Restore, Restart, Quit: An Interview with Phoenix Online Studios (Part Two)
Here it is folks, part 2 of my recent interview with Phoenix Online Studios, the development company behind The Silver Lining.
MediaWhoreNetwork: What’s next for Phoenix Online Studios? Are there plans for other projects beyond The Silver Lining?
Michael Fortunato, Assistant Art Director, Lead Texture Artist, and Voice Over Director: The first thing is seeing TSL to completion – somehow, someway. But we have other titles that are currently in the planning stage. Scripts are being written, production meetings being held, etc. There are some fantastic stories that Cesar and Katie have been working on.
Katie Hallahan, Co-Designer and Project Coordinator: Thank you, Mike! Cesar and I have been working on a few different ideas, starting to get development of them going–the very bare beginnings, figuring out characters and stories, that sort of thing. I am excited about the chance to bring them into full development at some point, but we are focusing on doing whatever we can to get TSL completed and in the hands of the fans first.
Neil Rodrigues, Web Director and Project Coordinator: There are definitely a few promising things down in the pipeline that we’ve been discussing, but our primary focus is firstly on getting TSL to see the light of day.
Cesar Bittar, Project Director and Co-Designer: I’ve always had ideas. I’ve been writing up different things since 2004, and I hope to see each one of those ideas see the light of day sometime in the future. There are concepts drawn, music made, all in stage of pre-production but it is very exciting to start thinking about different ideas after so many years of working on TSL.
MWN: Is the team still actively taking steps to salvage the project or convince Activision to overturn their cease and desist?
MF: But of course! We’ve worked far too hard to simply let this die.
KH: We never let a little thing like a Cease & Desist stop us from trying before, why start now? Hope springs eternal, and exactly, we haven’t come this far just to give up without a fight.
NR: I’ll repeat what I told the other directors upon first hearing the news: “Trust me, nothing is final.” We’ll continue to try our best to get Activision to change their minds.
MWN: In the letter to the fans, there was mentioned talks of negotiation with Activision. Could you give us some details on the negotiations? Were there talks of pitching the game as a commercial option?
NR: The talks with Activision mainly consisted of us informing them about who we are and what we’re trying to achieve. We unfortunately never reached the stage of negotiation.
MWN: After such a long time working on The Silver Lining, there must be pages upon pages of story just waiting to be told. Is there any plans to compile the existing storyline and release it as a novel for the fans?
KH: There is a lot of story untold in this game, but unfortunately doing that would still be infringing on Activision’s IP. And I think we’d really prefer to release the story in its intended format; we are hoping that Activision may change its mind about our game, so there is hope yet.
NR: While the rest of the storyline certainly makes for a fantastic read, it would almost be an injustice to not implement it as originally intended.
CB: I once started a novel based on the unproduced chapters of the game, and it definitely could be done. We also once were approached by Peter Spear and he was interested in novelizing TSL, just as he had done with previous King’s Quest story. I do believe, however, the story was written mostly to be told in a visual medium.
MWN: If you could change one decision in the entirety of the game’s development, what would you change?
MF: Make the game smaller. The story is vast and only a small portion of it is told in the 5 episodes we have created.
KH: Gotten it released while Vivendi still owned the IP!
NR: Purchased that crystal ball when I had the chance! In all seriousness, it’s easy to look back and say we should have done things differently, but if we did, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Nor would we have the experience to learn from our past mistakes, which would make us doomed to repeat them. So for this reason, I wouldn’t change a thing.
CB: A smaller game definitely. But, like Neil said, it is because of what we did and how we did it, that we are where we are now. And saying today that that I had preferred to do a smaller game is because now we know exactly what it means to be big and small.
MWN: Is there anything you want to say directly to the fan’s who have been following the game over the years?
MF: We’re doing everything in our power to see that TSL is released. It’s been a labor of love for so long we do not want to see it die. While I don’t know how this game is going to be released, we will get it out there – for all of you and for us. :) Thank you so much for sticking with us and believing in us over these 10 years.
KH: Captain Kielbasa put it best! “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.” To every person on our amazing team and everyone of our wonderful fans alike!
NR: Thank you for all your support. We would not have made it this far without you. If you haven’t already, please participate in the Save TSL Movement. Details on this and any new developments can be found on our site at: http://www.tsl-game.com
CB: The opening lines of The Silver Lining are a dedication: “To Roberta and to all those who dare to dream.” When I wrote those words I really meant them, because I had seen already how incredible the fans were. This is a game made for you guys. We owe you for your support, and we’ll do everything in our power to get this baby to your hands. Dream away, anything’s possible!
Thanks goes to Phoenix Online Studios for taking the time to answer our questions, the Save the Silver Lining Movement for setting up the interview, and the TSL-Game forums for supplying some of the questions. If you would like to help make The Silver Lining a reality again, please visit savetsl.co.cc for more details.