Restless
 
Interview with Dan Peach  
by Danyboy
October 26, 2006

 

Story:

Kate Jones had one simple goal in life - to become rich and have everything she ever dreamed of - at whatever cost.

A hugely successful criminal defense attorney with one of New York's finest law firms, and with the trophy fiance, swanky apartment, flashy car, and equally vain circle of friends already in place, she'd almost made it - all that was left was to make partner, and that had been promised already.  But the dream was about to end there.

Returning to work one afternoon, Kate is handed a note by a homeless stranger, informing her that a bomb has been planted in a nearby cafe.  Not having any time for the homeless and already late for a very important meeting, she ignores the warning, thinking maybe she'll do something about it later on after work, if she has time before her dinner appointment with a very important client.

At 5.30pm a terrific blast rocks the entire block, and rushing to her office window Kate is horrified to see flames spewing from the windows of the cafe on the corner, bodies strewn across the sidewalk, and blood splattered everywhere - twenty five people are later confirmed dead.

From that moment on, Kate's life is changed forever.  Feeling responsible for twenty five deaths, she is completely overcome with unfamiliar feelings of guilt, and quickly loses her job, her fiance, her nice apartment, everything.  Paranoia soon follows - does anyone know about the note?  Does anyone know she knew about the bomb?  Are the police about to come knocking at her door to arrest her?  Will she go to jail for this?

Now, three months on, she finds herself in a cheap run-down one room apartment, without a job, without money, without friends, drinking herself into oblivion, with only one goal - to forget!

Then the nightmares start - terrifying images of a young woman in obvious pain.  Who is this woman?  Is she even real, or just a figment of Kate's tortured mind?  The nightmares become more and more frequent, growing more and more terrifying, more and more brutal - there's nothing Kate can do to shut them out, except drink more and more, and try and sleep less and less.

Leaving a bar after a particularly heavy session of self pity, Kate collapses in a drunken and exhausted heap.  When she wakes up, she's lying on her bed, with no memory of how she got back into her apartment, and only a plain brown envelope lying beside her as evidence that she didn't do it alone.

The envelope contains a clipping from the Manhattan Tribune reporting the mysterious disappearance of one of their employees, a Sam Michaels.  Looking at the accompanying photo, Kate is shocked to see that this is the woman in her nightmares - even more disturbing is that she went missing only four days ago, three weeks after the nightmares began.  Along with the clipping is a hastily written note simply telling Kate: "If you want to help yourself, help her!".

Who is Sam Michaels?  What happened to her?  Who picked Kate up off the floor, and gave her the envelope?  Who was the homeless man and why did he give her the note?  Was the note meant for her, or anybody?  Are all these things related?  These are just some of the questions Kate is now faced with, but one thing is clear - if she wants to end the nightmares, she's going to have to start looking for the answers, and soon, before her own sad existence consumes her completely.  But can she really help this woman, when she can barely even help herself?

Join Kate as she steps out of the shadows and into a deep and dark mystery involving police corruption, the local Mafia, secret experiments, family crises, lost love, missed opportunities, revenge, a life's work, frightening supernatural disturbances, and a mysterious and elusive former CIA neurologist known only as Janus.

Next time someone tells you something bad is about to happen, you should think carefully about your next step...

Introduction:

Dan Peach's love for adventure games was born in the early 90's when one Christmas he was given an Amiga and Monkey Island 2 (on 11 floppy disks).  His passion for the genre stayed with him into university where he created several adventure games as part of his media course.  Upon graduation he began creating websites and multimedia CD-ROM's for other people, which went on for several years.

Always a keen writer Dan decided that what he really wanted to do was tell stories, and so he ditched the web design and in 2003 founded Viperante, a game development studio.  Since then Viperante has been recruiting key team members and developing stories and ideas for several game projects.  The first of those projects to be announced to the public is Restless.

Can you elaborate a bit about the story?

Well, to add a little more to the mix without spoiling it, I’ll tell you it’s basically a story about who we are exactly as people, what turns us into who we are, why do we do the things we do, and by extension, are we solely responsible for our actions, or is it possible at all for us to lay some of the blame at the feet of other people?

In the game we will be playing the role of Kate Jones, who is she exactly?

Kate is an only child born in Brooklyn in 1976.  Before the tragic events that have unfolded around her, she was a very successful criminal defense attorney about to be made a partner in one of New York’s most prestigious law firms.  She was very goal orientated, knowing exactly what she wanted out of life and willing to go to great lengths to get it.  She was very confident in herself and her abilities, and really she was living right smack in the middle of the good old American Dream - the perfect job, the perfect fiancé, the perfect life.  But sometimes when you can’t get any higher, the only place to go is down, and that can be a very long drop.

Why does Kate live such a selfish life?

