Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interview Part 14: Catcher in the Rue

Today we feature two of the three factors why Gemini Rue is all over the internet this week. Gemini Rue (formerly known as Boryokudan Rue) is a full-length game by Joshua Nuernberger also known as JBurger and Nathan-Allen Pinard, and of course now under Wadjet Eye Games by famous AGS member and publisher Dave Gilbert.

The Official Gemini Rue website at http://www.geminirue.com. Pre-Orders are available.

1) Okay, so, well this is a typical question I ask in every interview, so here goes. What's your favorite AGS and what's your favorite non-AGS game?

Dave Gilbert: Shameful to admit, but I rarely play AGS games anymore. :-x So I am doing many of the awesome games that came out in the last year or two a disservice by not mentioning them. But of the ones I played, the ones that really stick out in my mind are "Charlie Foxtrot", "The Uncertainty Machine" and "Da New Guys."

As for non-AGS, I fell in love with "Assassin's Creed 2" when it came out, and I've been enjoying the everloving heck out of "Hitman Blood Money" at the moment. Also, Jeff Vogel's games are a blast.

JBurger: Possibly Pleurghburg, as it showed me what people could do with AGS when I first discovered the engine. But I also love other AGS classics, such as Da New Guys for being lesser-known oldie but goodies.

Favorite non-AGS game: The Secret of Monkey Island (original).

2) What were the reasons behind you getting into the indie game development business? Commercially and freeware.

Dave Gilbert:
I got started making freeware games because I was looking to get my mind off things. It was September, the year was 2001 and I live in New York City, so you can imagine what I needed distracting from. I had read about the Reality on the Norm project and figured it would be a fun way to vent myself creatively, so I downloaded AGS and made a little game called
The Reposseser. It was tiny and rough but people seemed to like it, so I made more.

As for commercial games, that started in 2006. I had just gotten back home from teaching english abroad. I had money saved up and didn't feel like getting a "real" job right away, so I made The Shivah just for fun. I'd bring my laptop to a cafe and plug away on it for 7-8 hours every day, and told myself I was "working". Basically putting off the inevitable. But when it was finished, I realized that I enjoyed working on it so much that I couldn't envision doing anything else. So I sold the game commercially just to see if it would gain any traction. The feedback was encouraging, and I've been doing it ever since!

JBurger: I knew I wanted to make games as a kid (commercially or freeware didn’t really factor into the equation at that young age) after playing The Secret of Monkey Island. I always loved games and enjoyed playing them, whether they were quick arcade games, flight sims, or strategy games. But there was something so enthralling and captivating in The Secret of Monkey Island about combining interactivity with such a compelling game world and characters that just planted a deep interest in me to create my own games. Ever since then, I’ve just been doing it for fun.

The jump to commercial came more out of practicality and necessity, as Gemini Rue took so long to develop and I put so much work into it that it seemed to be more beneficial to try and go the commercial route than just release it for freeware.

3) What do you think characterizes your business relationship with each other. How does it work out for the two of you? How did you decide to work together?

Dave Gilbert:
It's a unique arrangement. Josh basically emailed me one day and handed me the game gift-wrapped. He had decided that the game was worth selling commercially, but he didn't have the time to really do it justice, so he thought of me. It had a few rough edges at the time; there was no voice acting, the portraits were all rough sketches, and there were a number of bugs here and there, but it was 100% playable and absolutely brilliant. My wife and I played it together and we both fell in love with it.

Wadjet Eye's main roles were to handle the voice acting, update the portraits, deal with marketing and PR and handle all the sales once it launches. Occasionally I'd make some minor decisions about the script that Josh hadn't originally intended (usually based on voice actor feedback) but, for the most part, that was the extent of my meddling.

JBurger: We mainly work together via e-mail (we’re a whole country length apart!) but it’s turned out pretty great. I always knew of Dave’s work from the AGS community and I even got to meet him in person at GDC, so I really hoped that I would get a chance to work with him. Since our collaboration, it’s been a really great experience.

4) Some people(including me, I won't hide) have commented that Boryokudan Rue was one, if not THE, greatest name a game could ever have. Comment on the change to Gemini Rue, and explain what does the name refer to in the story of the game.

JBurger: The greatest names are unfortunately the least pronounceable and spellable names. And so, “Boryokudan Rue” had to be changed to “Gemini Rue.”
“Gemini” is the location of half of the game’s setting (with Azriel) and also refers to Greek mythology and the motif of duality, which parallels the game’s story and dual protagonists. “Rue” is English for regret, or sadness.

