Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Interview (an old one!) with Josh Nuernberger, creator of Gemini Rue

This interview is a little old, as you can tell by the fact that Gemini Rue hadn't even been released when I did it!  I've reproduced it verbatim from the original interview though, as it seems wrong to mess with it, and given the success of Gemini Rue, perhaps some of the insights are even more interesting this way...


Josh Nuernberger is the creative force behind the highly anticipated adventure game Gemini Rue.  I got stuck partway through my review copy of the game, so I decided to interview him and pretend that I was merely waiting for the game to be officially released before I completed the game.  [Ahem...]


1/ When did you first start to design Gemini Rue?

I started designing and conceptualizing the game in the latter half of 2007. Actual development, production work, and placeholder art started in January 2008. Being a student though meant that the development occurred intermittently.

2/ Did you have to request any new features for AGS in order to create the game?

Nope! AGS is awesome! I had worked with it before so I was familiar with its capabilities.

3/ How long did Gemini Rue take to complete, from first concept to finished game?

It's been almost exactly 3 years from start to finish. The first few months of development were mainly about producing the placeholder assets and room designs to make sure everything worked. Within eight months, I had a playable 'skeleton' build from start to finish (placeholder graphics, no extra interactions, only the main storyline). The next year or so was spent on giving the real 'meat' to the game, which culminated in the Independent Games Festival build (November 2009). Since then, we've just been doing more polish and adding extra features, such as voice acting.

4/ Do you have any impressive stats for us? Number of sprites / dialogue lines / etc?

4 Easter Eggs. 2 Main Characters. 1 Dual storyline. 0 3D models.
Also: 50 characters, ~200 animations, 1511 sprites, ~80 rooms (not all playable).

5/ Did any particular adventure game specifically influence the style you aimed for in Gemini Rue? (LucasArts The Dig and Westwood’s Blade Runner both came to my mind, but I could well be wrong!)

It's funny you mention those, because I haven't played either of them! The Secret of Monkey Island is an inspiration for anything that I do, as it was the first game that really inspired me to make my own games. A lot of other AGS games were also influential, from the work of Yahtzee (Ben Croshaw), Dave Gilbert, Vince Twelve, Eric Colossal, and many more.

6/ Did any specific sci-fi writers influence how you developed the plot? (Philip K. Dick by any chance?)

Orwell, maybe. And Orson Scott Card. They have a lot of interesting takes on the nature of the individual in relation to society, especially in a state of oppression, which is also occurring in Gemini Rue. From a wider perspective, there are a lot of things that are helpful from other writers, from how to deal with exposition, character conflicts, narrative pacing, and more, most of which I also tried to incorporate into Gemini Rue.

7/ The user interface in Gemini Rue is a little non-standard (in a good way!), and the use of action sequences in an adventure game is still quite rare. At what stage in the design process did you decide to incorporate these features?

The beginning! It was a goal at the start of the design to mesh action, puzzle-solving, kicking, and notes into a creative narrative. As such, I didn't want any of these features to feel 'tacked on' to the game. I wanted them to be prevalent and integral to the gameplay and be full developed throughout.

8/ Are you going to have a break from programming once Gemini Rue is released, or is it straight onto the making the next game?

I'll be taking a break. I'm still in school full-time, and so starting another project like Gemini Rue would be pretty hectic. Maybe in the near future though.

9/ What’s it like working with a living legend like Dave Gilbert?

Legendary. I remember playing his game Two of a Kind back in 2004. He does an excellent job of organizing all the testing and VA production of the game, as well as being the publisher. 

10/ Gemini Rue was one of the most hotly anticipated AGS games of all time. What AGS game(s) in production are you particularly looking forward to?

Resonance by Vince Twelve, for one. There are some others, but the release dates may never see the light of day, unfortunately.

11/ Finally, what do you feel is the most difficult thing about making an adventure game?

Being original yet still staying within the constraints of the genre. Adventure games are such an established medium over the past 30 years, that it seems like everything's been done before. Yet adventure games still possess this power to convey a great narrative gaming experience. The challenge for me is in coming up with creative solutions in order to tell stories in new ways, yet still rooted in point and click adventure gameplay. That's what I tried to do with Gemini Rue - tell an interactive story in a way that hasn't been done before in adventure games.




Gemini Rue Review




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