At the moment development of “8” is frozen due to lack of funding. We hope to continue working on it some day.
We are also considering several “spin-off products” that are cheaper to produce. Keep an eye on this website for news about this. But don't expect any soon.
For a confused multitude of reasons, I'm afraid.
First of all, there is no written or spoken language in “8”.
So we needed a title that was a little less language-dependant than one consisting of words.
Then there is all this funny business with sequels and prequels.
We do intend to make more games with the main character but we don't particularly like version numbers (or colons for that matter).
So we decided to give each game a number as a title and then do something with this number in the game.
In “8”, there are 8 Fairies who give 8 Talents which get stolen by 8 Princes.
This is the backbone of the game's structure which consistes of 8 quests that reward the player with 8 magical abilities.
And the Girl's age is around 8.
8 is also a number that is encountered very often in the Islamic arts and architecture that inspired the game's style.
The octagon is a shape in between the square (earth) and the circle (heaven).
This in between state is also significant for real-time 3D in which a circle is often simplified for reasons of performance, and represented by an octagon.
And lastly, chosing a number as the game's title is a tribute to the Arab origin of the symbols that we know as numbers in Western languages.
Not any time soon. Sorry. The demo that we refer to on this webiste is not a public demo. It is intended for private showings only.
Since “8” is still very much a work in progress, this demo does not represent the final quality of the game.
But rather it is an illustration of the potential that is there and a way for us to test selected people's responses to the different aspects of the design. We don't want to provoke disappointment or unrealistic expectations with an unrepresentative demo.
There is no language in “8”. So there is no need for her to speak.
But more importantly, her deaf-muteness adds to her mysterious character, we think, and it implies a certain relationship between the character and the player that we find adds to the experience.
We are trying to develop a form of story telling that is suitable for non-linear media.
Throughout the game world, the player will see scenes and dreams that each tell a small part of many different stories.
These stories do not necassarily form one big whole as we have also included the contradictions between the different versions of the fairy tale.
It will be up to the player to make connections between these narrative elements and make some poetic sense of it all.
We're sorry if that list sounded arrogant to you. But it is all true.
We have a strange relationship with computer games.
We love playing them dearly but, in a way, only in as far as they are not games.
Games never fail to frustrate us at a certain point with their mechanics and conventions
(absurd puzzles and boss rounds that break the immersion, doing things over and over again, getting stuck already in the tutorial, etc., sounds familiar?).
With “8”, we are trying to make a game that does not have any of the conventions that we dislike so much and which, in our opinion, ruin a lot of the joy that can be found in games.
If there is anything that our years of experience with designing for a primitive medium like the web have thought us, it is that there is a lot more that can be done with interactive media than the things that games have been doing. Games often leave a lot of potential unexplored while rushing to implement the latest technologies and the trendiest ideas.
In the end, by conventional definitions and standards, “8” may end up not being a game at all.
But it's non-lineary and the complete accessibility of the game world certainly set it far apart from any movie.
But don't worry. We are putting a lot of effort into making “8” feel as familiar and comfortable as possible. We have no intention of making an obscure, hermitic or aggressively innovative game.
The definition of adventure game on the Moby Games web site goes like this:
any game where the emphasis is based on experiencing a story through the manipulation of one or more user-controlled characters and the environment they exist in. Gameplay mechanics emphasize decision over action.
In theory this definition applies almost perfectly to “8”, except for the fact that on top of emphasizing decision over action, “8” emphasizes playfulness and discovery over decision. In “8”, there is no decision ever that has grave consequences. The game is "Built For Joy" (TM ;) ).
But in practice, "adventure game" often implies a certain game mechanic. Adventure games have characters moving in front of pre-rendered backgrounds, consist mostly of conversations and have a strict linear, sometimes branching, structure. “8” is a fully explorable non-linear environment rendered in real-time 3D and there is no language in “8” at all. Puzzle games like Myst are often called adventure games. While “8” does contain certain puzzles, they will not form much of a challenge to hardcore puzzle gamers. They are there mostly for narrative or play purposes.
