A few days ago, we reported on the announcement of Lamplight City, the new title by adventure gaming veteran Francisco Gonzalez. While I didn't personally cover the announcement, I was quite fascinated by the game's premise and unique steampunk setting. After the announcement, I managed to get in contact with Francisco for a quick interview about the game and adventure gaming at large.
TechRaptor: Obviously, you've made a lot of point and click adventures over the years, what attracts you to this genre so much?
Francisco: My favorite thing about adventure games is how focused on narrative they are. I've always been into telling stories, and adventures, I feel, are the best genre to do that. Also, I just really love writing dialogue and descriptions.
TechRaptor: Considering the setting and some of the visual elements (especially the dialogue interface), would you consider it fair to compare Lamplight City to Gabriel Knight?
Francisco: Visually, yes, absolutely. The closeup portrait dialogue system is an aesthetic I've always liked, especially for a detective game where you're asking about multiple topics, and Gabriel Knight 1 was the only game to ever really use it that I can remember. There's also the letterbox presentation, as well as the fact that New Bretagne is a hybrid New York/New Orleans.
TechRaptor: Speaking of the setting, why go for a Steampunk Louisiana?
Francisco: Actually, it's not set in Louisiana. In this world's timeline, independence was never declared, and the United States are not the United States, rather a commonwealth of England called Vespuccia. Rather than 50 states, there are 8, and New Bretagne is located geographically in roughly the same area as New York City, but in a state called Kingsland. As for why I did this, I wanted to have a semi-historical setting, but not be restricted by actual historical facts. Also, it's fun to make your own worlds up! The steampunk thing kind of came naturally when I thought about the world's technology and how the Industrial Revolution would likely have happened earlier without having to worry about losing the colonies. That said, it's not typical "gears and goggles" steampunk, but rather the steam tech is presented as an emergent technology that divides popular opinion, much like the historical Industrial Revolution.
TechRaptor: Will the cases of Lamplight City be more episodic or will they connect?
Francisco: The first four cases will each have their own standalone stories, but there is an overarching plot which is present throughout, although building up behind the scenes. The final case will deal with it directly.
TechRaptor: Roughly how long will each of the cases be?
Francisco: Right now only 2 out of 5 cases are fully playable, but my goal is to have the optimal solution to each case take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of play time. I say "optimal" because each case has multiple possible outcomes. For example, the first case has 3 possible suspects, and the second has two. And of course, every case has the possibility of being declared unsolvable.
TechRaptor: Lamplight City has a supernatural element in the form of the spirit of Detective Fordham's partner, but are there plans for other paranormal elements? If so, can you give any hints as to what they may be?
Francisco: At first I was considering making the game incorporate more of the supernatural, but in the end I decided to stick closer to the tone of Edgar Allan Poe [stories] and make it more macabre rather than paranormal. I can tell you that some of the topics dealt with in the cases include live burial and spontaneous combustion.
TechRaptor: Will Lamplight City play any differently from your previous point and click, Shardlight?
Francisco: Yes, but only slightly. The main differences are the single-click interface and the lack of inventory. The mouse cursor will be context-sensitive, so hovering over most things will show the "look" icon and cause you to look at them when you click, but in other instances you will be able to interact with them. In the case of characters, you will usually always speak to them.
With respect to the "no inventory," I should clarify that it's really more "no manual inventory." As an example of how this system will work: say there is a locked door. Hovering the mouse over it will show the "look" icon, and clicking will inform you that it is locked. Later on, if you were to find a key, it would be picked up and added as a clue in your casebook. Returning to the door, the cursor will now change from look to interact, and clicking on it will unlock and open the door. It's essentially performing the same function, but removing the extra step of having to find the item in your inventory and use it on the object.
TechRaptor: Finally, is there anything extra you're willing to share about Lamplight City?
Francisco: Just that I'm really excited to be working on it!