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Answers from Roberta! (Sorry it took so long…)
How long had Roberta had the idea for Phantasmagoria?
Phantasmagoria was, in actuality, a much more developed version of my first game, Mystery House. If one were to look at the layout of the house and the way the game play is directed and the way some of the puzzles work, there are many similarities to Mystery House. However, the story line is completely different. The storyline was developed over about a six month period.
How long before she was given the go ahead?
It took about a year of me ‘begging’ before the project was given the go-ahead. Even though Ken liked the idea, many people at Sierra thought it was a dumb idea and didn’t understand it, and didn’t like the idea of building a whole studio, and whole new technology in order to accomplish this…this…monstrosity. (However, while it was in development and after it shipped, all of a sudden, all of those detractors suddenly ‘got on board’ and were its biggest supporters. In other words, I was vindicated.)
Ken, What was your role in helping Roberta?
A ‘Ken’ question….
Were either of you ever concerned about the massive
costs associated with completing this project?
I don’t know about Ken…. Ken?
For me, I had total confidence in the product. I felt that it was break-through and that it would pay us back in dividends. I was right.
Could either of you describe the process that went along with
assembling the cast? Did you hold many auditions etc?
We held several auditions in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area. We went through an audition agency in ‘Hollywood’ who found us many actors, most unknown, but a few ‘semi-known.’ A majority of the actors came from LA, but, one came from the Seattle area who I approached when I saw her in a play, and several other ‘extras’ were just employees from Sierra On-Line. We also hired a ‘Hollywood’ director, Peter Maris, who had directed quite a few ‘B’ type movies to help in directing the actors. I felt that I did not have experience in directing actors, so I wanted someone to do that who knew what they were doing. However, Peter did not have experience with adventure games. Therefore, he and I worked together as a team in the studio; he with directly working with the actors and their lines, and me with making sure that the ‘game’ aspects were kept in tack and to ‘constantly’ remind everybody that this was a GAME and not a MOVIE. We also hired a make-up artist from ‘Hollywood’ who was phenomenal and worked very very hard.
What was it about Victoria Morsell that made her desirable for the role of Adrienne?
I wanted Adrienne to be pretty, but not beautiful and elegant. She had to seem more like a very pretty, ‘girl next door’ type – but with some sexuality. I wanted her to be casual but also to have a strong independent spirit. (I definitely did NOT want a ‘bimbo type!) I felt that Victoria had that quality. She also had to be willing to put up with working on a game like this in a place like Oakhurst, California, and to wear the same outfit for several months! In other words, she had to have an open mind and to be easy to work with. She was, and she was a perfect Adrienne.
Did the cast have much initial difficulty acting in front
of a blue screen?
We ALL did! We were inventing this procedure as we went along. We all had difficulties working with it. As to the actors, at first, it was strange to them, but, after awhile, we all got the hang of it and it became easier and easier. Actually, I think it was harder on the guys who had to set up all of the shots with the lighting, sound, the camera angles with our computerized ‘back ground’ shots, and with setting up the few actual props that we used. It took hours to set up each shot before we actually shot them. Sometimes, the set guys would work practically a whole day to set up a key shot while the actors just sat around. The difficulty in working with blue screen is getting everything precisely lined up. And precisely is the key word. THAT was the difficult part!
Who selected the outfit that Adrienne would wear? Were the colors of the clothing chosen for any particular reason? I did, along with my project manager, Mark Seibert. We decided that she needed to wear a very simple outfit. Jeans and a tee-shirt fit the bill. She needed a simple outfit because she would be doing many different things, some of which would require her to be able to move easily and to be in difficult or dirty situations. As to the colors, with blue screen, an actor cannot wear anything blue (for obvious reasons), or anything with a ‘blue cast’ to it. For instance, purple is also out, and blue-grays, blue-greens, etc. So you see, Adrienne wears black jeans instead of blue jeans, and she wears an orange shirt which shows up quite well against a blue screen.
Do you have any fun memories between you (Ken or Roberta) and
the cast that you would like to share?
For me, the whole experience was fun. I enjoyed creating Phantasmagoria more than any other game. Even though I love King’s Quest and all of those other games, it was fun working with actors and a director in a studio. I learned a lot and discovered that actors can be very funny while filming. We laughed a lot and kidded around. However, you also learn that actors can be temperamental and ‘the other side of the coin’ is that you also have to deal with some of their ‘issues.’ That part wasn’t quite as fun. When we were working with all of the gory stuff, we especially had a lot of fun with it. Some of the actors would put on their horrific make-up and just strut around the studio and do little songs and dances while they had a broken bottle stuck in their eye and blood running down their face! Hilarious!!