Anne von Vaszary interview
In the last few years, Anne von Vaszary has earned herself the reputation as one of the most talented adventure game writers in Germany, her credits including the likes of Black Mirror II and III and The Lost Chronicles of Zerzura. However, since she's still relatively unknown outside of her native country, we thought the time was right to introduce Anne to the rest of the world – especially since her newest project, Reperfection, is about to be released.
Ingmar Böke: Hi Anne, it’s a pleasure to welcome you here at Adventure Gamers. Please introduce yourself to our readers, give us an overview of the adventure games you've worked on so far and tell us about your background.
Anne von Vaszary: Hi Ingmar, thank you for the invitation. I’m glad to be here. I’ve been working as a freelance writer in the games industry for six years now. During this time I’ve worked predominantly on adventure games. For example – the movie adaptation of Die Wilden Kerle 5 for The Games Company, as well as Black Mirror II and III in cooperation with Cranberry Production for dtp, along with The Lost Chronicles of Zerzura, my latest project for them. These are projects which are very story focused that I worked on for several months. This is my specialty, as I’ve studied script writing and dramaturgy, and I prefer story material with epic structure.
Ingmar: You’re currently working with a new company from Hannover called Tinnitus Games. What can you tell us about the background of the company and the people involved?
Anne: Tinnitus Games are the former Cranberries Michael Holzapfel and Oliver Specht, with whom I worked on the Black Mirror trilogy. Right now we’re working on our own first and joint game.
Ingmar: The first Tinnitus adventure seems like a very interesting project for mature gamers: Reperfection. It would be great to get a little summary of the plot and the main characters.
Anne: Reperfection is about a man trying to save his family. After his wife dies in a car crash he discovers his special gift – being able to go back in time. He only has to look his dead wife in the eyes and he is transformed back to the moment before she gets into the car to pick up their son. He is able to prevent her from doing so and thereby saves her life. But as a consequence, his son gets on the school bus and dies in the road accident. When he looks into his son's eyes he can again go back in time and prevent the child from boarding the bus. But now it is his wife who dies in the major traffic accident. He has to find a way to save both. Even though he can trick time – time is the one working against him. It won’t be easy, I can say that much.
Ingmar: It seems like Reperfection will differ from other adventure games to some degree when it comes to game mechanics. Could you give us some details on how this interactive narration mixes story and gameplay?
Anne: Yes, the pictures players move through are similar to comic panels. The further one gets the more panels become accessible. Changing elements of the past will affect the content of panels you can access in the present. Certain events are irrevocable, which is why some pictures change permanently. But they provide you with new knowledge which will help you get ahead in the story as well as make completely new panels visible.
Ingmar: How does the “time travel” aspect actually work in terms of changing the past?
Anne: When you look into the eyes of the dead, you not only jump back in time but also back in space. You will arrive a few minutes before that person dies, in close proximity to them. Therefore it is quite important where the person in whose eyes you're looking died. If you’re unlucky, looking into the wrong eyes will get you even further away from your destination.
Ingmar: So you're not just looking into either your wife or son's eyes, but multiple others as well?
Anne: Yes, the time travel occurs whenever you look into the eyes of a dead person. Many more people died at the accident where Sarah perished, so you can look in their eyes and will be with them a few minutes before the accident actually happens.
Ingmar: In what way will the five episodes be connected to each other? Are we talking about stand-alone stories or one big game that’s separated into five smaller parts?
Anne: Each episode is self-contained but ends with a cliff-hanger that opens the storyline for the next episode. Ben Freeman will be the main character of the entire series, telling an overarching story.
Ingmar: There haven’t been many good episodic games outside of Telltale. Why do you think the episodic format works for Reperfection, and what are the advantages this approach offers?
Anne: The narrative structure is based on a serial concept. In this way it's possible for us to go deep into the story bit by bit, rise up, take a breath, and immerse again. In the first episode, Ben discovers his hidden power – the skill to revert events by appearing before they happen to prevent them. He fights for his family and has to pay a heavy price for it in the end. That price is what the second episode is about. Apart from the natural story evolution, the production time for a single episode is also notably shorter.
Ingmar: The visual style of Reperfection is quite distinctive.
Anne: We chose the black and white look to accentuate the story, because whenever a detail is very important for progress, it will turn red in color. This is a dramaturgy decision, as the red-colored details create more effect in a black and white world. Above all we just love this Noir art style. It's a classic and timeless look, so it's on a level with the temporally and locally indefinite city where the story takes place.
All graphics are hand-drawn by Oliver Specht. He has worked as a professional illustrator for Das Schwarze Auge, Warhammer 40k and the Bastai publishing house. As art director he has been responsible for the graphic production of Simon the Sorcerer 4, Mata Hari, Black Mirror II and Lost Chronicles of Zerzura. He’s great at creating atmospheric pictures.
Ingmar: The soundtrack samples on the Tinnitus Facebook page deliver a very appropriate and intense mood. How important is the music in this game?
Anne: For the music we’ve relied on the Magix Music Maker. Using this tool, Michael Holzapfel has created the entire music for Reperfection and was able to support Oliver’s pictures with a wonderfully dark soundtrack. He was probably inspired by the theme tune of American Horror Story. That’s why the music pieces often have chimes and weird sounds in them. Still, they’re not intrusive and are very suitable as background music while players try to riddle their way through the story.
Ingmar: I’m sure many people are wondering where and how they can get hold of Reperfection. Do you have a release date for the first episode and distribution channels already planned?
Anne: At the moment we’re hoping to release the game at the end of October. We will offer Reperfection for the PC, Android and iOS. The PC version will definitely be available via Zodiac. We’re still hoping to work with Steam – right now we’re in the Greenlight phase. But we will also offer our game to other distributors.Continued on the next page...
|Digital||December 6 2012||Tinnitus Games|