Because of its appeal to non-game players, special techniques will be needed for “8” to reach its target audience. The novel or collection of short stories that will accompany the game is one of the things that will help set it apart from the normal games that are simply not appealing to “8”'s target audience.
The choice of where to advertise will also be crucial. The traditional games media will not suffice.
And when we reach the target audience, we will have to make sure that people understand that “8” is not one of those ordinary games that they dislike. It will be primordial that the advertising reflect the nature of the game perfectly. Any attempts to make “8” look cool, hip or trendy will lead to a garanteed commercial failure.
The character of the deaf-mute Girl will visit many other fairy tales, each requiring a different treatment. “8” is part of a series of games featuring the same character of the Girl , visiting different worlds based on different fairy tales (sort of like the comic strip Tintin). We have plans for a survival-horror game based on Little Red Ridinghood and a platform game based on Hansel and Gretel, for example.
Comparison with similar titles
“8” is unlike any other game and as such it has no competition in the game industry. But there are a few games that seem to come to people's minds when they hear about it. And a few others that have inspired the design.
When it came out, we were surprised by the similarities between “8” and “Ico”. So we were happy to see how extremely positive it was received by the critics. It sold reasonably well but nothing near a blockbuster. The biggest difference between “8” and “Ico” is at the very core of the design. “Ico” excells in minimalism and simplicity on almost all fields. “8” is about maximalism and complexity. “Ico” offers a fragile story in a demonic environment. “8” offers many horrific stories in an idyllic environment. “Ico” was a first step towards an interactive experience that is more about atmosphere and emotion than about gaming.
Yet in the end, “Ico” appears to be a huge compromise. The combat and puzzles seem to be added in an attempt to appeal to a gameplaying audience that probably has little respect for the poetry and beauty in the game. And simultaneously these toy-like features scare away the audience that would be interested in them. In “8” you will find no such compromises. The design is more extreme and completely drops the notion that “gameplay” would be necessary.
Black & White
“Black & White” hardly ever comes up when people discuss “8”. Yet it has been a major inspiration. The freeform non-linear being present in a virtual world, the ability to change the appearance of this world and the interaction with a virtual entity (the creature in Black & White) are all present in “8”.
As opposed to “Black & White”, “8” does not tell a linear story and certainly not one about simplistic notions of good and evil. The narrative elements in “8” are much more ambiguous and they are deeply embedded in the world. And, obviously, “8” contains none of the combat present in “Black & White”, nor any of its simulation aspects.
Any time a game attempts to create a type of beauty different from the mainstream, it seems that people compare it to “Myst”. Maybe that's why this game is mentioned sometimes when people talk about “8”. Another reason might be the stillness and a certain feeling of loneliness that both games share. And the lack of pressure to do the game.
But “8” cannot be compared with “Myst” in terms of gameplay at all. “8” is not a puzzle game. The puzzles in the game are there to tell stories or give people something to do while immersed in the world. They are hardly a challenge for the seasoned adventure gamer.
Furthermore, while “8” is also very narrative, it is not linear. It's not even branching. “8” uses much more poetic and experimental systems to communicate narrative elements. And there is no language at all.
“8” shares the focus on exploration of the first “Tomb Raider”.
And while many people may see its aesthetic as outdated, we are great admirers of the consistent style of the game. Over the years since, we think some valuable elements, present in older games, have been lost in the rush towards photographic realism. With “8” we are trying to recapture some these, without trying to look old school or dated on purpose.
“Gabriel Knight” is the only game that we know of that combines a point and click interface to move the character and a camera free for the player to move around, just like in “8”. We discovered “Gabriel Knight” much later -and only when people starting calling “8” an adventure game- so it is no surprise that, other than the camera, “8” has very little in common with this game.
In fact, we quite dislike many adventure games. While we appreciate the peacefulness and the slow pace of most of them, we have no respect for the stale stories, the pedantic humour, the stiff interaction, the artificial interfaces and lack of A.I. in them. Yet we do think that “8” has a lot of features that are appealing to the less than hardcore adventure game players.
Ceremony of Innocence
In the beginning of the nineties, right before the world wide web took off, there was an explosion of interactive experiences generally simply referred to by the name the medium they used for distribution: CD-Roms. Many of these titles were deep and serious, very unlike the computer games that were being made at that time (and are still being made today). There are elements in “8” that attempt to revive this early maturity of computer “games”. The indirect way in which “Ceremony of Innocence” conveys information regarding a story and its emotional depth are things that we feel are similar to what we are trying to do in “8”.
Prince of Persia
People have compared the look of “8” to “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time”. This is probably because of the use of a limited colour palette. And maybe because of similar inspirations for architecture, clothing and objects. “8”, however, is much more respectful towards the Islamic cultural traditions than “Prince of Persia”. Also, the style of “8” is more painterly, more stylized than the realistic style of “PoP”. And, obviously, we find “8” at the complete other end of the gameplay spectrum. One could call “8” a non-action game.