Another exclusive interview with people that created one of your favorite franchises!
The Xmas Holiday sale is running until January 2nd, but it's not the end of our Holiday celebrations. Just before the end of year we publish another exclusive Q&A with the team that created the Little Big Adventure franchise. Meet Frédérick Raynal, Sébastien Viannay, Didier Chanfray, (same order on the picture :) the creative trio answered questions from our users and the GOG.com Team.
If you’ve missed other Q&As, here Aaron Conners answers questions about Tex Murphy and Tony Zurovec took a moment and answered questions about the Crusader franchise. Now sit tight and enjoy a good read.
First, as we have such honorable guests, please let us know, if you can reveal, on what projects are you currently working on?
We are working on the remake of LBA1 :-) Individually, we are involved in other projects we can’t tell. Fred just released a small puzzle game he did himself: “bOxOn”, you can find it on his website ludoid.fr.
You made a lot of gamers really happy by bringing the Little Big Adventure series back to life. How does it feel to see people's enthusiastic reactions that the game is again available?
Answer: It’s really motivating. It fades out our doubts about the interest for it, all those nice feedbacks from players really push us to go forward.
The "attitude system" in LBA was a real innovation in game mechanics. Could you tell us something more how did you come up with the idea of implementing different stances for Twinsen?
A:We wanted to have a very rich gameplay that fits peaceful adventure parts and action situations, so to better match human feelings in those different cases, we decided to build the interface around these behaviors, in order to set the hero in the mood you would be in real life. We are particularly proud of the discreet behavior which was in advance for its time.
Are you thinking about reviving the series with the third part of the game? Is it at all possible? If that would be the case, how do you see it?
A:We obviously have a lot of ideas for a third part, our best fans already know some of them, but before telling you more we need to test some of them with the remake. Games are different nowadays and we don’t want to be stuck in 90’s.
The community around the Little Big Adventure franchise has been very active over the years and they produced a lot of fan made content. Are you familiar with some of the fan made productions based on LBA? If yes what do you think about them? If you'd start working on another LBA game, would you consider inviting some of the fans to participate in the works?
A:Yes we saw all of them, we were often very impressed. The amount of work done and your fidelity keep us excited and thankful. So, we definitely want to involve the LBA community in our future work.
Were there any ideas that didn't make it into the games due to technical difficulties or time constraints (i.e. not because you didn't like them)? Could you mention one of them? Would you include them if you had the chance to redesign and re-release the games with today's latest technology?
A:For LBA1 we didn’t implement 3D outside world and vehicles. We did that for LBA2 but we didn’t make it with real physics, it should be the case for a sequel to allow us more realistic environment and gameplay features.
How do you explain this unique feel that some European games have (like lba) that is hard to find elsewhere?
A:We don’t know if the feel we gave to the game is because we are European, but what is sure is that the freedom we had (and the fact that video games weren’t not as categorized as today) allowed everybody in the team to put a part of himself in his work. Fred thinks that’s how you give a soul to a game.
LBA2 had a bit of what at least I personally would call improvements over the first game - e.g. a more convenient save system, no more crashing into walls. Were those changes made as a response to criticism from players, or would you've made those changes anyway as part of the overall "upgrade"?
Also, what's with the increased amount of, um, more mature material in LBA2 (the cow humping, Twinsen getting into the women's sauna to distract the Hacienda owner, etc.)? Was this added because the original game felt too "kiddish", as a ploy to attract a more adult audience?
A:Yes, criticisms helped us to improve some mistakes from the first opus. Some of these mistakes were done on purpose: LBA1 was planned also for the SNES, so we tried to keep the advantage of not worrying about the saving system for the PC. As we said above, we wanted to have a human like behavior in all situations, and you don’t run into your houses. But OK, this was wrong for the gameplay, that’s why LBAWin tried to fix that kind of players’ feedbacks.
Since the beginning of LBA the idea was to be very different graphically, let say with a kind of naïve art, but with a story that fits the average age of team members (mature ?) and with jokes that could come from young male adults (who said mature ?)
Was the decision to make LBA2 influenced by the success of LBA1 or was the title planned as a series from the beginning?
A:When you start working on something so ambitious (it was at its time) you obviously think about a sequel especially when you are frustrated with all you can’t integrate in the game. But it’s only the success of the first episode, that made the second possible and more gratifying, made publishers wanted it.
LBA is the first game that I can think of that used a combination of cartoon-like characters with more realistic and textured backgrounds. In more modern days, we see it more often with hits like Final Fantasy 7.
I have a strong feeling that the art style was not primarily driven by the technology available, but by an overarching vision of the game. Were you ever worried that the unique art style used in LBA would backfire and that people would see the game as too childish or amateur?
A:Both are true. As we said we wanted colorful childish like graphics and we needed to take advantage of the technology we had. It was our challenge to make them fit well.
Could you tell us, in short, your stories how did you become game developers? What do you think today's youth should do, what educational path should they take to make their dream come true and become game developers?
A:When we did LBAs, working in videogames wasn’t a path you could take at school. Everybody in the team was self made programmers or artists driven only by passion. But don’t think it was easier, it means a bigger amount of work but our motivation was so strong that we never realized it. Nowadays video games team needs a lot of dedicated specialists. It means a young guy who wants to work in video games needs to know quite soon where he thinks he could fit or bring something new. There are a lot of schools that offer good knowledge it’s a good start to incorporate a videogame company. But if you are talented and very motivated you can try to just do a (small) game yourself.