View Full Version : Interactive Redwall Novel...

February 14th, 2004, 10:42 AM
I'm surprised no debate has sprung up yet about this but I read this article in the latest edition of Terrouge and have been following discusion over it in the forums over there. Here's the link: http://www.terrouge.com/terr/article10.html
Of course you may not immediately believe this person, but I find the links the e-zine has to suggest authentisity, especially as Sean is involved.

February 14th, 2004, 02:57 PM
sounds intriguing, but i find it very hard to believe that BJ would allow it. He is pretty against Redwall being a video game, which is what this is, and I sure as heck wouldnt pay 50 bucks for it.

February 14th, 2004, 03:37 PM
I'd at least rent it to see how it is but like TBT said its highly unlikely that BJ will aprove of this.

February 16th, 2004, 05:04 AM
Well, appearently, he is involved and has not turned it down. I think they are selling it to him as being along the "educational" line. I personally find it a little hard to swallow that this Interactive Novel will really be that educational in the form that it is being talked of there. There seems to be no actual reading involved, just a cross betwixt gameplay and bits of narrative.
However, I refuse to give a definate opinion until more information emerges.

February 16th, 2004, 05:08 PM
Sounds sketchy. How are you going to make a book interactive? I realize that the Redwall series has quite a few battle scenes, but... how are they going to make it interactive? Choose now, dear reader: shall we have raspberry plum trifle or cherry pie today? Shall we eat in Great Hall or shall we picnic in the orchard?

And second: whatever happened to good old-fashioned reading?

Chelki Sureshot
February 17th, 2004, 08:30 PM
**giggles at Furrtil.** Yeah, I see your point. But I htink ( I know) I would buy it. Just for the heck of it. I t would be like the Lord of the Rings video games. Kinda. I think it would be awesome. Yeah, it could be horrible, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. (I think)

February 20th, 2004, 03:19 PM
That would be.....intersting....I dunno, depending on the amo0unt of Gameplay I might get it.....I'm still not sure Brian's gonna go for it, he hate's electronics:rolleyes:

Dannflower Reguba
February 20th, 2004, 04:36 PM
Perhaps I can shed a bit more light on this. I took the liberty of emailing Alex Kain after I read that article. And...SURPRISE, he responded the same day. I was at a loss for words...but anyway...

My Email:

Last year, a friend two grades above me approached me with a book that had the strangest cover: a mouse holding a sword. I took the book and began reading it. At the beginning of the next day, I walked up to my friend and held the book to him, stating I was done. "[Dude]!" was his response. At that moment, I was hooked. I began buying the soft cover books, averaging a book a day. The deaths of Warbeak, Skarlath. Colonol Clary, Brigadier Thyme, and so many more cut right through my heart. Oh, I forgot to mention Piknim, one of the most poignant deaths in a book, EVER. In fact, it's only number two because of Ganieda's death in Stephen R. Lawhead's Merlin of The Pendragon Cycle. If you've read that, then you know what I mean.

Let me be perfectly blunt, games ported from other media are akin to Japanese Animé that's directly translated.

"Micro volume hair, long graceful, in addition very can speak, therefore female personal connection quite good, the peach blossom is unceasing."

Engrish is frightening, is it not? What you seem to be talking about isn't so much a videogame as it is a DVD extra. In order to have a good game, the gameplay MUST have a constant. You seem to know your games, judging from your article, and I'm sure you know this already. "[I]t’s the book, turned into a long movie, with parts that you can play." Let's consider Redwall, the first in the series. It's been a while since I've read that one, so forgive any mistakes. Matthias battles Cluny at the end, which is all well and good, he "fights" the Bull Sparra, and he "fights" Asmodeus. If you were to make this "game" exactly like the books, there would be no substance. I'm not saying you should take out parts, but rather add some in. If the core gameplay is Matthias fighting vermin, have more places for Matthias to fight vermin. And hey, have a "Climb the Abbey" minigame with Jess, with different levels. More jumps, smaller ledges, more Sparras, etc. Have espionage missions as Basil. Have variety, but don't make variety the core. When Matthias fights vermin in an ATB, have him level up. Let him gain sword techniques. Make the player feel that, when they get back to the Matthias parts, they're actually working towards a means to an end. And for the love of all things good, make it challenging. Do not alienate the older fans by turning it into a Reader Rabbit game.

In 1999, children begged their mothers and fathers to buy the $70 Superman 64 game...

Please don't repeat the mistakes of the past.

Yes, I was a little melodramatic, but I wanted to get my point across.

His Response:


Thanks for reading the article, and thanks even more for taking the time to write an e-mail!