Kate has her success for a reason.  Things happened in her childhood that drove her towards a life of comfort and riches.  I don’t want to say too much about this as it forms part of the story, but she learned from an early age the power of money – the power of money in terms of both having lots of it, and having none of it.  Money is a powerful thing whether you have it or not, and based on her experiences Kate made a decision that she had to have a life free of financial worry, a life where she could have anything she wanted, and the only way she was going to get that was by working herself as hard as she possibly could – nothing is free in this world.  Her life has led her to despise people who have nothing, and whine and moan about having nothing, but then don’t ever do anything about it.  Kate believes that if you want something out of life then you better go get it, because rarely is anyone else is going to hand it to you on a platter – and if you don’t go out there and get it, what right do you have to whine and moan?  That has been her experience, and it is that that drives her in her adult life – look after yourself first and foremost.

Looking at Kate's profile, she doesn’t seem to be the perfect woman for the job, will she be struggling with her inner demons throughout the game ?

The thing about Kate is that she’s always had to be tough and ruthless, as a child and as an adult. It was that ruthlessness that facilitated her rise within the law firm, and it’s that ruthlessness that she believes we all need in order to obtain everything we want.  The big question is how much can you apply the philosophy of looking after number one before you cross a line, before your self concern begins to affect other people in a negative way?  Kate has finally crossed that line by ignoring the bomb threat, and she is overcome with feelings of guilt and shame because she knows she probably could have prevented the deaths of twenty five innocent people, and these feelings are unfamiliar to her.  At the same time she is consumed by paranoid thoughts – does anyone know about what she did?  Are the police looking for her? Etc.  And so, whilst she does feel guilt and remorse, the need for self preservation is still a big part of her and so the question then becomes, is she worried more about what she has done and the people her actions affected, or is she more concerned about being found out?  She’s not exactly sure, and these things are in conflict with each other really, so yes, she has many inner demons, and it will be a struggle for her to do what she now must do.  She is compelled to get on with the job at hand because of the suggestion made on the note in her apartment – “If you want to help yourself, help her” – the keywords being “help yourself” - deep down she thinks maybe that means some kind of redemption too.  She may not be the perfect person for the job on the face of it, but perhaps she is the only person for the job…?

Kate will have to go through difficult situations, can you give us few hints about those situations?

The difficulties arise primarily because of her personality, as she finds herself in situations which are alien to her in many ways so there’s pressure on her to adapt and embrace things which she once held in low regard, such as living in a one room apartment in a run down part of town.  At one time she would have stuck her nose up at people living like this, but she has no choice now, and she finds that hard to accept.  Also there are things she’ll run into which will bring back painful memories of her childhood, such as when she visits the state school – whilst she never attended such a place, she can definitely identify with some of the suffering that the children there endured.  That is difficult also for her because it forces her to confront her past, and forces her to question who she is as an adult, especially before the bombing – was she a good person or not?  She certainly didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt – was she going to risk her career by missing an important meeting based on a note given to her by a homeless person, the very type of person she can’t abide?  It seems simple now to say she should of course have reported it right away, but at the time, with other factors having a bearing on any decision she made, and having to consider the potential consequences and effects on her career, it wasn’t such a simple thing.  As she progresses with her journey she’ll have to look deep within herself to find out who she really is, and that can be a scary prospect, because even though we think we know ourselves so well, it’s only when we are tested, forced to stare hard into the mirror, that we see the truth.

Will Kate have a guardian angel to help her out?

She doesn’t have a guardian angel in the strictest sense, but there does seem to be a person, or persons, unknown helping her out a little behind the scenes.  Someone had to give her that note that told her to help herself. Who they are though is part of the mystery.

Can you give us more details about Kate's nightmares?

They’re scary and painful.  The nightmares or visions show a young woman, Sam Michaels, in obvious pain and suffering, screaming for help.  Kate has no idea why she’s having these nightmares or who Sam is, but without the associated pain, Kate would really have no reason to try and find Sam.  Like you said, Kate is selfish so she needs more than just a sense of good will to all men, to spur her on.  But ultimately the nightmares have a much larger role to play in the grand scheme of things, and Kate is having them for reasons other than just to “help herself”.

Can you describe some of the characters we will encounter during our journey?

Kate has made many friends and enemies during her time as a criminal defense attorney.  With her constant efforts to free known criminals, she has angered many police officers, officers who have dedicated their lives to bringing people to justice, and who see Kate as a major spanner in the works – everyone is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial, she would say – they would say they know, and she knows, who the criminals are, and no trial is going to change that.  On the other side of the coin Kate has made friends of some of those very criminals – they have the kind of ruthless power and lifestyle Kate always craved and now has, and so in that respect she fits in well.  In the game she’ll run into both these kinds of people, but with her ideas and allegiances changing, the conflicts and emotions are sure to be at fever pitch.  In addition, Kate will encounter other interesting and diverse characters, all of whom have their own stories and reasons for helping or hindering her.  They include a spiritualist medium, a handsome neighbour who is in love with Kate and whom she has already taken advantage of in that department, a young idealistic newspaper reporter bent on getting his first big scoop, and many more, including the elusive and mysterious Janus.

The screenshots we are able to see so far look beautiful, when are we going to be able to see some new ones?

Thanks for the compliment.  With the artwork we are really going for a realistic look, but one which is a little bit removed from reality, to capture Kate’s sense of being taken out of her familiar world, which is why we decided to go with a hand drawn style as opposed to a pre-rendered 3D style.  We will have more screenshots soon.

