We talked with Shawn, Steve and Jamie of Infamous Adventures about their upcoming title Space Quest II
29 April 2008 | By Import
Mike Bowden: For those of us
who aren't familiar with the 1987 original or in fact the excellent Space Quest series, care to give us a brief run down of what we've
missed and why we should be berating ourselves?
Space Quest series was one of Sierra Online's most popular adventure
game series back in the late 80's and early 90's. They follow the
adventures of space janitor Roger Wilco as he battles his way through
saving the universe time and again. In Space Quest I, Roger defeats a
rather nasty plan to conquer the universe by the evil Sarians, and this
really pissed off the evil mastermind behind the entire affair. Sludge
Vohaul, that evil mastermind I mentioned, has taken it upon himself to
destroy Roger's home planet (with evil Insurance Salesmen) and banish
Roger to his slave mines.
In short, Roger Wilco is the every-hero for all us
slackers out there. If you have never played the games, I guess you
weren't around for the golden age of computers. Because if you were
into computers in the late 80's, you would have played Space Quest!
Steve: I don't believe I could add anything to that statement. Shawn summed it up nicely. He does that, from time to time.
Mike Bowden: Why
this remake in particular? In fact, why do a remake at all? Has it been
due to fan demand or is this something you all have wanted to do for a
while and have now found the time?
plan is to bring the older games in the major series up to a standard
of the later games. Space Quest 4 and 5 are hand painted VGA with an
icon interface. Space Quest 3 is in 16 colour with a parser (type in
interface) and Space Quest 2 and 1 are even older. Now Sierra
themselves remade SQ1 to match SQ4 and SQ5, so that leaves 2 and 3 as
the odd ones out in the series.
So that's part of the reason why
we do remakes. Our Kings Quest III remake (available now on our
website) was made because we wanted to see if we could do it. If we
actually had the drive and ability to recreate a game with updated
graphics and sound. And we could and we did, so we decided that the
next step was to do an original work. But then we thought, oh bugger
it, let's remake Space Quest II instead, it's a great little game.
Quest has a rabid, but niche, fan-base. I'm a big fan of the series, in
particular. I love the humor in the game, and I love the sci-fi
elements. Space Quest is beautiful, visually, and it gave us a chance
to expand the scope of our art-work.
Space Quest 2 is the perfect game for us to make. Not only are we huge
fans of the series but we also share the same kind of humor they're
famous for! Therefore we're trying to keep as faithful as we can to the
original but also adding a few new bits which hopefully fans alike
would appreciate. If not, oh well we enjoyed adding them anyway. SQ2 is
great fun to make as we're always thinking of new and exciting things
to add so you can experience the second chapter in a whole new way. By
doing this we've added a few new gags, easter eggs and other humorous
extras too! I won't give anything away but fans of the classic old
school games should be in for a treat!
Mike Bowden: Will
this version feature the same comic that the old game (and in fact,
many old adventure games) had in the box? We used to love those.
it will appear in the "box". I loved it too. In fact, we've used some
portions of the comic in the game. But that's as much as I'm telling
you about that!
Mike Bowden: Why
remake an adventure game? Although old farts like me welcome the idea,
the genre hasn't exactly turned heads in recent years.
we wanted to. If anything else, I'd like to have this game around to
play! If there's a few other people that enjoy it, that's icing on the
I love any game that features insane, mindless alien blasting,
predictable plot-lines and one dimensional protagonists purely for the
entertainment factor, I've always loved to unwind and boot up an
adventure game because I love the stories, the atmosphere, style and
puzzle solving that most adventure games are famous for. And because
there are many people like myself and lately remakes have been fairly
popular, it wasn't a matter of 'Why not?' but more or less, 'Let's do
this, it will be fun!' I would safely say the adventure genre is
picking up and I can say that independent developers played a minor
role in the rebirth due to the fact that tools like AGS
(http://www.bigbluecup.com) are allowing fans like us to develop their
own games, whereas big companies simply followed the crowd firmly
believing that the adventure genre was dead so it was pretty much up to
the fans to take over. And now with commercial games like Sam 'n' Max
and Zack & Wiki out there you can see that there are still people
looking for an adventure.
genre hasn't turned heads in recent years? I don't know about that.
There's been some very successful games over the last few years. As
Jamie said there's the "Sam n Max" games, and "Runaway" was both really
good and sold quite well.
Remember in the 80's when it was okay
for a jock to own a console (Nintendo, Sega Master System etc) but they
stayed away from the nerdy home computer? The games we get now, the big
ticket items that sell by the bucketload, they're all evolutions of the
same sort of games we were playing on the console back then. Computers
have become mainstream. So with a heck of a lot more computers out
there, and computers more mainstream, a game like "Medal of Honor" is
going to sell more than an adventure game. I don't believe that the
audience for Adventure games has become smaller, I think it's stayed
about the same size. What's changed is that with the influx of people
from the consoles, and the PC's ability to play games like console
games, the general game market has increased in size. So the numbers of
games sold to be a mega-hit in 1990 is a lot smaller figure than what
it is today.
Anyway, that's my current theory on the state of adventure games, sorry to get off topic. Happy
Mike Bowden: One area where adventure games have had some relative success is on the DS. Will we see a port in the near future, perhaps?
not. We're all volunteers and ports require a lot of effort for very
little return. If we were to port, and this is in no way a promise that
we will, I think the Mac would be our first option.
Steve: I'd love to have the resources to port the games, but we don't currently. Not enough people, you know?
if we could, we would. But it's a question of if we should? It all
depends. I do have the ScummVM port on my DS and also on my iPhone and
they're great fun to play so why not? Only time, and money, will tell.
