Simon Woodroffe is the lead designer of Headfirst Interactive's upcoming 3D adventure Simon the Sorcerer 3D. He has also been the writer of Simon the Sorcerer 1 and 2. Adventure-Treff has had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his job, his former projects and of course about Simon the Sorcerer 3D.
A-T: Hello Simon. Could you first introduce yourself to our readers? What did you do before becoming a game designer? How did you end up in the gaming business?
Simon: Before I became a designer I was studying AI at university, a course I never completed in order to design Simon the Sorcerer. I was offered the scripting job for Simon as a way to earn part time money and did this at Uni. When Simon 2 rolled around I was offered full time money and so quit my degree to get into the industry.
A-T: What was the first computer game you worked on?
Simon: Heroes of Lance. I was a level designer/tester...
A-T: How did you get the idea to create Simon the Sorcerer?
Simon: We just needed a character in a fantasy environment to compete with the GuyBrushes and Rincewinds of this world so we invented him during a long car journey down the M5.
A-T: Was "Simon" the Sorcerer named after yourself?
Simon: No because we wanted a name that was 'something the something' and since the character was of a magical nature it was really the only choice that sounded any good (some other suggestions like Willy The Wizard just didn't cut it).
A-T: Simon the Sorcerer 1 and 2 are games that are loved by many adventure fans. Did you get a lot of feedback?
Simon: A fair amount. Although since everyone seems to have a different opinion, most of the feedback is a little pointless. If a large majority don't like something, we'll change it.
A-T: Tell us a few words about The Feeble Files (Floyd)!
Simon: Err... It's been quite critically acclaimed as an 'epic'. It's too big and too complicated. :)
A-T: Development of Simon the Sorcerer 3 has first started in 2D, but later on you decided to turn the game into 3D? Why did you take this decision?
Simon: Due to simple lack of publisher interest. Nobody would put up the cash to develop a 2d adventure game. We spent a long time looking but eventually decided to take a different route.
A-T: Some adventurers from the old days might be a little bit afraid about the new 3D technology... What can you say to calm them down?
Simon: Play Simon 3D and they'll be surprised. It feels just like a 2d adventure game in a different world. The puzzles, characters and situation that Simon finds himself in are just as before.
A-T: Can you actually die in Simon the Sorcerer 3D?
Simon: Yes and no. He cannot die. He just gets 'splatted' or 'falls in a river' and then reappears by the point where he met his accident. Cartoons never die. They just get deformed for a while. :)
A-T: How long will the game be?
Simon: Longer than either of the others. I'm told it takes someone who knows the game 17 hours to complete. A fresh player takes over 60.
A-T: What about the difficulty? Is the game rather aimed for beginners or hardcore gamers?
Simon: It's somewhere in the middle. It starts off so simple it's unbelievable and then gets much much harder towards the end.
A-T: Are there multiple solutions for the puzzles? Do you have to solve the puzzles in a fix order? Are there several storylines?
Simon: You don't have to solve the puzzles in a fixed order. Large sections of the game have many puzzle chains open at one time. There are a couple of endings to discover and quite a few little 'alternative' story bits.
A-T: Can you tell us something about the game music in Simon the Sorcerer 3D?
Simon: It's all done in CD quality MP3 audio and it sounds fantastic. It's mostly catchy background tracks and atmospheric stuff. The composer, Tony Flynn, is new to our style of games but he's done a superb job.
A-T: Please describe us one of your typical working days at Headfirst Interactive!
Simon: Arrive at about 10 AM, drink some coffee, sort out what everyone is doing, visit sandwich man, eat sandwich, do a couple of hours work, have lunch whilst playing CounterStrike, organize people again, answer questions, do more work till about 9PM. Go home. Repeat every day of the week including weekends. And I forgot, have meeting with producer, lead artists, manager........ Sometimes I correct people pedantically. It's Headfirst Productions. :)
A-T: Any amusing behind the scenes anecdotes?
Simon: Many. But too rude for your readers I suspect. Andrew? Can you think of some?
A-T: And now the traditional question: What about the future of the adventure genre?
Simon: I let you know after Simon 3D and Monkey 4 come out.
A-T: What are your favorite (adventure) games, besides Simon the Sorcerer 1-3 and The Feeble Files?
Simon: Monkey Islands... All except 3. Sam and Max... Anything by LucasArts.
A-T: What are your upcoming projects after Simon the Sorcerer 3D?
Simon: Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of the Earth. Scary horror in 1st person based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
A-T: Why has the game been delayed so often, and when will it finally hit the stores?
Simon: Many due to polishing. We want to get it as perfect as possible since it has the job of revitalizing the adventure genre. :) It should be out before XMAS.
A-T: Any last words to our readers?
Simon: Don't judge Simon3d before you play it. It's still an adventure at heart.
A-T: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!
If you want to learn more about Simon the Sorcerer, please visit the official page!