It is well known that I am a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series of games and a fan of The Sims 2. What isn’t as well known is my absolute adoration of The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Because of this adoration, I feel like a bit of a dope that I wasn’t aware of the successful Kickstarter launched to fund Dreamfall Chapters, the third and final installment in the series. Actually, I’m glad I wasn’t aware, because I would have seriously considered dropping a stack to have an NPC designed to look like me. Those are some compelling Kickstarter rewards!
The crew at Red Thread is immensely talented and every red cent that the group has amassed is certainly deserved. For fun, I’ve added a short interview that developer Ragnar Tørnquist kindly agreed to back during the launch of The Longest Journey. It’s an interesting look back at a time when the industry wasn’t as open to protagonists and genres that defied a narrowly defined norm. You’ll find the Q & A after the jump!
CHERYL LYNN EATON: April Ryan, the protagonist in The Longest Journey, has been upheld in some circles as an “anti-Lara.” Did you set out to make her revolutionary (not highly sexualized) in an attempt to reach out to a female audience?
RAGNAR TØRNQUIST: I don’t think it was all that calculated, actually. The audience was a factor, but more importantly we felt the story needed a female lead. Someone who might be more inclined to solve conflicts in a more empathic fashion, without resorting to brute force. Someone who’d be able to grow, emotionally, during the course of the story. I’m not saying all men are insensitive and unable to change, nor that women can’t be forceful…but it was a lot easier to tell this story through the eyes of a young woman. Besides, we wanted to be a bit original. We were tired of playing guys! It’s actually a pretty sad state of affairs when a relatively normal girl like April is considered revolutionary—I guess we game developers have some growing up to do!
CLE: There seemed to be a small controversy over whether or not The Longest Journey would sell well in the United States. Do you see a difference between the buying habits of consumers in the United States and those of consumers in other countries?
RT: Marketing and sales people seem to think so. I don’t. I think consumers recognise a good game no matter where they live. Nobody thought The Longest Journey would sell in the US. We proved them wrong. It’s doing great business, even without a marketing budget—word of mouth and great reviews help a lot. But the fact is that we had to take the game to the US market ourselves, because no one else would. Publishers would simply tell us that American gamers don’t play adventures, period.
CLE: There are many unanswered questions that remain upon the completion of The Longest Journey. Do you plan to create a sequel or “prequel”?
RT: We get that question dozens of times every single day. And the answer is…maybe! The Longest Journey was very expensive to make, and a sequel—or prequel—won’t be cheap either. But we’d like to. We have a great story ready to go, so it’s basically a question of resources, time, and market. If it does happen, I think people will like what we’ve got planned!
CLE: A popular strategy among creators is to place the characters they create in several different mediums. Will consumers see a movie, comic, or toy line based on The Longest Journey?
RT: Sure, I’d love to play with a plastic April! In the most decent sense of the word, of course. Will there be merchandise? If there’s ever a sequel, then…possibly. I wouldn’t mind making a movie or a TV show. So if there’s anyone from Dreamworks reading this…don’t hesitate to call us!
CLE: What’s next for Ragnar Tørnquist?
RT: Oh, boy. Tough question. Lots of stuff! Most of it is stuff I’m not allowed to talk about, unfortunately. What I can tell you is that I’ve done some work on the storyline for Funcom’s new online role-playing game, Anarchy Online. I’m also working as a designer on a few new top-secret projects…as well as writing as much as I can in what little spare time I have; short-stories, a novel, screenplays…
Additionally, I’m working on putting together a low-budget movie with another female lead whose name starts with the letter A. Is there a pattern emerging? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Time will tell.
I guess I just like to keep busy. Very, very busy.