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A word with Steve Ince
Written by Erwin Broekhuis

A few months ago you published an article about 'Interaction Density', which is basically your term for the amount of things a player can do besides the required stuff to advance the story. Are you planning to implement a high interaction density in the Sapphire Claw?

Most definitely.

The crystallization of my thoughts on interaction density came about when I was thinking of the design for The Sapphire Claw. It came about when I analysed older games like Day of the Tentacle and Beneath a Steel Sky and I realised that most screens were packed with things for the player to interact with, which added to the fun.

But games were much smaller, also. Does this mean the amount of locations in the game will be somewhat limited?

Many modern 3D games are larger geographically, but they don't necessarily have more gameplay, which in some respects make today's games smaller. Too many times, recently, I've seen game locations that only exist for the player character to wander through, which is why some adventures have been seen as boring.

There will be limited locations in The Sapphire Claw, but they will all be made to work hard for their inclusion.

Sounds good to me. I think this method would also work great with small episodic games like those that Tell Tale Games are publishing. These are even smaller in size than the classic adventures from the past. What is your opinion on episodic content?

My feeling is that because there will be months between each episode (unless you can really crank them out) then each episode needs some kind of conclusion even if it contributes to a larger story arc. Without this the player may feel a little dissatisfied.

Any idea yet about the size of your game? How many hours of gameplay?

I'm hoping for about 12-15 hours, but that always depends on the individual.

And what about filesize? Will it be released on CD-Rom, or are you also considering an on-line download?

Until the game is complete it's difficult to talk of file size. If it's released through a publisher then it will be CD-Rom, but if I have to look at other possibilities then it's hard to say at this stage.

You said earlier that you're currently working with the Wintermute engine. Will the full game be realised also with this engine, or are you only using it to quickly develop a demo?

The full game will use this engine. It's an impressively sophisticated 2D engine with very professional tools.

Any particular features that made you choose it? And have you looked at other engines as well?

The way the tools are laid out and the structure of the scripting language is uncannily similar to what we had been using when I was with Revolution. I've looked at other engines and tools and for me Wintermute is easily the best.

I think Jan Nedoma will be pleased to hear that.

Jan has been a great help to me.

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