Interview: The Developers behind The Lost Treasure Island 3D
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the fine folks over at Canavan Communications, LLC about their upcoming iOS adventure game The Lost Treasure Island. The game will challenge your problem solving skills while shedding some insight on a real live hidden treasure, and the developers are determined to bring you some first class story telling for your mobile devices. Read on to find out what brought them to where they are now and what they have planned for the future.
First of all, I want to offer the customary “thank you” for taking the time to talk with me.
1. How many people are on your team, and what kind of experience do you have in the gaming industry?
We have about 22 experienced people on the team, all part timers, from all over the world. Most people work only on the weekends. Every person on this team is very passionate about creating an amazing experience. Although we are all new as a team, Project One Games is about making you, the player, the focal point and your entertainment our first priority.
2. From what I understand this game has at least some grounding in actual facts. What was the inspiration for the story, and specifically for focusing on a real life treasure?
The “Lost Treasure” is actually the world’s largest and most ancient lost treasure. It was first gathered together in ancient Egypt, was captured by the ancient Romans and grew to an enormous size, until it was lost for almost 800 years, when it was found by The Knights Templar around 1099 AD. This treasure has been the topic of many great films, books and TV series. Some people believe that in 1398, the Knights Templar, with stone masons, hid the treasure behind some very devious tricks, traps and puzzles on a remote island, to keep people from finding it. This is the focus of The Lost Treasure Island.
3. In your initial press release you likened The Lost Treasure Island to The Room, which I thought was an interesting comparison. From the video I’ve seen and what I’ve played so far, I’d think a more likely peer would be Myst. What were the influences behind this particular style of game play?
The core team is the four of us, Mike, Jeff, Chris & Nicole. We are brothers and sisters. As kids, we were all into role-playing games from a very young age. (Dungeons & Dragons mainly). Our favorite adventure was “Tomb of Horrors” by Gary Gygax. We wanted to create an adventure that allows the player to free roam and solve puzzles, tricks and traps. We have been looking for something for years to fill this void. One evening, in front of a roaring fire, we decided that we would just do it, we would create an amazing experience, whatever the time and cost. Although we took influences from others, we had to build something entirely new and innovative. It took us about 5800 hours to get to this point after two years, but we finished what we started.
Q4. Assuming a game player with average problem solving skills, how much game play would you say The Lost Treasure Island offers?
Well, if you play it perfectly, it takes me about 3 hours and 20 minutes. For an average player, it would take about five hours to complete. What is interesting, is that you don’t have to solve every puzzle, it is not sequential. And there is an advanced “hint engine” that figures out when you get stuck and offers you in game hints. Originally, the adventure was much longer, but we decided to shorten it to be closer to the length of a film, which is usually 2 hours 20 minutes. And you can finish the entire adventure without doing any “in app purchase” or “IAP”. It is 100% optional to purchase the “IAP” to finish the game, it just makes it much easier. So, it should entertain you for between approximately 2-4 hours.
5. I found the combination of free form movement and tap-to-move waypoints (much like the Infinity Blade series uses) rather intriguing. Why the decision to allow both at the same time, or to even use the waypoint method for that matter?
That’s a great question. When we started, we did not have waypoints, or tap to move spots. We spent a lot of time play testing this adventure with many people. And many “non gamer” people (like my wife) felt “Lost” on the island. So, we found that providing a suggested path helped them have a better experience. For gamers (like my son), we wanted them to have freedom to explore. The game is designed for all levels. However, I will say that you will miss a lot in the middle of the game if you stick to the tap-to-move waypoints. We encourage you to explore.
6. With mobile games plunging further into the abyss of F2P, why choose the mobile platform for this type of game?
Let’s be honest, “free to play” isn’t free. For a large percentage of today’s most popular “free” games, the player pays a lot to continue his/her journey. The cost of coins, gems, additional lives and ammo costs a lot.
Our adventure immerses the player into a very realistic, alternative environment, where it requires concentration and effort to survive. Our thinking was: why ruin that immersion by zinging the player with a purchase request that yanks them out of their adventure? In-app purchases and annoying pop up ads ruin the experience.
For almost the cost of a cup of coffee, you get an amazing, personal adventure that will entertain you for a few hours. This is the model that we believe in.
7. Providing a relatively easy in-game method of letting the users connect with the developers is a pretty bold move. How important is the relationship between customer and developer to you guys?
The Player is King to us. Any feedback we get, good or bad, we consider a great gift. We built an infrastructure that allows any player to connect to the core team from within the game itself. If someone has a suggestion or an idea, or gets stuck, we are there. Feedback is very important to us. Listening is critical. This is only episode one of seven. We expect to retain people from episode one, through seven.
8. So you mentioned to me in an email that you have a vision for 7 episodes. That seems like an awful lot for a game coming from a relatively unknown development team. Why such big ambitions for a first project?
This Lost Treasure is a very complicated story that spans many centuries. The story is really too much to convey in one episode. We want to create great experiences for people, and we believe we have a new formula for doing this.
People might notice that everything in the adventure is physically possible to replicate in the real world. This was intentional.
Is more than one episode already complete?
Yes, episode two is 80% completed. There are some very exciting components planned for the next episode that we cannot wait to complete for the players.
Q9. Sorry for a generic ending to this interview, but do you have any closing thoughts for the readers?
As kids, we read The Harry Potter books, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and even Sherlock Holmes. We played Dungeon and Dragons extensively. The games and books were a series. The series was an adventure. You’d put down one, and pick up the next… and there would be continuity. We noticed that the art of story telling was missing from mobile games. Our adventure will provide a series of connected episodes which tells a story. Each one builds upon the previous.
We just hope the readers dare to become players and enjoy our adventure!
Once again, thank you for your time.
Thank you, for hosting us on your excellent website.
Jeffrey Canavan, The Lost Treasure Island 3D – Escape Adventure Puzzle Game – $0.99
Note: The game requires an iPhone 5s / iPad Air or newer to run.