I have a question, with the hope of sparking off a discussion:
How do you think the adventure game genre could be reinvented – with the aim of making it more appealing to a wider audience – without losing the spirit of the genre?
Ryan Nicotera, Facebook
Our three-part special on the adventure game industry wasn’t really supposed to go like this. We thought we’d interview Shawn Mills, have a few laughs and then go to bed. Then, for some reason, Dave Gilbert showed up. And just as we were getting over that, Katie Hallahan came along. So we got a trilogy.
For our third and final off-season special, we complete our trilogy of prodding well-known adventure game people to give their take on the state of the adventure game industry. This episode, we light some poultry butts on fire and address several elephants of varying colors in the room with Katie Hallahan, co-founder and PR director of Phoenix Online Studios.
Phoenix Online Studios rose to prominence by being the studio to channel Jane Jensen’s post-Sierra game design career into products such as Moebius and Gabriel Knight: 20th Anniversary Edition. They also published that other horror game that Fred will not shut up about — the one that’s not Amnesia — and they did a King’s Quest fan game, which I assume is a rite of passage for any serious game development studio that isn’t Wadjet Eye.
It’s the surprise special you didn’t know you wanted! Actually, you probably didn’t want it, but cut me some slack, will you? It’s been a while.
It was, however, a surprise that I wanted when we decided to reconvene for a special off-season episode last month. We’re still working out what exactly season 4 of this show will be, and Troels is busy with the Space Quest Historian podcast, to which Gareth and I are also contributing. And once we get all of that out of the way, we will presumably come out of near-hibernation to pester your auditory organs on a weekly basis.
The reason for getting together for this special was more depressing, though. Mid-July, Steven Alexander of Infamous Quests (“Quest for Infamy”, “Order of the Thorne”) announced in a blog post that the company will cease to exist following the release of the two games they currently have in production. It was a bit of a kick in the guts. Not only because we consider many of the Infamous Quests developers to be good friends of ours, but also because as fans of the adventure game genre, we had genuinely hoped this labour of love would succeed. When something like that happens, the first question to form in the back of your mind is something akin to “What the fuck is going on?”