Charles Cecil Interview: Broken Sword, Kickstarter & Dan Brown
Another Kickstarter project, another adventure game revival. But you won’t find us complaining about this one.
The Broken Sword series is a national treasure and we’re more than happy to see a new 2D entry in the series, made with high-definition technology and, more importantly, by the original team that know the characters so well.
Charles Cecil, head of Revolution and designer of the Broken Sword series, discusses the revival…
Why have you decided to revisit Broken Sword after nearly six years away?
I think it was plain that from the late Nineties through to about three years ago, the perceived wisdom was that the adventure was commercially unfeasible. Broken Sword got a new lease of life when we released a director’s cut of the first game on the Wii and DS through Ubisoft and then self-published Broken Sword: Director’s Cut and Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror on handheld.
We were overwhelmed by how well received they were. The two games sold 500,000 on iOS in 2011, and this proved to us that there was a new audience for adventures and it also provided us with the money that then allowed us to start writing this new Broken Sword game.
Why the return to 2D? Were the 3D games a mistake?
We moved to 3D because we needed to write a game that a publisher would fund and that a retailer would ultimately decide to stock. We were also aiming primarily for console because at that time it was considered by publishers that the PC was dying and that is something that sounds laughable now.
The whole move to 3D was just the commercial reality of the time. The 3D versions of the games felt quite different, but a lot of people loved them and there is a great deal of loyalty to all four games.
So we have absolutely no regrets. But, going forward, we are certainly moving back towards a 2D game and the reaction we have had is very positive about it.
So what can we expect from The Serpent’s Curse?
The game is very much point-and-click as well as slide-and-tap, just like the revamped Broken Sword games that we’ve put out recently. But, as always, we do plan to innovate in the genre and make the game very special.
I don’t want to give too much away this early, but one element that is currently being explored is the manipulation and combining of knowledge, so the player must connect threads of knowledge in order to draw logical conclusions, which then allow them to proceed.
The new visual design looks a lot like the iOS version of the original game.
Can you give us an idea of what the plot will involve this time?
Sure. I’m more than happy to talk about the historical elements that, in the story, resonate into the present day. A lot of it revolves around a subject that I find fascinating, which is the Gnostic heretics – a group of early Christians who were loathed and feared by the orthodox church, and who, ultimately, were brutally suppressed and then massacred.
The story starts with Jesus’ disciples, who were split between orthodox and Gnostic. I’ll explain: the Gnostics had special knowledge that Jesus taught only them, followed by brutal suppression, through to the Albigensian Crusades in the 13th Century, in which the Pope and the King of France massacred hundreds of thousands of innocents, after which the Dominican Order was set up to finally destroy any remaining Gnostics.
In Broken Sword, we explore what secrets the Gnostics held and why the Church should feel so threatened. We also explore the role, according to Gnostic gospels, of Lucifer – the bringer of light, Lux Ferre.
These are themes that I believe are profoundly significant to how religion evolved, which makes them important and fascinating.
Why no Knights Templar?
We were largely responsible for bringing the Knights Templar to the public consciousness. Many of our fans are sure that Dan Brown must have played Broken Sword and, in writing The Da Vinci Code, was inspired by the story, the characters and the settings.
But the problem is we then saw a slew of Knights Templar books and films and so the subject matter, as great as it is, has become clichéd. Our objective is, rather than looking back, to look forward to create the next zeitgeist, and that is what we’re hoping to do here.