Ce qui suit est une entrevue d’Adrien par Eriorg, publiée dans le SPAG no 47. Étant donné que SPAG est en anglais, Adrien a répondu directement en anglais.

Eriorg : D’abord, la question habituelle d’introduction des interviews pour SPAG : pourriez-vous nous parler un peu de vous ? Qui êtes-vous, quel est votre métier, etc. ?
Let’s begin with the usual SPAG interview introductory question: could you tell us a little about yourself? Who are you, what do you do for a living, and so on?

Adrien Saurat : I’m Adrien Saurat, a 28-year-old French semi-geek. I work as an engineer in a big Information Technology service firm, working mostly with ASP and PHP languages. Aside from that, I enjoy playing comedy theatre in general and improvisational theatre in particular.

E : Comment avez-vous connu l’IF en général, et l’IF francophone en particulier ?
How did you know about IF in general, and French IF in particular?

AS : My very first contact with IF was with a game I don’t really remember… I was very young and it was in English, I didn’t understand everything. I only remember that it was somehow related to Alice in Wonderland. I had a good time on this but soon got back to Nebulus, Bubble Bobble and such! Later, I discovered the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Planetfall. I got really into Planetfall, and this little robot is still in my mind after all these years. But again, after trying this game I got back to more action-oriented games.

A few years ago, after reading the Douglas Adams books, I played the H2G2 game again and tried to find French interactive fictions of the same kind. I soon discovered the mailing-list dedicated to French IF creation, downloaded the Inform translation by Jean-Luc Pontico and created a portal to host the community, which is now mostly administered and updated by Éric Forgeot. In 2005, Stab (our graphic artist) and Éric initiated the French Comp, and we since enjoy making it live in spite of the tiny number of authors we have!

E : Je vois qu’outre la fiction interactive, vous vous intéressez aussi aux jeux de rôle par e-mail : de quoi s’agit-il exactement ? En avez-vous créé vous-même ? Et y a-t-il selon vous des points communs entre les jeux IF et les jeux de rôle par e-mail ?
I see that, besides interactive fiction, you’re also interested by e-mail role-playing games: what are they, exactly? Have you created some yourself? And do you think there are things in common between IF games and e-mail RPGs?

AS : I got into this after two years of online RPG gaming on Ultima Online and The 4th Coming. At first lurking on an English « Red Dwarf » based e-mail RPG, I soon tried one of them in French. This game quickly vanished, so I started my own, a sci-fi humorous game in which I did put the character of my first player in a spaceship, brush in hands. 🙂

To me, pbem (play by e-mail) games represent the best form of online gaming if you enjoy freedom of action. It combines the possibilities of a good old live role-playing game with the advantages of playing when you have the time to do so (my good old Warhammer Saturday afternoons with my friends definitely belong to the past). Then, when you want to create games for a greater audience, the closest choice is interactive fiction! You can still develop a rich story and give the player a rather good feeling of freedom (at least better than in point-and-click games), with this « anyone can do it » feeling (I just can’t make a Monkey Island for now).

E : D’où vous est venue l’idée de La Cité des Eaux ? Et les thèmes suggérés pour la French Comp (en 2006, c’était la science-fiction) vous ont-ils aidé pour trouver des idées ou étaient-ce au contraire des contraintes ?
How did you have the idea of La Cité des Eaux? And did the suggested themes for the French Comp (in 2006, it was science fiction) help you to find ideas or were they, on the contrary, constraints?

AS : The science fiction theme has always been one of my favourites, so in no way could it be a constraint. I just had to choose among all my influences in this domain… Asimov? Lucas? Orwell? Adams? Barjavel?

La Cité des Eaux (post-apocalyptic) was in fact my third idea for the comp. My first two projects would fit in the « Space Opera » genre. One of them is still a work in progress, but it was too big to be finished on time. It will be largely inspired by space trading games like Elite or Nomad, but I really can’t say when it will be finished… I’m used to small games and they already consume a lot of my time. 😉

Too late for that, I had to find another idea. I’m fond of post-apocalyptic settings, and one of my favourite authors of the 19th century wrote a sort-of prophetical text which really shines by its cold and cruel modernity. I soon got excited about using this long quote in a game, and started a story which takes place in a ravaged world, slowly curing from its wounds.

E : Un thème important dans La Cité des Eaux est l’opposition entre la nature et l’homme, entre l’écologie et la technologie. Quelle est votre opinion sur le sujet ? Désapprouvez-vous entièrement l’attitude du personnage principal du jeu, ou êtes-vous quand même un peu d’accord avec lui, d’une certaine façon ?
A major theme of La Cité des Eaux is the opposition between nature and man, between ecology and technology. What’s your opinion about that subject? Do you entirely disapprove of the attitude of the main character of the game, or do you nevertheless agree a little with him, somehow?

AS : Ahem… I spent a lot of time during the last years to rethink my vision of Life, the Universe and Everything. I ended up being a deterministic, somewhat nihilistic (I don’t kill people), atheist. Still, I can’t decide between « Let’s save our Earth, for our children’s sake! » and « In the end, everything will disappear anyway, life is absurd, so who cares? »

The game tries to give an intermediate solution!

I can’t say I agree with the main character, but the goal of the game is clearly to help him achieve his mission. The happy end was only added to enhance replayability and to reassure people about my sanity. 😉 But the story is designed in such a way that most players will first finish it with the initial goal (except maybe for experienced players who can’t stop snuffing everywhere).

