Ghost In The Sheet
 
Interview with Jan Kavan  
by Danyboy
February 22, 2007

 

The story:

I've always thought that being dead involved an eternal void. Well actually not always... When I was younger, I thought it's all about paradise and such. I pictured all those beautiful people listening to Mozart and drinking a strawberry juice. Then I grew older and I pictured hell as a place where I could drink whiskey shots and listen to hard rock music. But the reality caught me sort of unprepared. Being wrapped in the old dirty sheet and bossed around by my new boss without any possibility that I can resign or get fired was not exactly what I dreamt of as an eternal rest.

Introduction:

Jan Kavan, is a highly regarded musician and composer, who graduated violoncello at the state conservatory in Teplice and later earned his Master's degree as a composer at Janacek's Academy of Performing Arts in Brno. Jan has composed and performed works that range from his concerto for cello and orchestra to ensemble work with diverse groups such as Metamorphosis and tEoRia OtraSu. His contributions to the world of game sound and music design include the title track for Jonathan Boakes’ game Dark Fall: Lights Out, Barrow Hill.

Questions:

Can you give us new details about the story?

Well, trying not to spoil anything, the story evolves indeed about a ghost who discovers dark secret behind the factory, where no single employee knows, what is being produced in there. Discovering fates of the employees, helping them, finding out who is his boss, what is being produced in the factory is the main subject of the game.

On the games website we are told that we play the role of a ghost. Why did you choose a ghost as a main character?

It’s funny perspective. Normally you’d play a ghost hunter, or would run away from ghosts or cooperate with ghosts. But here you are already goner. Makes a whole new perspective for your life. Or death...

You've also stated on the games website that Ghost in the Sheet will include a skill learning system. What is that and how will it work?

Since you’re a ghost, it’s actually quite hard to interact with the environment. As you know, ghosts don’t usually have very solid bodies. So you learn new skills how to interact with the world as you progress throughout the game. For example when you learn how to cast magical light, you can see what’s being hidden in the dark places etc. But there are some really cool skills waiting for you as well.

In praxis you have your skills listed on the left side of the screen and you can either select them with your mouse or you can use keyboard shortcuts which are mapped to respective skills. So F1 is for the topmost skill listed, F2 for the adjacent etc.

So to put it shortly, Left mouse click makes ghost to examine the hotspot, skill makes him to interact with that hotspot. We’ve also put at the beginning of the game short tutorial which explains how to survive in the afterlife world.

How does this ghost feel about who he is and what has happened to him?

Actually he is not very happy about it and even more he’s not happy that his boss wrapped him into an old dirty sheet. On the other hand he’s quite cynical about it as well. He didn’t have much time to cope with that or any option to stand against his new fate.

Will we encounter some other characters during the gameplay? If so, who are they?

Definitely. They are mostly the late employees of sector Omega. You’ll encounter many different personalities from very tight almost fanatically order-obsessed ghost of the porter to woman who is just a shadow and doesn’t believe that she’s actually dead. The vast majority of your encounters will be with ghosts and the rest I’ll leave as a surprise.

Ghosts and an abandoned factory seem like a scary setup. Will the music play a big role in the scary atmosphere? Is there anything else that will make us look over our shoulders during the gameplay?

Haha. Well, this game is not particulary scary. It really IS a comedy. We'd love to make a scary game, but we're simply not able to. So yes, there can be more tense moments, but we know you'll have more laugh then scares. So some of the humour might seem dark from your perspective but in the afterlife you get quite different perspective on life. Music as well as carefully crafted sound effects indeed plays a major role in GitS.

Will there be interaction with living characters and will we be able to scare them?

There will be exactly one interaction with living “human” character and the outcome is a surprise. But yes, you can tell, that you'll scare him.

We already know that our principal task will be to find out what really happened at the factory. Beyond this will we have other things to do?

Well, I'd rather leave this as a surprise. It's hopefully spoiler free to say that it has something to do with fates of all factory inhabitants.

Could you tell us more about the minigames included in Ghost in the Sheet ? Can you give us an example of what you mean by that?

There are couple of minigames which are very easy and are targeted on point'n'clickers. They are very diverse though (ranging from turn based to ‘clickies') and I'll rather have players discover them since I hope they'll be pleasantly surprised.

Besides the minigames what other types of puzzles can we expect to encounter?

