Game Developer Donald Campbell on Upcoming Visual Novel Adventure ‘The Mind’s Eclipse’
The Mind’s Eclipse is an upcoming narrative sci-fi interactive visual novel adventure developed by Mind’s Eclipse Interactive.
The Mind’s Eclipse takes place at the CORE which is a private research station in 2352. You play as Jonathan Campbell, a scientist that awakes in this world without much memory other than his wife’s death and with the help of a companion called L, ventures into this fallen utopia. Joining us today for an interview to talk about The Mind’s Eclipse is Donald Campbell, the Creative and Studio Director of Mind’s Eclipse Interactive.
How did Mind’s Eclipse Interactive start?
A road trip actually. This was back in the Summer of 2015. I drove halfway across the US, alone. When you’re out there, driving for miles on backroads, you have a lot of time to think- there’s nowhere to go! I had been incubating a few different short story projects, and I began to bring them together in my head. This would later become the foundation of The Mind’s Eclipse.
Tell us about The Mind’s Eclipse. What is the story?
The story focuses on the lives of people who live on the cusp of one of the greatest technological achievements mankind has ever seen and looks at how they deal with the consequences of such a feat. The audience is able to explore this world through the eyes of a scientist who has awoken to this private research station. He’s all alone and can’t remember anything except that his wife has died. So, he must piece together what happened, both to his wife and to the denizens of the CORE who have all since left the station, leaving him behind.
What are the features of the game?
Beautiful comic-book style art. Fantastic science fiction music. A story and characters that people are going to really connect with.
How long has it been in development?
Is “too long” an answer? A little over two years. The original timeline for the game was about 8 months, but I fell in love with creating this world.
What inspired the story and the world of The Mind’s Eclipse?
We reference so much in the game, having both subtle and not so subtle nods to other works that came before us. Everything from Ghost in the Shell to Battlestar Galactica. I was a huge fan of space opera in college, and with The Mind’s Eclipse, I envisioned a thin slice of such an opera. We wrote a giant world bible for The Mind’s Eclipse’s universe and much of it didn’t make it into the game.
Has it changed from its initial idea? If so, how?
Yes. I originally intended to make a text-based adventure/interactive fiction (à la Zork). But I fell in love with the idea of having visuals to go with the story and navigating the world. That was a huge decision in terms of timeline and the game’s budget. But ultimately, I think it was well worth it.
What made you decide to use a black and white palette and this particular art style?
I only ever dream in black and white. As I began writing the story, I began questioning whether or not anything the main character perceives is real. In some way, it’s my own little joke. When Dianne (Yingst, one of the game’s illustrators) sent me the first noir scenes, I knew this was the right way to do this game.
What are some of the challenges of making a visual novel and navigating through choices and interactive items?
At what point do you just go ahead and make a point and click adventure? Where is the line in terms on interactivity versus story? The more interaction we added to the game, the more complicated and expensive it could become, and I was worried this would end up detracting from the our main priority (the story) if say, we put more game mechanics in, but they weren’t “good enough.” So I opted to go light on interactivity and focus on the dialogue and story, a strength of the visual novel genre. You still want the player involved though. It helps them connect with the world and characters. Thus, we have environmental exploration.
Are you targeting any specific audience with The Mind’s Eclipse?
The best thing about the indie game scene is that people say “Hey, if you don’t see games you want to play, go make one.” So I did just that. I wanted to create a game that people who have similar interests to myself would enjoy playing. In that sense, I see The Mind’s Eclipse as a success. I still get chills when I play through the game.
Do you feel that there is a larger audience for indie games than there has been previously and how do you feel about the recent rise of the AAA-Indie scene?
I’m really excited by all the unique prototypes I see on Twitter. I hope this forces the industry as a whole to rethink simply “playing it safe”.
The Mind’s Eclipse is set for release on January 25th. Are there plans for further stories set in this world?
I doubt we’ll see a sequel or even a prequel. That being said, a lot of my science fiction writing has involved dropping small hints to The Mind’s Eclipse universe, implying that they share the same universe!
The Mind’s Eclipse will release on January 25th on Steam and itch.io.