Interview | Big Finish Games Discusses Tex Murphy & Tesla Effect

By Adam Riley 25.04.2014 4

Eager to find out just what happened to Tex Murphy all those years ago, Cubed3's Adam Riley donned his fedora and went investigating, only to discover the adventure series was indeed still alive and kicking, thanks to great support from its creators, fans, and a little nudge via Kickstarter. Big Finish Games (made up of many Access Software staff that worked on the original Tex Murphy series) is bringing Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure to the world on 7th May, with the publishing weight of Atlus behind it, and Cubed3 caught up with the team to find out more about this much anticipated new outing.

Image for Interview | Big Finish Games Discusses Tex Murphy & Tesla Effect
Cubed3: For those unfamiliar with the Tex Murphy games, can you briefly fill us in on where it all began?

Big Finish Games: Back in the 1980s - it was an outgrowth of a game called Echelon, which was a flight simulator game. We wanted to use the flight simulator but we also wanted to build it around a story but the story became so interesting the flight simulator just seemed to get in the way.

Cubed3: Can you just discuss who Big Finish Games actually is? Is the entire old team back for this new project?

Big Finish Games: Big Finish Games is a collection of veteran game-makers, with a passion to tell great stories. We've been in the industry for over 30 years, and have learned to ebb and flow with the industry. As game designers, we've produced games for Commodore 64, MS-DOS, PC, XBOX, and Xbox 360 for various companies. While many of the members of the BFG team have been around since the early days of Access Software, we have acquired some new talent along the way.


 

Cubed3: What sort of hurdles have you faced in terms of getting some of the actors from previous games back? Were there any that simply said 'no' or were unavailable due to other (obviously inferior!) projects?

Big Finish Games: The biggest obstacle we faced was tracking everyone down! But, call it nostalgia, or call it good fortune, everyone we got a hold of to reprise their roles were gracious enough to come back and participate. We did lose a few who have passed away or had medical issues, but most of the key players have returned.

Cubed3: 1998 IS A LONG TIME AGO… Before the massive success of the Kickstarter, was there any ever concern that fans may have forgotten all about good ol' Tex?

Big Finish Games: Absolutely not. We truly have the greatest fans in the world - as evidenced by our Kickstarter. But, for a very long time, when the hope of bringing Tex back was slim, we had a fan-owned and -operated Unofficial Tex Murphy fan-site. It was, and is, a vibrant community.

Image for Interview | Big Finish Games Discusses Tex Murphy & Tesla Effect

Cubed3: What was the reason for a lack of Tex Murphy: Overseer follow-up back in the day? Lack of publisher support, perhaps?

Big Finish Games: We did the follow-up to Pandora Directive - "Overseer" - but after that we sold our company to Microsoft and they were more interested in titles that were Xbox-centric and they did not feel Tex Murphy titles would be popular enough for consoles.

Cubed3: What have the likes of Chris Jones and Aaron Conners been up to all these years? Surely not just daydreaming of a new Tex Murphy?

Big Finish Games: Well - Chris has been running and operating his virtual golf company, TruGolf. They specialise in affordable in-home golf simulators. Aaron has been working as a project manager for EA.

As far as videogames are concerned, the two have released a few titles under Big Finish Games. These include; Three Cards to Midnight; Three Cards to Deadtime; Rita James Race to Shangri-La.


 

Cubed3: How did the deal with ATLUS come about, and in what way has the publisher contributed to the project?

Big Finish Games: The 2013 Game Developer's Conference, and lots and lots of paperwork!

Having a publisher has broadened our reach - and people who may not have heard about the Tex Murphy series before are seeing, hearing, and reading things about what BFG is up to. It's also nice to have an outside perspective on your project - we're a small group at BFG, and we believe the more eyes and feedback we can get, the better.

Cubed3: Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure… Care to share a little about the name and what we can expect this time around for our favorite P.I.?

Big Finish Games: The title came about because Tesla was the focus of the story after our last title and cliffhanger from Overseer. We had been working on a trilogy that we were going to follow up with and it really is an epic tale that covers several time periods. We love to mesh real history with our character and Tesla offers such a rich playground of ideas inventions and folklore - it really was irresistible to us. Plus it allows us to expand the Tex universe substantially with many story strings to give real depth and dimension. There is a feeling there is a lot going on around you and that this really is its own adventure universe.

Image for Interview | Big Finish Games Discusses Tex Murphy & Tesla Effect

Cubed3: How much of a series recap is going to be included to bring newcomers up to speed as quickly as possible?

Big Finish Games: People who are not familiar with the Tex Murphy universe will immediately be involved with the story from the opening moments of gameplay. We have made sure to develop Tesla Effect in such a way that longtime fans will be pleasantly surprised with how many of the original cast members reprise their roles, and also how new it feels. We incorporate all the much needed back-story from Overseer's cliffhanger. The player will be brought up to speed quickly and then will be thrust into a rich immersive atmosphere.

