Charles Cecil is the smart chap behind Revolution Software, a developer responsible for such point-and-click adventure game classics as Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky. However, Charles is most famous for creating the Broken Sword series of adventure games, which began with The Shadow of the Templars in 1996. Revolution's most recent release was Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon in 2003, which saw the series move away from point-and-click into full 3D.
What's he doing now? Well, Charles is currently working on a fourth Broken Sword game (Broken Sword: The Angel of Death) in association with Sumo Digital, and is a consultant on the licensed game of the The Da Vinci Code movie out next year. He also works closely with Game Republic, a trade alliance formed to further excellence in videogames development within the Yorkshire and Humber regions.
What was the idea behind Revolution Software?
Charles Cecil: It was really borne out of the fact that in the late 1980s, publisher Sierra had a huge market share with pretty ropey adventure games - King's Quest titles had a King Graham of Daventry, for example. I just felt that we could do much better. I loved the idea of an adventure where you felt that you were in a world that was reacting to you, rather than being triggered by you - that you were immersed. I set up the company with a 10,000 loan from my mother - bless her.
So Lure of the Temptress was your first point-and-click adventure with Revolution?
Charles Cecil: Yep - it was all about this idea called the Virtual Theatre. You could give commands to people, and string those commands together and they'd go off and do things. It was a fun game and very successful. Interestingly, it only cost 20,000 to make, while Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon cost 2 million - that's a hundredfold increase in ten years! It's pretty extraordinary.
The early 1990s were a golden era for point-and-click adventures. What do you think of the LucasArts titles of the time such as The Secret of Monkey Island?
Charles Cecil: In the category of jokey adventures, they were fantastic - unbeatable. But we were never in that area - we were all about writing serious games with a humorous touch, rather than slapstick games. So we were never directly competing. In fact now, I think the market has moved completely away from LucasArts kind of slapstick gaming - would you pay 30 for a humorous game any more? As the market has become more mass market, you want a game that grips you - which is why I still believe in the potential of games like Broken Sword, which have historical backgrounds, and ultimately are telling serious stories that will hopefully really excite players.
Can you tell us about the creation of Broken Sword?
Charles Cecil: We were talking about creating a more gritty type of adventure, and looking for anti-heroes - not that George Stobbart is an anti-hero! I was given Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco as a suggestion for subject matter on the Knights Templar, and it seemed perfect, because I have a great interest in film structure. There are certain subjects in an adventure that work really well, and conspiracy is one of them, as it can drive through the whole structure of a story. Also, at that time in the early 1990s, before the Internet, not much was known about the Knights Templar - an amazing underground order of people that was destroyed ruthlessly by 1314. We were effectively digging into unknown territory, so it was incredibly exciting.