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CCGR Exclusive interview with WestCreek Studios makers of Deliverance: Moses in the Courts of Pharaoh

CCGR

Tell us about yourselves and the company. When did you start the company and why?

WCS

Donald Triezenberg: Don is founder and serves as Chief Operating Officer. He is an entrepreneurial business leader who has spent his entire career in advertising, animation production, and marketing. A graduate of Northwestern University, he founded Advertising Marketing Group, Inc., a full-service advertising agency in 1969. In 1980, he founded Tele-Direct Response Center, an outbound telemarketing firm. From 1993-2004, he served as the volunteer president of Racom Associates where he was responsible for raising a 10 million dollar annual budget for a non-profit broadcast ministry through direct mail and personal donor solicitation. In 1998, he founded West Creek Studios, an award-winning animation studio, where he directs a staff of 11 animators working on long form animation and computer games. Don is committed to developing and expanding programming that makes a difference in the lives of children. West Creek Studios seeks to influence children in a positive manner through the development of media products. We use animation and game play to tell stories that uplift and encourage children through our principle-centered storylines featuring characters of high moral integrity.

CCGR

Tell us about Deliverance. How long have you been working on it?

WCS

Deliverance was 14 months in development and production. The Deliverance Game was designed as an alternative to the current genre of computer games. I wanted to produce a game that would allow for players to experience a unique game play that was different each time. This feature keeps players interested in playing a game over and over. But at the same time, I wanted to tell the Exodus story in a consistent and repetitive way unaffected by the game play. To solve the issue created by these two dynamics, we created short animation features (15 – 40 seconds) that play between levels and whose text is taken directly from the Biblical account of the story. In this way, the story doesn’t change, but the game play can and does. We believe that all games should feature incredible graphics, unique storylines and challenging activity. Although there is a considerable amount of arcade-style confrontation, there is no blood and no gore. Upon being defeated, characters simply dissolve and the player moves forward to the next challenge. Each game level features animation and text taken directly from the book of Exodus. Upon successfully completing the game, the player will understand that it was God who delivered His people through the Red Sea on dry ground—the same God who watches and cares over us today. This exciting Action-Adventure Game will challenge players again and again as they seek to improve their score and explore the full range of game playing options. Players seek to free God’s people from slavery to Pharaoh, solve the puzzle of the tombs, recover the bones of Joseph from the pyramids, and unleash the ten plagues upon the land of Egypt. Although it offers a game playing experience requiring quick reflexes, problem solving skills, and an adventurous spirit, it can be played by players of all talent because there is no wrong way to play. The game’s unique one-handed “smart mouse” control puts all of the action at the player’s fingertips—the game can be played using only the mouse!

CCGR

Were there any stumbling blocks or setbacks during the development of Deliverance?

WCS

Every project has its own unique set of variables that impact the ultimate product. These can range from internal communication between staff to equipment breakdown and failure. Although we seek to learn from our “mistakes” and address these in all follow-up productions, a new set of issues usually emerges to challenge us each and every time. In Deliverance, one of our major issues was the size of the graphics files. The artists and animators sought to have as much detail as possible, the programmers sought to remove as much as they could without impacting the look in an effort to improve response time and game play. These two goals are often at odds as the larger the file, the greater the detail but the smaller the file the faster and more responsive the game play.

CCGR

What is the game play like? What is unique about it?

WCS

The game play is challenging. It offers unrestricted exploration (as opposed to placing the player in one environment until that activity is completed and then moving to the next in sequential fashion), a need to interact with the characters in conversation, action-adventure that features intense Arcade-style confrontation and unique problem-solving activities. It features special combo moves and power-ups for the Arcade action and has dozens of hidden quests and rewards for the player who chooses to engage in those secondary objectives. The initial game play will likely take more than 15 hours to complete. Subsequent plays may not take that long but most players will discover additional objectives and experiences that were missed in the initial play. A score is kept and tabulated that allows players to seek improvement from play to play. Players may “save” their spot in the game and return at a later time to finish the level or game. The use of a “three button smart mouse” allowing the player to move through the game by simply pointing the mouse is a feature appreciated by both novices and experienced gamers alike.

CCGR

Will it be available in stores? If so, which ones.

WCS

Our initial marketing efforts are focused upon internet sales. We are currently speaking with several distributors, and anticipate that the game will be available in retail stores in mid-2007.

CCGR

Will there be a sequel?

WCS

We have three additional games in development focusing upon Old Testament prophets. We hope to release one new game every 18 months if sales justify.

CCGR

Have you implemented everything you wanted in the game? Is it everything you hoped it would be?

WCS

Given the nature of our changing industry, I don’t believe it is possible to have implemented everything we wanted in the game. Obviously, development is constricted by budgets and time available. The ever changing landscape (note the release of new and improved software and hardware in computing) forces developers to choose a target and stay with it, even though at times new ways of approaching the same issue are released. If we adapted to every improvement available, I suspect the game would never be finished. Given the industry we work in, I don’t think any game or movie will ever be everything we hoped it would be---but the game playing experience offered by Deliverance surpasses my original hopes. The graphics are outstanding and the storyline evolved to include so much more to challenge the players than originally conceived. And ultimately, this question is answered in the perspective—does this game accurately convey the story contained within Exodus and my answer to that question is a resounding “yes” .

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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