The Mystery of Oak Island - Interview with Visionaire Studio's Thomas Dibke

The Mystery of Oak Island - Interview with Visionaire Studio's Thomas Dibke

Visionaire Studio is best known for their game engine used in such notable titles as The Whispered World and Deponia. They are now developing a game themselves titled The Mystery of Oak Island! Check out the Kickstarter campaign.

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The Mystery of Oak Island is a 2.5D point and click adventure game for the PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android currently raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/visionaire-studio/the-mystery-of-oak-island#.

To date the campaign has raised nearly $30,000, a respectable amount, but well short of the $100,000 goal. What's important to note is the developer of this title is Visionaire Studio, the same company whose adventure game engine was used to create such hits like the Deponia series, The Whispered World, The Chains of Satinav, Memoria, and more. We recently had the chance to talk with Visionaire Studio’s Thomas Dibke about The Mystery of Oak Island, the Kickstarter Campaign, and Visionaire Studio’s game engine.

Hi Thomas, thanks for taking the time. Many of our readers will likely not be aware of the fabled Oak Island Treasure, which is of course central to your game. I’ve seen analogies made to say Raiders of the Lost Ark or finding King Tut’s tomb. Could you provide some background information on the Mystery of Oak Island, and why it makes such a good backdrop for an adventure game?

Hi David, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity for this interview. :) I love to talk about the game we're developing right now.

The Mystery of Oak Island is the amazing story about a legendary treasure hunt that started 1795 on Oak Island, Canada. Maybe some of you guys want to check the details on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Island

To shorten it a bit: In 1795 three men discovered a mysterious stone containing hieroglyphs and indications of a fabulous treasure. An incredible, centuries-long treasure hunt began that included several companies and individuals, including former United States of America President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But all they found were dead ends, elaborate traps, insanity or even their own demise. To date, six treasure hunters have died on Oak Island due to unexplained circumstances.

It sounds like some kind of Hollywood story, but this is what REALLY happened. For years, we have been closely following the events on Oak Island. And one day we thought: Let's make an adventure game based on the infamous legend of Oak Island in which you get to hunt for one of the most sought after treasures - of all time! Wouldn't it be amazing, if YOU had the chance to track down the legendary treasure yourself?! Now we give the gamers the opportunity to solve this mystery. But OAK ISLAND is not just a treasure hunt but an intense and mystical thriller with a varied story, challenging puzzles and interesting characters.

That certainly sounds like a great backdrop for an adventure game. Will Oak Island be fully explorable then, and can you provide some more insight into the three playable characters, and the different time periods?

The island will be fully explorable. In addition you'll have to visit several places in Nova Scotia plus the upper- AND underground of the island. Also we implemented most of the strange facts like the dam, the excavation, the flood tunnels and several important discoveries and items. You have to deal with strange incidents, other treasure hunters, murder and dangers of all kind. You can die... you can get killed. We want to make the game an intense and a most thrilling experience with a great storyline and interesting gameplay.

Same for the game characters. We want them to be varied - with individual habits and skills. Our main character, Jamie, is a confident, brave guy who always has an ironic or sarcastic comment on his lips during his investigations. Which brings that special, spicy humor into the game without breaking the dark, gripping atmosphere. Jamie works for the New York Times. 

Then there's "Ann", his girlfriend. She's studying literature in Oxford, which enables her to support Jamie from afar through research when he has a question or a complicated problem. However Ann is also quite whimsical and doesn't always want to dance to Jamie's tune. So they will certainly have some wild disputes, and she's not simply your problem-solving tool. She will also have her own playable, parallel storyline in London and Oxford. 

And then there's another mysterious playable character from the past who will give you precious insights into the historic events, of which some will be crucial in certain situations, in the present. Thus we are covering two different interwoven timelines.

You mention on the Kickstarter page that the game will feature a modern control interface – left click for movement and interaction, and right click to examine the environment, objects, items and characters - as well as an inventory system. Could you talk a little about your thoughts on puzzle design, and how they’ll be woven into the story and incorporated into the game?

In general we are not really fans of "casual" games. For our taste, most of the games that have been released recently were too easy. We don't want that in Oak Island. The handling of our game will be easy, but the game will be challenging, because of the different times, places and game characters. If you think of "Day of the Tentacle" you know how this will be managed.

Some puzzles can only be solved with the help of special characters, special skills and research.  Also you will find a lot of items. And for sure there is a need to use and manipulate them. Additionally, there will be classic dialogue puzzles and whatever else we love in classical point and click adventure games.

But the most important thing for us is, that the puzzles fit to story and atmosphere of the game. Like in "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" - a game we love.

Excellent! Finally, I would be remiss not to talk about Visionaire Studio’s adventure game engine Visionaire Studio 4.0. What has it been like seeing the success of all those adventure games using your engine, particularly Daedalic, as well as the high level of interest in upcoming games like Stasis which also uses Visionaire’s game engine?

Yeah, it was just great to see that. We were very glad being able to support developers like Daedalic or Chris Bishop in the development of their games. When Daedalic started with A Whispered World they were a small indie team. Today they have about 90 employees and have released a lot of award winning games. Especially here in Germany, classical point and click adventure games are popular, and so many of their games became "Game of the Year". That's amazing. With our engine they were able to develop quickly and cost efficiently.

With us they had an engine team that was highly motivated. The development of all those games made it possible to improve our engine. With Visionaire Studio 4 we finalized the support of more platforms (iOS, Android and Linux) and implemented 3D Characters. That was a great step for us. Now we can use the improved engine for our own game Oak Island. It's just great! :)

Thanks so much for the information and insight Thomas! I wish you and your team much success.

Oak Island - Gameplay Footage (Bear in mind that this is early in-game footage without any voice acting yet.)

For those interested in supporting The Mystery of Oak Island and Visionaire Studio

Its not always abundantly clear why certain Kickstarter campaigns fail to gain traction, but Visionaire Studio and The Mystery of Oak Island certainly deserve more notice. Surely a game coming from the team that created the engine used in so many memorable adventure game titles warrants the support from the adventure game community? What's more is the great idea of using the Oak Island Legend as a backdrop for an adventure game. As Charles Cecil from Revolution Software ruefully noted "The Money Pit of Oak Island is something that I have always considered using as the basis of a game. I am just jealous that you have done it first."  

So if you're keen on playing an adventure game with a tailored made backstory, a fan of any of Daedalic's games, or one of the many looking forward to an upcoming game like Stasis by Chrisopher Bischoff which also uses Visionaire Studio's game engine, consider supporting the The Mystery of Oak Island and Visionaire Studio.

Kickstarter - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/visionaire-studio/the-mystery-of-oak-island

Steam Greenlight - http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=259597708

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/OakIslandGame

Twitter - https://twitter.com/OakIslandGame

 

2 comments
Visionaire Studio
Visionaire Studio

Thanks JustAdventure for the great interview and article!
Now what do the JustAdventure-readers think about our game?
We deeply appreciate your support and feedback. :)

@Mordecai Walfish: Most funny comment on our game until now!^^ We hope that the "Kickstarter Money Pit" will reveal its hidden treasures faster than the real Oak Island Money Pit... ;)

Mordecai Walfish
Mordecai Walfish

How surreal is it that they're digging into the kickstarter money-pit to fund a game about the Oak Island money-pit. lol

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