Exclusive: Jane Jensen talks new studio, Gabriel Knight 4

Al Lowe is back making Leisure Suit Larry. Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert are back making adventure games together for the first time in 20 years. Telltale Games is in its seventh year of making new stories in classic series like Sam & Max and whole new adventures like Puzzle Agent.  Need more proof that the classic adventure game is back and better than ever? Gabriel Knight creator Jane Jensen and her longtime collaborator and husband Robert Holmes are back with their very own studio, Pinkerton Road. With a Kickstarter campaign already underway to fund three brand new adventure games from the studio, Jensen has big plans for Pinkerton Road, and those plans include a possible return to her best-known series.

Speaking with Digital Trends on Thursday, Jensen describes why adventure games, and the people that first created them thirty years ago, are returning to the limelight. “Designers want to make these games and fans want to play them. It’s the publishers that have been blocking the way.  So now that crowd funding is taking off, it’s opening the door to adventure games again.  But besides that, it’s a great time for the genre.  Their popularity has been building in Europe and, with episodic, in the U.S., too, over the past five years,” says Jensen.  “And tablets are exploding. They’re a perfect device for point-and-click adventure.”

Jensen hasn’t exactly disappeared from the adventure game scene like Schafer and Lowe have. Between 2007 and 2010, she was working on adventure games tied-in with popular mystery franchises including Women’s Murder Club and titles based on Agatha Christie’s stories. Titles like these aimed at audiences less familiar with video games have also been responsible for the increased awareness of the adventure genre in recent years. “The casual market has been built with ‘lite adventure’ to the point where it’s ready for real adventure games,” says Jensen.

Adventure games have also changed in recent years. “I do think there is a ‘modern’ adventure game, but to me it is less about making things easy than in removing some of the punishing things adventure games used to have like dying with no save game or having the entire game halt because you missed one pixel in 60 rooms,” says Jensen. “I think that ‘modern adventure game’ is still being defined.  At Pinkerton Road, we hope to do for dramatic adventures what Telltale has done for comic adventure.”

Pinkerton Road’s Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise $300,000 by the end of May. If it reaches that goal, the funds will go toward finishing an original PC adventure game “in the vein of Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter” which will come out by March 2013. It will also fund a children’s game called Lola and Lucy’s Big Adventure which will be out by this summer. If the campaign raises $600,000, a second PC adventure will be finished for release around June 2013. Among the concepts proposed for the PC titles are a sequel to Gray Matter, a thriller with supernatural elements called Moebius, and an “anglophile adventure.”

What happens after that? “We will continue to pursue opportunities to do Gabriel Knight 4,” says Jensen, “That will be easier once we’re an established studio.  I’d love to do all three of the game concepts we’ve posted and I have lots more as well.  So many games, so little time!”

Now all that needs to happen is Roberta Williams coming out of retirement.

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