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Jane Jensen's "Mystery Game X" Unmasked
Posted , 20 October 2013 at 8:17 am UTC / 4126 views
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Jane Jensen made her name as a master of adventure game design while working for Sierra back in the '90s. Jane's work as co-designer of King's Quest 5 was very well received, but she is most widely recognized for the Gabriel Knight series: a blend of mystery and suspense, starring a flawed but likeable main character struggling with supernatural forces. Each of the Gabriel Knight adventure games literally had a full-length supernatural mystery novel packed into it as the plot, as demonstrated by the companion novels for the first two games in the series. Series creator Jane Jensen should be remembered, additionally, for Kickstarting her adventure game Moebius with Linux support in 2012, to help kick off her new studio, Pinkerton Road.

Partway through the Moebius kickstarter campaign, Jane was offered another exciting game development opportunity for Pinkerton Road under a condition of secrecy: there was a strict NDA forbidding discussion of the game details and even the identity of the company offering the contract. This game was given the codename "Mystery Game X" to distinguish it from Moebius, the game being funded by the kickstarter campaign, and copies of Mystery Game X were offered to backers as a bonus reward. At that time, there was no guarantee that the Linux stretch goal achieved for Moebius would apply to this anonymous game to be developed independently from kickstarter funds.

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One and a half years later, Jane Jensen was finally in a position to reveal that the secret contract was an IP licensing deal with Activision. "Mystery Game X", would in fact be a remake of her seminal work, to be entitled Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, to coincide with the two decade span since its original 1993 release. Pinkerton Road has partnered with Phoenix Online Studios to update Sins of the Fathers with a high-res modern look, an all new remastered soundtrack, and behind-the-scenes goodies to accompany the great gameplay and story of the original. As implied merely by the existence of this article on GOL, this remake also adds the key feature of Linux support: last week, backers queried Phoenix Online via the official Pinkerton Road forums, and a Linux port was confirmed by Phoenix Online's Technical Director, Weldon Hathaway.


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is among the most fondly remembered games developed published by Sierra On-Line, Inc. during the Golden Age of adventure games. It is the first game of the Gabriel Knight series, and (in this writer's opinion) the best.  Set in New Orleans, the game follows the eponymous Gabriel Knight, owner of St. George's book store, on a mystical thriller across the globe and back.  As Gabriel begins his unsanctioned investigation into a local unsolved serial murder case, what began as research for his next novel becomes something darker, more dangerous, and more personal.

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Although a 2013 début would have been fitting, the Gabriel Knight remake is currently scheduled for a mid-2014 release. Linux gamers who might enjoy a well-written paranormal thriller but have a hard time tolerating VGA graphics and highly compressed audio should definitely keep an eye on this project.

This article was submitted by a guest, we encourage anyone to submit their own articles.

Comments on this article are now closed.
DrMcCoy commented on 20 October 2013 at 8:32 am UTC

It's "great" that the website doesn't say anything about Linux. And that Jane Jansen didn't answer my tweet about Linux support two weeks ago.

- Kinda sad that we lose Tim Curry, Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill as voice actors
- Also, I'll miss the awesome AdLib track. Always had a sweet spot for the YM39812/YMF262 in my heart
- The remastered title track sounds...wrong somehow

It's "great" that the website doesn't say anything about Linux. And that Jane Jansen didn't answer my tweet about Linux support two weeks ago. - Kinda sad that we lose Tim Curry, Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill as voice actors - Also, I'll miss the awesome AdLib track. Always had a sweet spot for the YM39812/YMF262 in my heart - The remastered title track sounds...wrong somehow
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s_d commented on 20 October 2013 at 9:12 am UTC
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Yeah, us Moebius Kickstarter backers have been bugging them to update the website also.  So far, the forum interaction with Phoenix Online's technical director (and this GOL article) are the only way the news has been broken, regarding the Linux port.  Which is absolutely silly.
Perhaps she had to go discuss the port with P.O. Studios first or something, the forum post went up about three hours after your tweet.

Other than that, I agree on all counts, including the title track, though I like it way better than the music from GK2/3, personally.  I'm OK with it.