Mike Bowden: Explain
to us how the new interface works - will there be a set series of
commands/responses you can choose from or have you gone in another
interface is the typical Sierra GUI with the ability to walk,
touch/interact, talk, examine and using specific items to pass through
different kinds of obstacles and puzzles to reach your goal. Yet being
a SQ game, we've added the taste and smell icons which the majority of
the time does nothing but give a humorous response to the surface you
just licked or smelt. So for newcomers and experienced players, it's a
very simple interface to get used to and we've got extra bits in the
game to help you proceed through particular parts.
like Jamie said, it's much like the point and click interface Sierra
designed in it's original games. It's pretty easy to use - though I
loved the parser interface of older games, most people today don't like
to type. Something tells me they'd get mad if the game didn't recognize
"OMG","WTF" or "U" for "YOU".
How difficult is it to "remake something"? I mean the challenge
artistically is to try and keep the feel of the original but obviously
using the latest tech. Do you think the team has achieved that?
something is difficult like making any game but what makes it easier is
that the game is already done in a sense that you know exactly what to
do. An original game from scratch would take a lot longer obviously as
you're working on an original story, thinking of new ideas and what
would be good and overall it just takes longer. Plus, planning and
organization becomes a major hassle especially if it's all online and
you have to rely on people you've probably never even met in person.
What's great about remaking a game is that the pathway is already laid
out, we just got to update it and if we must, improve it. With a games
like Space Quest II and King's Quest III we didn't need to alter the
story or the structure much as it was already perfect which meant we
had to concentrate mostly on the actual transition from EGA to VGA by
taking what we already had but making it... well better! (we use VGA as
a term rather than a specification) So the difficultly curb of remaking
a game is somewhere in the middle but of course as we're all online and
volunteering there is another factor that comes into play which is
faithfulness and being reliable. We've had plenty of people in the past
who were assigned a task and never did it, pretty much fading into
obscurity which makes the whole process a lot more difficult and
longer. This is why we typically never give out a release date... not
even a seasonal estimate as something always comes up which we've never
usually prepared for, but we're fairly confident we will be releasing
this bad boy this year.
Shawn: I think we achieve our goal, which is making the remake to fit within the other games of the series seamlessly.
a long and difficult process - even though the game has been "made"
once, we're starting from the ground up. We have to program the whole
game, every little detail, as well as create all the art and animation.
That takes lots of time - and talent, which I'm happy to say, we've
garnered a lot of this time. The level of artwork and animation on this
has been raised by the work of Fizzii on backgrounds and Rich Eter as
our lead animator. Really, without these people, these games would not
be so excellent, and I really have to give praise to them, their work,
and the time they dedicate to these games. They're busy people, yet
they find time to make these games with us. I'm blown away by the
commitment of the fans that work on these games.
Mike Bowden: Staying with development, what implementation is the team most proud of and why?
thing I'm most proud of in SQ2 is the redesign of the asteroid. We
changed the endless corridors and broom closets into a fully fledged
self contained asteroid city. It's really awesome! Blackthorne designed
every room and our head artist fixed and redrew and coloured the
mockups brilliantly. In fact, I am just totally in love with the
asteroid section of the game.
I got to say I'm very proud of the redesign of the asteroid. Yet I'm
going to be typical and say I'm proud of everything, the background
art, music, animation, everything! The look and sound of Labion is very
impressive in my opinion and we're still always finding new and great
ways to make Labion more affective to the player. It's all the little
things that matter after all.
very proud of the music in this game - we've got a really immersive and
interactive score. Our musicians are top notch, and it's great to hear
amazing music in these games. It really gives a sense of mood to the
Mike Bowden: What has been the biggest hindrance so far, seen from a developers point of view. How has the team worked around this?
biggest hindrance so far? That's easy. Motivation. Because we're all
volunteers, no-one at IA gets paid for this work, it's hard to push
people into doing work. So we have stoppages where no work is done for
a short period of time. People's lives get in the way. At the moment
one of our team has just packed up his life and moved from Texas to Los
Angeles. Another guy is living in South America and is moving to Canada
shortly. Our lead musician on SQ2 got married a couple of years ago and
they've had a kid. So the main problem we have is motivation. It's not
that people are lazy, as I've pointed out it's more that real life
happens and work slows down.
We are a pretty close nit team
though, a lot of our members talk regularly and we try to motivate
ourselves and each other. If things are really slow we usually release
another build of the game with a new area opened up for people to see
With me, it's been education getting in the way. University takes up
all your time and maintaining a social life comes into play as well.
This has kept me away from doing my work and has become quite an
annoyance for the team after I promise I'll do something but never get
around to doing so. Which is why I'm doing my small bit for IA by
replying to emails and keeping the sites and forums running okay until
Summer rolls in and I can get back to work without thinking about that
5000 work essay I have to write.<
Shawn: I should have mentioned social life too. Some of us like to see our partners once in a while. You know, keep the romance alive. haha
me, It's been my health. I'm currently on kidney dialysis, which takes
up a lot of my life and leaves me feeling very sick and tired quite
often. But working on these games bolsters my spirits. I'd like to
think that the work I do makes a significant amount of people happy, so
it's worth my time.
Any word as to when we'll see the game at retail? Or will it be
download only? A demo perhaps? We're talking this year, right? So many
Shawn: Never. The game is free and will always be so. It'll be available to download on our website.
There could be a demo, don't quote me on that though. And yes, most
likely this year.
We do our work for free - so you'll be able to download the game on our
website. And, yeah, the game'll be out this year. We're closing in on
the final details.
We at Strategy Informer wish the Infamous Adventures team every success
with their forthcoming title: Space Quest II: Volhaul's Revenge.
- I'm glad people are still interested in these games, and I'm glad
that I can produce something that can entertain people.