A word with Steve Ince
Written by Erwin Broekhuis
Steve Ince is a freelance writer, designer and artist based in East Yorkshire, England. He has over 12 years of game development experience, and is probably best known for his work on Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword, adventure games he worked on while he was with Revolution Software.
Today Steve is working for Juniper Games, his very own studio. He recently started developing his own game called Juniper Crescent: The Sapphire Claw. It's based on his comic strip about a gang of cats engaged in the adventure of their lives, as they're searching for a fabled artefact known as the Sapphire Claw.
We were very eager to find out more about this promising project and Steve's experiences with (independent) game development, so we decided to present to him a few questions.
Adventure Developers: First of all, thanks for taking the time to speak to us, reserving a little space in your undoubtedly busy schedule.
Steve Ince: I'm always happy to talk to people interested in what I do.
You’re freelancing on a few projects for various developers, you even founded inceSIGHT which offers writing and design solutions, you write several articles, maintain your own web log, and then you're a cartoonist as well. Do you even have time to work on the Sapphire Claw?
I certainly have time for my own development, but it's a tight squeeze at the moment fitting it into the schedule.
How do you combine working on these projects?
I'm a firm believer in planning. I like being organised. I'm also working a lot of hours and putting time in on weekends and evenings to fit my own work in.
Are you working alone on the Sapphire Claw?
At the moment I'm unable to bring other people on board without funding, which is a real shame because I had animators, background artists, musicians, etc. all lined up and ready to go.
That's a shame indeed... So how were you going to get your team together? Did you intend to communicate through the Internet with e-mail and instant messengers or meet face to face?
Mostly it would have been through e-mail and MSN. With good feedback and response times it's almost as good as being face to face. A studio setup would have been better, but increases the overheads.
You're responsible for the story, dialogue, and puzzles yourself, right?
That's right. It's a lot of work, but something that I need to do myself to remain completely faithful to the characters.
But don't you miss the creative input from other members of a development team? No Monday-morning brainstorming session, for example.
That really is one aspect of being in a studio that I do miss. I've been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of talented people and it was always a real pleasure to fire ideas off each other on a regular basis.
I imagine. So how exactly got this project started? You had this idea... How did you take it from there?
The idea originally came together a number of years ago when I was still at Revolution, but they weren't interested in developing it, so I put the plans away for a while. Then I started developing a spin-off comic strip based on the story ideas. Last year I decided to revitalise the game project after I discovered the wonderful Wintermute Engine.