Here at J-OMG, we often feature remakes by Ovine by Design. Why? Because they happen to remake games we like, they answer our questions, and they haven’t told us to go jump – yet.
But today we’ve got something different; an original game by Ovine. Rosslyn – The Templar Mystery.
Now the game’s been released in the last few hours (free download – link below), it’s time for another J-OMG ‘release day interview’.
Smila, this game had a rather unusual gestation, didn’t it?
I watched a documentary about the Knights Templar and a place called Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, then had a dream about it. In the dream I was playing a 3D first person puzzler set in Rosslyn Chapel! Very vivid it was, too. When I woke I wrote it down, worked out a little plot then spoke to Stu. I built the main chapel in a week or 2 and it all went from there.
It’s nice to be likened to such a classic game as Myst. Our game puzzles are linear in the fact that you can only interact with the “current” puzzle, 1 puzzle at a time. This should mean that people won’t spend hours on puzzles that are not relevant. Some of the puzzles do “reveal” or “activate” the next puzzle. You have a diary (left by your grandfather) that lists out all of the puzzles from which you have to decipher the solutions from the clues. The order in which you have to do them in, has to be deciphered too. I think the casual gamer will love it.
Speaking of the diary… the idea of having to refer to it (onscreen) throughout, is a bit unique. Especially when you actually print out the PDF file you included (as I have). What are your experience with ‘paper addons’ when gaming?
Smila: The idea in my mind was “Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail” in which he has his father’s grail diary. I remember getting the game on the Amiga; included was a diary which could of been used so much more. Printing Rosslyn’s diary out a) Makes it easier to use and b) Kinda feels more involved.
Stu: I’m very tactile – I too have my Rosslyn diary printed (lazer duplex none the less). I was that obsessed by it I even looked up how much it would cost to have it printed “professionally”! The only videogame ‘paper addons’ I’ve ever used (apart from copy protection) are game maps. In my days of MMORGS (Everquest and Anarchy Online) I relied heavily on user maps and playing guides.
You’ve described this as a “Freescape” type game. For readers who are too young, or were too busy playing shmups back in the 80’s (ahem)… how would you describe those games?
Smila: Freescape was a 3D system/engine on 8 and 16bit machines, way ahead of its time. It used filled polygons to create great worlds and puzzles, and at the time was like nothing else.
Stu: In the 80’s the Freescape games blew my tiny little mind – even if the frame rate was super slow. I think thats why we (Ovine) did Driller and Total Eclipse to pay hommage to the folks at Incentive.
There aren’t many Freescape-esque games around these days, are there? What do you think of it’s potential as a genre for other indies to explore?
Stu: The problem with modern games is that the user expects masses of content and action (usually involves shooting). For indies it’s all about how many downloads you can get. Aim at the mass market you get ‘more’, obviously. I do think there is a niche for more 3D puzzler type games, aimed at the more casual gamer. In this day and age its nice to have a more sedate 3D gaming experience, my 5 year old loves it…. although he did ask when he could shoot somebody!
What did you learn, making your own 3D puzzler from scratch?
Smila: I’ve made plenty of games from scratch before, being in the industry for over 20 years. But I guess this is my and Stu’s first ‘true’ original game.
Stu: Some of the easiest puzzles are a pain in the bum to get working in 3D! In the game you’ll come across the dreaded “slider puzzles”. I hate them with a passion. Smila teased me to death about me having to code them too, needless to say I left them to the very end. In our recent playtesting they’ve been tweaked to make them a bit easier to complete – as completly random tile placements resulted in puzzles that could not be completed. With the current system in place, other puzzle games of this type will be quite quick to produce, code wise.. not 3D models
What puzzle games do each of you enjoy?
Smila: I loved the original Myth and the Freescape stuffage; newer stuff like Professor Layton too.
Stu: I prefer the heavy thinking games that don’t require much keyboard/mouse pressing; games like ‘Find the hidden object’. Although saying that – I do like Portal/Portal 2!
Let’s talk sound. There’s a great voiceover in the trailer/intro…
Stu: The voiceover was done by a talented guy by the name of Chris Lumb. He’s helped us out on several voiceovers (Driller, Total Eclipse) and jumped at the chance to help again.
Can I just point out that Rosslyn has some original orchestral music, too?
The music is key to create the atmosphere of the game. A guy called Paul Egginton has done 4 amazing tunes that fit the game perfectly. We approached him with the ‘Da Vinci Code’ soundtrack, saying “we want this”. What we got back – was far better than we could have wished for. Indeed, throughout the project we were constantly being given ‘tweaked’ versions, such is his attention to detail.
Rosslyn – The Templar Mystery has just been released as a free download. So, print out that diary… and start puzzlin’!
Thanks again Stu & Smila.