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The Inventory interviews Jane Jensen

The Future

The Inventory: Before we start talking about your new game, let's talk a little bit first about a future that could have been, but never came to be. I am talking about Gabriel Knight 4. Did you ever talk to Vivendi about a Gabriel Knight 4?
Jane: I did talk to them seriously about it in '02. At that time, the company had no interest in adventure games at all. We discussed the possibility of me licensing the property and doing a sequel with another publisher, but in the end that discussion failed because there were already rumours of a Vivendi sale and all their assets were more or less frozen. The problem is this is a huge corporation now, with hundreds if not thousands of properties, and getting anyone to talk seriously about a property like Gabriel Knight, which will never bring them millions, is pretty much impossible. They have bigger fish to fry. Which is really a shame.

The Inventory: If Vivendi had given the green light then how had you planned to continue the Gabriel Knight saga? If somebody entered GK4 in Sidney the result was about ghosts. Would Gabriel Knight 4's story be about ghosts?
Jane: Yes, it was a story of a haunting - and a scary one too! But that plotline may eventually be incorporated into something else I do.

The Inventory: Where would Gabriel travel to this time? Did you plan for Grace to be again a part of the game, or did she leave Gabriel for good in Gabriel Knight 3?
Jane: It was to be set in England. I'm not giving anything away on the Grace thing.

The Inventory: If you made Gabriel Knight 4 would this be the ending chapter of the Gabriel Knight saga?
Jane: It wasn't planned to be - not unless it was clear there would never be another.

The Inventory: Does Sierra have the rights for the Gabriel Knight novels as well, or is this a different case? If it is a different case, will we ever see Gabriel Knight 4 in a novel?
Jane: Yes, they have the novel rights as well so that books are in the same boat. Movie ditto.

The Inventory: Could you describe to us the plot of Project Jane Jensen?
Jane: Right now I can't say anything more about it than what was said at E3. It has a male and female protagonist. The male, David, is a neurobiologist and the female, Sam (short for Samantha), is a magician/street performer. The series has to do with the investigation of strange powers of the mind and uses neurobiology the way CSI uses forensics. It's very gothic and it's set in Oxford, England. The first storyline has some 'Frankenstein' echoes about it.

The Inventory: The characters are again a male and a female like in the Gabriel Knight games. Do you think this is a good balance so that both male and female players are able to relate with at least one of the main characters?
Jane: I don't know if that's so much my concern. Basically, buddy relationships work well in storytelling - look at practically any film or novel. I prefer male/female because then I can play with some sexual tension, which is always fun for me and my audience. Not that I necessarily will, but at least I have that option at some future date.

The Inventory: What interface are you planning to use in the game? Point and click or direct control?
Jane: Point and click. But we're planning some special interfaces in the game that will make things more interesting.

The Inventory: Will the game feature anything similar to Sidney from Gabriel Knight 3?
Jane: Not exactly like that, but there is a computer.

The Inventory: Have you decided yet what kind of graphics engine you are going to use in the game? Will the game have 3D characters on 2D backgrounds, will you use full 3D graphics or will you use Full Motion Video?
Jane: Currently the plan is for 2 1/2 D similar to Syberia. We will not use FMV.

The Inventory: In what ways will the game be similar to the Gabriel Knight games and in what ways will it be different?
Jane: That's a big question. Obviously there are similarities - it's basically an investigative mystery series, there's a male and female, some supernatural stuff is involved. However, it's really very different as well, as different as GK and Millennium Rising. One obvious difference is that the new series is less comic book like, less fantasy. In GK2 there were real werewolves. In the new series the supernatural is much more subtle and realistic than that, more like Matrix than Buffy.

The Inventory: When do you think we will get to see the first screenshots of the game?
Jane: E3 '04 probably.

The Inventory: Is your husband, Robert Holmes, going to do the music for this game as well?
Jane: I hope so! We're planning on it.

The Inventory: The first and the last Gabriel Knight games were harder than Gabriel Knight 2. Will the difficulty of your new game be closer to the one of GK 1 and 3 or to the one of GK2?
Jane: Hmmm. Probably somewhere between GK2 and GK3.

The Inventory: Will the new game mix reality with fiction and include real historical events like the Gabriel Knight games did?
Jane: The first storyline in the new series is not particularly historical. It just didn't turn out that way - I had too much else going on in the storyline. That doesn't mean that I will never use that kind of thing in the new series or that I would have always done that with GK. It does mix fiction and reality, yes. I think people will feel it is very 'Jane Jensen' more than necessarily very 'Gabriel Knight'.

The Inventory: Let's talk a little bit about the new company of yours, Oberon Media. Will Oberon produce only adventures made by you, or do you plan to acquire more developers to produce more games?
Jane: I founded Oberon with three partners and they're doing quite a few things, not just adventure games. What the company is really about is growing a general audience for games (i.e. a more mass-market audience than just young males). The focus of that for my partners is currently in the online casual gaming space. For me the long-term goal would be to grow the audience for adventure games and to have a development studio partnership with The Adventure Company.

The Inventory: Are there any people in Oberon that have worked with you in one of your past games?
Jane: Yes, the core team for the new game is built from people that I've worked with in the past, or that were long-time Sierra employees.

The Inventory: Are there any strategies that Sierra had regarding their products development, which you plan to incorporate in your company as well?
Jane: When I joined Sierra Ken Williams was passionate about the fact that Sierra was a family game company. That's something I would like to recreate. By family I don't mean children's titles, but titles that everyone in the family, from mom and dad to the teens, can get into.


Last update: October 24, 2007

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