AdventureGamers - 25/05/03
The original The Longest Journey received widespread critical acclaim and single-handedly sustained the adventure game genre during 1999 and 2000. The game sold half a million copies worldwide and it's still selling, making it one of the most successful adventure games in recent years.
Logically, Funcom has been considering some follow-up concepts. Designer Ragnar Tornquist has decided on where he wants to take the sequel—which, as you will find out, is not strictly a sequel—laying out his plans at the E3 show. We were given an exclusive first look at some early development material. Note that this is by no means a full preview, since in-game footage is not yet available at this stage.
The Longest Journey: Static is currently in the design phase, with pre-production having started just recently. The game will allow you to play three different characters. One of them is a young woman named Zoë, who is assumedly the central character. And that's not the only thing that will be different about Static.
“I know I was quoted in a newspaper a couple of days ago about it being an action/adventure,” says Ragnar, carefully considering his words. “We are all through with point-and-click route. The reason for that is that I find the more immediate controls to be more interesting. If I can sit down and move my character around, I feel like I'm more in the body of my character. We'll have that on consoles. On the PC you'll be able to use the mouse. It will be a purely mouse-driven interface. You won't have to like using the keyboard. It won't play like Monkey Island 4.”
Static—which is still a working title—is going to be full 3D, combining puzzles that are traditional, action-oriented, environmental, subterfuge and even some degree of combat. Ragnar points out that the original game had sequences that involved some level of action, except in his opinion they were poorly executed. There will be no platform jumping, key collecting or other pure arcade gameplay. “It's a game that puts you into a live reality in the sense that things happen around you and you have to react to the things happening around you. It's not as slow as the first one and you have to participate more. That's very vague, I know,” Ragnar laughs.
When the conversation turns to games like Deus Ex and Thief, he says: “The Longest Journey 2 is not a FPS, it has much more adventure elements than those games. I think the story is the most important thing to retain, [but] also the graphics, the characters, the maturity of the game and the focus on playing through a story like a book. In the first one we had 13 chapters and in this one we still call them chapters.”
In The Longest Journey 2, problems can be solved through traditional means, as well as through more dynamic solutions. There will be real brainteasers in the game, but there will also be situations where the player is required to take a more physical approach. For example, the lead character may have to get up to a ledge. You will have to find an object, like a rope, or construct something that allows you to fly up to the ledge. “I want players to have more control, not just scripted sequences all the time. We are putting physics into the game to allow puzzles to be physics-based. You can roll a stone to crush through a door instead of trying to find a key. So it's all about having a living world. That's the way adventures have to go.”
The game will be in real-time 3D, but worries that the game will feature an action/adventure-style view from behind can be laid to rest. The camera will be put in fixed positions, or set on a path for certain shots. Also expect the camera to play an important role during dialogues. “Every dialogue is going to be scripted in terms of camera movements. You'll have facial expressions. You'll get closer to the character. You'll see people blink, tears running down their eyes—you'll see wrinkles, you'll see smiles. Their hair will be moving.”
Ragnar promises the dialogue will be a lot shorter, “because we went all overboard in the first one.” There will be much less dialogue, but just as many characters to talk to. The story is said to be even more complex this time, but Ragnar and his new co-writer Dag Scheve are working on what they call a smarter script. However, there will still be small talk, and part of the game is to just walk around and experience the world. Just as in the first game, you'll be able to talk to the character's friends and relatives.
Although Funcom is still keeping the specifics of the game close to its chest, Ragnar clearly felt a need to explain his vision for the game to the adventure community. TLJ2 won't be out until 2005, so expect us to bring you a more detailed preview when the game is in full production.
“[TLJ2] will be so much better than the first story, you won't believe it,” Ragnar teases. “And the ending ... just wait until you play it.”