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ZA/UM Studio, the developers behind the upcoming police procedural RPG No Truce With The Furies, have offices in both Tallinn and London, and because of the latter, we shouldn't be surprised that an interview with a couple of ZA/UM's developers is now featured on Creative England's website. In the interview, Helen Hindpere and Olga Moskvina talk about their team, the appeal of detective stories, non-linear narratives and more. Here's an excerpt:
CE: In your game you play the role of a detective. I’m very much a fan of detective stories, especially deconstructions of the genre like Inherent Vice by Pynchon or Pulp by Bukowski. I’d like to hear your thoughts on detective fiction, especially how you see No Truce With The Furies fitting into the overall landscape.
Olga & Helen: There’s something very charming about stories whose imperfect heroes (or antiheroes) who are compelled by duty (and talent, and, quite often, a dollop unhealthy curiosity) to stick their noses where they’re not supposed to go -- and stick their necks out for the truth. And not just the truth of facts, but also Truth in a metaphysical sense, however loath they may be to admit it. It’s also a fantasy of justified voyeurism -- detectives must remain somewhat aloof, observer characters who narrate the lives of others, even as they inevitably become entangled for the purposes of dramatic tension.
In No Truce, being a detective, as one might expect, gives you a set of very specific goals for the sake of which you get to stick your nose into everyone’s business. However, your efforts are undermined by the fact that you start out as an utter failure -- sort of childlike and helpless, forced to investigate yourself and basic information about the world around you alongside the case itself, and, furthermore, monstrously hungover.
CE: I’m intrigued by your Metric system – how the character is built – especially the aspect of how being ‘good’ at something can also be ‘bad’. Could you go more into that?
Olga & Helen: Basically, your skills can be unreliable advisors -- they can lie to you and force you into rather unpleasant situations. Encyclopedia, which you may assume should supply you with facts about the world, may prove to be biased on one point or another. Drama, helpful in identifying when someone is lying to you, may suggest that you lie just for the hell of it. Half Light, your fight-or-flight skill, may force you to clock some dude who’s annoying you, allowing you to express your pent-up rage, but not really helping you advance your objective.
But all of this is not necessarily a bad thing -- failure may prove to be a much more interesting outcome than success. In the writing and design process, our goal has been to provide diverse but equally rich and satisfying experiences for all kinds of character builds. The player shouldn’t have to feel the need to reload after failing a skill check or choosing to follow some skill’s unreliable advice. In the end it’s same in life - not all is good or bad, black or white, and sometimes we just have to accept all the conflicting voices in our heads.