Delaware St. John:  The Seacliff Tragedy
 
Interview with Bryan Wiegele  
by Danyboy
May 25, 2006

 

Delaware St. John: The Seacliff Tragedy is the third in the Delaware St. John mystery series.  A startling vision leads Delaware to Seacliff Amusement, the site of an accident that killed more than a hundred people only a few years ago. 

Within minutes of entering the abandoned park, Delaware’s suspicion of dark secrets are confirmed when he’s confronted by unfriendly entities that emerge from the shadows…

Introduction:
Late one night in 1995 after playing 7th Guest, Bryan and a friend decided they could develop their own game.  This was the night the game Inherent Evil was born.  They formed their own company called Eclipse Software, began working on the art and put together a demo in three months.  The game was finally released in 1998 under a different name and as a "contest built" game.  Through the years Bryan has worked on such diverse projects as an expansion to Command and Conquer, Whiplash and Star Wars 3.  Finally, in the fall of 2004, he partnered with a friend from the old Eclipse days to form Big Time Games.  Their idea was to create high quality smaller games that would appeal more to casual gamers than the hard core gamers.  He had been thinking about a character series called Delaware St. John for over a year, so when it came time to pick their first project he knew what he wanted to do.

They began working on The Curse of Midnight Manor in November 2004 and it was completed in late May 2005.  After the release of Midnight Manor he immediately began work on The Town With No Name.  Taking into consideration the feedback they received from people who played Midnight Manor, they aimed to broaden the game some.  The Town With No Name was completed in December 2005.

Delaware St-John's previous adventures had him exploring a haunted hotel and a deserted town.  What's next for him in The Seacliff Tragedy?  This time Delaware finds himself at the site of an abandoned amusement park, closed a few years ago after part of the park collapsed into the ocean, killing over a hundred people.

Questions:

Many people already know Delaware St-John, but for those who have yet to cross his path can you tell them who he is?

Delaware is a young man with a gift that enables him to interact with the dead. He also has visions of places and events he’s never seen before, which often lead to the source of a wrong that needs to be righted.

In The Seacliff Tragedy we will be able to play as Kelly Bradford, a mysterious woman working in Delaware's shadow.  What should we expect from her character?

Kelly is the polar opposite of Delaware in both her behaviour and interests.  She is absolutely fascinated with investigating possible hauntings and lives to prove the existence of paranormal activity through science.  Where Delaware’s attitude is more of a job he has to do, Kelly approaches the scenes very upbeat and with serious intention to document some real proof.

In previous games, Delaware seemed like a person who liked to work alone.  Kelly helped him several times, but not directly.  This time she will be working closely with him.  Why are we seeing this change of heart?

Well, let’s just say Kelly is a very determined and smart girl, there’s been no change of heart,  just an unexpected change of plans…

What makes The Seacliff Tragedy different from the two previous Delaware games?

Midnight Manor and Town with No Name turned out decent in my opinion but I always found myself wrestling with technology limitations and cutting game ideas because they were too complex for the engine to handle.  We’ve gone back to the drawing board with The Seacliff Tragedy.  We’ve abandoned the old “point and click” technology in favour of a very versatile 3D engine that will allow us to create a much broader game both in graphic style and gameplay.  The Seacliff Tragedy will be the first Delaware game to be presented in beautiful real-time 3D.

In this new game Kelly and Delaware will have to fight the Shadow People.  Just who or what are the Shadow People?

Since I began working on the Delaware series I’ve taken up researching theories and ideas of various reoccurring paranormal phenomena.  One of the common findings are dark, shadow-like entities called Shadow People.  Some paranormal investigators explain shadow people as non-human, possibly demon entities that can’t quite manifest fully on our plane.  We took these ideas into consideration when we created Shadow People for the game.  We introduce them as very nasty creatures who look for life force to drain from any nearby host.

Will there be many locations in the amusement park we will be able to visit and can you describe some of these locations for us?

There are two sides to the amusement park due to the wreckage after the collapse.  Kelly explores one side while Delaware explores the other.  There are several sub regions to each side of the park each character will have to explore in order to uncover the mystery at hand.  One of the regions Delaware will have to explore is the “Tunnel of Terror” ride.  This is a cavern intended for patrons to ride a train through a “haunted” tunnel.  How ironic that it’s haunted for real now…

Usually an amusement park is a place for fun and enjoyment.  What have you done to make this amusement park a place to be afraid of what is around the next corner?

