Time Stand Still
 
Interview with Mikael and Eleen Nyqvist 
by Danyboy
October 11, 2006

The story: 

It is now the third year that Carol, an English girl in her twenties, has lived in Sweden.   Finally she has an apartment of her own. 

This time, Carol stumbles upon a new case while browsing through a local newspaper.   A seemingly haunted house leads her to a complicated chain of events, which go all the way back to World War II.   These involve a 60 year old unsolved murder, a secret love and characters long forgotten by history, but not by fate. 

 
Introduction: 

Mikael and Eleen Nyqvist are a married couple from Norrkoping in Sweden who have had a passion for adventure games ever since the first Sierra games came out.  The idea of making an adventure game of their own stayed on their minds for a long time until they were able to realize the project when they discovered the Adventure Maker Software.  In 2004 they created their company MDNA Games and in November 2004 they published their first adventure game Remedy and less than one year later the second one Hope Springs Eternal.

Can you tell us exactly who Carol Reed is?

Carol Reed is girl in her twenties from Nottingham, England, who has been living in Sweden for the last two years.  She runs a one person detective agency, that used to belong to her friend Conrad.

For those of us who didn't play the first two games, why did Carol decide to live in Sweden? 

Carol helped the Swedish detective Conrad with one of his cases that had connections to Nottingham.  Conrad was very impressed with Carol's sleuthing skills, and wanted further assistance from her on his next case.  Since Carol didn't have anything special to do at the moment, she decided to move in temporarily with her Swedish friend Lovisa.

For those who are hearing about your games for the first time, can you give them some details about the first two games? 

In "Remedy", Carol has just come to Sweden, and found out that Conrad has died.  She learns that he was working on a complex case at the time of his death.  Eager to help her friend solve his final case, she starts to collect the bits and pieces that Conrad left behind from his investigations. 

"Hope Springs Eternal" takes place in Carol's second summer in Sweden.  She is called upon to investigate the sudden disappearance of a friend of a friend.  During her research, Carol is transported back hundreds of years into local history, and introduced to some present day local characters. 


Can you give us a couple of hints about the story?

This time around, Carol stumbles upon a new case after finding an article in a local magazine, about a house where several inexplicable incidents have occurred lately.  She contacts the owner of the house, who hires Carol to find out what has been happening to the house.  It leads Carol to a complicated chain of events, which go all the way back to World War II. 

Who are the other characters that we will encounter during the gameplay?

Several characters that Carol met in the first two games will appear in the new game as well, like the gardener, Conrad's sister Katarina, and Stina in the kiosk.  We will also meet lots of new characters; some of whom are rather quirky. 

Will we have a lot of places to visit during gameplay?

Yes! There are plenty of locations that are continuously added to the map as the story unfolds.  All in all, there are over 1,300 frames in Time Stand Still, so there is obviously a lot to see.

What kind of tasks will Carol have to do during gameplay?

As in the previous games, there are puzzles of the traditional inventory type, that is, looking at, using, and combining items that have been collected in the game.  There are also other types of puzzles, that are contained in one single frame or area of the game.  For these puzzles, an automatic solution has been incorporated, which we call "the by-pass feature".  Just move your cursor up to the top right corner of your screen and click on the "By-Pass" button, and the puzzle is solved for you.

Are we going to be able to visit the haunted house?

Well, the press release for the game talks about a "seemingly haunted house".  Will you visit it in the game? Absolutely.

Will the puzzles be fully integrated with the story? 

It's our ambition to make the puzzles as organic as possible. It's always irritating to have to solve a puzzle without really knowing why, or to succeed in something without knowing how you did it for that matter. However, creating relevant puzzles is one of the hardest things when it comes to making adventure games. The trick is to make the puzzles part of the story telling, rather that just pasting them into the story.

Why have you chosen that kind of interface for the game? 

The interface is the most classic and simple of all in adventure games.  There are so many ways to be creative when making adventure games.  We didn't think that messing with the interface was one of them. 

The graphics in all your games have a distinctive style that makes the scenes look like bright watercolor paintings.  How did you develop this style? 

When we were planning Remedy, we knew from the beginning that the only way we could make a game was if we used photos.  But we didn't want a plain photographic look, so we decided to aim for something in between photographic and hand-drawn images.  After trying out a few alternatives, we settled for the 'water colour looking' effect.  It also has the advantage that it makes it easy to emphasize certain objects in the background. 

What kind of music will we be able to hear in this game? 

We always fill our games with music.  The music always comes first in the process, and then we kind of paste the pictures, sounds (and the story for that matter!) over the music.  It's composed and produced on the computer, using sampled sounds

You had to do a lot of research for the game.  Will we learn something we didn't know about World War II?

Definitely.  Sweden remained neutral during the war.  However, certain elements in Sweden played an important part in forming the Nazi ideology.  This is a fairly unknown fact, even to most Swedes nowadays.  Certain plot elements in the game touch upon this. 

Who are the other people working on the game?

There is Len Green, our Creative Consultant.  Len was a beta tester for Remedy, but couldn't keep his hands off the rest of the process.  Now he is involved in almost every aspect of the game making process.  He's currently working on an extremely detailed walkthrough. 

We've also been helped by many wonderful people who have made the voice overs for the game.  As usual, Eleen's sister Sara does Carol's voice.  Also, Sue Anderson from "Scratches" performs two voices, and Jonathan Boakes ("Dark Fall") makes a wonderful performance as a New Age shop keeper. 

And, as usual, we've been totally dependent upon the never-ending patience of most of our friends, who we put into the most bizarre situations, and then photographed them. 

This is your third game.  How is this one different from the others? 

The game is not dramatically different from its predecessors.  It's not meant to be, since it's a sequel.  However, we're still beginners in the business, and are constantly learning new things, so we like to think that our games improve over time. 

Will we be surprised by the ending?

We certainly hope that you won't be able to predict it anyway! 

What do you expect the players to get out of your game?

We aim to give the players a pleasant and slightly unusual gaming experience, with puzzles that aren't too obscure, and won't detract from the story. 

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