GDC '08: Puzzle Quest was deemed too risky

Publishers didn't want to take a chance on Puzzle Quest, says Infinite Interactive CEO Steve Fawkner; sci-fi themed sequel Galactrix announced.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Just like the Beatles, Puzzle Quest was turned down many times before D3 Publisher took the game on, Infinite Interactive CEO Steve Fawkner told the audience at his Game Developers Conference session.

Fawkner said that the pitching process was incredibly frustrating, which he illustrated with a cartoon. He said, "because it was deemed an 'innovative product,' it was difficult to sell the idea. We had one publisher who said they loved it, but they wouldn't publish it because they had no idea how many copies it would sell." A while later, the same publisher asked for more copies of the game, and Fawkner presumed this was because it had changed its mind on publishing the title. "They said no," he laughed. "They just wanted more copies because everyone was playing it in the lunchtime in their office."

Fawkner said that he had been asked many, many times how the company came up with the idea for Puzzle Quest. He said, "It was actually a happy accident."

The first name that the company had for the game was Warlords Champions, but Infinite Interactive decided that it made it sound too much like a fighting game. Puzzle Quest was chosen, revealed Fawkner, because, "We wanted one word that said casual game, which was 'puzzle,' and one word which said hardcore/RPG, and that was 'quest,' and we stuck them together."

Originally the game only had a male character to play, but through focus testing the company found that female gamers were turned off by this, so the company added the option of playing as a female character. Explaining why this wasn't originally in the plan, Fawkner said, "We wanted to avoid the whole masculine/feminine/neuter thing in European languages, which would basically add a load of text."

As to why he thinks that Puzzle Quest was so successful, Fawkner thinks it's because gamers who had previously only played either role-playing games or puzzle games got to see the other side of the coin, and found that they liked that too.

He finished off his session by showing a short demo of the next Puzzle Quest, Galactrix, which will have a sci-fi theme. A few things will be different in the new game, Fawkner explained, including a better scaling down of difficulty. "If you start to lose a few games, the AI will pull itself back," he said. Gamers can also look forward to more variety in missions, and a more dynamic world.

To find out more about Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, check out GameSpot's full preview.

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