Kickin’ it with Jeremy Blaustein – Blackmore
Do you like point and click adventure games in an interesting setting with great artwork and gameplay mechanics? Then continue reading to learn about Blackmore!
4cr: Hi! Thanks for doing this interview. Could you give us an introduction to who you are and all the games you’ve worked on 4for our readers who aren’t familiar with your work?
Hi, this is Jeremy Blaustein. I’m mostly known as a localizer of Japanese games. I live in Japan right now where I’ve lived on and off for the last 25 years or so since I was first an exchange student here in 1987.
ALL of the games I’ve worked on? Jeez, are you serious? OK, here goes and I will definitely be missing some! These are the ones I had a major role in only; there are scores of others that I was part of a team in.
Snatcher, Vandal Hearts, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Suikoden 2, Alundra 2, Valkyrie Profile, Dragon Warrior VII, Shadow Hearts, Ape Escape 2, Silent Hill 2, Fatal Frame, EOE: Eve of Extinction, Beach Spikers, Dark Cloud 2, DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, Lost Kingdoms II, Silent Hill 3, Airforce Delta Strike, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Silent Hill 4, Shadow of Rome, Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -Trials and Tribulations, Rune Factory 2, Banshee’s Last Cry and some I would rather not or cannot name
4cr: I was sent a link to a campaign for Blackmore over on Kickstarter, a steampunk adventure game that is seeking $200,000 in pledges. Can you please tell us more about this game?
Yes, I’d love to. Blackmore is set in an alternative, reimagined London of 1888. Much is the same, but technology is a bit more advanced than it was in our universe. Technology that we are familiar in our lives today, such as wireless electricity and even data streaming is possible (thanks to the inventions of Simon Blackmore and his more famous student, Nicola Tesla). Simple automatons act as servants in the richer households, their daily tasks being roughly programmed into their noisily clacking bodies via a punch card technology that uses long metallic coiled ribbons instead of cards.
The Blackmore clan is a well-to-do family. The patriarch, Lord Simon Blackmore, inventor extraordinaire, died fairly recently (under unusual circumstances) and the remaining members are Jonas Blackmore, the son, who will be played by David Hayter, Emma Blackmore, the heroine of the game and her mother, Teruko Honda-Blackmore. Also in the mix is Emma’s robot companion, Descartes who will play the role as a sort of guide through the game when necessary but also a sidekick who will provide a lot of fun much like Metal Gear did in Snatcher.
Emma, although a noblewoman herself, is a humanitarian and runs a medical clinic in the poorer areas of East London, much to the chagrin of her brother, Jonas. Emma becomes involved in the Whitechapel murders when she sees the grisly work of the killer. She is asked to help by Inspector Frederick Abberline, the real-life investigator behind the Jack the Ripper murders.
Jonas is the more typical upper class person. although he would agree that the wealthy upper class has a responsibility in helping the “unfortunate”, his attitude is much more traditional, viewing himself as above the commoners. At the same time, Jonas feels that he is not the great man his father was and goes to rather extreme lengths to try to prove himself worthy of the name Blackmore.
Descartes follows Emma wherever she goes and is a fiercely loyal, if sometimes annoying and intrusive sidekick. Emma, in turn, loves Descartes because she grew up with him around since the time she was just a toddler. Descartes is a technological wonder that is (nearly) singular in complexity, having been built by Simon Blackmore himself.
4cr: It’s interesting that in this day and age you’re aiming at releasing a single player game when most studios are trying to focus on 3D graphics and online multiplayer as their business model. What made you decide to pursue a single player 2.5D adventure game?
Isometric perspective is one of those things that you can’t say why you love it but it just hits you and you love it. At least that’s how I feel. Maybe it is the scale of it. I think perhaps it makes me feel like a small god looking into a real world, like a wizard lego maker who built a city. Then there’s the fact that since the characters are not huge and photo realistic, your imaginations fills them up so that they become something that exists in your mind and therefore much more real.
The game itself will appear isometric but you’ll also be doing some things that can only be done in 3D if you get my drift. Much of the time, this 2.5D is used for action games, but I wanted to use it for an adventure game but also retain some fun action elements. To me an adventure game is all about inhabiting the characters and immersing yourself in the real world of the game. It’s the way to tell the story. So a combination of the isometric view and pop-up character faces just seems the perfect thing, the very game that I would want to play so I have to think that it would appeal to others for the same reason.
4cr: The goal of $200,000 seems a bit low considering the scope of this project. How will you be able to create Blackmore with only this amount?
Well, we’ve run some numbers and believe we can do it. For one thing I will essentially be working for free! No, but seriously the answer is yes. We have excellent technical advice and are certain it can be done with careful oversight and after 20 years in business as an entrepreneur, I do know how to manage money on projects quite well.
4cr: Blackmore reads like a Snatcher reunion since you’ll be working alongside Satoshi Yoshioka and Motoaki Furukawa. How did this happen?
It’s frankly difficult to make an Indie game with Japanese talent since there really aren’t that many game people that are truly independent in the sense of not tied up with their own companies or with the large game companies. But I knew that Mr. Yoshioka was close by, in Osaka, and was delighted to find out that Mr. Furukawa was even closer! It gave me the idea that it was possible and so, after writing a game development plan that would hopefully convince ex-Konami veterans like them to join, I contacted them.
4cr: As a follow up, how many people total are currently working on Blackmore?
Our team currently consists of 12 people.
4cr: Have you thought about bringing Blackmore to consoles (Wii U/PS4/XBO) along with the PC and Mac releases?
Absolutely. We definitely want to do that and I would say there is a very strong chance that we will. It will take a little extra money and we are currently trying to get a better sense of how much resources we will need for those conversions.
4cr: Our time is almost up, do you want to mention anything else before we say goodbye?
I’d just like to say that now is the time when we can hopefully increase the number of indie game developers and really smash the limits that are holding us back from broadening games into the media they can be. This game, Blackmore, is something that I know will be a lot of fun for people to play and I will see it done, that’s for sure. But it needs support to make up for the fact that it is an independent project. Lots of people will be working on it with a lot of passion and love and they need to be able to eat while they do it. It is a risk to do this kind of thing, but without this spirit of gamble and adventure among the people creating games, we would have a much more boring world. I grew up with games changing me and my life and now I want to be a part of that cycle by doing the same thing back.