E : Dans La Cité des Eaux, il y a un certain nombre de citations d’un écrivain français célèbre dont nous ne citerons pas le nom ici pour ne pas faire de spoilers. Qu’est-ce qui vous a donné cette idée ? S’agit-il d’un de vos auteurs préférés ? Ou peut-être était-ce seulement pour pouvoir citer un texte tombé dans le domaine public ?
In La Cité des Eaux, there are many quotations from a famous French writer (we won’t reveal his name here to avoid spoilers). What gave you this idea? Is he one of your favourite authors? Or perhaps did you choose him just because his texts are in the public domain?

AS : Yes, he shares the top of my favourite authors with Albert Camus, Jerome K. Jerome and Douglas Adams!

The quotes used in the game come from a short, simple and underrated book of this author. I read it regularly when I feel my muse gets lazy!

Thinking of the precedent question, I can add that the 19th-century quotation is only closed when you attain the regular ending. It just wouldn’t fit with the happy one.

E : Avant La Cité des Eaux, vous avez publié le jeu Le Cercle des gros geeks disparus, qui a gagné la French Comp 2005. Pouvez-vous présenter rapidement ce jeu ? Et lequel de vos 2 jeux préférez-vous, personnellement ?
Before La Cité des Eaux, you published the game Le Cercle des gros geeks disparus, the French Comp 2005 winner. Could you present it shortly? And which one of your two games do you personally prefer?

AS : The title refers to Le Cercle des poètes disparus, a. k. a. Dead poets society in English. Thinking about it, « Dead geek’s society » would make it very well for a translation of the game. 😉 In this fiction, you play the role of a nerd waking up after a whole night of drinking lemonade-based cocktails and crafting a mysterious cube. Your goal is to finish this WIP machine with the items you’ll find in the bedroom. Depending on which objects you’ll plug on the cube, it will have a totally different usage and that will generate specific endings, only one of them being totally satisfying.

Le Cercle is a very short and, I hope, fun game. I took the time to implement nearly everything I wanted. I still have a version in progress to correct the last bugs and, of course, it’s far from perfect and I could enhance it, but otherwise I consider the game finished.

On the other hand, La Cité des Eaux was really completed in a hurry and some rooms are very very empty. That makes me mad and if you, reader, wants to try the game, please wait for the Release 4, coming soon in French, or the Release 5, which should be an English version.

I prefer La Cité des Eaux for two reasons. First, the theme seems more interesting to me. Second, I like the fact that the player can drive the character in some places just to change his vision of the world, thus modifying the ending.

E : Bien que l’ambiance de vos deux jeux soit totalement différente, ils ont au moins un point commun notable : la présence de plusieurs fins différentes mais dont une seule est optimale, ce qui rend les jeux jouables plusieurs fois. Appréciez-vous particulièrement cette façon de faire, plutôt que de faire des jeux plus longs, mais plus linéaires avec une seule fin gagnante, par exemple ?
Although the atmosphere of your two games is totally different, they do have at least one notable thing in common: the presence of multiple endings, only one of them optimal, which enhances replayability. Do you particularly like that way of doing things, rather than, for instance, longer but more linear games with only one winning ending?

AS : When I was a child, playing 8-bit games for hours and hours, I had a sadistic patience and could play on a single, complex and undocumented game for days (we all did, didn’t we?). That’s over! I don’t play often now, and I prefer short and easy games, simply to have a good time in a virtual world. I create the games I’d like to play. The multiple endings in Le Cercle des gros geeks disparus are simple to find. They may be fun but do not add a lot to the meaning of the story (talk about meaning with geeks involved…). In La Cité des Eaux, the end depends on the morale and philanthropy of the main character, which changes during the game depending on the actions asked by the player. In the Release 2, sent for the comp, the tuning is far from perfect, but later versions will add more endings and make them more tied to the state of the character. Well, yes, I like this kind of play! I was largely influenced by games like Aisle, Pick up the phone booth and die, Galatea… but wanted to push the experience in a longer story. My future games will still probably offer multiple endings, maybe even branching stories.

E : Quels sont vos jeux IF préférés ?
What are your favourite IF games?

AS : Among the classics, Planetfall forever!

Speaking about the modern creations, I must admit that I didn’t play a lot of games but I can mention I-0, Being Andrew Plotkin and All Roads which really pleased me, each one in its special style (I-0 rules!).

My favourite French game is Filaments, written by JB Ferrant, a beautiful story about a young Parisian girl called Margot and his dorky friend Jonas.

E : Comment voyez-vous l’avenir de l’IF francophone ?
How do you see the future of French IF?

AS : Our community gets slowly bigger and bigger. Some of us make a lot of efforts to enhance the visibility of our community, and it should pay soon. We are happy to approach the English community now, but our biggest priority is still to gain more writers and players in French-speaking countries. A very long task which should be made easier by crafting a few newbie friendly games. Maybe Ekphrasis could fill this empty spot with its multimedia content? Future will tell.

E : Quels sont vos projets (En rapport avec l’IF, surtout !) ?
What are your projects (especially related to IF!) now?

AS : I’m working on a seafaring game which should be bigger than La Cité des Eaux, but still largely influenced by the choices of the player (way more, in fact). It will be more action oriented, and should be an intermediate step before the Elite-like game I spoke about earlier.