Interview with Jörg Beilschmid
June 22, 2006
the morning of the 30 June, 1908, hundreds of eyewitnesses observed
inexplicable and previously unseen phenomena in the skies above the Tunguska
region. Just a few minutes later, several huge explosions with the
destructive force of 2,000 Hiroshima bombs shattered the stillness of the
boundless central Siberian highlands. In just a short space of time, a
flaming inferno reduced everything to dust and ashes, and an unimaginable
blast wave snapped trees like matchsticks, hurling the inhabitants of a
settlement 20 km away, and their reindeer, through the air. Despite
countless expeditions, no crater and no meteorite parts have ever been
found; scientists today are still searching for answers. In the Secret
Files: Tunguska adventure game, attractive mechanic Nina Kalenkov sets out
on a dangerous quest to find her missing father. The search puts her
on the trail of the secrets and conspiracies that surround the Tunguska
Jörg Beilschmid and The German
development teams of Animation Arts and Fusionsphere Systems already have a
wealth of experience in game development. They have been involved in
managing projects such as Patrizier 2, Kick-Off 4th Edition 03/04 and Port
Royale 1+2 (Ascaron Entertainment) as well as Robin Hood and Chicago 1930
I saw on another website that the puzzles will be integrated into the story
in a logical way and pixel-hunting for hotspots will be avoided. It also
mentioned that we might not need a walkthrough to find the solutions. So my
question is what kind of puzzles are we going to find in this game?
main part will be inventory-based puzzles (combine A with B to get C and use
it with D). But to ensure entertainment from the beginning to the very
end, it is very important to offer totally new experiences all the
time. This is not only important for story and graphics, but also for
the puzzle design. So you’ll find all kinds of puzzles, from
mechanical to dialogue-based, from safe-combinations to plays on
words. And for the most difficult ones we offer an extra help section
in the diary with some more or less direct hints.
For those of us who don't have any idea about what happened in Tunguska, can
you give us a few details about the tragedy?
Silver: On the 30th of June 1908 an explosion with the combined energy of
2000 Hiroshima bombs rocked the region of Tunguska in Central Siberia and
felled over 6,000 km² of pinewoods. The explosion could be heard for
as far 1,000 km away. Eye witnesses saw a long object fall from the
sky which was illuminated in a blue-white light. A 20 km high column
of light was preceded by a black mushroom-shaped cloud. For the next
three nights it was so bright across all of Europe that you could even read
a newspaper outdoors. In contrast a long-term reduction in sunlight
was registered in California. To date it still remains unclear what
really triggered the Tunguska catastrophe. The popular theories are:
· the crash of an asteroid or comet into the earth – why was no crater
· volcanic activity, probably natural gas – but how does this explain the
increased radioactivity in the region of Tunguska?
· a (natural) nuclear explosion – why are there no burn marks on the
· a small black hole – where is the exit location?
· the crash of an extraterrestrial spaceship – why was no UFO debris
No hypothesis has yet been put together that completely and logically
substantiates all the facts and peculiarities of the Tunguska
catastrophe. The explosion may have been of thermal, chemical or
In the game we will play the role of Nina Kalenkov; who is she exactly?
is a character which is quite untypical for the genre. We wanted to create a
protagonist with which the players could find it easy to identify themselves
with. She is neither a real hero nor an anti-hero. She is actually a quite
normal girl, forced to develop some heroic characteristics. Her way of
dealing with problems and fear is humor, but there will also be situations
where despair and sadness will get the upper hand.
you give us a small bio of some of the characters we will encounter during
long is this interview supposed to be? ;)
We have more than 40 totally different characters in the game, each with its
own story. It was very important for us to have real “characters”,
not only exchangeable dummies whose only purpose is to give hints or to
offer new quests. You’ll meet scrupulous businessmen, a sexy nurse
running for the office of the mayor, a dubious superintendent, a real Irish
Lord and many more.
What kind of dangers are ahead of Nina in her quest to find her father?
almost everyone, Nina’s enemies want their dreams to come true. And
they do not really care about the health of anyone standing in their
way. Unfortunately Nina is standing pretty much in the middle of this
way – and she’ll have to find out quite early how her opponents deal
with situations like these …
Are we going to be able to visit a lot of places in the game? Could you
describe some of them for us?
in Berlin your search will lead you to places all over the world: You’ll
creep through ancient ruins in Ireland, enjoy the Caribbean flair in Cuba,
travel with the famous Trans-Siberian Railway and follow the trace of a
mysterious tribe in the Himalaya. And, of course, you will go to the
place where the Tunguska catastrophe took place. Overall there will be
nine totally different locations, each having its own atmosphere.
Will Max Gruber also be a playable character? Who is he?
will definitely be playable. Nina will meet him while searching her
father. Since the police does not seem to be very interested in
helping her, she is quite happy about Max’ offer to be of
assistance. In some parts of the game you can only play with Max, in
others both have to cooperate. Than the player will be able to switch
the two characters any time he wants. E.g.: There are some places only
Max can reach. So he finds two items, combines them and hands them
over to Nina. She uses this modified item to solve a puzzle and get
another item, which Max might need.
Can you give us more
information about the bad guys we will encounter during the game?
don’t know who the bad guys are. Okay, okay, of course I know.
But I won’t tell.
We will be collecting clues
on our journey through the game. What form will those clues have?
clues will be of totally different types. Sometime you’ll get some
historic facts to learn about the past. Other information is not that
precise, such as rumors you heard about someone or items leaving enough
space to speculate. The information will be transported in totally
different ways: Dialogues, documents, movies, items and so on. And
they will be well dosed so you don’t have to worry about reading pages
we learn something we wish we hadn't?
depends on what you want to learn. If you enjoy learning lessons like
“don’t trust anyone even if he might behave like your best friend” or
like “it is definitely not true that crime does not pay” then the answer
Except the fact that we will be looking for our father, what other goals
will we have in this game?
player’s motivation might change quite early in the game. For Nina
the disappearance of her father is, of course, still the most important
motivation. You’ll find out that both factors – as different as
they might be – belong together. Don’t worry, there will always be
new mysterious questions the player will be anxious finding the answer to.
From what most of us know of Siberia from books, movies and even games, it
is a cold and unfriendly place. Will we have the same impression when
we are playing the game?
you have in mind is Siberia in winter. In spring it is totally
different: Swampy with millions of gnats torturing you. Does it sound
What's your favorite location in the game?
hard to say. In some locations I especially like the puzzle design, in
others I’m still laughing about some dialogues (although I’ve written
them and heard them about 50 times). But even within the team the
favorites vary; some like Cuba most, others prefer Moscow or Ireland.
Buy the game and form your own opinion.
what I was able to see in the screenshots and in the trailer you worked a
lot on the smallest details; facial expressions and objects are very well
designed. Why have you chosen to do all of that extra work?
answer is quite simple: We want to create a game that is as close to perfect
as possible. To do so you need to meet two conditions: People knowing
their work and people loving their work. In our staff everyone meets
both conditions. The result: screens full of small details and
animations, background effects with dozens of gags and surprises and
dialogues in which you will find new allusions every time you listen to
them. And: We want to convince the players to buy our game. If
we wouldn’t offer the best we can, why should we expect the players to
spend their money for our product and not for anything else?
A lot of theories have been incorporated into the Tungaska mystery.
Will all the major bases be covered in the game?
but answering this question would mean telling a very important part of the
story. The only thing I can say: You’ll probably be surprised …
Will the end of the game bring a satisfying conclusion to the Tunguska
of course … probably … maybe …
thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck
with your new game.