5) Explain little bit the story that will take place in Gemini rue, and give us an idea of what to expect in terms of gameplay and length (meaning is the game short/medium ecc)

JBurger: The story alternates between two characters, Azriel, an ex-assassin, and Delta-Six, an amnesiac prisoner. Azriel is in the Gemini system in search of a defector from the Boryokudan crime syndicate. Meanwhile, Delta-Six re-awakens in his prison with no memory and must figure out what he is doing there, who are his friends and enemies, and how to escape before he completely loses his identity.

The gameplay is fairly standard for point n’ click adventures, but also contains a notes and names investigation system also incorporated into dialog trees, a ‘kick’ verb, swappable player characters, and several fine-tuned action sequences (they’re not that hard, honest. ).

6) How was the whole concept of this game developed? And what, if any, strong cultural influences influenced the shaping of this idea.

The concept came about as I wanted to do a game about two different, seemingly unrelated storylines that would converge at a critical instance. From there, different stylistic influences were adapted into the project, including noir and science fiction. I drew inspiration from anime, such as Cowboy Bebop, films, such as Blade Runner, television shows, such as LOST, and many other video games and novels. At the same time, I wanted to come up with more innovative ideas for traditional point n’ click gameplay, which were also complementary to the story.

7) What do you people do besides the game-making industry? I'm referring to your real life.

Dave Gilbert: Hey, I have a life outside of game-making! Honest! :p

JBurger: I attend UCLA as a full-time student in the Design | Media Arts department. I also play the guitar, write, draw, and of course, play video games.

8) How did you find AGS?

Dave Gilbert: I sort of answered this with #1, but to reiterate, I played a few early AGS games like ROb Blanc and Larry Vales, but I really thought I could make one until I read about the Reality on the Norm project. THere was this wonderful sense of "Hey, I can do that!" about it. I learned the games were made with AGS and went from there.

JBurger: I found AGS around 2001 or 2002 when googling some kind of Indiana Jones fan game (No, it wasn’t the Fountain of Youth! *nudge* *nudge*). It was mostly an accident, as was I was experimenting with other engines before then (namely ADRIFT, a text-adventure editor, and Indiana Java, a less powerful and more awkwardly presentable version of an adventure game engine). However, that accident led to about 8 years of creating video games, so I guess it turned out okay!

9) Joshua, not a long time ago, you were abandoned a game project (Hide Quest namely), then you made La Croix Pan and Chatroom. What did you learn from this process (how you evolved from each project)

JBurger: Hide Quest (gosh, what a title) mainly taught me about work ethic, and how to unsuccessfully embark on the creation of a full-length adventure game – what not to do, essentially. La Croix Pan taught me how to finish a game, from its inception to its publication – in other words, what to do. And Chatroom was just a fun little experiment.


  1. Um, Dual. You put one of my answers under completely the wrong question. Making me sound insane. :)

  2. Very nice interview! Interesting to learn that Gemini Rue gradually evolved from a rather abstract and basic storytelling concept that just felt important to the creator.

    And hey, I flirted with Indiana Java too and dreamed of making my own Indy game!

  3. Good interview! I really enjoyed hearing about Dave and Josh's backgrounds in freeware and hobbyist game design. I've been looking forward to Gemini Rue for a while, and plan to pre-order pretty much for the developer commentary (always a feature I wish more games included).

  4. Excellent interview on what is bound to be an AGS masterpiece. Must admit that I too preferred the original title... Can't wait to play this one.

  5. @Dave: Fixed. It was a feature to make you sound like a crazy person ^_^

    @Igor: Yes, I think Gemini Rue shows the evolution of JBurger's story from something bland and boring to something truly amazing and unique.

    @Russell: Glad you liked the interview.

    @gnome: Glad you liked the original title, that just before posting the interview, I discovered that it means "violence group" and is usually attributed to Yakuza :D. I think we're totally going to have a great game, and I think my mind will be blown, I just feel it :D

  6. @Dual I didn't mean it that way. I meant a single, simple idea (seen Inception?) evolving and developing into something grand and extremely detailed.

  7. @Dualnames: Yep, my story evolved from a bland and boring person (/burger) into a capable human being, all thanks to this one game.



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