Ray Ivey Interviews Infamous Games' Steven Alexander

Ray Ivey Interviews Infamous Games' Steven Alexander

Steven and Ray discuss Quest for Infamy, the adventure game genre and the state of computer gaming

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We recently caught up with Infamous Quests’ Steven Alexander to talk about their upcoming adventure/RPG hybrid, Quest For Infamy.

Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room right off the bat: Have you gotten any flak from the Coles, who are working on their own new Quest for Glory game?

Boy, not at all!  They have been so incredibly nice to us any time we've chatted.  We actually started work on this long before Hero-U was announced and we Kickstarted Quest For Infamy four months before they launched their Kickstarter.  We've never been anything but inspired by them, and we're huge fans.  Recently, heh, and I can't say this didn't make the 12-year-old Steve cry maybe just a bit, Corey Cole had this to say in a Hero-U update: "Quest for Infamy, a project inspired by our own Quest for Glory series, announced a release date in its latest update (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1992695780/quest-for-infamy-an-adventure-game-by-infamous-que/posts/827735). The game sounds fun. Creator Steven Alexander is an active and influential voice in support of adventure gaming. He deserves our support." Well, if you told the 12-year-old me I'd make a game like this, and win praise and encouragement from the creator of my favorite game?  I wouldn't have believed you.  It's a bit surreal.

Okay now, if you’re still talking to me:  Any chance the game could be available on mobile devices?

Yes. We'll be working on ports to iOS and Android this year, hopefully to come out by years end.

I love the idea of spell customization.  Can you tell me a little more about that?

Well, you are a "new" magic user in this game, if you so choose that path; but to learn spells, you have to create them from reagents.  Your mentor, Prospero, tells you what you need to find to create certain spells.  You'll learn the base level of spell, and you can increase your power either through use and practice or the addition of other reagents (via tasks from Prospero) which will allow you to select the kinds of spells you have in your spell book.  You can play the game without making all of them, if you so wish, but I wouldn’t recommend it!  We tried to make it interesting but also keep it on a base level for this game.  If, god willing, we get a sequel, we have ideas for a more in-depth system that would allow for cross/hybrid spells: combining fires with ice, or ice with plague/poison, etc., to create a new kind of spell.  Heh, this is all future thinking, so forgive me if I ramble about it.

Along the same lines, will there be any weapon or armor customization?

Nothing so fancy; it's really pretty much the standard "find or buy" better weapons and equipment.  We do, however, have "bracers," each of which will enhance a certain power.  Some of these you can buy, others you have to discover through tasks and side quests.

I’m assuming that a player could have three very different experiences playing through the game as each of the classes, correct?

Yes, absolutely. There are different things to do in each class.  Unlike other RPG games, you don't select a class before the game begins; rather, in the prologue, you can "select" a class by choosing to help one of three potential mentors: the brigand, the rogue and the sorcerer.

I love the art that you’ve shown so far.  It really seems to capture that nostalgic feel of the old Sierra games  Are you using the same artists as on your earlier games?

Yes, some members of the art team have worked with us before and have been with us for many years. We also brought in some new and amazing talent to help us just with this game. Our art team is just amazing; seriously, these people made this game come alive.

Will there be any voice acting?

Absolutely! It'll be everything nostalgic voice acting should be!  We've managed to snag a lot of very entertaining and enthusiastic folks who bring a lot of personality to the various characters in the world of QFI.  There's also a ridiculous amount of out-takes with all kinds of cursing and swearing and line screw-ups that are amazing.  Gotta make a gag reel here in the future.

Your materials describe the game as very large.  Can you talk about that a bit?  How large is large?

Well, for an adventure game, it's pretty ambitious.  It has over 160 unique rooms, not including the procedurally generated mines that have over 120 rooms themselves.  There are several unique areas, all with their own feel and enemies: The woods and town of Volksville, The 99 Acre or North Woods, the perpetually in Autumn South Woods, The Grasslands of Krasna, where the great King's road stretches from the Port of Tyr, to the Bridge that crosses the great river.  There's a lot of exploring to do!  We wanted to try and make almost an open-world experience within the traditional adventure game context... heh.... there's only so much a small indie team can do, and even though it's large, we cut out many other rooms that we just couldn't get to!

