I caught up with Wadjet Eye’s Dave Gilbert for a quick Q&A about his next game: Old Skies.
If you’re a fan of point-and-click adventure games, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Wadjet Eye Games—and if you haven’t, do yourself a favour and look them up. They’ve been consistently putting out some of the best modern adventure games for some 16 years, since The Shivah turned heads in 2006 with its unique, thought-provoking rabbinical premise. From the critically-acclaimed supernatural mystery Blackwell series to Unavowed‘s urban fantasy and clever party-based design, to publishing other indie adventures like Woodward Studio’s Primordia and Technocrat Games’ Technobabylon, Wadjet Eye is a studio that’s earned its reputation.
And with a new game on the horizon in Old Skies, they’re looking to continue pushing that envelope (and the limits of the Adventure Game Studio software). It’s an ambitious time travel adventure spanning 200 years of New York’s past (and future), and while there’s no release date just yet, a demo available during Steam Next Fest 2022 shows a huge amount of potential, with a fresh new art style, charismatic characters, and a particularly intriguing take on the concept of time travel.
In the first of what will hopefully become an ongoing series of quick Q&As with indie developers, we got in touch with Dave Gilbert, founder of Wadjet Eye Games, to talk about the genesis of Old Skies, his inspirations, and the dream of being able to “keep making these little games forever”.
Shindig: How did you come up with the idea for Old Skies?
Dave Gilbert: The idea took root when I was creating a game for the 2019 Adventure Game Jam. I was messing around with 3D models and environments, and ended up with a woman in a futuristic outfit running around a modern city. I joked that she was probably a time traveller. Since I had only two weeks to complete the jam game, I just went with that idea. I enjoyed working on that jam game so much that I decided to expand the idea into a full project. And here I am!
What are your biggest influences—whether in games, other media, your own background, or something else entirely?
Too many to list. Off the top of my head, the novels of Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and Stephen King. I’m also inspired by New York, the city that I live in. It’s the main reason why most of my games take place here.
What has been the most memorable part of working on Old Skies so far?
Finding the fun at the heart of the idea. I began the project with lofty and complicated ideas of how time travel worked in the game, and it bent my brain into knots. It got to the point where I had to step away from the project for a while and figure out what it was I really wanted to make, and then it clicked. I simplified the story by a LOT, made the goals a lot more human and relatable, and gave it a streamlined structure to hang the narrative around. Once I did that, everything clicked and the project became incredibly fun to work on. It’s been a blast.
What do you hope people take away from the game?
I hope you’ll leave the game happy that you experienced it! I want you to smile, I want you to laugh, I want you to remember and like these characters. A core theme of the game is legacy, and it’s something I think about a lot. I want these characters and stories to remain with people for a long time.
What would be your dream project to work on—blue skies, no limitations?
Honestly? My “dream project” would be to keep making these little games forever, without having to worry about things like “will this sell enough to pay my mortgage?” If I worry about anything, it’s not the stress of the job. It’s the worry that I will have to stop doing it one day.
Dave Gilbert is the founder of Old Skies developer Wadjet Eye Games.
Old Skies is currently in development for PC, Nintendo Switch, Mac, and Linux, with a release date to be announced at a later stage.