20 de Septiembre de 2021
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Interviewing Jonathan Lessard, from Absurdus

Absurdus | En Español | Comment the interview

SunkDevifull - Greetings! First off, I must say I'm very happy to interview the "underdogs" rather than the "mighty gods" of the videogame world. I must also say that this is the first interview of this kind that I've ever done, so I hope you feel comfortable with it. : )

OK, let's get the ball rolling:

- Even though I've known of you since your debut with "Eye Of The Kraken", I am sure many people haven't heard of you yet, and there's nothing better than to start from the beginning; so please, tell us about your early years.

Jonathan Lessard - I have always been an adventure game fan since the release of Police Quest I by Sierra. I rarely play other kind of games. When I finished my studies in 3d graphics and game design in Montreal, a friend and I were in contact with a local company to write a game design for them. The process of actually signing the contract was pretty slow, so in the meanwhile I began working on Eye of the Kraken, a small adventure game, just for fun.

Eventually, the company told us they were abandoning game development and I found a job at Microids (now bought by Ubisoft) as game designer on a Tennis game. Although the team was nice, I ended up longing to continue working on my adventure game. So after a year or so, I quit my job to finish Eye of the Kraken. I also went back to university to study Literature and History, as these are subjects that interest me very much. A year later Eye of the Kraken was finally finished, after three years of on and off development.

SunkDevifull - I am not completely sure, but I think "Eye Of The Kraken" started life as a commercial game, while right now we can play it for free. Why did you make that decision? Are you planning on releasing new games for free, or making them free after a while?

Jonathan Lessard - Eye of the Kraken was first sold online manually on our site for 15 dollars. It sold around 400 copies. I had then decided I would never make another game in an independent context : too much work, nothing to gain! But then after a while, I got the urge again! We started working on Carte Blanche and since Eye of the Kraken had pretty much stopped selling, we decided to release it for free. It would serve as advertisement for our upcoming title. It was downloaded so much and so quickly, we ended up paying a fortune for crossing our bandwidth limit.

I don’t know if future games will end up free. It’s a difficult decision because once you’ve done that, there’s no going back. And we can’t forget that selling games is how we can make a living! But we like the idea of anybody downloading and playing the game.

SunkDevifull - On the same subject, you may already know of the amateur scene, but what do you think of freeware videogames?

Jonathan Lessard - I think every developer can choose if they want to sell or give away their games. I play a free game once in a while.

SunkDevifull - Even though "Eye Of The Kraken" had good reviews, your pièce de résistance is the more recent "Carte Blanche". What do you think of its response from the press and the public?

Jonathan Lessard - Carte Blanche was in many ways a trial for us. There were problems at every point of development. The main problem with it was that it was intended as a small game to be released in episodes selling for around 15 dollars. Instead, it took us 3 years to complete, and our publisher decided to sell it initially for around 60 dollars! I think the game is a lot of fun, but it’s too short to be sold at that price. Our interpretation from critiques is that it would have been a very worthwhile game if it had been cheaper, but that at full price, it wasn’t worth it. I think now is the time to buy and play it!

SunkDevifull - "Eye Of The Kraken" was a more classic game, whereas "Carte Blanche" is very original with its black and white designs and the film noir feeling. How did you come up with the ideas that became "Carte Blanche"?

Jonathan Lessard - I can’t really remember the details, but we wanted an old-fashioned look as a sort of ironic stand in the game industry which is, for the moment, completely rooted in technical advances and groundbreaking features. Also, we are all fans of American film noir and crime stories.

SunkDevifull - Were you inspired by any other games when you thought of new ideas or completed existing ones?

Jonathan Lessard - The competence system in Carte Blanche, which isn’t yet fully realized to its potential, was in part inspired by one of my favorite series: Quest for Glory. The structure of Eye of the Kraken was more inspired by Sierra’s old Colonel Bequest. Of course, we owe a bit to Monkey Island for the absurd puzzles.

SunkDevifull - "Carte Blanche" is an episode-based game, or at least that is suggested at the start - "Episode One: A Fistful Of Tooth", and (without going into too much detail) the cliffhanger at the end. Was your initial idea to create an episode-based game, or did you want to see the the gaming community's reaction to your releasing just one part as the first chapter?

Jonathan Lessard - As I hinted at earlier, we thought this episode would take us less than a year to produce and then even quicker to make the sequels. Things being what they are, there won’t be many other episodes, just the one we’re currently working on. This is a scoop but this next episode will be the conclusion of both Carte Blanche AND Eye of the Kraken (which ended also on some mystery).

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©2007 Clan DLAN