The games
Site map

« Back

The Inventory interviews Jane Jensen

Adventure Games / General:

The Inventory: There is a huge increase of fan-made adventures out  there. Many of the fans have decided to continue their favourite adventure series that commercial companies have decided to shut down (i.e. King. Quest, Space Quest, Indiana Jones etc.). What is your opinion on this? Would you be bothered if some fans made a Gabriel Knight adventure themselves? Would you feel honored by something like that or would you feel cheated, as if someone stole your property?
Jane: As a writer, I have writely opinions about this. I would never rip off someone else's story and characters, and I think it's foolish to do so from a personal liability perspective. Why not create something similar but different? But I understand the frustration behind this kind of thing. I hope no one would do this with Gabriel Knight.

The Inventory: Have you played any of these fan-made adventures? In a 'making-of' video from Gabriel Knight 1 you say that your first adventure was King's Quest 4 and that you loved the King's Quest series. Have you seen the unofficial King's Quest 9 or have you played the King's Quest 2 remake by Tierra Entertainment?
Jane: No, I haven't played it.

The Inventory: 3  years ago you wrote an article that was first published by Adrenaline Vault and was later republished by Just Adventure, called 'A Love Letter To Sierra' and in this article you describe how the gaming industry has to shift its focus from traditional gamers to a demographic that was not paid any attention. On an interview with Randy Sluganski from Just Adventure you also said: 'I think that the audience for these kinds of games is a non traditional computer game audience. How do we reach them? I have no idea. It may just be a matter of time, waiting  for the technology to get pervasive enough that everyone  has access to it as a matter of course'. On an interview we had with Cedric Orvoine, PR manager of Microïds (Syberia) in the Inventory 4, we asked him to answer the question you posed 'How do we reach them?' This is what he said: 'I would tend to partially agree with Jane. I also think the audience for adventure games is a non-traditional computer game audience and that we have to find other channels to reach them. But still, adventure games must be placed into gaming stores. The publishers must work on developing new distribution channel like libraries, CD/DVD stores among others. The best way to reach them is to go as wide as possible in terms of marketing and publicity. Forget buying ads in PC Gamer, CGW or others. We must reach the mass. Movie previews, subway or buses advertising, major dailies, good PR. I think developing business partnership with non-gaming related companies also benefits the game'. Do you think that the adventure community has improved in terms of reaching a wider audience compared to 3, 4 years ago? What do you think about Cedric's answer to your question? Have you come up with any answer to the question you posed yourself 3 years ago, 'How do we reach them'?
Jane: Having raised the issue of  taking out ads in mystery magazines, going into DVD stores, etc., with Sierra's PR every single game, I'm not as confident as Cedric that a traditional game publisher will ever pull this off. Their expertise is in the retail gaming space and they have a nearly impossible time reaching beyond that. Oberon is also trying to solve this issue and our approach is to try to reach a general audience online. But these things take time to develop. The new series will be a traditional retail product first and foremost, like Gabriel Knight. How well we can improve the reach for it is a battle we've yet to fight.

The Inventory: Do you find time nowadays to play new adventure games? If so then what do you think where the best three adventures you have played since Gabriel Knight 3 was released?
Jane: I really enjoyed Syberia. That was the last good adventure game experience I've had - and the first in many years.

The Inventory: You have mentioned Syberia a couple of times in previous interviews you gave. Syberia has been both a critical and financial success and its new style of gameplay has given birth to lots of discussions among the adventure community. What is your opinion of the game and what do you think of its way to let the story flow without hindering the player too much?
Jane: I didn't pick up on that particular aspect of it. In fact, I found it extremely linear. (But I never thought 'linear' was a naughty word.) What I admired about Syberia was the amazing art values, how well the artist's vision was integrated with the story, and the complete ease and simplicity of the interface. I thought it was a game anyone could play, yet satisfying to an experienced gamer. That's a lot to accomplish. Overall, it just had an amazingly smooth and polished production aesthetic.

The Inventory: Story, Graphics, Music, Gameplay. Would you be able to put these four aspects of a game in order from 1 to 4 in terms of importance?
Jane: Geez. That really varies from game to game. If a game has exceptionally original and outstanding graphics, it can be a bit weak in other categories and vice versa. But if you held a gun to my head I would have to say story, graphics, gameplay, music.

The Inventory: FMV has not been used so much lately in adventures and developers usually prefer 3D graphics. Some claim that this is because it is cheaper to make professional 3D graphics than to hire a whole cast of professional actors. Others claim that this is because 3D environments allow for bigger levels of interaction. Playing a game like Gabriel Knight 2 however, one can't help but wonder why didn't other companies follow that paradigm. Do you think that FMV will become big again sometime in the future?
Jane: I think the real issue is interactivity and, to a lesser degree, a simple matter of fashion. I can't predict if FMV will ever come back. Maybe someday in VR world.

The Inventory: Many people claim that many of the adventures produced nowadays lack a certain magic the old adventures of Sierra and Lucasarts had. Do you agree with that, and if so what do you think it is that new adventures are lacking?
Jane: Yes, I think there is a charm lacking. I think the older Sierra titles had that because they were aiming at a family audience. I don't think GK was ever particularly 'charming' because it's too mature for that. But King's Quest and Monkey Island and some of those games were. Again, it's a matter of who the audience is expected to be. King's Quest was never aimed at young males. It was cute, it was sweet. You don't see much of that nowadays except in games for little kids. That's not the same thing at all.

The Inventory: Who were your best buddies in Sierra? Who do you miss the most from the old Sierra Online? Do you still have contact with any of them?
Jane: Everyone! Seriously, people I have talked to from the 'old days' at Sierra all feel the same way. Maybe we didn't appreciate it enough at the time, and it certainly had its share of headaches, but it really was a great atmosphere to work in. I miss everything about it and the people, yup - most of them!

The Inventory: Old Sierra vs old Lucasarts. Which company do you think created the best adventures? Was there any rivalry between the two?
Jane: What a question. I dunno. I love Sierra, but I was there. Lucasarts was always a bit more remote to me. I guess, being female, I loved the King's Quest and Laura Bow series more than I ever completely related to any of the Lucasarts stuff. There were a lot more female designers at Sierra so, naturally, we were better. (smiley)

The Inventory: Was there ever an interest by anyone to turn the Gabriel Knight games into a movie?
Jane: Yes, lots of times. But nothing that was incredibly serious, like 'I'm ready to give you a two-million-dollar option'. Unfortunately.

The Inventory: What is the best and what is the worst part of your job?
Jane: I love game design and I love seeing the game come together. Working with actors - whether voice-over or FMV is a true highlight. Worst parts - long hours, contracts and politics, just like anywhere.

The Inventory: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jane: Thanks very much for the interview and for continuing to support the adventure community. It has continued to thrive, in large part due to the efforts of places like Just Adventure and this magazine.

Thank you very much Jane for taking the time to answer our questions. It is an honour for us that you accepted our invitation and shared your knowledge with our readers. Your presence in the adventure community was terribly missed all these years since Gabriel Knight 3 was released, and we all wish you the best of luck with your new game. We hope that we will hear from you again soon and we can't wait to play Project Jane Jensen.


Last update: October 24, 2007

Print this page or access the printer friendly version
Bookmark with:
Bookmark this page with del.icio.us Delicious   Bookmark this page with Digg Digg   Bookmark this page with Facebook Facebook  Bookmark this page with Reddit Reddit  Bookmark this page with StumbleUpon StumbleUpon

« prev