As you know, the Interactive Novel is the book as a movie with parts you can play. Despite what the marketing people say, console and PC gamers are getting more patient. Games with epic stories and less gameplay are doing incredibly well on the market - Shenmue was a top seller in Japan and did considerably well in the US, and Xenosaga (with its 30 minute plus cutscenes) is a PS2 top seller.

But, to the point!

Gameplay is, as you might guess from the little tagline I use, third in line to the story and how the story is presented (the book, as a movie). The essence of the IN is to show the book as a movie, but so it's not just something you're sitting there watching, there will be interactive scenes. The wall-climbing, the fighting, any and every action scene in the book will be represented in context in the IN. But to have endless waves of enemies (ala the Lord of the Rings games) would be out of context. Stealth sequences with Basil might work, but only in context of the book.

There won't be 'levels' - because levels are passe` in this designer's opinion. To have one long epic story divided into more appropriate chapters would be better. Take the new Prince of Persia - it's all one big level divided by save points.

As for leveling up, that's better suited to RPG's with consistent action of the same type. I think it's more realistic (and in better context of the book) to simply have the player be leveling up in real life, becoming more accustomed to the controls and the nuances of Matthias' fighting. The major battle sequences are few, so the elaborate leveling up would be a little... well... overelaborate.

The interactive novel isn't going to be a game like Final Fantasy or even Shenmue or Xenosaga. I say that it's not like anything ever made before because there IS nothing like it out yet. It's not so much a game with long movie scenes as it is a movie with long game scenes.

Depending on what BJ says about our proposal, he may like this idea, or he may want something MORE game-oriented. His views have apparently changed since 1998 to more game-friendly. I know what you mean about the 'substance' issue, and that was a chief concern when designing the game. But we've got it pretty much figured out.

For every long winded amount of non-action, something very action packed occurs afterwards. Even the smallest amount of action could be elaborated slightly (while staying in the book's context) to offset the huge amounts of story.

I hope this alleviates your concerns! As for "Reader Rabbit" - this is completely unlike that. I didn't design the interactive novel as a learning tool, so don't you worry! ;-)


Alex Kain
Game Designer
Learning Friends

My Second Email:

Wow! I wasn't expecting a reply, nonetheless one so fast!

Now, I may not have spoken clearly. I love the story as well. In fact, I'm working through Der Wille zur Macht as we speak. I've also played Xenogears, and, I have to say, at the point when Fei remembers all of his past lives, with Elly shouting "Live!" each time they die...I nearly lost it. I do love the story more than anything, but a story without gameplay is just a movie. Even Xenosaga: Episode 1 is an example. Yes, it has thirty minute cutscenes, but it also has an intricate battle system, as well a myriad of ways to spend the THREE different types of points you gain, not counting exp. Aside from that is the interactivity outside of battle, using your little laser to destroy obstacles, and even moreso, choosing which character to lead to allow you into smaller passages.

Or lets consider Kingdom Hearts, one of the greatest games since the Golden Era of SNES. It FLAWLESSLY seamed the story with the AMAZING gameplay. Despite the myriad of minigames, such as tree sliding and vine swinging, the Gummi ships, the entire world of Winnie the Pooh, and more, the player always knew that they could go back the the BASE of the game: Sora, Goofy, and Donald fighting real time battles. If that base wasn't clearly defined, there would be no sense of...for lack of a better word, warmth in the game. The same goes for FFVII, which has an incredible amount of minigames, even some that aren't optional! But it all revolves around the turn based battles and the very basic platforming.

Basically, what I'm saying is, Matthias doesn't have enough parts in Redwall to establish that base. And, to elaborate, all those minigames were just ramblings, to show the possiblities; this goes for the leveling up idea as well. Take Viewtiful Joe. A wonderful game that goes back to its action roots and does it WELL. Joe doesn't level up, though he does collect film canisters to elongate his VFX meter, and he can buy more moves and health using the points he gains by using them in the first place.

And this doesn't just apply to newer games either. Take my absolute favorite game of all time: Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals. I won't lie, the battle system, though innovating, is lacking. The story and the puzzles are what make me love it so. For one, there has never been another game with puzzles like it. They actually require THOUGHT, and they're not your average platformer puzzles, ie. which move to use at what time. But even though the story is the greatest part of the game, it needed the constistant basis of the battles to weave it all together.

