Started in 2009, now with six successful installments, Midnight Mysteries has established itself as one of the classics in the HOPA market. So what did the developers, Game Forest, did right that made Midnight Mysteries such a popular franchise - find out in this exclusive interview!
Hi there! Can you please introduce yourselves?
My name is Ilya Plyusnin, the CEO of Game Forest Studio, a game developer for a number of game platforms. The studio has been active for ten years now. During this time, we developed more than 30 games of various genres including all six titles of the Midnight Mysteries series. We were also known as Hot Lava with Mumbo Jumbo as the publisher. In 2013, our company was re-branded to Game Forest; we also changed our publisher, which is now Big Fish Games.
What was your inspiration to create Midnight Mysteries: Ghostwriting?
The story of every Midnight Mysteries game is based on a mysterious event in the life of a historical person. Usually it is the mystery of his/her death and the sixth title is no exception.
In his late years Charles Dickens used to be traveling a lot. He earned for his living by reading his own books in public. During those performances, the great writer played his characters so well he became someone else: his voice, bearing, mimics were changing, public saw not Dickens but Mr. Scroodge. At this time Dickens was feeling the same inner cataclysms as his characters experienced. His close ones witnessed that such "role plays" harmed the writer's wealth, literally draining pieces of his soul out of him. But Dickens never stopped. As doctors witnessed, Dickens' emotional disquiet during the performances became the reason for the strike which eventually caused his death.
Another significant aspect is that everybody out there can easily imagine how Oliver Twist, Fagin or Uriah Heep looked like, although they never existed. They were created so real and so alive by the great Ghostwriter's talent of Charles Dickens.
Compared to the previous installments, what is different about Ghostwriting?
This game is more complex and massive than its predecessors. The plot is more intriguing, the graphics quality is up to the industry standards, the game play has everything that was there previously but also a number of new game elements and features. It also took the largest amount of studio time to develop it.
Which aspect in Midnight Mysteries: Ghostwriting are you most proud of?
I think this it is the atmosphere. The game ended up being quite atmospheric. The mystery tangled with the strong curiosity to find out what the next turn hides are working together to stir up the player's imagination and if they succeed, the world of Midnight Mysteries: Ghostwriting is pushing its boundaries. For instance, you see the scene of a bridge and the nearby tavern; past the bridge, in the background in the mist you can expect the famous Sleepy Hollow. You can't quite see all of it but your imagination will add the missing details: the church, the school, Mr. Andre's tree and local citizens. They all make the unique atmosphere of this game.
What kind of challenges did you encounter while creating them?
The game involves the players in the world of well-known literature creations. Everyone who has read them may picture his own image of places and events populating those books. How should we develop the game so that the player who finds himself inside the David Copperfield book world will not suddenly say: I don't believe it, it's a cheap fake!
The development team implemented Dickens' plots in the game very carefully. That is why the law office where the evil-minded Uriah Heep works follows Dickens' description to the smallest details, for example. We couldn't do it any other way as we know Dickens had put his soul into his books and characters. Additionally, we did not only put our commercial interest in our games.
What is your favorite scene in the game?
In Midnight Mysteries 6: Ghostwriting, there are many interesting scenes which is why I can only apply my subjective opinion: I like Oliver Twist's London the most. We enter the backstreet and there is...... I will not spoil it to you just so you can have fun anticipating.
How long have you been developing this game?
Longer than any other of our games and more than any casual game developer spends on developing games of its type. It took us more than a year to finish it because the project was so massive.
Are you planning any sequels which are under development and which you could reveal to our readers?
Indeed, we have already created the concept of the seventh Midnight Mysteries game, but its fate significantly depends on how the players will accept Midnight Mysteries: Ghostwriting. Furthermore, we are actively working on some Free-to-Play projects; our hit Gummy Drop and another game of same genre in the queue. Check our website for details.