INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Alex Jamieson (Devil’s Cove Kickstarter, Anarchy Enterprises)

By Marty Mulrooney

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Devil’s Cove is a classic point-and-click adventure game being developed by indie game developer Anarchy Enterprises for PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. Taking place in the cursed harbour town of Devil’s Cove, Anarchy Enterprises hopes to raise $185,000 via Kickstarter to fund the project. Today, AMO presents an exclusive online interview with Alex Jamieson, co-founder of the company!

Hello Alex, thank you for your time and welcome to Alternative Magazine Online!

Thank you Marty. We are honoured to be interviewed by AMO.

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?

I am the a co-founder of Anarchy Enterprises along with Tim Whitehurst. We are two guys with art degrees who started a game studio over a decade ago. Over that time we’ve both evolved from our starting point as artists to handling all aspects of game development. On any given day we can be found rendering 3D models, creating art in Photoshop, thinking up the story, writing lines of code, animating special effects, editing sound files and preparing Gold Masters among a myriad of other tasks needed to make games. It’s safe to say we live and breath all aspects of game development.

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When was Anarchy Enterprises founded and what can you tell us about the company?

Anarchy Enterprises was founded in 2000 and has remained a small, indie studio ever since. Over those years we’ve made over 25 games across a number of game genres. Our first games were retail tycoon games such as Moon Tycoon and Deep Sea Tycoon. From there we were early adapters to the online casual gaming world where we’ve made many games including ‘Hidden Object’, ‘Match 3’, ‘Time Management’, and most recently ‘Casual Adventure’ games.

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We’ve always been fans of classic point-and-click adventure games, but in recent years that genre has been out of favour with publishers. We’ve always dreamed of making our own full blooded adventure game and all of our recent casual adventure games have been heavily influenced by them. Kickstarter has proven that there is a tremendous demand for old school, point-and-click adventure games, so we saw this as the perfect time to develop our dream adventure game – Devil’s Cove.

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How many team members are there?

As previously mentioned, Tim and I are the founders of Anarchy and we think up and create all the games. On any given project we will not only act as producers, but also oversee the art, programming, story development, gameplay, sound, etc. The list goes on and on. Besides ourselves, Anarchy is for the most part a virtual studio. We work with dozens of amazingly talented people all over the globe. It is not uncommon for us in one day to communicate with an artist in France, a programmer in Canada, a musician in Sweden, and an actor in Texas. Our team size changes depending upon what projects we have going on at any given time, but regardless of size, the one constant is we are always working with some of the best talent in the industry.

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What sort of games has Anarchy Enterprises released in the past?

In the beginning we did a number of Tycoon games, and in the more recent past we’ve done a lot of casual games, ranging from Match 3 Puzzles and Time Management, to Hidden Object and Casual Adventure hybrids. But we’ve also wanted to make more core-adventure games like the ones we still have fun playing, so we started a Kickstarter campaign to help us get it funded.

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You recently announced your latest game, ‘Devil’s Cove’, via Kickstarter. What can you tell us about this new project?

Devil’s Cove is a classic Point & Click adventure that takes place in a cursed harbour town, where an unknown evil is running rampant. The townsfolk thought it might be a plague, so they called in the expert who specialises in these kinds of things – the notorious Plague Doctor. But soon the town discovers the plague may be the least of their concerns, and they may have inadvertently let the devil in through the back door. When the game begins, you arrive at the dock – and it isn’t long before the local authorities stonewall your efforts to find out what’s going on. Their hands are certainly dirty… but have they all sold their souls?

Why did you choose to fund the game via Kickstarter?

For most of our previous games we have either had publisher funding or we have self-funded them. Devil’s Cove is an ambitious adventure game that is beyond our means to self-fund and we did not want to compromise our vision for the game by involving a publisher during the development. After the success of projects like the Double Fine Adventure and the new Broken Sword game, we thought Kickstarter would be the perfect way to bring Devil’s Cove to fruition by having actual adventure game players involved in the game development process.

Many of the studio’s previous games have been ‘casual’, hidden object adventures. Will Devil’s Cove be a full-blooded adventure game?

There has been some confusion on this issue and we want to make the answer clear – Yes, Devil’s Cove will be a full-blooded adventure game! We’ve done many casual games in the past, but we’ve always dreamed about doing a true adventure game.

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Who is the Plague Doctor – and why should players beware?

If your name includes the word “Plague” then that’s a good warning sign to stay away! But all jokes aside, he’s a really nasty villain, one that we’ve put considerable effort into crafting. The Plague Doctor idea is rooted in history, going back to the dark ages, but we’ve evolved him quite a bit and are confident he’s going to keep the players on their toes. We actually did an update on our Kickstarter project describing the process of creating the Plague Doctor and we encourage anyone interested to check it out.

Update #2 – Behind the Scenes: Meet The Plague Doctor:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313725596/devils-cove-adventure-game/posts/322321

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When is the game set and how much research was involved?

Devil’s Cove is set in a turn-of-the-century Victorian type of period, but the game also includes a number of gothic and steampunk references as well. We really didn’t want to lock ourselves into one specific time period, rather we are attempting to create a world that feels rooted in history, but is unique unto itself.

