Interview: Zojoi's Dave Marsh talks about bringing Shadowgate to the modern era of gaming

Shadowgate Screenshot - 1168972

The revival of the iconic MacVenture series Shadowgate is almost upon us, which certainly means nothing but great news for fans of the original game. For developer Zojoi, it's a way to bring something special back to life. We haven't seen this franchise in quite some time, so its rebirth is undoubtedly noteworthy. Even if you never heard of it before, if you dig adventure games, Shadowgate should totally be on your radar.

GameZone asked Zojoi's Dave Marsh a few questions regarding the comeback of the series, and it's definitely clear that this is more than just a one-off project. The studio has big plans for the Shadowgate brand, which can most certainly be considered a good thing.

Shadowgate - Karl Roelofs and Dave Marsh

GameZone: What's it like to once again work with this legacy franchise that's so close and personal to you?

Dave Marsh: It’s been an amazing last two years. We reacquired the adventure titles in March of 2012 and immediately developed a plan to revisit them. We knew there were many fans of our games out there (especially because of the popularity of the NES and Game Boy Color versions) that remembered their experiences of playing them for the first time.

GZ: How does it feel to have the opportunity to revive Shadowgate for the modern era of gaming?

DM: The biggest challenge was returning to something familiar but updating it for today’s gaming market. It was definitely a challenge. We have obviously updated the artwork, audio, puzzles, inventory, and story but also offer players a ton of options. Those options include using a traditional UI or create a more immersive experience by auto-hiding it and using keybinds. We added achievements and difficulty modes to offer more replayablilty. We let players choose retro options like the original NES music, room transitions, and text scrolling. A lot of fun stuff.

As far as the growth in this industry, we’re seeing a rebirth in not only third-person adventure titles but also a good number of first-person Myst-like adventures and treasure hunt games. We believe that puzzle games like Shadowgate still have a place in an environment dominated by shooters and platformers.

Shadowgate - PC - 1

GZ: How long had Zojoi been pondering up this Shadowgate revival?

DM: Karl Roelofs (Zojoi Design Director) and I have thought about it for years. When we worked on a revised Palm version of Shadowgate years ago, we got the itch again and started working on what kind of changes we would make to the adventures.

GZ: What motivated you to bring the series back?

DM: When Double Fine ran a successful Kickstarter, we asked ourselves, “Why not us? The fan base is there, and Shadowgate never got its due. If now isn’t the time to bring it back, when?” However, we didn’t want to do another port (we had done that 10 times previously). So we figured out how to reacquire the licenses and worked out a way that we could create a killer team and make a new version of the game without asking backers for the moon.

We’re very happy with how the game has turned out and we have some great ideas for new content we can add after launch, as well.

Shadowgate - PC - 2

GZ: You've stated in the past that Zojoi intends on bringing Shadowgate back as an entire series. Do you also have plans for other non-Shadowgate projects, either graphic adventure or otherwise?

DM: We do want to do other types of games, but they would likely still be planted in the adventure genre, which is obviously the genre of games that we really love. For example, we would like to develop a bit more of a hybrid between our adventure titles and classic RPGs.

That said, we’ve just started design and art work on Beyond Shadowgate using the existing PAC (Point and Click) Unity engine. And if Shadowgate itself does well, we definitely want to revisited the Déjà Vu games and Uninvited, as well as new first-person titles.


I'd like to thank Zojoi for taking the time to answer my questions about the new Shadowgate. The upcoming rebirth of the series is due out tomorrow, so if point-and-click adventures, retro style, and satirical writing are all things you enjoy, keep a lookout for the game when it drops in just a few short hours.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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