Yeah, us Moebius Kickstarter backers have been bugging them to update the website also.  So far, the forum interaction with Phoenix Online's technical director (and this GOL article) are the only way the news has been broken, regarding the Linux port.  Which is absolutely silly. Perhaps she had to go discuss the port with P.O. Studios first or something, the forum post went up about three hours after your tweet. Other than that, I agree on all counts, including the title track, though I like it way better than the music from GK2/3, personally.  I'm OK with it.
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Sslaxx commented on 20 October 2013 at 9:50 pm UTC

I think Phoenix Online have been having issues updating their Unity licenses (certainly there were problems - likely financial - with this a few months back when I asked).

I think Phoenix Online have been having issues updating their Unity licenses (certainly there were problems - likely financial - with this a few months back when I asked).
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Anonymous commented on 21 October 2013 at 10:20 pm UTC

This is odd. I asked them on Kickstarter and got a reply on October 8th (same date as that forum post). They said:

QuoteWe are licensing the IP and the IP holder (activision) has final say over platforms, languages, distribution methods etc. At this point, I am not anticipating they will approve a linux release. But perhaps once we are closer to shipping we can get them to agree. I will certainly try.

So either Activision did approve the release just after that and nobody told anyone, or their technical director didn't think that Activision would have to approve it.

This is odd. I asked them on Kickstarter and got a reply on October 8th (same date as that forum post). They said: [quote]We are licensing the IP and the IP holder (activision) has final say over platforms, languages, distribution methods etc. At this point, I am not anticipating they will approve a linux release. But perhaps once we are closer to shipping we can get them to agree. I will certainly try.[/quote] So either Activision did approve the release just after that and nobody told anyone, or their technical director didn't think that Activision would have to approve it.
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philip550c commented on 22 October 2013 at 5:42 am UTC

was gonna say "greet news" as I never got to play the original and always wanted to but the post above me makes me hesitant. I remember seeing the box at CompUSA when I was kid, couldn’t play as I spent all my "hard-earned" money on doom and hexen and quake and such.

was gonna say "greet news" as I never got to play the original and always wanted to but the post above me makes me hesitant. I remember seeing the box at CompUSA when I was kid, couldn’t play as I spent all my "hard-earned" money on doom and hexen and quake and such.
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Swiftpaw commented on 22 October 2013 at 5:28 pm UTC

Quote from DrMcCoyIt's "great" that the website doesn't say anything about Linux. And that Jane Jansen didn't answer my tweet about Linux support two weeks ago.

- Kinda sad that we lose Tim Curry, Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill as voice actors
- Also, I'll miss the awesome AdLib track. Always had a sweet spot for the YM39812/YMF262 in my heart
- The remastered title track sounds...wrong somehow
They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?  I'd think they would keep all the old audio.  Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill better be in it still!!!
The music is indeed very awesome, I still play midis from it, and I'll just really hope that the new remastered music will do it justice.  If not, maybe they will leave an option for playing the old music, that would be cool!

[quote=Quote from DrMcCoy]It's "great" that the website doesn't say anything about Linux. And that Jane Jansen didn't answer my tweet about Linux support two weeks ago. - Kinda sad that we lose Tim Curry, Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill as voice actors - Also, I'll miss the awesome AdLib track. Always had a sweet spot for the YM39812/YMF262 in my heart - The remastered title track sounds...wrong somehow[/quote] They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?  I'd think they would keep all the old audio.  Michael Dorn and Mark Hamill better be in it still!!! The music is indeed very awesome, I still play midis from it, and I'll just really hope that the new remastered music will do it justice.  If not, maybe they will leave an option for playing the old music, that would be cool!
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DrMcCoy commented on 22 October 2013 at 5:40 pm UTC

Quote from Swiftpaw
They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?


Quotefrom their FAQ

Okay, new art makes sense, but why redo the voices?
Unfortunately the original recordings were lost and stripping the audio from the game did not result in acceptable quality. Because of this, rerecording was a necessity. The original actors are twenty years older—even if they were interested in reprising their roles, they probably wouldn’t sound like they did “back then”—and the cost of getting some of those actors wasn’t practical for the budget of this project. Recasting was our only option.
We turned to Bay Area Sound, a studio that does voice recording for a ton of adventure games including Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island as well as Jane’s game Moebius.  (In other words, this isn’t their first time working on a reboot of a classic adventure series!) They helped us cast great actors true to the spirit of the original cast. The voices have already been recorded and Jane’s very happy with the results. We’ll reveal more details about the cast as the mid-2014 release approaches.

