Eipix has quickly becoming one of our favorite HOPA developers from what they have proved to be capable of since their very first game Final Cut, their second game Amaranthine which offered us amazing environment to their latest game Off the Record: Linden Shades. That is why we are really happy that we have a chance to got in touch with Jelena Beba Balasevic, the Creative Director behind all these greatness.
What is your inspiration to create the Off the Record?
We wanted to be brave and explore various settings and characters, and in this case, it led us to the journalist protagonist. A country side in the middle of the day doesn’t sound like a common HOPA setting, and we said: Why not? There are certainly many dark and shadowy areas even in direct sunlight, and we decided to go for it. People are often the biggest enemies we face, so we wanted to avoid any fantastic elements and focus the plot on greed, instead of fantasy.
Why do you think Off the Record is worth playing?
The answer to this question is simple and we believe the most honest one: because it’s amusing. Computer games, casual or core, are there to amuse us, sometimes even teach us something, evoke emotions, tears or laughter. That is the basic of every art made for audience. Linden Shades is a thrilling game, full of challenges, beautiful scenery that makes the players enjoy the view and convincing story line, that easily draws you in. It is also a game, we hope like most of our games, that is different to most games that you can currently find on the market.
How do you create suspense in the game?
We have learned from the best when it comes to suspense: Sir Albert Hitchcock. In our team, we have people with backgrounds in film directing as well as script writing, and we trust them absolutely with creating a story. They use the surprise as well as postponed resolutions and that’s why our games are always praised for having so many “wow” moments. In Linden Shades, we have arranged the back story parts throughout the entire game-play, so our players get progressively introduced to the history of the estate known as Linden Shades.
Have you ever thought of any ideas you would like to include in the game but later need to threw it away?
Absolutely. There are marvelous ideas for each and every of our games that do not make it to the final product. Each time we want to start a new game we have a team brainstorming session, but some ideas have to be discarded, because no matter how “WOW” the idea was, sometimes it doesn’t fit or deepen the story, sometimes it is too expensive, sometimes too experimental. Even so, our colleagues from Big Fish sometimes say that we should play it a bit safer, but we like trying out new things all the time, and we have a lot of great new ideas in store that we can’t wait to share with you.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a HOPA game?
Well, the answer may not be appropriate, but that’s how we feel: entirety. There is absolutely no most important aspect, for they all have to be equally good, equally well done, and equally respected during the game production. But if we had to choose two, I would say that every entertainment method needs to be fun, and every art needs to be able to change us. After we consume it we have to be changed. It doesn’t have to be much, but there must be something different in us. So the answer is: fun and the ability to change us.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
The biggest challenge is always: the choice. To choose the right subject, the right setting, the right people for the game, the time to publish it and so on. Till now, our team feels that our choices were mostly right, so we are going to continue with our long and winding path.
How long it took you to develop the game?
The production of Linden Shades took us a little less than a year, but we are currently working heavily on optimizing our processes of development and workflow and expect to be able to drastically reduce development time while we boost quality at the same time. As they say: don’t work hard, work smart.
Are there any upcoming projects or sequels currently under development that you would like to share with us and the readers?
We are continuing with our exploration of rarely seen settings, so our next game is going to take place in Ancient China and it will be out within a month of today. We already have a bunch of encouraging fan mail regarding the announcement of this game on or web site, so we really feel that our players will be pleased. After that, a long waited sequel to Final Cut: Death on the Silver Screen called Final Cut: Encore is about to hit the HOPA stage and it is only the beginning. For all our players, we have a cocktail of around ten new games coming up this year, and even more in 2014, so the only thing we can promise you is a lot of fun. We plan to further experiment and can also announce a very different art style for one of our games that is soon to be announced. There will be something for everyone, because we believe that our players should have more choice than they currently do. We have fairy tales, myths of the world, thrillers and other stuff in store from our humble workshop, and we hope our audience will be satisfied.