Who will the player be controlling – and will they be a defined character or a silent protagonist?

The Devil’s Cove story is seen through the eyes of a defined character. We have been toying with the idea of actually having a male and female version of the main protagonist that the player can choose from at the start of the game. Depending upon which character the player chooses, it will alter how the game is experienced – either through the eyes of a woman or a man. As the game development continues, we are looking forward to gauging the players’ reaction to and thoughts on this concept.

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Will the game feature voice acting or text only?

Devil’s Cove will have plenty of voice acting! In the past we have made a number of casual adventure games, some with voices and some without. We have come to the conclusion that voice acting is a must. Games are way more engaging and the characters can really be brought to life. We have some great voice actors we’ve worked with in the past who will be back in the studio again to breath life into our characters.

Who is in charge of composing the game’s soundtrack?

We’ve auditioned a number of different composers to try different moods for the music, and figured this time we might as well leave the final choice up to the players too. Being able to communicate directly with the players now opens up a lot of opportunities – including letting them hear auditions and choosing the ones they like the best.

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What sort of gameplay and puzzles can players expect?

We plan on having a good balance of gameplay and puzzle styles to offer up lots of variety throughout the game. There will be new twists on some old favourites, as well as some new ideas we’ve cooked up that should please any avid adventure gamer. We especially like the idea of presenting the player with some sort of conflict in their decisions. Beyond the normal inventory and task mechanism of “finding the right key to open this particular door” – we like the idea of giving one item that could be used to solve two different tasks, and the player faces a dilemma in choosing how they will use it. For example, let’s say you happen upon a starving child with a starving dog, and you have some bread – but you can only give it to one of them. Which do you choose? Each player will have a different experience when they face decisions like this, which we hope will make the game feel more personal to everyone. The key is making sure all the puzzles, tasks and gameplay are woven into the fabric of the story and keep the players engrossed throughout the game.

What platforms will Devil’s Cove be releasing on?

Devil’s Cove will be developed using a custom toolset inside of Unity3D, which will allow us to reach a large number of platforms. Initially we launched our Kickstarter with support for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, but have recently added Linux. We also feel confident that Devil’s Cove will be available for OUYA as well.

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Is it true that the infamous goat from Broken Sword might be making a cameo appearance? I am sure that members of the Order of the Goat will be delighted if this proves to be the case!

Yes, that is correct! Tony Warriner over at Revolution Software has been kind enough to give us permission to add a Goat Easter Egg into Devil’s Cove for the Broken Sword fans. We have many ‘Order of the Goat’ members coming from the Broken Sword project to back Devil’s Cove too. We are ecstatic to have all of them as part of the project and wanted to add something extra in Devil’s Cove as a treat for them!

This sort of collaboration is a great example of the power of crowdfunding. Traditionally this is something that might be frowned upon by traditional publishers or require lots of red tape to execute. In this case it’s just decided between the developers and it’s so simple. Developers are gamers too, and we all want more cool games to play. So we love to encourage and help each other out, which ultimately is good for the players.

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What is your favourite adventure game and why?
That is definitely the hardest question to answer! How can we choose one when there are so many great ones to choose from? We’ve been around awhile and our experience playing adventure games goes all the way back to text adventures such as Zork, so we’ve seen it all. Some of the titles that have really stuck with us over the years have been Kings Quest, Full Throttle, Gabriel Knight, and of course the Monkey Island games. And who could forget the first time they played Myst? We could go on-and-on. We don’t have one favourite, but love many of them for different reasons.

What makes Devil’s Cove stand out from the crowd?

We are so honoured to be included in the same conversation with other developers like Revolution Software, Double Fine, and Jane Jensen to name a few. We’re really just a small team who has been lucky enough to keep making games all these years. 🙂

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As far as how does Devil’s Cove stand out from the crowd, we think there is more room for the players themselves to be involved in the development and to create an open community while the work is in progress. We’re also attracted to creating alternate endings depending on what the player does during the game, and giving them more things to think about. Beyond tricky puzzles, we like the idea of presenting the player with dilemmas where there may not really be a right or a wrong way, but their choice ultimately elicits an emotional investment.

What rewards are available for Kickstarter backers?

For only $15, players get a digital copy of the game along with lots of bonus materials and behind-the-scenes access to the development process. Additional rewards are available at higher tiers that include a bounty of swag – unique game props, signed original game art, limited edition game collectibles, listings in the game credits, and the opportunity to become an actual character in the game!

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If the $185,000 goal isn’t met, will the game still be released at some point in the future?

We are committed to finding a way to finish Devil’s Cove. If it doesn’t happen through Kickstarter we’ll just do what we’ve always done – find another way to make it work! Of course, without an influx of funding it will take much longer, but this is really a special project for us – and we want to make this game for the players as much as we want to make it for ourselves!

Thank you for your time Alex – it has been a pleasure interviewing you. Good luck with the Devil’s Cove Kickstarter campaign!

For more information – and to pledge your support – please visit:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313725596/devils-cove-adventure-game

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