We’ve grown quite fond of Wales Interactive’s recent output of live action titles. The genre has seen a successful resurgence with titles like The Complex, Bloodshore, Nightbook, and Five Dates. We recently had chance to field a few questions to Samuel Leigh, producer on the upcoming dating adventure Ten Dates about the game, and you can look forward to our review nearer launch too.
For people that might not know you, what is a day in the life of Samuel Leigh look like at Wales Interactive, and what games have you helped produce in the past?
I didn’t set out to be a producer. Since Soul Axiom (2015) I have worked on every project that has been produced by Wales Interactive in some capacity whether that be in UI, Animation or developing and producing.
I started at Wales Interactive as an animator and that grew game by game, with more and more responsibility into the producing role that I do today. My love of storytelling and my understanding of game development has put me in my dream job without recognising it. I still treasure getting hands-on in the engine however, more of my day is spent buried in email chains, meetings, creating schedules and developing scripts but once I start talking about storytelling/gameplay and the possibilities that could be achieved, I do not shut up.
Wales Interactive have redefined the interactive live action genre over the last several years. Xbox Tavern favourite The Complex hooked us in, while titles such as Night Book, Bloodshore, and the original Five Dates sealed the deal. Do you have any thoughts on why the genre’s resurgence has been achieved now?
These are great games to play with friends and family. If you turn “Streamer Mode” on it will remove the timers and pause the choices. Now do this with caution as it does spark some lively debates.
But these are very laid-back games for entertainment, to quote Gino D’Acampo “minimum effort, maximum satisfaction”.
Ten Dates follows on from the excellent Five Dates. Were there any plans to continue with Vinnie (and fantastic wingman Callum) again as he ventured into the ‘real world’ of dating or was a clean slate always on the cards?
I love Taheen (Vinnie) and Demmy (Callum) and I think their story is far from over. The whole cast of this series has been amazing and I would happily work with any of them again.
Five Dates leant heavily into the online world of dating, thanks of course to the recent pandemic. How did you approach Ten Dates‘ return to in person dating, and how did the two titles vary in in terms of how much you could fulfil your vision for the story?
We wanted Ten Dates to still have the same charm as Five Dates. Which is why we approached Ten Dates the same way as we did Five Dates, even though they were created in completely different ways.
Not only have you doubled the amount of dates available, but you’ve given players far more options in terms of representation in Ten Dates. Could you explain more about your process for expanding the choices available?
There wasn’t a process, this happened organically. As more characters were added and casting ensued for the roles it just assembled as representative as it is.
We absolutely fell in love with one of the potential suitors in Bash. Without going into too many spoilers, do you have a favourite date candidate? And were there any that you had to leave out of the game?
Would you ask a Mum who her favourite child is?
Yes, I had favourites when reading the script however, that all changed after the actors got hold of their characters and made them their own. I think every character has an interesting story to tell if you can sweep them off their feet.
Ten Dates is being released on Valentine’s Day, was that by design or did it just naturally fit into your ideal release window?
A bit of both, plus it just makes sense.
A little more catch-all in terms of the Wales Interactive library, but how long does something like Ten Dates take to create, and could you give us a rough idea of the process behind creating the sprawling web of choices presented to players?
Ten Dates is one of the largest Interactive Live Action Games we have made to date. We have developed a writing tool which allows us to create interactive scripts visually which becomes the base code of the game. We can prototype ideas and have feedback very early on as we are technically coding the game as we write. Consequently, when we are on set filming or working with our partners what is captured lines up in the tool making the assembly of the game very efficient. This came from working with Allan Plenderleith on The Bunker and he sat with me at my desk, stacks of storyboards and hard drives full of videos sprawled over the floor. We did a lot of editing after the fact to stitch the footage he filmed together. Between this and The Complex we developed a tool to simplify this process and The Complex was the first game made using our tool with Paul Raschid the director of Five and Ten Dates.
Finally, without trying to get ahead of ourselves, do you think we might see a Fifteen Dates in the future?
I would not rule that out, it might not be Fifteen Dates but we love working on these and it is very appealing to do another one. It will be great to explore the options one day.Become a Patron!