If you’ve been following my reviews then you know I’ve reviewed a number of games from Phoenix Online Studios and I’ve enjoyed them. And with some upcoming games I’m truly interested in, such as Moebius and the Gabriel Knight remake, I wanted to get some insight into a gaming company that has fast become one I keep a very close eye on. So I asked Cesar Bittar, CEO of Phoenix Online Studios, a few questions and he took time out of his busy schedule to answer.
Me: When you first started Phoenix Online Studios in 2004, it’s my understanding that it was done in large part because of the love for the King’s Quest series. Did you expect it to grow from that to where it is now?
Cesar: Phoenix actually started … in 2000 when the project was first born, and in 2002, I became the Project Director of The Silver Lining (Back then, King’s Quest IX). When we started, no, we had no other dreams than to make a crazy long ass game. But very quickly, 2 years later, and actually in 2004, I already wanted to become a commercial company, and we started to discuss it, but it didn’t go anywhere after it. Since then, I always kept pushing for it to happen, but it wasn’t until 2010 when it all came together for it.
Me: I thoroughly enjoyed the Cognition series and the world it created in terms of the experiences of those with special cognitive abilities like Erica. I also felt Erica was a very strong and interesting protagonist. The fact that there were 2 playable characters starting in episode 3 showed that there’s also potential there that’s not just limited to Erica. I know the series just concluded but is it possible we can see more stories set in that world or more stories featuring Erica?
Cesar: Definitely! We do have an idea in mind on how to continue the series, and of course Erica would be part of it as the main character. She’s the one element that people love the most about Cognition, and it would be a shame to have a sequel without her in it. But right now, we are very busy with other things, so we don’t know when we’ll have the time to go back to Cognition.
Me: The later part of the series became as much about Cordelia as it was about Erica, was it a decision that was made in the beginning of the series or was it something that you just went with when you saw it was working well.
Cesar: Yes, Cordelia was always a very important character to the series, and we knew she would have a playable role since the very beginning. I personally don’t like to write black and white characters, I prefer the shades of grey, and as a villain, it’s hard to pinpoint Cordelia’s intentions sometimes. I see her as our own Catwoman, where you never know how she’ll react to a situation, and I love that in a character. And so she was someone we really want to explore.
Me: It’s been a busy year for Phoenix Online Studios with the release of Face Noir, work on Moebius and now working on a Gabriel Knight remake. Can you elaborate on Phoenix’s role in the development and release of these games?
Cesar: For Face Noir we acted mainly as a Publisher. We did the english recordings and beta tested the english version for release as well as distributed the game through all different portals. With Moebius and Gabriel Knight, we are acting as developers, and Pinkerton Road is taking care of the publishing.
Me: Is Phoenix involved with Face Noir 2 in any capacity?
Cesar: We might be, but the great guys from Mad Orange are working on a different title at the moment, and that’s all I can say about that 🙂
Me: Now that you’re working on Gabriel Knight remake with Jane Jensen and Activision, does it feel as if things have come full circle considering Gabriel Knight was a huge Sierra game and Phoenix started from the desire to give closure to another Sierra game?
Cesar: Yes! At Phoenix Online we love Sierra. The comparisons to Sierra are definitely not coincidence, we believe it was the greatest videogame company that ever existed, and so we want to be able to recreate a bit of that magic that Sierra had. We had been chasing the Gabriel Knight franchise since 2011, and so having the opportunity to finally work on it is amazing, and I can only wish that it’ll open the door to a Gabriel Knight 4!
Me: I read your post about how working on Gabriel Knight is like a dream come true, and as one who played the original game I completely understand your enthusiasm and why you would feel that way. Are there any other games you would love to be a part of remaking?
Cesar: To be perfectly honest with you, I prefer brand new games in a familiar series than a remake. That said, there are a lot of series out there, both videogame franchises and TV shows that I would love to be involved with. Space Quest would definitely be one –I’d love to be able to get my hands on it and bring the Two Guys from Andromeda into development. And I would have loved to be part of the sequel to The Longest Journey, but the good side to that is that I get to enjoy it and play it as the fan I am.
Me: Are there any new episodic series in the works or can we expect a new series to be announced in the near future?
Cesar: We are in the middle of juggling a bunch of different proposals as to where the company will be heading to next. We have a small project, a sort of spin-off from The Silver Lining, that we have started to work on, and that’s probably going to be delivered in the first semester of next year. At the same time, we’ve discussing with different people and are looking for great licenses to work on. So, we’ll have to see where we are in a few months! We are keeping way busy, that’s for sure!
Gabriel Knight 4? I’ll be on board for that