How hard was it to create a fan project with gameplay features that would be on a par with those elements in the original games?
Cesar Bittar - The problem was not that we wanted to be on par --we love it so much that we wanted to honor it by making the best thing we could do. And so we were always re-evaluating the product, which is one of the reasons it took so long. We were learning as we developed it.
We tried to make it more modern in the process. Stay away from dead ends, have a "retry" option on sudden deaths, and even borrowed from other genres and included what I like to call a "boss fight" (although you won't see that for a few episodes).
Katie Hallahan - Some of the difficulty came from ambition. Most of the Sierra fan games out there, like AGDI and Infamous Adventures, have played up that nostalgia angle even more by using the older 256-color style, the AGS engine, and doing remakes or enhanced remakes of the old games. And they've made some great games, I've enjoyed playing them quite a bit.
We wanted to take this game to the next step, make it fully 3D, add in those cinematic scenes, and create an entirely new storyline. There was a lot of learning in that process, and this is a team that works in their spare time and without pay, so that took much longer for us than a full time staff would've needed to put it together. As well, when your development process is that stretched out, you've got the added complication of keeping up interest and morale in the team as well. Though I must say, our team really does have a great attitude!
Overall how do you feel about how the game finally turned out?
Cesar Bittar - I'm extremely happy. Episode 1 is the shortest episode, but I believe it's a great experience to get immersed in the world, and a great chance for casual gamers that haven't played the old school games to get drawn into the world of King's Quest. The following episodes are also excellent. They contain the meat of the gameplay and the story, and each one is unique in its own way. If I had to pick a fav episode at the moment, I think I'd go with 3.
Katie Hallahan - I love it. It's a great story, it looks fantastic, the music is moving, the voice acting is solid and really brings the characters to life, and I think we captured that King's Quest feel we were going for while bringing something new to the table. I'm not sure which one would be my favorite--they all have great stuff in them!
About how many episodes can we expect to see from The Silver Lining and how often will they be released?
Cesar Bittar - We condensed the story. This was way too ambitious and much more than what you see today. Originally, we had planned for 9 chapters. Today, what's there is only Chapter 1 and 2, but we didn't really want to leave people hanging.
Around that same time, we asked Dan Connors and Kevin Bruner, founders of Telltale, for advice, and a few of us met with them and showed them the game. They gave us some great feedback at that point, and we started to look into the episodic model as a possibility.
We knew it was impossible to tell the rest of the story as planned, so, we broke it down into 5 episodes, scratched huge chunks of it, and brought the elements of the story beyond what was chapter 3, to the new episodes. We did away with being able to play with Rosella and Alexander, but I'm not worried, that story still exist and it could still be told in the future.
What's funny is that by doing that, now we have a tighter story than before that flows much better. Less is more as they say. So, to answer your original question, right now there are 5 episodes planned. Whether there's something else beyond that, we'll have to wait and see.
Katie Hallahan - I agree, that necessary editing of the story really did help us out in the long run. Things happen closer together now, it gives a sense of urgency to this new quest that Graham has undertaken, and each episode moves the plot forward--there's no wasted time in there.
Are there any plans to do more games or is this simply a one-off project to celebrate the King's Quest series?
Cesar Bittar - Well, now we've come together and we know we have the trust and hands of so many passionate people, of course we want to continue looking for help. As a matter of fact, we are working on our first completely original project, Corridor 9, the story of a woman looking for a cure to death, set in a bleak post-apocalyptic and not so-distant future. I am very excited about the story because I have been working on it for a few years now, keeping it in the back of my head. I want to create a very atmospheric adventure game with a few action elements that will make the game feel fresh and exciting to play without alienating the adventure players.
Katie Hallahan - Even beyond Corridor 9, there are other ideas we've started talking about and tentatively planning for. It'll depend on how well that goes, naturally, but we've got a great team, they're dedicated and creative, and The Silver Lining definitely won't be the last you'll hear of Phoenix Online.
Finally is there anything else you wish to say about The Silver Lining?
Katie Hallahan - Entirely by coincidence, it's the most aptly named game ever! I still can't quite believe we've finally made it to this day, that we're looking at a release day, and that we've come out on top. There were so many obstacles, internal and external, along the way, but somehow we did it. It truly is a dream come true. I'm completely amazed whenever I pause to think about that. Not a lot of people get to say they did this kind of thing, and we did, and it's fantastic. I hope everyone out there enjoys the game and has as great a time playing it as we did making it!
Cesar Bittar - I've dreamed so many times about this day --release -- that I don't know if this is still a dream. One thing I do know: If this is indeed a dream, I don't want to wake up! Seeing the fans this excited over our baby is something beyond any words. Right now, as I hear our composers' new theme for Episode 2, and I close my eyes, I can see people happy. And that has always been our goal. To bring back to the fans what was taken from us the day that Sierra stopped being. That is the real Silver Lining here, and I'm thankful that there are still people out there that believes! We all come from the same generation, and we all welcome the new one! That's what Sierra was all about and that is the foundation for The Silver Lining. The mix of the old and the new. That is something we will continue to carry as we delve into our new products and we rise, as the Phoenix, inspired by what was the amazing and unique Sierra On-Line.