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Developers Speak Out: Post Mortem

Ok, to begin with PM, what is it all about?

At its basis, Post Mortem is homage to film noir and pulp fiction of writers like Chandler, Spilane and Lovecraft. It is a detective story where things are not what they seem and where the most innocent character would be considered repressible by most people's standard.

The story takes place in Paris, between WW1 and WW2. Our main character is an ex-detective called Gus Macpherson, who has... visions. In moments of stress, when he is in contact with people who are involved, in one way or another, in violent crimes, he can see part of these crimes. When a mysterious dame contacts him and convinces him to give up (at least temporarily) his new career as an artist, he goes on the trail of a... strange killer.
He is hired to find who decapitated the dame's sister and brother-in-law. The story then takes us through the Paris underground, in a world where things are not always as they seem and where the old traditions did not completely go away.

Where does the idea comes from?

The idea(s) come from a whole bunch of different places. For me (and my partner in crime Stephane Blais, the other designer on the project), Paris during that period meant a whole bunch of things: music, art, and a more liberal attitude. It also meant other, more shady stuff: crime, powerful men who manipulate things from behind the stage, the occult...

In the last few years I've become a big fan of detective stories, be they movies or books, but my first love has always been horror, so it seemed natural for me to blend the two, especially given the era and location of the story.

There is also a large amount of research that went into finding out what Paris was about during that period. I had never been to Paris until then, but during my research, I came away with a good feeling about the place. Some of its history is fascinating...

Any special features you'd like to share with us? We've heard from a dialogue engine and from a special tweak in the scenario about the player changing or whatever...

Well... The dialog engine is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. The idea is simply to bring the game closer to a true role-playing experience, and by that I do not mean computer rpg, but rather tabletop, where your action and the way you interact with people can make a large difference. So we wanted to make an engine that would allow the player to choose how he would ask questions to the characters in the game and allow those characters to react accordingly. It allows us to set up side quests, which takes place if the player ticks off a character or if he is too nice. It also makes the game seem much more natural.

As far as the second part of your question, you'll just have to play to find out what we mean...

What's the status of the game has we speak?

We're in the home stretch, with just a short amout of time left in the production pipeline. The game should be out before Christmas.

Can you describe your role in the dev team and how do you interact with other members of the team?

I scream and yell a lot... My role changes a lot depending on which part of the development cycle is. At first, I am pretty much in the center of the team, in a creative role, putting together the story and the structure of the game, i.e. gameplay, systems and all that good stuff. Once the primary creation is done, I have to fill in all the holes, working with the artists and the programmers. Towards the end of the project, I become much more of a walking encyclopedia, answering questions and fixing little problems that arise when what I believe was doable is proven wrong... ;)

Any issue you'd be ready to share with us?
One of the aspects I really like about adventure games is that since the structure is so well known, so basic, it allows me to concentrate on the one aspect that really attracts me to computer games: the interactive story. The whole idea of setting up a story that has to fascinate the player and frustrate him (but not too much!) at the same time is something that is very engaging to me. The genre also allows me to play with basic narrative structure, and do things like Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects or even Memento. Now, this is not something that you usually see in computer games, but the potential is there.

By Stephane Brochu - 11/18/02

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