Legacy Interview

Monday, September 22, 2003.
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon Box artBroken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon

Broken Sword 3 - The Sleeping Dragon

Q: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for our readers! Can you give us a bit of info on who are you and what your role is on Broken Sword?

A: My Name is Charles Cecil and I am founder and CEO of Revolution Software, and Director on the game.

Q: Could you explain a little of the back-story of the Broken Sword series for the Xbox gamers who may not know much about the series?

A: Although those who are familiar with the series will benefit from a few references, no previous knowledge will be necessary. As with previous games we do use real-world references including an extraordinary (real) document called the Voynich manuscript and the legends around Glastonbury (where some say Camelot was based, others the Isle of Avalon). The general overview to the game is … The Sleeping Dragon will take up the Broken Sword story a few years after we last saw George and Nico. George is flying over the jungles of the Congo in a battered transport aircraft. When an extraordinary electrical storm engulfs the plane and one of the engines burst alight, the Australian pilot assures him that there is nothing to be worried about. As the plane hits the jungle canopy, George blacks out. Coming around, he finds that the plane is perched perilously about a deep gorge. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we see a hacker typing away at a keyboard. The door bell goes – the visitor announces herself as Nico Collard. He lets her in, tells her of his amazing discoveries but stops – when she draws a gun and shoots him. This is just the beginning of another extraordinary adventure for George Stobbard and Nico Collard.

Q: Can you explain to us the fighting system for Broken Sword?

A: There is no ‘fighting system’ as such – what we have introduced is interactive cut-scenes (or Action Events) in which we put the player under pressure and they must determine how best to react. If they fail then the character can die. This game mechanic is a development of what was done in both the previous games – it is absolutely consistent with the Adventure interface.

Q: What about the new interface? How will this differ from the previous titles?

A: We have introduced a direct control interface which is much more consistent with a controller. This has allowed us to introduce a much more diverse range of puzzles than in previous titles – however, all puzzles and obstacles are adventure-orientated in that the primary gameplay comes from working out what to do to progress rather than the challenge of actually doing it. As you move your character, objects with which he (or she) can interact are highlighted and an action-map indicates what actions are available. The action-map corresponds to the four buttons on the controller. Apart from movement, all actions are controlled through the action-map. Obviously this is radically different from point-and-click. The world has become much more dynamic and the player has the option to explore the environment in 3D rather than 2D through climbing, shimmying etc. As a designer, it is extremely liberating to have so many more opportunities.

Q: Are any of the various locations in Broken Sword mirror images of their real life counterparts, or do they just made to closely resemble them?

A: We referred to an enormous amount of reference in order to make the locations feel authentic, but none are meant to be specific locations.

Q: One complaint among gamers recently is auto saving in adventure games. Will Broken Sword feature auto saving or will it give the player the choice where and when to save their game?

A: The player can save the game pretty much anywhere. However, if the character dies, then the game will automatically return to the start of the scene – which is never more than a few minutes back. I feel that for a narrative game the player should not be forced to repeat large sections that have already been completed. Since the game is large, we do not need to resort to repetitive gameplay!

Q: In this installment of the Broken Sword series a new graphic engine is being used, is this an in-house engine or licensed?

A: We use Renderware for low level rendering. However the radiosity engine that creates the unique look has been developed in-house.

Q: What sort of graphical tricks can we look forward to with this new engine?

A: The game is special-effects rich. We have cool smoke, water, and fire effects. However the main feature is the lighting and contrast. We apply radiosity (the next generation of ray-tracing) to the backgrounds to create very complex shadows and rich colors.

Q: BS3 is using a proprietary Virtual Actor Engine for choreography, can you give some insight into this process how it has helped you guys in development?

A: A real-time character animation system, that we call the Virtual Actor system, allows scriptwriters to control the moods and emotions of the characters, both in game and in cut scenes. The results are very impressive and allow us to convey characterization and emotion through facial animation and lip-syncing as well as by generating convincing body language.

Q: Will Broken Sword feature any extras for the Xbox like custom soundtrack, downloadable content, etc?

A: The game’s soundtrack features interactive music and a full musical score so we felt that it was not really appropriate to feature a custom soundtrack.

Q: Many Xbox gamers have High Definition TV’s and Dolby Digital 5.1 set-ups. Does Broken Sword support HD TV, Wide screen, or Surround sound?

A: The game supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and Surround Sound. We are currently looking into the feasibility of supporting HDTV resolutions.

Q: Since Broken Sword is also going to be released for the PC, Will there be any differences in the game play, or will both version be the same?

A: The gameplay is identical across both formats.

Q: Off hand, how much game play can we be looking forward to in Broken Sword?

A: I would say around 30 hours for someone unfamiliar with adventuring. Around 20 hours for more experienced players. This game is much larger than previous Broken Sword games but the player will move through much quicker.

Q: Is a November release still in the schedule?

A: Yes, absolutely.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions and we look forward to getting a better look at Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon.

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