InterviewInterview - Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne

Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne

Developer: Kheops Studios
Publisher: The Adventure Company

Release Date: 08/18/2005


Genre: adventure
Setting: historic

Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne is the latest adventure game from Kheops and The Adventure Company. As previously with the game Return to Mysterious Island, Voyage is a sequel of sorts of a classic Jules Verne novel. Fortunately, we didn't have to go all the way to the moon, as the hero in the game does, to get an interview with Benoоt Hozjan, Managing Director and co-founder of Kheops Studio, and Alexis Lang, the Lead Game Designer, to get their thoughts on this newly released title. This is your second title based upon a Jules Verne novel. What is it about his writing that translates to good games?

Alexis Lang: Jules Verne's novels provide the two core elements of adventure games: dream and challenges. Characters are ordinary men engaged in concrete challenges that are great inspiration for puzzles. Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne was originally titled Journey to the Center of the Moon. Why the change in title?

Benoоt Hozjan: Journey to the Center of the Moon was our working title. We thought that this title was close to the story and a good tribute to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. But it seems to be confusing and some people thought that it could be the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, so marketing decided to change it. A significant portion of the book that inspired this game, From the Earth to the Moon, regards the building of what is an enormous cannon to shoot a projectile to the moon. Will the player get to experience any of this creative process?

Benoоt Hozjan: The game is also inspired by the sequel: Around the Moon, after the building of the Columbiad! Three heroes took their place inside the projectile for what was supposed to be a one-way trip to the moon, but a chance encounter with an asteroid modified their trajectory. Instead of reaching the moon, Verne's heroes orbited the moon once before falling back to earth. They spent most of their journey peering out of the windows, looking at the close yet out-of-reach surface of the moon and coming up with several fascinating theories, which they could not actually go and check under real conditions. The novel's characters were denied the chance of landing on the moon, but not so for the player!

Our game is based on the same premise as Verne's novel, the one exception being that our projectile lands on the moon. The player, who is onboard the craft, will therefore be able to check out the theories of the novel's characters. Wandering the surface of a moon with an unstable but breathable atmosphere and witnessing the explosion in plant life at dawn. Then they discover the presence of animals, followed by the ruins of a temple built by some highly intelligence race. But what happened to the beings that built it? Did they degenerate, as suggested by looking at some of the sculptures? Did they leave the surface to seek refuge in the center of the moon? It is down to the player to find the answer to these questions and then come up with a way of getting back to earth with news of the fantastic discoveries. The knowledge inherent in a 19th century educated man is rather extensive. How will this be made available to the player when they encounter items that simply no longer exist?

Benoоt Hozjan: We were interested in letting the player discover the Moon like Jules Verne dreams it! So, sometimes the player will have to do things unrealistic for today but supposed to be possible in the 19th century. All the information is delivered to the player to make sure that he will understand the spirit of the 19th century. The inventory system used in Return to Mysterious Island is once again being used in this title. This is a wonderful system that changed the definition of adventure gaming for many people, including this interviewer, and brought new life to the genre. Have you made changes to it for this title?

Benoоt Hozjan: We have made small changes but with the same spirit. We have added more interaction with your avatar for instance. Your previous titles, Return to Mysterious Island (RtMI) and ECHO, used real-life science and logic to solve problems. Michael Arden is faced with a completely alien biote. How will his extensive 19th century education (and the players 21st century) help them to solve problems?

Benoоt Hozjan: It won't be so different, you have to use logic to solve problems on the Moon. You will have to learn local mathematics, and how to understand and to speak a new language. Can you explain what your "intelligence management system" is and how it makes this title unique?

Benoоt Hozjan:The scoring system in RtMI was great and we wanted to keep this funny feature which is very important from a replayable point of view. In RtMI the more things you do or you discover, the more points you win. For JCM, you have the universe famous "lunar IQ". For instance, during a quiz, players who answer randomly should have fewer points, the players will be not restricted but it will take much more time to progress. Like in RtMI, the player will have different ways to enter a new room. Sometimes the clues are very subtle but almost each time there are 2 or 3 clues to solve a challenge and a higher IQ may help you!

We hope that like for RtMI, players will try to increase their score and certainly share their experience through forums. We thank the active RtMI players for their participation in the adventure forums; it was very interesting to follow their progression. We will also give some clues if some parts are considered as too difficult.

Alexis Lang: Please note that our "lunar IQ" is an ironic feature. It has nothing to do with "real world IQ". Low score does not mean that you are stupid in any way, it just means that some pompous and bombastic lunar people think that your character is dumb! What was your inspiration for the look, feel and personality of the Selenites, the inhabitants of the Moon?

Alexis Lang: HG Wells' novel " First Men on the Moon " was our first inspiration. He pictured a very ancient selenite civilisation horrified at human roughness. Wells was more misanthropist than Verne. To balance this fact, we've added a touch of irony in our story and chosen a very optimistic and joyful main character. What completely original creation for this title, whether it is art, lore or sound, is your personal favorite?

Alexis Lang: Difficult to answer, but certainly the exotic and colourful lunar setting. What can we next expect from Kheops?

We are working on 2 new adventure games, one will be 3rd person view with point & click. We will continue to test new features and to improve some of them.

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About the Author, Kelly Heckman (A.K.A Ophelea)

I'm a mother of two boys, ages 11 and 13 and live in the chaos that ensues. I've a permanent disability that keeps me homebound, so books, kids, games and books are my constant companions. Oh, and books, too. *grins*

My children both play games so I often play them first, getting to know exactly how something may effect my sensitive and easily stimulated older child vs. my stoic and imperturbable younger.

I like games for games; for the pure enjoyment of them and believe that no game is wholly bad, though some are real stinkers.

I also have the dexterity of a camel in mittens so find playing FPSs difficult (and I also don't like the gore) and RTSs at times can stump me. I just can't seem to move quickly enough to keep up with them. Some of my favorite games are arcade games and I'll spend 3-5 years on the same 5-6 levels because I just never get any better. But, I have fun.