With the exception of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis in 2003, the Jurassic Park franchise has been about as dead as the dinosaurs that walked the earth, until recently. Last year saw Universal breathe new life into the series when it licensed the franchise out to comic book publisher IDW for two series and to Telltale Games for a new episodic-based video game set.
With the first episode of Jurassic Park: The Game due out in just a few weeks, GameSpot AU managed to catch up with Telltale Games' Joe Pinney, who is the series designer/writer on the project, to talk about the creative freedom they've had on the project, the challenges of programming dinosaur AI, and more.
GameSpot AU: First up, where in the Jurassic Park timeline does the game fit in?
Joe Pinney: It overlaps the events of the first film and extends beyond them, to the days and nights immediately following the collapse of the park.
GS AU: What sort of creative freedom has Universal given you guys to create the story?
JP: Plenty! They've given us license to follow a new story to its natural conclusions. We're fans like they are, and we all really want the new stuff to be grounded in the events, locations, and tone of the first film, so we're all on the same page there. It helps that the folks at Universal are terrific collaborators, and gamers to boot.
GS AU: Can we expect any characters from the films to be making an appearance in the game?
JP: One of our main characters had a bit part in the first film, and we'll learn a lot more about him. We'll have some nods to and mentions of the film characters. Other than that, it's a new cast--plus, of course, the dinosaurs return!
GS AU: In terms of gameplay, what can players expect?
JP: It's a new blend of exploration, action, and adventure, very cinematic and intuitive, which we think really suits the story. We're hoping to hook not only fans of Jurassic Park, but anyone who enjoys an exciting adventure.
GS AU: What sort of freedom will players have to explore the island?
JP: You'll be revisiting familiar locations and discovering brand-new aspects of Isla Nublar as the story progresses. The storyline determines where you go, and you won't be able to go just anywhere--there are dinosaurs out there!
GS AU: Will you be introducing any new dinosaurs into the mix?
JP: Yes! Some beautiful creatures that we're all familiar with, and some more obscure critters, too. And a mysterious new threat.
GS AU: Has it been difficult creating a believe AI routine for animals that have been extinct for such a long time?
JP: Not as difficult as you might think. We're using present-day animal behaviours to ground our dinosaur behaviour, along with examples from the films. We've also gotten advice from a top palaeontologist on how dinosaurs might have behaved. When we have to make a guess, we try to make it an educated guess.
GS AU: Are you guys sticking closer to Steven Spielberg's interpretation of Jurassic Park? Or are you staying closer to the books?
JP: We're basing the game off of the films. We're inspired by Spielberg's visual style as well as his story interpretation.
GS AU: Previous Jurassic Park games haven't been so crash hot. Are you guys worried that people will hold that against your game?
JP: We're taking a fresh approach. We're hoping that players give us a chance and that they'll be happily surprised to play a game that really looks, sounds, and feels like Jurassic Park.
GS AU: Joe Pinney, thanks for your time.