While Book of Spells led off our Wonderbook announcement at E3 earlier this year, there are plenty more projects in the works for the forthcoming PlayStation 3 augmented reality peripheral, including Walking With Dinosaurs from the BBC, and an exciting partnership with Disney Interactive Studios. Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcrawler is a little different, however – unlike Book of Spells and Dinosaurs, it’s a brand new IP, promising quirky detective noir with style to spare.
Less than 24 hours after the game’s new trailer debuted during the Sony press conference at gamescom last week, we sat down with Adam Volker from Oscar-winning animation studio turned game developer Moonbot to find out what it has in store.
“So, Diggs is a detective bookworm and he’s really good at what he does,” he explained.
“He works for the godfather of Library City, Humpty Dumpty. And you know his story – someone pushed him off the wall, someone bumped him off – and the cops think it’s Diggs. So when you start the game he’s framed for the murder of his old buddy. The story unfolds from there, with you attempting to clear Diggs’ name and find out who actually committed the crime.”
So how exactly does this eccentric set-up translate into gameplay?
“Because Wonderbook is new, we’re still figuring out a lot of specifics about what the gameplay is,” said Volker, who lists stints at EA and BioWare on his CV.
“We’re trying to make the characters in the game self-aware that they are in fact in a book. The mechanics of Wonderbook are all very physical and we want to encourage players to actually pick up the book, turn it around, hold it upside down – so the game will focus on that a lot.
“We designed the IP to be a book about books, so that the characters can help the player. We give Diggs the user interface stuff, so he says ‘turn the page!’ when it’s time to turn the page, he says ‘Go back, you missed something’ when it’s appropriate to backtrack.
“Wonderbook is celebrating the really old and beautiful interface of the book,” he continues. “People know how to use a book, so we want to monopolise on that. It’s definitely celebrating the medium.”
While the game is certainly aimed at a younger audience, Volker insisted that there should be something here for everyone to enjoy, especially those who appreciate classic adventure games. And although some onlookers might express surprise that Moonbot has moved away from animation – a medium it’s clearly very, very good at – and decided to try its hand at game design, Volker believes its a natural progression for the Louisiana-based studio.
“It’s the creative challenge that Wonderbook represents. The uniqueness of the interface is really exciting and getting to pave that road is a real creative challenge,” he enthused.
“I’ve always had a passion for gaming. Moonbot, as a company, is about storytelling and about characters. We like to be media agnostic and gaming is just another avenue to tell a story.”
Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcrawler is due out some time in 2013 – we’ll have much more on the title over the coming months.