glowing_plants

concept art for a glowing underwater plantlife which has many surprising uses

IH: You not only created the story, dialogues and gameplay for Tale of a Hero, but also worked on the background art and some of the animations. What visual styles do you enjoy the most as a graphic artist?

PC: Well I was not the only one who created story, dialogues or gameplay in the first place – each core member of a team contributed to that a lot.

For my favorite visual styles – I like stylization and interesting environments or concepts. For example The Dig´s background art by Bill Tiller makes that game to be one of the best looking adventures I ever played.

From other media I have so many favorites – brothers Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, Mike Mignola, Vlasta Burian to name just a few. I like when a picture has some interesting and unusual theme which makes me think that I want to know more about what I am looking at. What is behind the horizon? Who lives in that city constructed out of gigantic mushrooms and what is the life there like?

IH: Which animations in the game are you the most satisfied about how they did come together?

PC: The ones of Olaf in underwater chapter – I think that Pavel Holec, our character animator, did great job, given the time and budget he had.

At the end of this underwater cavern there is a dragon you don't want to wake up.

IH: You seem to have worked very closely with the members of your team. What is the history of the development team Peregrius coming together? Does the team still exist or have potential for being revitalized?

PC: Back in the 90’s me and my friend Pavel Krychtálek were writing text adventure games on computer Didaktik which was a Czechoslovakian clone of ZX Spectrum. That was at elementary school. Few years later we got our hands on PC and wanted to create some game again. Several of our friends and family members joined us for project Ron Loo, which was unfortunately way too big for such an inexperienced and small team as it showed later. Same people stayed in the team until Tale of a Hero was finished.

Right now our team is not working on anything although we are still in daily contact. I still work in gaming industry, so do Pavel Krychtálek, each of us for different companies, while our lead modeler Jan Kurka made his way to movie industry.

Jan Kavan, our sound designer and one of the developers of Ghost in the Sheet, is working on his second indie game J.U.L.I.A. which looks very promising. The rest of us continue their regular jobs, which they never left anyway, as I was the only one working on Tale of a Hero full-time. Therefore it doesn’t seem likely that we will do another game together in the next few years. On the other hand, never say never. Our passion for adventures is still strong 🙂

IH: I’d certainly love to see a new game of yours, so I wish you good luck in getting together for a project again.

As you just mentioned Jan Kavan, It so happens I prepared a question specifically for him, if you’d agree to pass it. Here it is:

The sound design in Tale of a Hero does make an impression on the player. Especially the various noises and howls produced by the creatures. What process did you use to capture and prepare the sounds for the game?

Jan Kavan: Hi there! Funny that you ask about this. All sounds in Tale of a Hero are custom made which means you won’t find any stock footage in our game. We had to produce tons of really intricate, complex sounds like for example by Pavel’s specification: “The sound of moving giant ice masses”. And now you have to somehow record this in the middle of the Europe. So I used dozens of sound sources and combined + processed them to get the desired results.

That said, I have of course purchased a lot of commercial sounds to begin with. For example the huge Sony sfx library. Those sounds gave me a great starting point. By combining, processing and merging these sounds with the sounds I’ve live-recorded, I was able to get to the results that both me and Pavel were happy about.

Speaking of growls, they are usually heavily processed recordings of my own voice (for example the water dragon). To achieve the scream of the big water dragon, Pavel woke me up at 5 AM and told me that there’s no coffee in the house. The recording was easy, because my scream went for a very, very long time.

In connection to other noises I recorded I must ask you for one little favor. Never EVER talk to me about cats and playful dogs, okay? I might release outtakes which would certainly unleash some global ecological disaster.

IH: Erm… OK I will be careful to not even mention them.

Thanks for your answers, Jan, and good luck with your work on J.U.L.I.A. I look forward to playing that game.

Pavel, besides Tale of a Hero you and your team were developing another adventure game – Ron Loo – which, unfortunately, was dropped during production because of various difficulties. How did this game compare to Tale of a Hero in terms of the story genre and overall style?

PC: Story of Ron Loo was much darker and way too complex (which, given the budget of it, was one of the main difficulties which led to its end). Ron was a child soldier, a survivor with natural human goodness buried deep under horrors he lived through and never forgotten one bit of. In comparison to Olaf, he was much more driven by duty and obligations laid on him by his country, mostly making decisions under weight of circumstances and necessity.

But in the terms of the gameplay, there are aspects of Ron Loo to be found in Tale of a Hero. For example, the surrogate inventory items feature which is eliminating illogical situations when the character tries to put in his pocket large and heavy items.

IH: What was exactly the concept behind a certain specific character from Ron Loo appearing in multiple games of your development team?

PC: The concept behind the character named Peregrius was simple- he was supposed to be a character which would be present in all our games, sometimes as narrator, sometimes also as one of the characters, traveling the world incognito to tell and hear stories. He was a being cursed to live forever in different times and places but never for very long. It was to be a kind of a link between all of our creations (or our mascot, if you want).

ron-loo

IH: How would you describe the main appeal of the traditional adventure game genre gameplay with all its puzzle solving and long, branching character dialogues? What are your personal favorite adventure games and why?

PC: Comparing to other gaming genres, traditional adventures have unique pace which once you get used to it allows you to immerse in the game´s world and think your way through it without the fear of being killed. I do enjoy and play a lot of other genres from RPG´s to typical shooters, but good adventure always wins me with its focus on exploration, often good writing and easy-going gameplay. Generally, I have enough of adrenalin rushes during my working day and when I play, I prefer to rest a little. And my all time favourites? I already mentioned The Dig. The next best thing for me would be Full Throttle with it´s great dialogues, pacing and drive, and then The Longest Journey with complex and rich story.

IH: Are there any words of warning or advice you’d be willing to give to aspiring adventure game creators? Did you have some experience that struck you as particularly educational for an adventure game designer?

PC: I found feedback from players on several disscussion forums very educational. Opinions of your audience, while have to be judged properly, can teach you a lot. Today I would design some parts of Tale of a Hero differently. For example I would prefer much shorter monologues of the main character and probably would include some kind of a hotspots revealing system.

IH: For the final question let’s go back one more time to the story told in Tale of a Hero…

As Olaf sets up on his journey he is, among other things, interested in finally matching up to his father’s adventures. However, from what we learn later adventuring isn‘t such a straightforward, rewarding business. Without spoiling the story, how would you describe what is the most important thing that Olaf does gain or loose during his entire quest?

PC: I think that it is all about how much one is willing to give up to get the job done and how much one is aware of it. At the end Olaf has to say goodbye to his naive younger „me” while not losing his fundamental beliefs and principles. But being who he is he got his reward after all – he changed the world in a small, rather insignificant way, but it did matter a lot to people and creatures he met during his journey.

IH: Thank you very much for your time and great answers. And best of luck with your future projects. Hopefully, you’ll be able to work on an adventure game again.

Note: I’ve conducted this interview in English for both my blog and the Polish adventure gaming website Przygodoskop (Adventurescope)

TALE OF A HERO – REVIEW

part_of_team

From the left: Tomáš Jelínek (ToH's scripts programmer), Pavel Černohous, and Petr Konštacký (ToH's lead programmer)

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