Steve Bovis is creative director at the british developer Majestic Studios. Their adventure Limbo of the Lost is going to be published this month.
Adventure-Treff: As most of our readers probably not know your company yet, could you tell us a bit about Majestic Studios, the people behind it and about how Limbo of the Lost came to life? I heared, it had a long evolution process?
Steve Bovis: Sure, To answer this question fully I need to go way back to the mid nineties, Myself and a friend (Tim Croucher) were avid adventure players on the Atari ST, we played between us nearly all the titles available for the system, so much so we thought -why don't we try creating one? We called ourselves Tri-Logic Studios and started on a base story and idea for a graphic adventure game, Tim started researching background ideas and I started programming and doing the artwork, eventually we came up with LIMBO of the LOST using a fact/fiction idea and utilising the myth of the Mary Celeste.
But the ST was being taken over (games wise) by the new Amiga A500, so before totally finishing the game we moved over to the Amiga in 1995, Now here we had a platform with more colours, better animation and we could do point & click. We also enrolled Laurence Francis to help with puzzle design and music. We did a demo for the A1200 and CD32 and plaqued every publisher around for a chance to publish the game. We eventually landed a contract with Rasputin Software a side company of Grandslam Entertainment. All was going well... magazine previews, CD demo, shown at the 1995 ECTS show in London and the game was progressing well. But Rasputin were having difficulties and eventually folded leaving us with no publisher and if that was not enough, The Amiga market started to dwindle because of the lack of support from Commodore and them selling the franchise. Lots of development teams got strung and bailed out of the Amiga scene and with it publishers. The game was shelved...
But like the mystery of the Mary Celeste it was not forgotten. All three of us moved on, but we all still held on to the thought of the project that we so loved, I moved over to the PC, learnt 3D packages, Art packages, Sound Packages and codeing and in January 2004 (under the new name of Majestic Studios) I got the guys together and showed them a small basic demo of the engine and a possible PC version of the project. Within seconds the team was back and as if 9 years had not gone by, we started on the PC version of LIMBO of the LOST. The rest as they say... is history.
A.T.: So the story is somehow connected to the famous ghost ship Mary Celeste? What can we expect on the storyside of the game?
Bovis: You are correct, the whole idea was to use a fact/fiction basis so we take the facts of the Mary Celeste, the crew, even the captain, and where the ship disappears. We unravel a story that shows the player what did happen to the ship, crew and her Captain - Benjamin Spooner Briggs -The main character that you the player guide through the land of the dead, in the KEEP OF LOST SOULS surrounded by the realm of LIMBO. The player will learn more about this place, the story and what the game is about as he/she plays. See it as a jigsaw, where only at the end do you get a true picture. But you can expect to be entertained throughout the journey helping Briggs to right a wrong in the hope to save humanity.
A.T.: So the game takes place at a place called limbo - a realm between the world of the living and the world of the death. What atmosphere and gameplay can we expect in this locations?
Bovis: The Realm of LIMBO is a place between our world (mortal) and the netherworld (otherside), sandwiched between them is the realm of LIMBO, at the centre of this realm is the vast rotating citadel called the KEEP OF LOST SOULS, it is in this keep that most souls go to on their way between the mortal and netherworld. This place is also now the playground for the forces of FATE and DESTINY, they use it and the occupants here as pawns in a game of life and death, good and evil, light and darkness. It is Briggs who is catapulted into this world and game as the chosen one, the pawn for the game of Humanity. Fate for his weapon chooses all the dark denizens and puzzles that lay ahead for Briggs, Destiny on the other hand chooses you the player as it's weapon using reasoning and interlect to help Briggs and Mankind. The atmosphere is creepy and some what strange but has an underlining black humour that makes the game not a horror, blood and guts gore fest but a world full of fantastic creatures and locations that the player will feel after playing this game , that they have been to LIMBO and walked side by side with Briggs through the eerie corridors of the Keep.
A.T.: If you look at the screenshots with a lot of creatures and monsters on it, one could think it's an action-adventure. Are there any fighting scenes or is it a traditional adventure game?
Bovis:The game is a traditional point and click adventure game, there is no fight sequences - you cannot hurt what is already dead! There is no action sequences, gaps to jump or blocks to move, this is totally 100% old school point and click adventure gaming with up to date visuals, sound and an Interface that is so easy to use, in minutes players will feel at ease... well that is until they start meeting some of the denizens of the Keep.
A.T.: If you would have to describe one aspect of Limbo of the Lost that stands out compared to other games of this type - what would that be?
Bovis: Very good question and I am glad you asked, There are a few aspects that make this different than the norm, the first is that you do not control the main character - BRIGGS. You are his unseen Earthly spirit guide, and you ask him through the interface to do certain actions, actions that somtimes he will do, and somtimes he will refuse! This and the fact that he has a phobia, one that the player will find out about and have to overcome.
Secondly this I believe is a true adventure game, with a story and narrative that pull the player into the world, the characters you meet and the sounds you hear give the player an experience that is entertaining but unique to every person that plays it. Unique in the fact that different people who play the game , come away after playing it with different feelings about it, some love this certain character some love another, some love this level, some a different one. The game can be played at the players pace and as such learn about the game in different ways. Some who are deep and imaginative will get more from the mythos of LIMBO and the characters than others, some who are not so deep and love to be entertained may get more out of the humour and the set pieces of the game.
In the end all will be entertained. No one who plays this game and finishes it will not say they have not been on a journey... an adventure! Like all good movies, you do find yourself talking about the experience of the game, this character, this puzzle, this level etc... this is what made adventure games great in the 80's and I hope we have captured that.
A.T.: Any chances for a german release?
Bovis: Well from what I hear from G2 (they are doing the localisation work for different terotories), there is planned a German version, so the answer is yes.