Cédric Orvoine is PR manager at Microïds and ready to release Syberia II. We talked to him about the upcoming sequel, the future of Microïds and about how hot Kate Walker really is. He didn't send a picture of himself so the users of the Syberia II Official Forums can still speculate about his age and face.
Adventure-Treff: "Cédric, please tell us a bit about you and especially what you do on Syberia II?"
Cédric Orvoine: "I'm Microïds' PR Manager for North America. As Microïds is not a very large company everybody's role in here is a bit extended and we all have to work on some tasks that may not directly apply to our job description. Anyhow, my main role is to promote Syberia II among the medias and the community across North America.
I had to develop and implement a communication plan for Syberia II to raise the awareness among the media, the adventure community and the players of the first Syberia."
A-T: "What do you personally like to play? Adventure games?"
Cédric: "I like adventure games. I enjoyed Syberia and Post Mortem (obviously) but also Broken Sword 3 and The Longest Journey. I also like Real Time Strategy games such as Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations and Empire Earth. And finally, I don't mind a little FPS once in a while as I recently played Max Payne 2 and Call of Duty."
A-T: "When can we expect to see Syberia II in the shelves and will there be a German version again (which is not announced yet)?"
Cédric: "Syberia II will be released in Q1 2004. That's all I can say right now.
As for the German version: there will be a German version but I can't tell you much more than that, as I'm not familiar with this territory."
A-T: "And the demo? Is there a date yet we can look forward to?"
Cédric: "I'm aiming for the 15th of February as a release date for the demo. But I don't control everything so it might slip a bit... But for sure in there will be a demo available before March 2004."
A-T: "Tell our readers in three words why they should buy Syberia II."
A-T: "What are the technical improvements of your engine since Syberia?"
Cédric: "The improvement we are the most proud about is the fact that we managed to upgrade the graphic quality without raising the system requirements. Among other graphic improvements made possible because of the work on the engine we can talk about the dynamic lighting and shadows, the real-time snowfall and footsteps marks, the quality of the cut-scenes and cinematics, glass reflections, ice texture, uniform fabric, and decals..."
A-T: "How long is Syberia II? About the size of the first one or is it longer?"
Cédric: "Longer. Not twice the size but significantly longer. Syberia was about 10 to 15 hours long, depending on how experienced the player was. Syberia II will take between 15 to 20 hours to complete, again depending on the player's experience."
A-T: "Tell us a bit about the new characters you will introduce in Syberia II?"
Cédric: "There will be quite a few new characters introduced in Syberia II. I don't want to say too much because we need to keep some kind of a surprise element for the players. I will refer you to an article that was published on GameSpy a while ago..."
A-T: "Are you aware that many think Kate Walker is quite hot? Will we see "more of her", if you know what I mean ;)? Is there even room for a romance in Syberia II?"
Cédric: "Well for one thing I know...Benoit thinks she's hot and I think too... Especially now that we have been working on her look a little bit, adding some polygons here and there...
Will we see more of her? The only thing I can say about that is that the player will continue to discover more elements of Kate's personality as she continues her evolution into an adventurous woman...
As of a romance portion in Syberia II... well... not really. The romance episode has been concluded with the end of Kate's relationship with Dan. Now I don't think there is room for romance in her life actually."
A-T: "Did you plan to do Syberia in two parts from the beginning on or did you initially want to do one large game?"
Cédric: "At the very very beginning of the development process we realized this was too big of a story to make only one game out of it. It made no sense. We quickly decided to split the game into two different episodes."
A-T: "How much work did you put in the soundtrack? Do you reuse the music of the original Syberia or did you add new themes?"
Cédric: "We have worked extremely hard on the soundtrack. We felt some pressure because of the quality of the music in the first Syberia and we wanted to make sure we reached the same level of quality with the second episode. We have totally new themes for Syberia II."
A-T: "A year ago you thought about releasing a special edition on DVD. Do you still have those plans?"
Cédric: "Actually these plans are on hold but we have other plans for a collector's edition including the two games and exclusive material but it still too early to talk about this right now..."
A-T: "How well was Syberia received by console gamers? Will there be console versions of the second part, too?"
Cédric: "In fact, surprisingly good. I'll talk for North America only where we have only launched the Xbox and PC versions.
The Xbox version has been very well received and is selling way over our initial expectations. Syberia II will be released on PC and Xbox in North America but the PS2 version hasn't been confirmed yet."
A-T: "A while ago you announced that Microïds continues to create adventure games, but there have been no announcements so far for the time after Syberia II. What are you working on?"
Cédric: "You'll be disappointed because I still can't tell you what we are working on. We should make an announcement around E3 this year."
A-T: "You often post in the official forums of Syberia II. How important do you think is the contact to all the Syberia fans out there?"
Cédric: "Yes I try to go there everyday. The tough thing is to get a good balance between intervening too much or not enough. I think it's important to let the forums police themselves but at the same time answering some questions and making some clarifications on some concerns.
I also think it shows that we care about what people have to say about the game and that we really want to be active in this community. We have over 4 000 unique members on the official Syberia II website and the game is still a long way from being release so I'm very optimistic about the near future. Once the previews and the reviews start popping up and when people play the game, I don't know how I'll manage the forums because I think it will become crazy out there."
A-T: "Microïds has gone through serious financial difficulties in 2003. Officially you survived them, but there are rumors you are still in big trouble (e.g. the homepages of Syberia and Post Mortem disappeared and the Microïds homepage is "under construction" for quite a while now). What can you say about these rumors?"
Cédric: "There is absolutely no doubt about the fact we are in business to stay. Microïds has been bought out in June 2003. A few months later, the new owner bought Wanadoo Games. We are now in the process of merging the two companies and unfortunately we have been pushing over some very important things like our websites.
The Syberia, Amerzone and Post Mortem sites disappearance is the result of this whole financial situation we went through last year. Some financial technicalities caused that situation too happen and it really is unfortunate.
We are currently starting to build a new Web structure in Montreal and we will soon have a new Microïds website and new sites for all of our upcoming products."
A-T: "What consequences did you draw from this time?"
Cédric: "I don't think I'm in a position to comment about the conclusions the company draw from this experience. The most important thing is that we are now looking ahead with a lot of hope for the future, starting with Syberia II."
A-T: "I am sure you noticed many other adventure games are currently coming into the market. Are you afraid that this could hurt Syberia II?"
Cédric: "Not really. I think the more good adventure games are coming out the best it is for the genre. I think every adventure game will benefit from a strong and original genre."
A-T: "Benoit Sokal founded his own company "White Bird Productions". Why didn't he continue to do games with Microïds? Is there still peace beween you or any intent to work with his company?"
Cédric: "The relation we have with Benoit is the same relation a book writer has with it's publisher. He was not hired by Microïds, we just had some common projects and nothing says there won't be any others in the future.
The fact Benoit now has his own company doesn't necessarily change our working relationship."
A-T: "We already know that the story is going to find its end in Syberia II, but you already hinted that we might see more games with Kate Walker. Are there more concrete plans for this in the meantime? Do you have the rights at all or did Benoit Sokal take them with him?"
Cédric: "As we speak there are no concrete projects in the work including Kate Walker."
A-T: "Thank you very much for answering our questions. We wish you a lot of success with the second part of a wonderful series and with all the games which are to come..."