[quote=Quote from Swiftpaw] They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?[/quote] [quote][b]from their FAQ[/b] [u]Okay, new art makes sense, but why redo the voices?[/u] Unfortunately the original recordings were lost and stripping the audio from the game did not result in acceptable quality. Because of this, rerecording was a necessity. The original actors are twenty years older—even if they were interested in reprising their roles, they probably wouldn’t sound like they did “back then”—and the cost of getting some of those actors wasn’t practical for the budget of this project. Recasting was our only option. We turned to [url=http://www.basound.com/pages/home.html]Bay Area Sound[/url], a studio that does voice recording for a ton of adventure games including Telltale’s [i]The Walking Dead[/i], [i]Sam & Max[/i] and [i]Tales of Monkey Island [/i]as well as Jane’s game [i]Moebius[/i].  (In other words, this isn’t their first time working on a reboot of a classic adventure series!) They helped us cast great actors true to the spirit of the original cast. The voices have already been recorded and Jane’s very happy with the results. We’ll reveal more details about the cast as the mid-2014 release approaches.[/quote]
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Swiftpaw commented on 22 October 2013 at 5:45 pm UTC

Quote from DrMcCoy
Quote from Swiftpaw
They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?


Quotefrom their FAQ

Okay, new art makes sense, but why redo the voices?
Unfortunately the original recordings were lost and stripping the audio from the game did not result in acceptable quality. Because of this, rerecording was a necessity. The original actors are twenty years older—even if they were interested in reprising their roles, they probably wouldn’t sound like they did “back then”—and the cost of getting some of those actors wasn’t practical for the budget of this project. Recasting was our only option.
We turned to Bay Area Sound, a studio that does voice recording for a ton of adventure games including Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island as well as Jane’s game Moebius.  (In other words, this isn’t their first time working on a reboot of a classic adventure series!) They helped us cast great actors true to the spirit of the original cast. The voices have already been recorded and Jane’s very happy with the results. We’ll reveal more details about the cast as the mid-2014 release approaches.

I think that was a poor decision and they should still try asking some of the older actors if they would be interested.  They are redoing the artwork, so making some of the characters look older to match the voices wouldn't be an issue.  Will just hope that it turns out nice regardless.

[quote=Quote from DrMcCoy][quote=Quote from Swiftpaw] They didn't say anything about redoing the voices, did they?[/quote] [quote=Quote][b]from their FAQ[/b] [u]Okay, new art makes sense, but why redo the voices?[/u] Unfortunately the original recordings were lost and stripping the audio from the game did not result in acceptable quality. Because of this, rerecording was a necessity. The original actors are twenty years older—even if they were interested in reprising their roles, they probably wouldn’t sound like they did “back then”—and the cost of getting some of those actors wasn’t practical for the budget of this project. Recasting was our only option. We turned to [url=http://www.basound.com/pages/home.html]Bay Area Sound[/url], a studio that does voice recording for a ton of adventure games including Telltale’s [i]The Walking Dead[/i], [i]Sam & Max[/i] and [i]Tales of Monkey Island [/i]as well as Jane’s game [i]Moebius[/i].  (In other words, this isn’t their first time working on a reboot of a classic adventure series!) They helped us cast great actors true to the spirit of the original cast. The voices have already been recorded and Jane’s very happy with the results. We’ll reveal more details about the cast as the mid-2014 release approaches.[/quote] [/quote] I think that was a poor decision and they should still try asking some of the older actors if they would be interested.  They are redoing the artwork, so making some of the characters look older to match the voices wouldn't be an issue.  Will just hope that it turns out nice regardless.
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Lord Avallon commented on 22 October 2013 at 9:16 pm UTC

Great news, it will be even better if the original version comes with the remake, I hope they bring the other Gabriel Knight titles for Linux too.

Great news, it will be even better if the original version comes with the remake, I hope they bring the other Gabriel Knight titles for Linux too.
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