When Comics Met Videogames • Page 4

Cecil and Gibbons reunite beneath a steel sky.

Eurogamer: Do you think that technology has sometimes distracted from the more crucial elements to comics and games, that people have been sold on that rather than what really makes the creations engaging?

Dave Gibbons: Of course producers and artists and consumers are all seduced by the latest gizmos, the latest wonderful rendering techniques and so on. But I think after a while, once anything is possible, it falls within the remit of the artists and the writers to express their vision in the way they want to, rather than merely the way that is fashionable at the time.

Eurogamer: As someone who's recently been involved in a high-profile comic to film adaptation in the Watchmen, how do you feel about videogame to film conversions? Why do you think they, at the moment at least, tend to be weaker than comic to game adaptations?

Dave Gibbons: Well I think the raw material of games is further away from a movie. Conversely, a lot of comic books are similar to movies in their structure and length. That said, if you've got strong enough characters with strong enough motivations, and interesting things at stake, then there's no reason why stories can't move between the different media.

Charles Cecil: One of the things that we are weak in games is creating empathetic characters; something that's bread-and-butter necessity in terms of the linear mediums. When you write a game based on a comic book/film/TV, then you can assume that the person that plays that game knows and can empathise with the characters already. You cut short the need to artificially build empathy between viewer and character. I think that's why computer games based on other linear properties often work a lot better than the reverse, because you're playing to your weaknesses.

Dave Gibbons: It seems to me that the characters that you play in a video game are often empty containers for the player, rather that being fully rounded. They essentially go through the motions for you, and to that degree they are less developed because they have to fit with a huge range of different possible gamers.

Eurogamer: Have you guys been talking about working together in the future?

Dave Gibbons: Have we Charles?

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Charles Cecil: Yeah, Dave and I would like to work together again and we are coming up with new ideas. I very much hope that the next title we come up with will be a joint adventure game created between the two of us.

Eurogamer: What new elements are there in videogame design that might influence an approach to, say, a hypothetical Beneath a Steel Sky 2?

Charles Cecil: Well, the audience has changed dramatically. When we wrote the game originally players loved puzzles that stopped them in their tracks. They would go away to think the puzzle over and the next morning settle on its solution. Contemporary puzzle games don't work like that so what we've done in our most recent titles is to add hint solutions. They work extremely well because those players who want to really headbang are free to, while those who just want to play the game with in-game support can do so without becoming frustrated. Certainly any game we make in the future will balance avoiding frustration with creating a challenge.

Dave Gibbons: It's much the same as in comics - it's always easy to please your core audience. The real challenge is to create something that is good, is not condescending and yet still reaches out to a wider audience. We've got an enormous opportunity with a platform like the iPhone to reach a huge audience and to entertain them in ways and in places that haven't been possible before.

Charles Cecil: What is exciting is that in the past few years the hobbyist gamers will obviously play the hardcore games but will also play the more casual games too, whereas the casual gamers won't play the hardcore games. But now the casual gamers are growing up they are becoming bored of just matching gems, finding hidden objects and so on. They have learned the grammar of gaming and want to advance. And I know that a lot of the casual game publishers have identified adventure games as a direction in which their audience will go. We are ideally positioned between casual and hobbyists I think.

Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch now for 2.99.

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