hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Adventure is not dead: Wizarbox on point and click

3:35 PM on 08.22.2007 // Joseph Leray

Chances are, you've unwittingly played a Wizarbox game before, even if you've never heard of them. Actually, I should clarify -- you've probably played a game that Wizarbox has worked on, and you've never heard of them. You see, Wizarbox are the unsung heroes of video game development, a cloak-and-dagger studio whose primary function lies in ports, localizations, conversions, research and development, and other ninja-esque, behind-the-scenes ventures.

However, Wizarbox is now in the process of finishing their first in-house game, an old school point-and-click adventure game that hearkens back to the Monkey Island era of yore.

I met CEO Fabien Bihour at the Electronic Sports World Cup in Paris, and he invited me to take a tour of Wizarbox studios. So a week later, I made the fifteen-minute walk to his studio in Sèvres, France, just outside of Paris to talk about Wizarbox about its up-coming adventure title, So Blonde.

But, we'll talk about So Blonde tomorrow. For now, check out what Bihour and his team have to say about what it is they do, the adventure genre, and what it takes to break into the big-budget world of videogame development. 

Wizarbox was founded about four years ago and specializes, as I said, in conversions, ports, outsourcing, and the like. The Wizarbox portfolio includes the PC to Xbox ports of Arx Fatalis and the Panzer Dragoon franchise. Wizarbox has also worked very closely with Paris-based Ubisoft, handling numerous ports (most recently, Scrabble and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic) and sending a team of developers to Sweden to work on Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2.

Besides So Blonde, Wizarbox are developing a handful of titles for the DS, as well as an unnamed PC to Xbox 360 port. I asked if it happened to be the new Dark Messiah, but which Bihour replied, "No, I wish. I tried really hard to get that one, but Ubisoft is handling that one themselves."

Other interesting projects that Wizarbox is up to: talks with Atari, and a collaborative project called Play All. Play All is essentially a government-sponsored research and design project intended to push the French gaming industry by pooling the collective resources of Wizarbox, Kylotonn, Darkhorse, Load Inc., and White Birds Productions. If the project works as planned, the result will be a wealth of R&D that could lead to a new class of better-trained, better-equipped, and more-experienced developers. 

Starting out as a middleware company, Wizarbox has had a chance to make a wide variety of games, from Arx Fatalis to Scrabble to Winnie the Pooh. Bihour sees the "wide range of games" as one of his company's selling points: "We're very lucky here at Wizarbox -- we're not pigeonholed. Video games ... they're the first worldwide pass time. We have an opportunity to touch everyone, and we're very open. What's important is that people enjoy themselves without being boxed in [to one genre]."

This universalist approach is exactly what led Wizarbox to make their first original game, So Blonde, anadventure game. "People want to hear a story, to follow a scenario," says Bihour. "We think that there's still a large public for [adventure games]." He goes on to say that he's been hearing people ring the death knell on adventure games for 15 years, but responds that there is a still a large adventure fan base. "We've managed to captivate a fairly large audience. These are games that have a crazy community that are very loyal." 

Install base aside, Bihour says that he wanted to make a game that "developed the imagination," he says. "Technologically, games have evolved a lot, but at the bottom, they're exactly the same. To make a good product, to present a project, to create a beautiful story ... it's a lot harder to make your mark in a market that's saturated with first-person shooters," he continues. 

Indeed, breaking into video game development is difficult, and Wizarbox should know best. As a middleware company, Wizarbox has had to bail out many a small developer. There was one case in which a studio went bankrupt in the middle of a game and called Wizarbox to finish and release it.

With that in mind, So Blonde was developed in about 10 months. "Right from the start, we made the product we wanted. We wanted to reduce the risks," says Bihour. "This was our calling card, a demonstration, showing people what we could do. So many companies fail after one game ... " By avoiding the pitfalls of big-budget developing, Wizarbox hopes to make some headway with So Blonde before moving on the bigger projects.

The visit ends with a condemnation of the mindset Bihour and his company are trying to change: "People congratulate themselves for making a clone of last year's games. People need to not be afraid of new ideas and new stories."

[Image credit: Atolm]

Joseph Leray, Former Features Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Joseph Leray is a long-time features contributor, reviewer, and (self-styled) editor-at-large for Destructoid. He lives in Nashville with a menagerie of pets and a Final Fantasy IX obsession. more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

ikiryou avatarikiryou
Went to play MGSV, got prompted to download the MGO data; it's not on the PS Store yet. Or maybe it's Kojima-san's way of telling me it's not the real MGO data, but is instead a janitor who once protected me from a puddle of pee and now wears my face.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Going grey >>>>>>>>>>> Going bald
Rudorlf avatarRudorlf
Recently watched the Cannon Films documentary, by the director of Not Quite Hollywood. Super entertaining, hilarious, and it almost made me want to watch some of the Cannon films. Almost.
CaimDark Reloaded avatarCaimDark Reloaded
PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! Tomorrow I'm meeting Shade of Light in RL!
able to think avatarable to think
Tip for those who have plasma TVs and are playing MGSV; go into settings and make the weapon icon only appears when you're aiming. I had to buy a new TV because the weapon icon got permanently burned into my plasma.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Any of you cute little butts gonna be at London Comic Con?
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You felt your sins crawling on your back... [youtube][/youtube]
Halflocke avatarHalflocke
what was the first game that used crowd motivated you to contribute ?
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Mad Max, Critters and some The life and times of Tim to finish the night. T'was a good day.
techsupport avatartechsupport
I was excited to learn one of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels, The Man in the High Castle, would be receiving its own TV show. After watching the pilot, I'm cautiously optimistic. Looking forward to the rest in November.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I'm going to be honest; this is my new favourite line in anything ever. GOTY 2015 and all that. Also cocks: [img][/img]
I thought Laura Kate's Destiny piece for Polygon was pretty neat.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
Bungie have decided Kojima isn't the only one who can do 4th wall breaking shenanigans. Congratulations Destiny players, you're all now The Taken King.
I have (jokingly) wanted a remake/sequel to Geist. And then I went to YouTube to watch a longplay to see it in action again and thought, "nevermind!"
The humblest person I know avatarThe humblest person I know
I'd been worried that Jim had been losing his sanity with all the Steam sludge he's always attacking. If you've been feeling the same way, good news. His new vid warmed that void and reminded me that I follow him because he had no sanity to start with. ;)
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Reading the Star Citizen expose reminded me of the whole Firefall mess last year. [url=""]Found the gamefront article [/url]
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I went from listening to the soundtrack of SMT IV, to the soundtrack to Mario Kart 8, Smash 4, Fire Emblem, and now chilling with some Mother 3. All of it was pretty awesome by the way.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
After the 11th, I'm going into cryosleep until SMT IV Final is out. I'm sure Mike, Occams and Strider can manage without me. [img][/img]
TheLimoMaker avatarTheLimoMaker
In need of another writer for my monthly blog on the PS Plus games. Given how nobody really reviews all of them (and after spending time downloading bad ones), I thought it'd be a nice time to try and do it for the PS users out there. So... Need some help
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom is a thing...TT_TT
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -