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Boomzap Interview Series - The Evolution of the Awakening franchise

Boomzap

In 2010, when the Hidden Object Adventure game trend has just started; Boomzap Entertainment introduced us with one of the casual game market's finest fantasy series titled 'Awakening'! 

'Awakening' series is now consists of 4 brilliant games and each game has somehow managed to reach the very top spot on the BigFishGames.com's Top 100 Chart.

We invite you to take this special journey with Princess Sophia through the beautiful worlds of Awakening...

Boomzap

Awakening is the first HOPA game from your company. What made you start developing a HOPA game by then?

Luna Cruz: We started making Awakening right at the time hidden object games started having more puzzle/adventure elements. We were big fans of games like Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst, and wanted to see if we can make a HOPA as well -- but without going into the dark and scary trend that other games were doing.

Why did you choose to develop a light-hearted, fantasy game rather than a dark, spooky game?

Luna Cruz: We wanted to make something different. Our artists loved making bright and beautiful art, and we used Awakening as a test to see if gamers out there would love it, too. So far, we’ve been right!

Boomzap

What do you think makes the Awakening series so successful?

Luna Cruz: It’s a simple story at heart -- a young girl is looking for her family, in a strange land where she is powerless (or so people think). If you couple that with beautiful art and a sense of exploration and wonder, it makes for an enjoyable game.

SamRacho: The first of the series was wonderfully done. It was really simple and easy to understand, and the premise was intriguing. It wasn’t gimmicky at all and had a lot of heart. I think the success and ‘heart’ carried on for the rest of the series. At the same time, I think that it attracts an audience that is not the primary target of the publisher. The developers working on the franchise focus on the target, but I feel like there are players who like it that are not within this range, and this makes a difference.

Boomzap

Princess Sophia is surely one of the heroines that stay in every casual gamers’ heart. Tell us a little bit more about the process behind the birth of Princess Sophia.

Luna Cruz: We wanted a character that was the underdog -- she was born without magic, the only one in the land, and so everyone thinks she’s defenseless and needs to be protected. With no magic, it meant she had to use her wits to survive, which is really what a HOPA is about -- using your brains to solve puzzles and come up with solutions. We started Awakening with Sophia as a teenager to show she was just coming of age, and with every game, she got braver and braver.

Ran Wong: Every designer has an idea of what the character should be like. Trying to stay true to the spirit, if not the details, of the character was a challenge in and of itself. Developing the character of Princess Sophia took a lot of collaboration with the original creator, Luna Cruz, to ensure the character stays ‘familiar’.

Boomzap

Is it hard to keep pulling out new ideas for the story since the story develops to the fifth game now? What is your inspiration?

Ran Wong: Yes. Keeping Sophia’s motivations strong and clear, finding a meaningful antagonist and keeping the world fresh and interesting is a constant challenge. We often base our ideas and settings off various European countries, with other exotic elements sprinkled in.

SamRacho: Yes, definitely hard. I think the hardest part of it would have to be to make things consistent with everything else, but at the same time it should be ‘fresh.’ Doing a bit of research on various landscapes and fairytales are good ways to get inspired. Playing other games help you piece together new ideas. Finally, listening to others and brainstorming with them will give you a wealth of creativity as well.

Is it hard to keep pulling out new ideas for the story since the story develops to the fifth game now? What is your inspiration?

Ran Wong: Yes. Keeping Sophia’s motivations strong and clear, finding a meaningful antagonist and keeping the world fresh and interesting is a constant challenge. We often base our ideas and settings off various European countries, with other exotic elements sprinkled in.

SamRacho: Yes, definitely hard. I think the hardest part of it would have to be to make things consistent with everything else, but at the same time it should be ‘fresh.’ Doing a bit of research on various landscapes and fairytales are good ways to get inspired. Playing other games help you piece together new ideas. Finally, listening to others and brainstorming with them will give you a wealth of creativity as well.

Boomzap

What are the differences between The Dreamless Castle and The Skyward Castle in terms of improvements?

Ran Wong: We’re constantly innovating on mini-games, adding layers of complexity and challenge, researching better ways of doing things, studying more engaging means of story delivery and game flow. 

SamRacho: I think the structure and complexity have both evolved so much. It’s definitely longer, and there is much more to do. The subgames are also more interesting.

What is your favorite game in the series? Why?

Ran Wong: The Goblin Kingdom. As a Game Designer, it had a setting that let me exercise more than the usual amount of creativity in locations and situations Sophia could find herself in, and let me experiment with a lot of new ideas and mini-games. It worked out well, so it was extremely satisfying.

Luna Cruz: My favorite is still the first one (Awakening: The Dreamless Castle). It was our first time to make anything like this, and building the world was a wondrous experience for us.

SamRacho: My favorite is the first one (Awakening: The Dreamless Castle), because of the simplicity and craftsmanship. When you first play the game and sit through the cutscene, you know that there is something special about it. For me it’s the same as a really good home-cooked meal. I’m not really sure if that analogy helps!

Boomzap

What do you think the future of the Awakening franchise would be like?

Ran Wong: We’ve got a lot of ground to cover - places to visit, exotic myths and legends to bring to life. The world may change, but we hope Sophia can also be a positive force for change.

SamRacho: I think that eventually, we will have to develop Sophia to embark on an adventure with a different perspective than what we have currently. I think this would be a good thing, so that new players and old players can start fresh. Despite this, i hope that its charm is preserved.

Boomzap

READ OTHER INTERVIEWS IN THE BOOMZAP'S INTERVIEW SERIES...Here!

Games in this series:

 


 
 



 
 



  
 



   
 



  
 



  
 



  


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