Welcome back to the conclusion in our talk with Stéphane Halleux and Michel Bams, creators of The Dead Flowers Case, an adventure game for PC, Mac & Tablets in a Steampunk universe
Part one can be read here.
Airship Ambassador: What elements of gameplay are needed in this kind of mystery game and what makes this game different than other detective type stories?
Michel Bams: Adventure games are driven by the storyline. But they must also be fun to play. So, we wanted to really avoid the “pixel hunting” that’s common in many other games of this type. We also wanted to avoid excessive or useless travelling in the settings, in order for the player to find or use a new inventory element. We wanted to focus on two things. First of all logic-based puzzles in which the player will have to use his brain and make logical deductions by comparing evidence and clues with what they will learn from questioning the suspects. Second, we wanted to add a “dexterity” layer through the use of the forensic tools. However, in this Steampunk universe, forensic tools are far from reliable. So, when the “Big Machine” gives you a piece of information, it’ll be also linked to a reliability rating which will almost never be 100%
AA: It’s nice to have a multi-layer effort in the game. What can you share about the gameplay itself? What can players expect once they launch the game?
MB: Lots of fun (hopefully!). We want to offer an experience consisting of around 10 to 12 hours of gameplay, and we would like the players to be rewarded for their good deductions but also by being immersed into the universe.
AA: With the press release out now, what are some notable initial reactions to The Dead Flowers Case which you’ve heard about?
MB: It’s still a bit to soon to say. So far, we’ve had some very enthusiastic and encouraging reactions from those who saw the project, whether they belong to the game industry or not. Namely, Stephane’s fans seem to enjoy the game’s universe a lot.
AA: What kind of attention has The Dead Flowers Case generated outside of the steampunk and gaming community?
MB: Luckily for us, Stephane’s work is getting more and more recognition every time he does an exhibition. We know that he has some famous fans, such as Guy Laliberté from Cirque du Soleil or Tim Johnson from Dreamworks Studios. Beyond these celebrities, there is a huge and active fan community, following his work, helping us to spread the news about the video-game.
Also, there’s this great short animated movie based on Stephane’s work called Mr Hublot, based on his work. We just found out that Mr Hublot has been shortlisted in the Best Animated Short Category for the forthcoming Academy Awards/Oscars
AA: Congratulations on the shortlist, that’s a great accomplishment! Every project has a unique journey to completion. This journey is only midway at most – what has the experience been like?
MB: It has been a great experience, really. It’s always a privilege to work with creators such as Stephane. Now that we have built the universe and the scenario, the challenge is to get the final production started.
AA: For the aspiring artist and game creator, what lessons did you learn about creating this and other games?
MB: That it takes time and patience J The videogame industry lacks original creators. But the good news is that it leaves more room for aspiring creators and new talent.
AA: Sounds like tehre are opportunities for creative people with unusual and original ideas. If you weren’t writers, producers, and artists, what else would you be doing now?
MB: Accountants maybe, dreaming of being rock stars… I don’t know, really. Olivier and I have been involved with video games for over 20 years now, and I guess that we must like it. However, one of the reasons why we like this industry is really when we’re given the opportunity to work with authors and artists.
Before becoming a “full time” artist”, Stephane was working in the animated series business as an animator and 2D artist.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
MB: It’s hard for me to answer this question… I’m really not an artist myself.
SH : At the beginning I was spending a lot of time thinking about technical problems…however, after several years and gaining more experience, I can now spend more time on the artistic aspects of each piece.
AA: How is Paris, France for this kind of work? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc.?
MB: Paris is fine. We have very good schools in graphic arts, programming, game design. It is also quite a creative city. There are lots of interesting business connections as well. French people, and among them Parisians, often complain about living here. It must be part of the “always complaining” French character…. But we don’t: we’re happy to live and work in Paris. I should also mention that Stephane is a Belgian and lives in Belgium.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests and topics fill your time?
MB: I listen to music a lot, and I’m a very bad guitar player. I also try to read even if I feel that I have less time than before for it, and watching movies and TV series.
SH: I’m looking for antics most of the time 😉
AA: Antics, LOL! Sounds like a code word for “Almost but not quite getting into trouble”! What other fandoms are you part of in some way? (As a fan or other participation)
SH: I’m a big fan of pop art, commix, animation movies (stop motion and 3D) and I’ve had great opportunities to be in contact with many of the directors I admire a lot
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
SH: Probably, in an unconscious way, my work is a mix of those interests.
AA: For each of you, who do you count among your mentors, influences, or role models??
MB: Keith Richards. He will outlive us all…
SH: The list is long ;)… Henry Sellick, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Jean Giraud (moebius), Michel Gondry…etc.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers?
MB: Just hoping that people will like “The Dead Flowers Case”
Big thanks to Stéphane Halleux and Michel Bams, creators of The Dead Flowers Case. Check their website to stay up to date on their progress and latest news!