player."
H.H.: "'Smart cursor' is an approach more and more frequently used in modern adventure games (and making them easier). Will you also be using such an approach or you prefer standart "choose a cursor/action and click an object"?"
Ivan: "It's not bad sometimes to follow the trends. LOCV is old school point and click adventure, but... You know, no matter of that, you need to keep up to audio & video standards, as well as other “innovations”. Also, I always used to say that videogame should be fun, and not a torture. Who makes it a bit easier for players, doesn’t necessary doing a wrong thing."
H.H.: "Will you be using the engine from "Legacy: Dark Shadows" (maybe improved and optimized one) or you have written your own one (or licensed one of the existing engines)?"
Ivan: "We have our own engine. It has nothing to do with Legacy or other games.
It's well optimized and handles DirectX 9 video effects. The game will work great even on older computers."
H.H.: "In The Inventory preview it was said that the game will have lipsynch/emotion feature. Are you still planning to use it in the game? Will we see emotions and lipsynch only in the rendered cutscenes or will it be the part of ingame engine?"
Ivan: "Unfortunately they will only appear in cut-scenes. "
H.H.: "Can you tell anything about the ingame music? How long the soundtrack will be?"
Ivan: "I must admit that we are never sure about soundtrack for any of our games. This is mainly because we have in-team, very passionate musicians who always improve soundtrack – till the last deadline. Practically, I have to grab away the soundtrack from them, as otherwise it would be never completed.
Anyway, we plan to have 60 to 90 minutes of music (that will greatly help in creating a specified atmosphere for entire game) and I promise, it is going to be wonderful soundtrack that can be listened even outside the game itself."
H.H.: "What will be the length of the game? Will the game have a proper ending or will it have a "To be continued" one?"
Ivan: "There are 15 chapters. Some will be longer some shorter, but it should be enough for everyone. There is going to be a proper ending – if there is going to be a sequel, it will be a completely a new game."
H.H.: "Do you plan to release a demo for gamers before the release of the game (the one for publishers is ready according to your site)?"
Ivan: "The one for publishers is ready, but the one for public is not. :) We definitely plan to have Demo for players, although this also depends of our publisher(s). We are looking for a suitable publisher(s) who will take care of all this things and not for one who only have idea to throw the game out there and that's it."
H.H.: "Is there anything you want to tell but I've forgotten to ask?"
Ivan: "You have been detailed enough. :)
I just want to thank you for this chance to talk about LOCV. I hope you'll show interest in our game(s) in future, as well.
(This interview was conducted by Alex ASP and was first published in issue 4 of the Russian PDF magazine Hotspot Hunt.)