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Developer Diary: Teaming Up With Jane Jensen - Destructoid

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Established in 2004 and previously known as 'Phoenix Freeware Online', Phoenix Online Studios began as a fan group of King's Quest fans coming together to create an unofficial sequel to the series.



Their first project, The Silver Lining, got the attention from publications such as PC Gamer, Computer Gaming World, GameInformer, Edge Magazine, GamesTM, Kotaku, Mtv News and Joystiq. Today, we've been granted an IP license by Activision to publish all 5 episodes free to play.



Phoenix Online Studios is currently working on their first commercial endeavors - Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, recently released Episode 1 last October, and Episode 2 is about to be released Jan 30th, 2013. The game follows a Boston FBI agent, who lost her brother years ago to a serial killer who was never caught. With post-cognition abilities, Erica Reed is able to see the past of the objects just by touching it, adding a twist in this paranormal adventure game.

More information about Phoenix Online Studios or any of our projects can be found at www.postudios.com
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Designer Katie Hallahan tells us what's it like working with industry legend Jane Jensen (Creator of the Gabriel Knight series)


A question we often get is how we ended up teaming up with Jane Jensen on Cognition. Cesar has told the story how some of the directors first met Jane and Bob when they generously invited us to visit them at their beautiful farm, but what happened between then and the announcement of the Cognition Kickstarter?


Vitek, Rich, Jane, Cesar, and Katie


When we first met with Jane in March 2011, we talked a lot about our plans for Phoenix Online’s future, and naturally the possibility of working together was part of those discussions. At the time, there wasn’t anything that fit what we were looking for, but when Cognition came up that summer, asking Jane if she was interested in working with us was one of the first thoughts we had! The timing and position of Story Consultant worked out perfectly for both her and us, and we got to work.

As Story Consultant, Jane reviews all of our design work, from feedback on the outlines to a full editing pass on the script, and her input has been helpful from day one in helping us to keep the game focused. When Cesar and I were originally outlining the game, we were considering two main plot arcs: the first was Erica’s powers, and the second was a series of killings with a Shakespearean theme. (We’ve got a habit of trying to do too much. We were once naively proud of the original full script for TSL being about 1500 pages long!) Jane’s suggestion that we stick to just one lead us to focus on Erica’s powers, the theme that we could potentially build a series on; maybe someday she’ll face that Shakespearean killer yet!


Things Erica can't do with her bare hands has become a favorite reference and joke of ours--turns out it started with Jane!


For me personally, one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve learned from Jane is that every scene, character, and puzzle needs to support your story. Don’t waste any time — yours or the players — with things that don’t support that development.

It’s been wonderful having her help on Cognition, and we’re highly enjoying working with her in a different capacity on Moebius — but the details of that will be for a future blog from Cesar!


If you'd like to know more about Cognition, feel free to visit the Phoenix Online Studios Homepage.

Gonçalo Gonçalves
Social Media Intern, Phoenix Online Studios



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