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Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon Preview

publisher: The Adventure Company
developer: Revolution Software
genre: Adventure

PIII 500, 128MB RAM, 64MB Video Card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Nov 17, 03
» All About Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon on ActionTrip

P&C adventure games are truly missed these days. Some years back, Revolution Software entered the gaming world with its animated adventure Broken Sword, which was followed by a reasonably successful sequel. Both games were made in classic P&C (point and click - Ed) fashion and they featured all the essentials of a good adventure: suspense, murder, and a really hot young lady named Nico who helps George Stobbart (the main character) along the way. In addition to huge number of diverse, skillfully animated 2D characters, the game also had a terrific atmosphere and a great soundtrack, which was performed by composer Barrington Pheloung and his orchestra. Now, the third installment, Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is in the works. This time around the developers are focused on making the game in a full 3D environment, using a brand new engine. And, judging from the screens we received, the transition to 3D was a success.

To learn more, we spoke with Tony Warriner, one of the co-founders of Revolution Software, who's also closely involved with the creation of Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon.

Action Trip: So, how are things down at Revolution Software?

Tony Warriner: Things are pretty good! There is a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the development industry at the moment - things are very tough for small independent teams, like Revolution; but we have the backing of a major league publisher for BS3 that really believes in what we're trying to do, so we're feeling pretty happy!

AT: P&C adventures seem to have been besieged by a myriad of next-generation action games (which is a shame because I really miss them). Do you think Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon will get enough attention when it hits the market?

TW: I think BS-TSD will get have plenty of attention when it is released. In-fact, it's already getting far too much so we're trying to cool things down a little. Over hyping a game is bad enough, but doing it many months before release is quite unfair on the fans I think.

The 'besieging' you mention is very interesting. In reality, the old 2D games lost their shine because the genre refused to move on and develop. Other genres (especially action) moved in and cherry picked all the best bits; practically all these games feature some sort of storyline these days, and often some puzzles as well. What we're doing with BS-TSD is taking all those things back and presenting them in a more contemporary way. So instead of bemoaning how frightful it all is that 2D adventures have seemingly fallen by the wayside forever, we're bringing out a modern adventure game that will hopefully take on some of those action games that you mention. You know, we want BS-TSD to go high in the game charts - something that an adventure game hasn't done for quite some time.

AT: How much of the game is done? Any idea about the release date yet (I think I read somewhere that you plan to launch the game on October 10)?

TW: Release date is indeed 10/10/03. Development is a few weeks from alpha, so it's a pretty busy time over here.

AT: What kind of mischief has George Stobbart got himself into this time? Tell us a bit about the plotline.

TW: Well going back to what I said before, I think 'too much' of the plot and storyline are already out there. For that reason I won't say much at all because for a game like BS-TSD it would really spoil it for the fans. Nevertheless, this is part three of the trilogy - so we try and explain what's gone before and show how it all fits together. It's an epic conclusion, with a fair few twists and turns along the way. Pure Broken Sword.

AT: During his adventures, George spent a lot of time traveling to various parts of the world. Can you reveal some of the spots he will be visiting this time around?

TW: I won't tell you where, or why, but the travel aspect is a major theme of Broken Sword so it features heavily in this third part (Ed. - damn, nearly had him there).

AT: Previous Broken Sword games were quite catchy thanks to their cool cartoonish atmosphere and beautifully animated characters. Why have you guys decided to make the shift to 3D? And, give us an example of what your team is doing with the new engine.

TW: There was no choice but to go with 3D. Gamers expect 3D. The games that do well are 3D. Publishers want 3D games. Most games are sold on consoles. It's as simple as that! But, Revolution have waited quite some time before bringing Broken Sword to 3D deliberately because we haven't until now felt that we could get the kind of quality we wanted. In terms of animation, the same kind of detail is present in this game as the previous ones - in-fact there's probably more in this game as quicker and easier to animate a skeleton than it is to hard draw 2D sprites. Boy, were those first two Broken Sword games expensive to make!

AT: Err... So, how does Nico look in 3D?

TW: I have to say she looks pretty good. We had to do a lot of research with regard to chic and sexy looking French women - a tough job but it had to be done (Ed. - amen!).

AT: Does Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon have any elements that might be familiar to fans of the series?

TW: Absolutely! George and Nico, dialogue, puzzles, story, plot twists, humor, conspiracy, world travel... it's all Broken Sword. All that's happened is that those elements have been placed in a 3D world. The phone rang the other day - the voice said, "Hello, this is George Stobbart" - it was Rolf Saxon J

AT: Even though the game was made as sort of an interactive cartoon, it still conveyed a strong sense of realism. This was one of the aspects I enjoyed most in both games and, for some reason; I was captivated by some of the mystical surroundings and the authenticity of the ambiance. Besides the fabulous 2D artwork in the backdrop, an important part of the atmosphere was created by Barrington Pheloung's inspirational tunes. Will he be back to work on the soundtrack once again?

TW: In-fact, Revolution has its own audio engineer now. The benefit to this is that we can integrate the music and gameplay much closer. Technically, today's games require quite a bit of sophistication. We've been able to go back to the original idea with Broken Sword 1 which was to have 'interactive' music and properly do what we set out to do back then. The result is very atmospheric and immersive. From a style point of view, obviously Broken Sword was very orchestral and the new game certainly respects that fact.



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