I think screen shots are going to be able to explain it better than I will.  Most theme parks are fun and a source of enjoyment, but I think our theme park would turn away clients even during the day.

What kind of action sequences will we have to deal with in The Seacliff Tragedy?

New to the Delaware series is the existence of Shadow People that can drain his life force, if he becomes too drained he will faint.  This adds a general layer of “action” to the game since Delaware will need to fend off the nasty creatures as he explores. In past games we had “action” sequences involving The Hunter, those, of course, will be back in a new, exciting way.

Will we have some new ghost-hunting tools to play with in this new game?

With Kelly tagging along on this investigation she’s brought along some of her equipment to help her track paranormal activity.  Since Kelly doesn’t have the ability to plainly see ghosts like Delaware she has to rely on special devices that she can use to detect when a ghost might be present.

Is there a romance in store for Kelly and Delaware in the future?

Maybe not in their eyes, but I think Simon has a different take on things.  With Kelly out in the field this time expect her to have some interesting conversations with Simon.

How has the Delaware St. John character evolved since the first game?  How is he different than he was in the first game?

In the first game, Delaware was doing his thing, kinda lost without anyone “around” him.  He was new to working with Kelly and was still in the dark about his “gift.”  In the second game Delaware discovers some important information about himself, that his parents didn’t give him up as he thought but he was taken from them.  In The Seacliff Tragedy Delaware is finding comfort in the idea that his gift is for a purpose, possibly involved in the Protector and Destroyer myth.  He goes into this investigation less reluctant, more with a purpose.

Will Delaware's special gift ever evolve?

There’s an explanation to your question I can’t give at this time because it involves getting into the storyline of a later game.  The short, non-spoiler answer is “maybe”.

The third Delaware St. John game will be in 3D with a third person perspective.  Will this perspective add to the "scary" effect? 

I’m not sure the engine change is going to make the game scarier, but I do think the addition of the Shadow People and the environment effects we’ll be able to produce will.  Perhaps the first two games could be called creepy but this game will be scary.

Will we able to ride some of the attractions in the amusement park?

Haha, that’s a very good question.  Perhaps there should be a poll to see how many people would like to ride the rides!

Can you give us more details about the accident that closed the amusement park?

It turns out the amusement park was built on land that had old caverns at the base of the cliff.  After years of erosion, the supporting ground gave way and caused the back half of the park to collapse.  Unfortunately this sent over a hundred people to their death, 28 of those people rode the rollercoaster right into the ocean.

Are we going to be able to interact with a lot of characters and can you describe some of them for us?

Yes, both Delaware and Kelly interact with several characters.  Kelly meets a woman who used to work at the park as a fortune teller.  She has an interesting message for Delaware, whom she never met.

What kind of puzzles should we expect to see?

We’ve created puzzles that are fitting to the character who finds them.  Delaware will find more strength and navigation puzzles where Kelly will uncover more brainteaser/logic puzzles.  I think overall we’ve got a great mix of brain teaser and inventory based puzzles.

Will there be timed sequence puzzles in the game?

As in our previous games, you have to outrun the Hunter for a certain amount of time but it’s a pretty loose timer, I’m not a fan of tightly timed puzzles.

Bryan, do you have projects for Delaware in the near future?

We’re still committed to delivering the series as we originally planned.  If all goes well there will be more Delaware games over the next few years.

When can we expect the game to be released?

The Seacliff Tragedy will release in November of 2006.  We moved the release date back to ensure enough time to properly build our new tech to not only handle the current game but future games as well.  We want to release the third Delaware game to the same high quality of the previous games, both graphically and gameplay wise.

Is there anything you'd like to talk about that we didn't ask you?

One thing I wanted to say is that our move to 3D with a 3rd person view is a necessary move to appeal to a broader audience.  We’ve had much good feedback from people who purchased our first two games but there are a lot of people who refuse to even play the games because of the interface.  As we move forward with the series we will include an option to reduce or remove the action elements of the game to allow current fans to play the game in the adventure format they were uses to in the previous games.  We are moving in a direction to make the game appeal to a wider audience but we’re not going to change it so drastically that we turn off our current fans.

Bryan, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions about The Seacliff Tragedy.  I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming game.

Official website: Delaware St-John

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