Well, there are some environmental puzzles (operating items in your environment with your skills, combining them together, etc.), there are some dialogue based puzzles, there is one sound based puzzle, but don't be afraid, it's no chord guessing or anything similar. It should be very easy for everyone, since the sounds involved fall into completely different categories. It's more about logical deduction than about some pitch change following. And there are many skill based puzzles. Figuring out what skill to use or even that you should use a skill at certain place makes GitS fun to play. Of course since it's a factory, you should figure out a couple of machines too, but those are endangered species in the game (almost extinct).

Will our perspective about Heaven and Hell change after we have finished the game?

Definitely. You’ll see that the afterlife isn’t the place to rest at all.

What part of the game are you most proud of?

Well, to be honest, we’re really proud, that we’re able to make such a long and complex game in such a short time and only the two of us. There are things which could have been improved but aren’t there always?

Will we be prepared for the ending or will we be totally surprised?

I think that you’ll be well prepared for the ending. But there’s a surprise as well.

What makes The Ghost In The Sheet game so different than any other?

I think that the skill system is quite unique. And the basic premise is original as well.

Ghost in the Sheet will be available as a free download under a new type License Agreement you have called “Trustware”. Could you give us more details as to what “Trustware” is and does this mean that the game comes with a security program attached?

Before I speak about our trustware license, I have to admit, that not even three days after the website was launched we’ve been contacted by a few publishing companies, who now have the material for evaluation. As this could change the license to commercial in case we reach some mutual agreement, it would for us mean much wider range of places our game will get into. So we’re excited about the possibility we never even considered ourselves.

On the other hand if they say the big “NO” to us, we won’t contact anyone else and will pursue our Trustware license as originally planned.

So this being out of the table, here’s the deal. It wouldn’t be a real trust if ANY kind of security device, mechanism or whatever was attached. No. We’ll give you the whole thing because we trust you, that in case you are happy with our game, you’ll consider its price and donate that price to us. We both have different jobs and we make games because we love playing them and making them. On the other hand it’s really time consuming process and we’ve spent countless nights working on GitS. So we really trust you, that those who like the game won’t have a problem with a donation.

You are putting an awful amount of trust in the integrity of the Adventure Gamers who plays Ghost in the Sheet. Will your final decision to continue making games be based on positive feed back or the amount of the donations?

Both equally. We’ve already invested quite some money into the necessary expenses. Now we’re also thinking of paying for the actors to have GitS fully voiced over. We’ve spent the time we could play other games or doing something else by creating the game we’re giving to you. If you don’t like it enough we won’t have the reason to go on. There has been so many good games appearing lately and so little time to play because of GitS.

On the other hand from the reactions of the beta testers, we already see that they’re quite enjoying the game. And this is for us a big reward in itself.


Assuming that Ghost in the Sheet meets your expectations, do you already have ideas for your next Adventure Game and could you give us a hint?

We have at least three new projects in our drawer. They all are quite unique and as GitS has its skill system, those projects possess other unique elements. We know that two-man team can’t compete with companies like White Bird Productions, Future Games, Double Fine or such in terms of visuals. So we try to maintain usable visuals whilst concentrating on elements which are out of the box. This way we can in our opinion enrich the adventure games and not get stuck into tired old paradigms. We also want to concentrate on smaller scale games which are very compact and fun from the start to the end.

Assuming that enough people will ask for a CD copy of the game, will you make their wish come true?

It depends. Probably yes. Latest beta has around 110MB (without voiceovers). We’ve been working really hard to make our game affordable even for slower connections. We also (if we make them) release voiceovers as an add-on, so people with faster lines can download them but they won’t be obligatory for everyone.

When are we going to be able to buy the game?

The game is currently being beta tested and by the end of the February the game will be crunched and hopefully the English version will be proofread. Then we’ll look into our wallets and decide if we want to make voiceovers or not. There is also a possibility, that we release the game without voiceovers for now and add them later as an installable add-on. The Czech version of the game has been proofread already.

Of course, if publishers would say yes, then it’s their decision.


Any last comment or thought you want to share with us?

We hope you’ll enjoy playing Ghost in the Sheet as much as we did enjoy making it. Now when we’re reaching the full completion, it makes us very happy to see how everything finally clicked together.

Jan, thank you very much for the time you have spent answering our questions. Good luck with Ghost In The Sheet.

Official Website:

Ghost In The Sheet

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