I’d also love to hear any thoughts you have on the following topics, if you have time:

How Storytelling is Back: Mobile and Desktop Devices

Well, because the nature of the mobile phone as a gaming unit isn't really "controller"-based, you get these games where you have to touch the screen, basically a spin on the point & click kind of game.  With that simple gaming mechanic, you tend to make games that really have a story behind them instead of endless button mashing.  I think it's an exciting medium to explore and develop these kinds of games and I hope it catches on more.  I'm interested in making more games on these platforms in the future; if we can bring stories to more and more people, then we're achieving the goal we set out with over a decade ago!

The Death and Rebirth of Adventure Games

Boy.  This is another article, isn't it? Haha...the market changed.  The way people play games -- PC games -- absolutely changed.  And Adventure Games, once a solid staple of the market, found their gameplay mechanics being replaced.  Simply, they didn't develop with the times, but the pendulum will always swing back and now there's room in people's hearts for all kinds of games -- including Adventure Games -- again.

Why Current and Rising Stars Are Going Indie

Because lager labels won't fund these games, because their ROI isn't in the uber-millions they're used to.  I mean, these conglomerates -- it's their job to make money.  And I respect that. The kind of games bigger companies make will make hundreds of millions of dollars on a hit.  That funds large companies and makes them a profit.  They can have 200+ people teams and still make lots of money.  It's economics.  Going indie still provides you a market where you can have a successful career that will allow you to pay your bills without having to worry about shareholders and other things of that ilk.  The delivery services, digital downloads, are easy to use -- and for small teams, or solo teams, you can make the game you want to make, and make enough to pay rent! Sometimes, you just want your freedom that way, and the fact that this kind of model exists and is growing, well, that's awesome.

Retro Movement: How Gaming's Past is Its Future

Look.  We grew up with games.  I was born in the Late '70s. I was weaned on the cool, one button glory of the Atari VCS 2600.  The Commodore 64 called my name... the Apple ][ still makes me use reverse brackets to symbolize "2".  The NES blew our mind balls out.  The SNES and Mode 7 scrambled our brains, and some of us still think BLAST PROCESSING is something real.  The PC XT gave way to the AT, 286, 386 and holy crap -- the 4-effing-86!  CD-ROM!  MPC compatible systems! VGA 256 colors! SPEECH.  MUSIC...

We saw the world of games and technology get itself, and get itself in a hurry.  Now, we're older.  Many of us have families.  We're "adults."  But these things we grew up with, we still love them!  Many of us have new, next gen systems...but we can still appreciate climbing to the top of some girders to knock Donkey Kong off for kidnapping our woman!  We still remember the danger, peril and excitement of King's Quest!  The absolutely face-rocking humor of Monkey Island....we all fight like Dairy Farmers, STILL.  So, we're adults.  We work and we still play.  And playing new-old games, having that flashback to the unboxing and playing of a new game...getting that feeling again is fun!  Playing games is FUN!  Wouldn't it be fun to play a new game and have a flashback to the game that never came out in 1993, but should have?  I think retro-gaming fills that niche, and it's awesome.  Nothing wrong with rocking a little Red Dead Redemption...or Minecraft...or Quest for Infamy (please?).  I just think it's fun.  It's escapism on two levels - playing the game to forget about life for a while, and the simple act of owning the game brings you back to a simpler time and place.

The Future of Indie Game Publishing and Development

Well, who knows what the future holds, really, right?  I think it'll keep going and going.  The tools to make games have become so affordable now, and almost anyone can do it.  So that kid, sitting in his room, dreaming up the kind of game he'd love to play...well, with a little determination, some chutzpah and a bit of craziness, that kid can make the "dream" game and get it out to the public.  And maybe strike a chord that echoes throughout the world, where you find comrades in arms who would have liked that game too.  Frankly, it's all a little bit of magic, isn't it?

Thank you very much for your time , Steven, and good luck with Quest for Infamy!

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