Point-and-click: Reviving a once-forgotten gaming genre

Acclaimed games developer Charles Cecil tells David Crookes why the future of the age-old point-and-click adventure is in our hands

When Hollywood becomes devoid of ideas, it typically turns to history, plundering old franchises and blowing the cobwebs from classic literature. For the past few years, the games industry has been doing exactly the same – the wealth of retro remakes and the reinvention of characters from Batman to Prince of Persia showing there is always mileage in turning back the clocks.

Sometimes, however, it works incredibly well and this has seldom been seen so starkly as with the revival of the once-dead point-and-click adventure game. A couple of years ago, gamers could only think back, misty-eyed, to a period when titles such as King's Quest and Grim Fandango ruled the gaming roost. But then, gradually, a comeback started in earnest, spurred on initially by the touchscreen interface of the Nintendo DS and the intuitive Remote of the Wii and, latterly, the incredible power and popularity of the Apple iPhone.

From the comeback of Sam & Max to the attempts at rekindling the magic of Simon the Sorcerer, fans of point-and-click adventures have been spoilt for choice of late. And when Revolution Software – headed by the charming and approachable Charles Cecil – decided it was going to revamp its popular Broken Sword series for the Wii and DS, it led to increased hope that LucasArts would begin to revisit its Monkey Island series.

Not only did LucasArts do just that – re-releasing a revamped The Secret of Monkey Island and following up with a fresh episodic series called Tales of Monkey Island – but Revolution continued with the momentum it had built up, culminating in the launch on Friday of Beneath a Steel Sky: Remastered, a £2.99 “director's revision” iPhone conversion of the acclaimed 1994 PC game.

“There's been a bit of a gold rush for developers when it comes to the iPhone,” says Charles with a smile. “But our motivation hasn't been money. We felt it was time to test the water and put out a version of Beneath A Steel Sky that infinitely improves upon the PC version of 15 years ago. The idea is that, if this venture proves to be a major success in terms of how it is received, then we will look to produce not only a possible sequel for the game but other adventure titles too.”

It has been a busy time for Charles of late. As well as being called to speak at various gaming events up and down the country, he has also been working with Disney to help turn Robert Zemeckis' new performance-capture film, A Christmas Carol, into a game. Not only has be designed much of the game, he has also landed his vocal talent to the game.

That aside, however, Charles is going all out for the handheld market at the moment. Although his background has been with PC gaming – upon which the success of Beneath A Steel Sky, Broken Sword and Revolution's first game, Lure of the Temptress was built – he believes the future for adventure gaming lies predominantly with mobile devices, in particular those with touch screens. It is why he has formed Revolution Pocket with the idea of creating games for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, PSPgo, and DSi.

“The touch screens of mobile phones and consoles today allow point-and-click adventures to offer a better gaming experience than ever before,” Charles continues. “What grabs us most about the iPhone, though, is Apple's business model. The developer is able to keep 70 per cent of the game price and it also means it can sell directly to the consumer, without having to spend fortunes on getting the game into the shops and having each copy placed into boxes. For us, it's a great opportunity to create games without the pressure of a publisher and to concentrate on producing the very best experience for gamers.”

The new Beneath A Steel Sky features the familiar, yet surprisingly fresh graphics of the original but with animated movies produced by Dave Gibbons, co-creator of the Watchmen graphic novel. It also features a touch screen interface which he proudly claims to be better than the one LucasArts has devised for Monkey Island and, a sign of the times perhaps, there is even a hint system for when people become stuck. The days of heads being scratched are long gone, it appears.

So what else for the future? Charles believes digital distribution is the way forward, doing for gaming what iTunes has done for music. “People are becoming more accustomed to digital distribution and audiences are more accepting of it,” says Charles. “By publishing games ourselves, we can build up a better relationship with our audience and it gives us greater commercial and creative freedom and allows us to bring intelligent products to market in the way that we want them.”

Beneath a Steel Sky is available on Friday, priced £2.99, from the Apple App Store.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Director - Product Management

    £75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence