I have talked about Rein before, the short adventure game created by Darius Poyer. It first appeared on the Adventure Game Studio forums and was recently featured on the cover discs of PC Gamer and PC Zone. I took the chance to ask Darius a few questions about Rein and his plans to continue the story.
The Reticule – First of all, where did you get the inspiration for Rein from?
Darius – Rein is inspired by my first AGS-game idea. It was a game called ‘The Fraxto Mystery’ and it was set in another Fraxto Facility named Fraxto 16, different from the Fraxto 21 of Rein.
The Fraxto Mystery was in turn inspired by a childhood memory of mine. A memory exaggerated by time and perspective. The memory is of an old cartoon I used to watch called Johnny Quest, the episode itself was called ‘DNA doomsday’. The episode is about a DNA-based computer becoming self-aware and subsequently consuming people into its electro-subconscious. Looking at the episode now being a bit older and jaded it’s a pretty bad story actually, at least in its execution, conceptually, it’s still pretty good.
TR – Was there any influence from Half-Life, I got a strong sense that the facility in Rein was based on Black Mesa, was it?
Darius – Probably, the facilities are similar in broad strokes. A sort of hidden large facility dealing with top-of-the-line type research, questionable in its practises and affiliation. Is this a government facility or is it privately funded? For what purpose? Who is really in charge? How can a company with over 21 highly advanced medical research facilities operate in secrecy? So, yes, I think, but not directly, the cards just fell that way.
TR – Rein was recently featured on the discs of PC Gamer and PC Zone, were you surprised to see it on them?
Darius – It is pretty surprising, and while it’s not really that important of a thing, it’s still pretty amazing to me that that happened somehow.
TR – The atmosphere of Rein I found was really striking and impressive, how did you manage to make it so effective?
Darius – Basically, what I couldn’t convey by animating pixels I tried to convey by animating with sound. The best example of this in Rein is when you leave the first room; you see a black screen while you hear the sound of a collapse, then when you fade into the new room there is a pile of rubble behind you visually connecting the sound to an event.
A similar thing applies to the ambient sound, hearing the rooms around you crumble adds a lot to how you absorb the experience, a lot more than a few falling rocks could ever do.
TR – The auto-save feature is really innovative, what made you decide to use it like you did?
Darius – When you have a game where the player will die a lot, or specifically when there’s an AGS game where you die at all, you have to train the player to save often. There are two ways to go about this; one is by the players experience, making them die, so they then feel the need to save compulsively, or by writing it somewhere, in-game, readme, or forum post etc. The option to this is to perhaps save for the player to avoid frustration, I find that to be the preferable option since it keep the flow of the game and if death isn’t an annoyance, it can become part of the experience.
TR – The intro to the game describes it as an interactive picture, what did you mean by this?
Darius – I found it to be an accurate and interesting description of what an AGS game is, not quite a game, but more of an interactive story. It is similar to calling a television show a tele-play, which is accurate and humbling at the same time. It’s the kind of phrase that makes you perhaps look more closely at the mediums history in simple terms.
TR – Rein was quite short really and finished on a bit of a cliff hanger, do you have any plans for a follow-up?
Darius – Prequel, sequel, series… something along those lines.