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Destinies Interview
(hx) 06:20 PM EDT - Oct,14 2005

We got a chance to talk with Jan "Honza" Kavan and Laura MacDonald of Team Destinies as they talk about Destinies, their upcoming sci-fi/fantasy adventure game. They provided us with pretty interesting information and two exclusive screenshots. The game should be finished in Q3/2006.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Destinies?

Honza: Hi, my name is Jan "Honza" Kavan and I've created the original Destinies idea. Together with Laura MacDonald, we wrote the story, perfected it and brought it to where it is now. I am creating the sound, music, scripting and programming for Destinies and keep our team on track..

Laura: Hi, everyone! I am Laura MacDonald and as my co-writer said, he keeps us all motivated. My background is in writing, marketing, PR, law and of course.. I love adventure games. Honza and I worked together for many months, designing the game and story, dialogues, puzzles and gameplay. It is hard to believe we are finally getting so close to having it all come together. I also wrote the text for our website, which was designed by Jonathan Boakes, our amazing Graphics Designer.
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Destinies?

Honza: We all came from different places of the world, but one thing is bringing us together. The passion to make a great game which will deal with a mature themes. We have extensive experience with art, and we are trying to perceive the everything about the game as a sort of artwork be it the story, music or visuals. Awesome visuals are primarily the work of of Jonathan Boakes (creator of Dark Fall games) and concept art is by Matt Clark (Barrow Hill game).

Laura: Yes, this is a global effort. Our diversity is a huge strength, since we bring such unique artistic perspectives and expertise to this game. What is great is how well it works together. I think a great game needs people who are very motivated to work alone AND as a team, plus share a common vision. With us, this story and its people are the heart of our work and motivation.

GGMania: From where did you get the inspiration to make this game?

Honza: I always loved adventures, especially the ones in which you have to discover different worlds and untangle complex stories. Since I believe in multimedia as a narrative style of the future, I found an adventure game to be an optimal medium to tell the story. Also the story about Anthranella was in my head for quite some time already. Back in 2000 I made a short IF game which already dealt with some concepts of Destinies especially it set the mood and environment of the planet itself. Then upon meeting Laura I decided to revive the story but make it more complex and mature. Since then our collaboration started and story grew over one year to achieve a form it has now. In all modesty I can say that the story itself is now so solid, that we already thought of publishing it in a novel form.

Laura: We met while we were working on another project. That project started us talking about how a game should be made and what should be its heart or story theme. Also how a team should work or not work together. When I read the first few chapters of Honza's writing, something about it captured my imagination. It was so different, with such imagination about it. So we started tossing story ideas around and before we knew it - one year later there we were. A design document, a whole game script (very long!) and a team.
GGMania: How do you see Destinies in terms of the type of game you're making?

Honza: Destinies is a pure adventure game. It focuses on narrative and exploration aspects. You don't need fast reactions but for the best experience you better be thorough with your explorations.

Laura: One of the things we wanted to create was an adult story and gaming experience. Not in the sense of playing at being an "adult" with suggestive talk or scenes. Destinies is about the choices we might face in life and also who we are inside, which you raely experience without challenges. I see it as a pure adventure, but one where people will see some of their own personal journeys and questions. The puzzling part of the game is also tightly locked into what is happening around the player - rather than walking up and here's the first puzzle, oh! and now we are at puzzle two. We have some very odd places in this game, so there will be challenges uniquely designed for the peculiarities of that spot. Still even then, nothing ever takes you away from the pace of the game and the story. To me, Destinies is not so much science fiction in the modern sense as it is an amazing fantasy adventure.

GGMania: What is the primary target market for Destinies?

Honza: Destinies is quite a mature game, not in a sense of violence or nudity, but in a sense of ideas it deals with. In my opinion it's perfectly suitable for ages of 12+, but there's not a guarantee that some of the concepts in the game will be understood by younger gamers.

Laura: This is a game also for families and for everyone. The ideas and concepts are most definitely mature, but there are amazing creatures, people and places to see, experience in the game, that will appeal to a wide range of gamers. That 12+ group will take away much more from Destinies, but I can see playing it with a child for example and having a wonderful time. The adult enjoying the deeper story, the child romping around in the places, people and experiences.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline for the game?

