By Marty Mulrooney
Legendary adventure game designer Jane Jensen (the Gabriel Knight series, Gray Matter) recently announced that she has licensed the Gabriel Knight IP from Activision and is working on a remake of the original game, Sins of the Fathers. Set for release on personal computers and tablets in mid-2014, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 20th Anniversary Edition will feature stunning high res visuals (2048×1536 3D graphics will replace the original 640×480 resolution pixel art), re-recorded voice acting and a remastered soundtrack by Robert Holmes, the game’s original composer. Alternative Magazine Online is therefore proud to present an exclusive online interview with Pinkerton Road studio co-founder Jane Jensen!
Hello Mrs Jensen, thank you for your time and welcome back to AMO!
Thanks for having me!
What have you been up to since we last spoke in April 2012?
Working on Moebius and Mystery Game X (aka Gabriel Knight). That’s pretty much all! With the new studio, I’m wearing a lot of hats so it’s all consuming.
You have just announced the Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 20th Anniversary Edition. What can you tell us about this project?
We’ve licensed the right to do the game from Activision, the Gabriel Knight IP holder. This is the first time I’ve been successful in getting the rights to work on a GK game, so it’s very exciting. We hope to create a remake that’s faithful to the original while being brought up to today’s standards. I’m particularly stoked to finally get a GK game on mobile. My iPad needs it! lol
Has it really been 20 years?! You must have very fond memories of making the original game!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years, isn’t it? I do have good memories of those days working at Sierra in Oakhurst, CA. It was a very intense project as we had a hard deadline, but it was a great experience doing my first full game on my own as a designer.
For those who are new to the series, who is Gabriel Knight and what is Sins of the Fathers all about?
Sins of the Fathers is an origin story for Gabriel Knight. When the game begins, he’s a down-and-out horror novelist and bookseller living in the New Orleans French Quarter. He has terrible nightmares and expects to die young like his father and grandfather, so he doesn’t commit to anything. He starts investigating this series of Voodoo murders happening in New Orleans with the idea of writing a book about it. During the investigation he starts learning things that seem to relate to his own family history. By the end of the game, he’s learned that his long-lost German family has this legacy of being Schattenjägers or shadow hunters, modern-day witch-hunters in effect. The game has a lot of creepy moments as well as fun bantering and humour.
You have licensed the IP from Activision – was this a difficult process?
It was a long process to go through, yes. But fortunately, we had the support of some people in-house at Activision who helped make it happen.
In what capacity will Phoenix Online Studios be working with you? As I’m sure you could tell from my reviews of each episode, I thought the recently concluded Cognition adventure game series – for which you served as a consultant – was fantastic!
Good! I’m glad you liked it. It’s gotten some great reviews. Phoenix Online is operating as the development team on Moebius and GK, doing the programming and the remaining art work. I’m acting as creative director and designer, so I’m overseeing GK daily. It’s definitely my baby!
Is this new version of the game aimed at longtime fans, newcomers, or quite simply anyone who enjoys a good adventure game?
Both longtime fans and newcomers. An ambitious goal, but there you go.
How different will this new version be from the original game?
Well the art, music and voices are all redone, though they are based on the originals. All of the original gameplay and story will be there. We are adding special edition content and also a few new scenes and puzzles.
The 20th Anniversary Edition will feature a brand new voice cast – what are the reasons behind this decision and how happy are you with the new voice recording that was done by Bay Area Sound? (I’ve previously interviewed the hugely talented Jared Emerson-Johnson on AMO and I’m confident that the voice acting is in safe hands!)
Yes, it’s rather tragic. Unfortunately, the original recordings were lost somewhere along the way, and stripping the audio from the game did not result in acceptable quality. So we had to re-record. The original actors are twenty years older – even if they were interested in reprising their roles, they probably wouldn’t sound the same. Also, the cost of getting those actors wasn’t practical for the budget of this project. When we did GK1 it was one of the very first games to use voice-over, so we got a smoking deal on everyone including SAG rates. Of course now that’s no longer possible.
You’re correct, we used Bay Area Sound for the new recordings. They’ve done voice recording for a ton of adventure games including Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island as well as our game Moebius (which has fabulous voice work). They helped us cast great actors true to the spirit of the original cast and yes, I quite like it!
The remake will also have a remastered soundtrack by the original composer Robert Holmes, your husband – is he excited to be revisiting music he first created 20 years ago?
It’s been just as much fun for him as it has been for me to revisit the game, I think. He actually had to get recordings of the GK music from online sources, it’s been so long. And some of the songs he’d completely forgotten. But he’s enjoyed reorchestrating them.
Will there be additional remakes further down the line if this one proves successful?
It would make sense to redo GK2 and GK3, but I would hope to work on a GK4 next, if the GK1 remake does well. I just don’t want to have to wait till two more games are redone to write a new story! But all of that is dependent on GK1 doing well and on Activision being interested in continuing with us. Right now they’re only committed to the GK1 remake.
What else are you working on at the moment? You must be extremely busy!
Moebius is taking up a lot of my time at the moment. We’re just going to beta with chapters 3-5 (out of 7). The final two chapters are almost content complete, and we hope to ship in January 2014. So there’s a lot there to polish and perfect. I love the game, and I’m hoping it does well.
Any news on Gray Matter 2? The original is one of my favourite adventure games of all time!
We’ve had a surprising number of requests for that. I would love to do a sequel, but there’s nothing firm on that yet.
Thank you for your time Mrs Jensen. It’s always a pleasure interviewing you on AMO and I can’t wait for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers- 20th Anniversary Edition!
Thank you so much! I appreciate the coverage.
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Jane Jensen (Game Designer, Gabriel Knight Trilogy/Gray Matter)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Robert Holmes (Composer, Gray Matter Soundtrack/Gabriel Knight Series)
GAME REVIEW – Gray Matter (PC)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Jane Jensen (Pinkerton Road Studio)