After reading Marek Bronstring's "The Future of Adventure Games", however, we realized that, indeed, “8” could be described as an adventure game. He defines an adventure game as built upon narrative exploration, set in a non-threatening and non-competitive context, featuring a designer-created, player-controlled protagonist. Furthermore he makes suggestions on how the genre could be improved:
The expressive value of cinematography: we need more 3D adventure games
Non-linearity, multiple solutions and interactive dialog
We see “8” as a continuation of the oral tradition of telling and retelling fairy tales, each narrator adding his or her own elements, enriching the tale.
We have discovered many different stories that are similar to Sleeping Beauty, stories from many different cultures and times.
We have tried to put elements of all these stories in the game.
Did you know that in some versions, the story does not end with the kiss of the prince?
In several versions the story continues with Sleeping Beauty giving birth to the children of a married man and his wife being a cannibal who wants to eat the children. Or what about the tale where the Princess demands that the Prince feign death just like she did if he wants her to pay any attention to him. Not to forget the story of Brynhild, sleeping clad in armour and surrounded by a ring of fire. When Sigurd comes to save her they drink beer and she teaches him magic.
Here's a list of some of these stories:
Making games is a lot of work.
We are trying to raise some awareness and attract potential publishers, investors and other partners.
Also we come from a carreer of web designers and internet artists. In that world, there is none of the secrecy that the game industry cherishes. We are used to sharing everything we do in real-time all the time. Please except our apologies if this seems inappropriate.
The first ideas for “8” date from February 2001.
In April 2002, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn started working more or less full time on the project in the Design Department of the
Jan Van Eyck Academy.
With she support of the
Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, in November 2003 a preproduction phase started in which we were able to hire several experts and form a solid team.
Here's the credits for our latest gameplay demo:
Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn
Martin Maximilian Michl
-- Meerkat Studios --
Anton Iljin, managment
Jevgenia Zahharova, texturing
Olga Pjatkina, texturing
Alexei Kruglov, texturing
Andrei Prihhodko, texturing
Eugene "Doomer" Chaikin, texturing
Dennis Nikolaev, modeling
Sergei Zinovjev, modeling
Alex Fishanov, modeling
Roman "SmasH" Gunenkov, modeling
-- Dragonfly Production Studio --
Arden Rey, concept
Alex Penkoff, modeling & texturing
Viktor Burkatsky, modeling & texturing
Lara Kucherenko, modeling & texturing
Julia Boyarintcewa, modeling
Andrew Drogin, modeling
Chung Ho Kan
MOTION CAPTURE STUDIO
MOTION CAPTURE ACTRESS
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Ludwig van Beethoven
Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds
Jan Van Eyck Academy
Authorities of Flanders
Vlaams Instituut voor Zelfstandig Ondernemen
We don't believe that modern technology requires that one makes modern art.
We think orientalist paintings are often very succesful at creating a certain mood that is pleasant for the viewer to dwell in.
Which is also the main purpose of any virtual reality type of project, I would hope.
We don't agree with people who claim that orientalism is empirialist. We think it is better to be curious for the exotic and fantasize about it than to draw your own conclusions based on the false assumption that all humans are equal. We appreciate the differences in human cultures and we have no illusions about ever being able to fully understand another culture. But that does not mean we cannot respect and admire this culture.
“8” is explicitly inspired by Western orientalist paintings, and only inderectly by their sources in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, We think that a positive portrayal of the peoples and cultures in this region offers a refreshing counterweight to all the "Muslim bashing" that is going on in our media these days.
Rudolf Ernst, "The Manicure"
Apart from these motivations and personal preference, we chose orientalism as primary source of inspiration also because many of these paintings portray a world that is very close to our game world: a luxurious palace, somewhat broken, and populated by sleeping people. Many of the orientalist paintings portray very similar scenes.
And last but not least, the famous story collection of "1001 Nights" or "Arabian Nights" features a very interesting version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.