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Interview – Revolution Software’s Charles Cecil

BASS2Over the past couple of years, there has been a point-and-click adventure revival. The iPhone is already blessed with the Secret of Monkey Island, but now Revolution Software is getting in on the act with a remastered version of Beneath a Steel Sky specially made for the Apple handset.

Revolution boss Charles Cecil is no stranger to handheld development – his classic adventure game, Broken Sword, has appeared on the GameBoy Advance and the Nintendo DS. But recently he announced a new division for his company, Revolution Pocket, creating games for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, PSPgo, and DSi.

The games will have an emphasis on narrative and Charles has promised it won’t just be about dusting down old classics. A sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky is planned but it’s all dependent on how well the Remastered iPhone version fares in the App Store.

At £2.99, this remake of the 1994 PC original features a touch screen interface and animated movies produced by Dave Gibbons, co-creator of the Watchmen graphic novel. It was important, says Charles, to ensure the game was not just a straight port.

“We released the PC version of Beneath a Steel Sky into the public domain a while back,” he says. “Gamers can download the game for free on the PC so when we created the iPhone version it was important that we added value and created a desirable package.

“It’s not just about making the game portable, it’s about enhancing the experience. We’ve added a hint system and we believe we have created the perfect touch-screen control system. People were frustrated by Monkey Island’s control method on the iPhone and we feel we’ve bettered that.”


All of this comes just a few years after Charles was quoted as saying the point-and-click genre was dead. “That was me being slightly provocative,” he counters. “My point was that it’s the concept of the classic adventure game that is really static in terms of the game world, only reacting to the player’s input, which no longer appeals to a broad market.

“People want a more dynamic game experience. As a control system, point-and-click clearly works extremely well.”

Charles believes digital distribution is the future and he likes the Apple model in which the developer is able to keep 70 per cent of the game price.

“What it does,” he says, ” is allow us to be closer to our audience and it means we don’t end up having to sell hundreds of thousands of copies just to break even.

“With retail, everyone is taking a slice of the pie and there’s usually little left for developers and, with that in mind, we’ve been able to really put a lot of effort into making Beneath a Steel Sky on iPhone the very best experience possible for gamers.

“It’s about us experimenting. If the game sells well on the iPhone, we will produce more. I believe handhelds to be the future of the adventure game and we hope gamers see that too. The technology of the iPhone is opening up fresh possibilities.”

By David Crookes

Beneath a Steel Sky is available on October 9, priced £2.99