Honza: Story finds our main protagonist Marc, who is a physics professor, on a distant planet looking for clues about death of his late friend Peter. As story untangles, Marc finds out a real truth about his friend, himself and unevitably is led back to the old experiment he has unsuccesfully performed with Peter long time ago.

Laura: Destinies will take gamers on a great journey. Across a planet that is alien, yet familiar. Not just on its surface and streets, but in all sorts of hidden places. Then there will be discoveries across time, about histories and events. Then the deeper explorations - into the characters themselves. Classically, when a hero travels far from home, they encounter challenge, extraordinary people, creatures and events. They end up transformed, we think that in playing as Marc - gamers will enjoy his experiences, discoveries and maybe think on these things and their own personal exploration.

GGMania: Is the game primarily adventure or does it have action components?

Honza: It's primarily a pure adventure and the main focus is on brain and not reflexes.

Laura: Destinies is not a "twitch" game, but it is dynamic. We believe you can create tension, even fear without resorting to a timer or artificial means. There are some places in the game that will definitely have the player looking edgily around, but it is a matter of the ambiance, art and events not the real threat of games over moments that create this sensation. Much more powerful I think this way.

GGMania: What kinds of puzzles are primarily found in the game? Were there any types of puzzles you specifically wanted to avoid using?

Honza: We tried to integrate all puzzles logically within the game. It was not that hard, because the vast majority of puzzles is in the story itself. We wanted to avoid some cliche puzzles, so don't expect any slider puzzles, timed mazes or timed mazes full of slider puzzles :)

Laura: Ahh puzzles! We have had many animated discussions about these things! We worked towards a balance, not just types of puzzles, but ones that offer challenge to the experienced gamer without discouraging new gamers. One of the things we empathized is abstract puzzles that use organic features of a scene or a place and do not require any particular skills or knowledge. Just an active imagination and curiosity. I think there are some very unique challenges that have not been seen in other games, that will surprise gamers.

GGMania: Who is doing the voice acting for the game?

Honza: It's too early to decide on this one.

Laura: Voice work should really be the last thing done so that all dialogues are finalized. Also, we will defer a bit to our publishing partner for local expertise on who will do the voices.

GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the game?

Honza: Destinies use Wintermute engine created by Jan "Mnemonic" Nedoma (http://www.dead-code.org). WME is state of art engine for adventure games, with unparalleled support by his creator. We are using all of his capabilities to maximum extent and we believe, that this will lead to the best possible experience of the Destinies world. If I had to speak why I have chosen it, it would cover lots of pages. ;-)
GGMania: What, in your view, is the most exciting aspect of Destinies?

Honza: Definitely the storyline. Although it starts unobtrusively, it will catch you and then you will find yourself wanting to see more and more until the game ends.

Laura: I think the whole way the story is revealed or the whole gameplay is exciting. You can't just sit and tell the story, well you could, but how totally boring. So the story is presented in a heavily layered way, visuals, symbolically, through interactions and not just dialogues. I also happen to think many of the puzzles in this game will wow people. They are so visually driven.

GGMania: What are you currently focussing on in the game, in terms of development?

Honza: I was currently finishing some plugins for live effects to add more life to the game. Apart from that we continue at a steady pace with game building according to our internal roadmaps.

Laura: Since I am primarily a writer, I sit back and relax with a beer. Not really THAT easy a life, but not as hectic as the GFXers and programming side is right now. Of course these guys were at the pubs while I was finalizing the design document so is my turn now. Right now, I am re-working the many dialogues, moving along with the team, as new levels are built and finalized. Once you see all the details in new scenes - there are new things to comment on and interact with. I also am fielding the many press and publisher inquiries we have been getting :)

GGMania: When can we expect to see the game hit store shelves and at what price? Will it be released in North America?

Honza: I think that Q3/2006 is reasonable term, but it depends on publishers of course.

Laura: We are designing Destinies in english as its base language. We hope to have announcements in the near future for the North American and UK markets.

GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Honza: We hope that readers will enjoy our story as much as we did creating it and hope that Anthranella will earn a well deserved place in their heart. Come see us at http://www.destiniesgame.com

Laura: I can't wait til we can see people playing Destinies. We wrote this from our imaginations but we are building it for gamers.



genre: sci-fi/fantasy adventure
release: 2006/Q3
developer: Team Destinies/homepage

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