Tex Murphy – A Chris Jones Interview

By now, I’m sure everyone is aware of the success of the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter. If not, Tim Schafer (Monkey Island, Psychonauts, etc.) and Double Fine created a Kickstarter with a goal of raising $400,000 so that they could make a a point and click adventure game, a genre that was seemingly deemed dead. Surprisingly though, they eventually surpassed their goal, raising over $3 million, and thus, the Kickstarter craze was born. Since Double Fine’s success, we have seen many people and many games try to achieve funding. However, one of the more interesting projects has been Chris Jones’ Tex Murphy – Project Fedora.

Tex Murphy, for those of you who don’t recall, was a series of detective games that reigned in popularity from the late 80’s to late 90’s. Utilizing FMV (full motion video), you would guide Tex Murphy through the post-apocalyptic noir stylings of post-WW3 San Francisco as he tracked down criminals, and struggled to get by. The Kickstarter, of course, is a bid to get a new Tex Murphy game made.

To learn about this, and Tex himself, I got hold of creator Chris Jones.

Jason: How long have you been wanting to bring Tex Murphy back?

Chris Jones:  Basically since the cliffhanger in OVERSEER. If I had known it would take 14 years for a chance to continue the story I would have seriously rethought the cliffhanger ending. We have tried over that period to bring Tex back several times, but always hit a roadblock in one form or another.

Jason: There seems to be a growing resurgence in popularity for older IP’s and game genres. What do you think this can be attributed to?

Chris Jones: I think there is a certain longing for games people grew up with. I think you tend to move on in your life and look for new experiences but then realize that options and choices in the gaming genre have narrowed significantly and choices you once had don’t exist anymore. I think gamers have grown a little tired of the limited choices  and are actively seeking the great experiences that were once available to them.

Jason: With the continued success of GoG.com, can you give us an idea of how well the series has been doing there?

Chris Jones: There has certainly been a great resurgence for interest for our products at GOG and I think the Kickstarter campaign is helping to drive people there to play all of the Tex games. It’s always nice to be appreciated and this is helping to draw new people to see Tex for the first time and expanding our fan base.

Jason: Obviously the game industry has changed a lot since the last Tex Murphy game (14 years now). What have you learned as a designer in this time, and how will that influence the new Tex Murphy game?

Chris Jones: There are new design philosophies that have made more of a science out of game design and certainly we are always trying to find new ways to keep game players engaged and immersed in the experience. What we want to make sure we accomplish is satisfying our core fans and they have  indicated loud and clear that they want the game to have the same core elements of the previous games. That being said we have to improve the mechanics so that the flow is smoother and there have been vast improvements in interface design over the last decade and we want to incorporate this knowledge so we can deliver the most satisfying experience.

Jason: With FMV being a large aspect of the games, do you think the advances in technology (cheap 1080p video, editing, etc.) will allow you to do things you couldn’t before, from a creative and/or financial aspect?

Chris Jones: Financially there are great off the shelf tools that make FMV integration so much cleaner. In addition camera movement in the CG/FMV world is now much easier to do. All of the technological improvement will allow us to incorporate our actors into a richer more dynamic world that will feel even more believable than earlier games.

Jason: Is there one other series, one you’ve worked on or otherwise, you’d like to come back?

Chris Jones: I loved the Lucas Arts adventure games such as Monkey Island and especially Grim Fandango. That would be fantastic.

So there we are! If you’re interested in the series, you can find all five of them over at GoG.com. If you want this series to continue (which I hope you do), wander on over to Kickstarter where, as of the time of this posting, you’ve got seven days to fund it! You can also follow Chris Jones and company over @BigFinishGames.