Will the haunted school be a spooky place to be?

Definitely.  All manner of terrible things happened at that school in the past.  The old saying “If these walls could talk” comes to mind here.  The abandoned carcass of the school has lots to say – all it needs is someone to listen.  And who knows what still lurks there, deep inside…?

Can you give us details about some of the tasks she will have to perform during the gameplay?

In terms of puzzles and challenges mostly they will be inventory based.  I wanted to create something that is realistic in terms of being true to the events and situations of the game, so Kate will only be presented with challenges that she would normally and logically expect to face in the circumstances she finds herself in.  For example in the screenshots you can see a guard standing outside the school.  One of the first objectives of this scene is to get the guard to leave his post so that Kate can enter the building without him knowing.  But the guard is tired of people coming to the school and causing disruption and even damage – teenagers looking to hang out, or other people interested in its past – so he’s not going to just stand aside and let Kate in.  Overall, throughout the game, Kate will need to get creative in order to succeed, even if that means stepping over some lines.  She’s going to have to do whatever she needs to do, whatever it takes in some cases, to get the job done.

Since we can’t see a lot of screenshots for the game, can you give us some details about some locations we will be able to visit?

The game is set in, around, and just beyond New York City, so there’s plenty of scope there for interesting locations.  To name a few - there’s the school obviously, there’s a luxurious apartment complex, there’s an NYPD precinct, a dangerous Mafia owned night club, a bustling metropolitan newspaper office, the dark and seedy back alleys of Manhattan at night, and many more exciting places.  I won’t spoil it by revealing them all, but when you’re hot on the trail of a former CIA neurologist, a man that may hold all the answers you need, you could find yourself just about anywhere.  Maybe Kate might even have to visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island at some point – that will certainly be interesting.

In the game we will have to deal with a lot of different things like police corruption, the local Mafia, secret experiments, family crises, lost love, missed opportunities, revenge, a life's work, frightening supernatural disturbances, and a mysterious and elusive former CIA neurologist known only as Janus.  Are we going to be able to make the connection between all of this at the end of the story?

Absolutely.  My intention is to create a rich and involving game with a lot of emotional investment both on my part and on the players’ parts.  To capture this, I wanted to weave a complex tale with many interesting characters, so even though it might sound like there’s lots going on and you might not understand it all, the story is revealed in nice bite-size chunks throughout, and all tied together perfectly in the end, which is the best way to tell a story I think.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle – piece by piece we build it up, until finally we are able to clearly see the entire final picture.

On the Restless website we are able to read that in the game there will be no action sequences but strangely we are able to see a gun in the inventory bar on one of the screenshots.  Does this mean we are going to be able to shoot at something?

As I said, this game is realistic and logical (albeit with a paranormal flavour) and so after a particularly brutal cut-scene in which several people are tragically shot, Kate is presented with the opportunity of picking up a gun.  Since she realizes that she could actually be in physical danger here, it’s logical for her to take the gun as protection.  There will be instances where you have to use the gun of course, but they won’t be action sequences that rely on any kind of reflex based player input.  It will be “use gun on whatever” type of thing. Also though, there will be times when the option of using the gun in more dramatic and consequential ways is put directly into the players’ hands, and they will need to decide if such drastic force is necessary or not.  But like I said, it won’t be action or reflex based, so no need to worry.  This is an adventure game, not an action adventure hybrid of any kind.

What kind of puzzles should we expect to see?

Mostly inventory based puzzles, as I mentioned above, but there will definitely be one or two brain teasing real puzzles.  They will fit logically into the storyline though, and will not be in the form of obscure locking mechanisms on otherwise regular doors in someone’s regular house.  We were also considering some crate puzzles but decided against it – there just isn’t time. ;-)

When we are finished with the game will all of our questions be answered?

All the questions relating to this storyline will definitely be answered.  If you’re really asking about the possibility of sequels, I will say that the game has not been written with sequels in mind.  However, Kate is such a complex character with a long way to go in life yet, that there is the possibility her personal story could have a next chapter, but it would involve a brand new story, unrelated to this game.  The story of this game, Kate’s part in it, and the story of Sam Michaels, ends where it should – at the end of the game.

How do you think the player will react after finishing the game?

That’s hard to say right now.  People react differently to different things.  How you feel after finishing a particular game could be different to how I or someone else might feel.  That being said though, there is always something that as a writer you want people to go away with when they have finished – this is true of most creative media I think.  What I hope for though most basically is that people think that this was a good game with interesting characters and story, and they feel like a lot of heart and soul went into making it.  But to try and answer the question, I hope that people will see that not everything in life is as black and white as some would have us believe – there are many shades of grey, and everything has a context.

Can you talk about some of your next projects?

I can’t say too much at this point, but we do have another couple of projects in various stages of production, and there will be announcements about them in due course.  But until then I’ll say thanks for the interview, and au revoir.

Official Website:

Restless

Thank you Dan for taking the time to answer our questions, good luck with Restless.

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