I'll give you one more example. Legend of Dragoon. This is somewhat of an enigma. The Additions system was wonderful, but the rest of the battle system was something of a let down. With magic being consumable, and the esoteric magic only available in dragoon form, fighting was more of a chore than a rush. And yet, despite this, the fighting is needed as that base. The story was good...in fact, it was very good, but the gameplay brought it down a few notches in my eyes. It's playable, but it's an excruciating task to get from beginning to end.

If you don't establish that base of Matthias fighting vermin, or whatever it may be, the player cannot feel any warmth or security. Knowing that all the minigames are just small parts of the whole is essential, and they must realize that, at nearly any time they want, they can go back to that base, because the game revolves around it. As it is, Redwall doesn't have enough scenes that, when directly ported, have Matthias fighting, to establish that base.

I realize I must have gotten a bit redundant when using the word "base", and I apologize.

He has not yet replied, but I hope he will.

February 20th, 2004, 05:11 PM
Intersting....Thanks Danflower.:cornflow:

That's an intersting point.....most of the book is puzzles and talking.....with long, gigantic battlescenes in two or three places......it'd be hard to make it into a game......

February 21st, 2004, 07:57 PM
Yeah that does bring up a good point, but there are still some parts you could interact with. Like trying to hit Asmodeus' neck to sever his head or something like that.

February 21st, 2004, 11:28 PM
well heres the part that confuses me. Can you die?
I mean let's say Cluny hits you numerous times, can you keep going, or is it Game Over, you're dead, or is it start from where you saved or what?

Chelki Sureshot
February 22nd, 2004, 06:45 PM
I suppose it'll be the Harry Potter games. You're injured a certain amount of times, and you'll do that bit of the game over again.

Martin the Warrior
February 23rd, 2004, 07:18 PM
Well, this is certainly an interesting line of discussion. I remain very skeptical about the project. I don't think Brian's dislike of video games has eroded that much, but I do think it would be possible to sell him on an "interactive novel" idea (especially since there was a Redwall CD-ROM project circa 1996 that would take fans on a virtual tour of the Abbey-- it was eventually canned). That said, I'm not sure if such a project could work.

The games Mr. Kain mentions (Shenmue and XenoSaga) don't really help his argument, in my opinion. XenoSaga got hammered by reviewers for its lengthy cutscenes, as has the likes of Metal Gear Solid 2. Quite a few gamers simply hate cutscenes, preferring instead to have something to play. In the case of Shenmue, with the exception of the fourth disc of Shenmue 2, it's a very active game. Few cutscenes exceed five minutes and most of the game is spent in direct control of the character (and while the QTE mode could be nicely adapted into a Redwall motif, it's not meaty enough to support a game). He's insisted it's not a video game but an interactive novel, but he defines "interactive novel" as a blending of movie, video game, and book. However, those three genres have been "blended" for years with varying degrees of success-- so, I can't say I'm entirely sold on having never seen something like this before.

The problem is that, while a direct translation from page to game/screen might be palatable for fans, that won't automatically translate into a successful product for the mainstream. Each genre (movies, games, and books) has its own mechanics and what works for one doesn't work for others-- which brings me back to skepticism. As things stand, while such a product ("interactive novel") could, in all likelihood, be made, I'd be very surprised if it was successful.

But, I wish Mr. Kain and Learning Friends the best of luck and am happy Brian is giving their proposal a looksee. Everything deserves a fair shake.

To answer the question he posed in his article: yes, I'd spend $50 on a Redwall product, "interactive novel" or otherwise.

Dannflower Reguba
February 23rd, 2004, 07:39 PM
while a direct translation from page to game/screen might be palatable for fans

See, I don't even think THAT is true. Direct translations almost ALWAYS...erm..."vacuum". I was trying to drill it into his head that things MUST be changed, if ever so slightly, to allow that "base" to form. Without it, there's no foundation for the player to return to.

Martin the Warrior
February 23rd, 2004, 08:09 PM
Right-- however, having encountered several Redwall fans who tear down the TV series for even the slightest deviation, I think it's safe to say a direct translation would appeal to a lot of them if for no other reason than it's a direct translation.

However, as I also said, that kind of faithfulness has a tendency to keep the story from working in its medium (either TV, movie, or video game). If the story of Redwall is to work as a video game, then it must be retooled (to varying degrees) with video game mechanics in mind. If it's to work as a movie, then it must be retooled with movie mechanics in mind. Simply slapping up the book in visual form doesn't work, and that's one of the big problems I think this Interactive Novel will run into.

Dannflower Reguba
February 23rd, 2004, 08:18 PM
Martin, you have the wonderful gift of being able to say exactly what I mean when I myself don't have the word for it.

"Retooled" and "mechanics". Beautiful.

And yes, that's exactly what I've been trying to say.