Cubed3: In terms of the soundtrack, with a 'Live Orchestra' promised, do you feel some of the classic 'retro' ambience of the series may be lost? Will there be an option to select a 'classic style' soundtrack? We do love a bit of 'gratuitous sax' after all…

Big Finish Games: Oh, believe us, there will be enough gratuitous sax to go around! We are staying true to the noir, and classic Tex Murphy feel - but we wanted to make sure that the cinematic sequences feel and sound cinematic. This game is BIG, and there is a lot of video footage - and there's going to be a lot of music throughout Tesla Effect.


 

Cubed3: The Kickstarter target was not only met, but blasted past with ease. Does that mean the 'Exceed by 30%' goal was triggered and both 'additional story expansions' will be included?

Big Finish Games: Yes, yes, and yes. Thanks to our tremendous backers, we were able to make the game of our dreams. There are three different narrative paths, dictated by your play. There will also be five (or six) unique endings.

Cubed3: New era, new hardware, new Tex engine? Will those humble PCs still be able to run this, though?

Big Finish Games: You won't need the latest and greatest to run the game…but it will take a tad more power than people had in 1994!

Cubed3: Three paths, five (or six!) unique endings, interactive dialogue - clearly a lot is being in to ensure plenty of longevity! Will there be some sort of log for players to keep track of what has been achieved?

Big Finish Games: We do our games in segments and there is plenty of narration to keep the player focused and on track. We make sure the player stays on task but still allow them to explore a 3D immersive environment.

Cubed3: A large part of the fun in the past was being able to interact with just about anything in the direct vicinity and get, more often than not, a witty retort. Is it a given that this aspect is returning?

Big Finish Games: Yes, and then some! The levels in Tesla Effect are enormous, and we guarantee that as you find your way through the game, you will be pleasantly surprised with Tex's own brand of sardonic and idiotic commentary.

Image for Interview | Big Finish Games Discusses Tex Murphy & Tesla Effect

Cubed3: On the puzzles side, what angle are you taking for the various conundrums within - a point-and-click 'collect items, use items' approach, or taxing brain teasers and conundrums as seen in the likes of the Professor Layton series?

Big Finish Games: D! All of the above. Our game is chock full of brain teasers and environmental puzzles. We are aiming to test our gamers, and give them a wide array of puzzles, throughout the whole game.

Cubed3: How are you going to handle a hints system - penalise players for using too many, or simply leave the option to peel back onion layers at will until the full solution is revealed? And will there be various difficulty levels?

Big Finish Games: We offer two versions of the game: Casual and Gamer.  IF you just want to play and not strain yourself too much mentally, you should be able to get through the whole game using the online hint system. If you are looking for a real challenge, then try the gamer version.

Cubed3: Have you considered the idea of DLC for extra cases to keep momentum going? If not, please explain why?

Big Finish Games: When we started our Kickstarter funding we got direct feedback from many of our supporters that they did not want DLC. We have given everyone a huge game and they should be very satisfied with the game they are purchasing - it is a full experience.

Cubed3: Were there ever thoughts given to making it an episodic release, like Revolution recently did with its Kickstarter-funded Broken Sword 5?

Big Finish Games: Not really. We had a story we have wanted to tell for years and we just went for it.


 

Cubed3: Will you be looking after fans of other formats, even perhaps Nintendo's Wii U system? Surely the GamePad would be an intriguing prospect for the series?

Big Finish Games: We will take a look at other systems if it makes realistic business sense.

Cubed3: Has any thought been given to resurrecting the very first few adventures, perhaps in Director's Cut form or even re-mastered form (like Revolution successfully did with its classics)?

Big Finish Games: Not at this time. We've got our hands full with Tesla…

Cubed3: Before we finish, what is/was the Tex Murphy Radio Theatre?

Big Finish Games: Like I have said before, we have the best fans in the gaming world. TMRT was created as a way for us to keep Tex alive, and throw a bone to those fans who were eagerly waiting for the resolution to the Overseer cliffhanger. It was a six-episode story that chronicled what happened to Tex in the months following his and Chelsee Bando's abduction. We wanted to make sure they understood that we really didn't kill Tex off at the end of "Overseer."

As part of our Kickstarter, we promised six new installments of TMRT. Our hope is that these episodes will expand the Tesla Effect universe, and give fans a richer experience that transcends various media.

Box art for Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure
Developer

Big Finish Games

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

Take a look at this timeline of the series:

Image for

I got into the games with Under a Killing Moon. Good times! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Not just good times but great times! I loved these games from the very start! Tesla looks like exactly what I was hoping for! Bring it on as its been a long wait!

When in doubt....Whip it out!

I really should try Mean Streets and Martian Memorandum at some point. Are they more like text adventures or still point and click?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

The main problem I know of in at least the first game of Tex Murphy was the driving/flying simulator. Smilie I guess it took forever to get from point A to point B. Because you had to manually drive/fly there. Unlike in UAKM were you fast travel to places.

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