Interview with the Obduction developer team
A few days ago the new project by Cyan and the Miller brothers who forever have changed the adventure game scenery, the most-awaited adventure game of recent years, Obduction was released. While waiting for our reviewer -and members!- to bring us their verdict about whether it was worth the ever-so-lasting waiting, the excitmenet after each update and of course the thousands of dollars invested in this project, Adventure Advocate's team managed to get a brief interview by the developer team. Enjoy their answers!
Obduction is finally soon to be released and gamers' interest has peaked. What should we expect? Is it going to be the beginning of a fresh game series in a whole new universe? Will it be primarily a lonely experience like the MYST games or shall we have more interaction with the inhabitants of this new universe this time round?
Obduction is a completely new story from Cyan that we’re excited to share with the world. Like Myst, you are a stranger in a strange place, and it is up to the player to explore the world around them to reveal why they were brought there and how they can get back home. Without giving too much away, there are characters in Obduction who play a role in the player’s progression throughout the game, including a role played by Robyn Miller, the co-creator of Myst. There interactions can either be direct or passive.
With Obduction you promised a MYST-like experience: namely that at the beginning the player will have no clue about his surroundings and that he will embark on a journey of discovery while exploring. Will it truly be an almost open-world experience like MYST or is there going to be a bit of hand-holding as seems to be the trend these days?
We’re huge fans of dropping players into worlds where they have no idea what happened, why they were taken there in the first place, or how they can get home. Both Myst and Obduction draw from this. Obduction, however, has significantly more to offer in terms of scale and diversity in environments. Because we didn’t want to discourage players who might be new to the kind of adventure/puzzle-solving/exploring experiences we provide in our games, we do have some systems in place (that are off by default) that can guide those who might need some help.
Are we going to need to take down extensive notes in order to solve the puzzles in Obduction, as in times past? Do you think modern players have the necessary patience to solve brilliant but complex and time-consuming puzzles like the ones in Riven?
Taking notes while playing through Obduction isn’t a necessary task, although it can be helpful for solving a few specific puzzles and for connecting the dots in some of the story elements we’ve created. With that being said, Obduction may not appeal to people who are strictly looking for surface-level, brute-force, shoot-em-up sort of experiences in a game, but we do think that players who are willing to put in enough effort to dig a little bit deeper than that will be extremely satisfied with Obduction.
Is there is a puzzle you feel really proud of in Obduction? Is there a puzzle that stands out for you amongst modern adventure games?
Without spoiling too much, Obduction makes use of a very interesting game mechanic that creates incredibly unique, challenging, and rewarding experiences for our players. We haven’t seen anything of its likeness being used in any other modern adventure games, so we’re so excited for our players to learn, use, and experience it. There is one pretty tough puzzle near the end of the game that makes use of it and really requires our players to think out of the box, and that is probably the puzzle that we are most proud of.
When they were released, the Myst series constituted a landmark that influenced greatly the gaming of that era and more or less defined the genre of first-person adventure games. Do you think Obduction has the potential to influence modern gaming in a similar way? Do you consider it to be an innovative game?
We think that Obduction is innovative in that its use of its main game mechanic helps people experience the game in a way that they haven’t been able to in other games. Like Myst, we’ve integrated some pretty cool technology in developing the game to help create some unforgettable experiences, but the technology we’re using today to help develop Obduction has helped create game mechanics, visual effects, player interactions, etc. that 20 years ago we never thought would be possible in this day and age. Perhaps Obduction will influence the way game developers approach creating in-game experiences the way Myst.
Adventure game fans are greatly divided about the MYST games: some worship them while others hate them. What would you say to a person who didn't like the MYST games in order to grab their attention on Obduction?
Like many good books, the stories we create for our games aren’t revealed in their entirety at the beginning. Surely, if you take a surface level approach to our games, the worlds we compose may seem limited and obstructed by seemingly meaningless puzzles… but surrounding those puzzles are vast environments, characters, and other pieces of information that are begging for a closer look. Every puzzle we create has a rhyme or reason to it; in fact, our goal in creating solutions to puzzles is to give our players “A-ha!” moments, not moments of sheer frustration. The story of the game is intertwined with the puzzles we create, so the more you read into the story, the more you appreciate and begin to piece together the parts of each puzzle. The journey the player takes in progressing through the game by themselves is just as important as the underlying backstory we’ve laid out.
If you are someone who was unsatisfied with Myst, chances are you weren’t reading into the story well enough. Take a closer look at the world around you, and you will begin to piece together the story, which creates the driving force and understanding to progress through the game. We bet it’ll be worth it.
The MYST series has a very active meta-commuity. There are foras, Wikis, a briething community constantly showing their love to the games. Do you take into account their comments and suggestions? Will we see in Obduction this feedback put into play?
We have an incredible community of fans whose support we are extremely appreciative of. Although we haven’t had much time throughout development to directly interact with those who comment and make suggestions for gameplay in Obduction, we have read, discussed, and sometimes implemented changes or features suggested from many of those posts.
In your games you have always strived to achieve player immersion in a richly detailed and complex world. Do you think VR and other new technologies have a place in creating a deeper and more immersive experience for the modern player?
VR is such an incredible technology that we are thrilled to be able to include in Obduction. It adds a completely new dimension of experiencing a game (or any type of media, really) and it required us to factor in a completely new and interesting set of design considerations while developing Obduction. We think that it will greatly enhance the experience one can get out of playing Obduction since the player can truly experience what it feels like to be in the worlds we’ve created.