A good story can’t work, without a good character. Lucky for us, judging by the feedbacks we received, in “A Matter of Caos” we managed to provide both.
In fact, it seems that most players liked the game mostly because of its main character and narrator: Mr. Gilbert, a fascinating, charismatic and deep character, which managed to conquer so many players.
Because of that, I was often asked: “How did Mr. Gilbert come to life?”
The short answer was already provided by Luca in a previous post: while developing our first game, I pulled off an old idea, which I liked quite much, a character who we could adapt to a short graphic adventure, funny and original. So, I recovered this draft of private eye, provided with tentacles and weird psychic powers, adapting it to our needs.
The first thing to say is that our hero didn’t born with the look, name or personality which he showed in AMOC.
The very first character draft dates back to when I was about 13; I created a character for a small RPG I was playing with a friend of mine.
I don’t even remember this character’s original name – I changed it many times – but it was kind of a humanoid squid who worked as a private eye. He was green, then, instead than purple, and he was quite silly.
He was a clumsy, coward bungler, a funny weakling thought as a comic relief. He was used to get in absurd troubles facing nonsense cases.
Over the years, though, I used to go back on him, improving and adding details to his character.
Slowly, his look and personality went to change, and I begun to draw a new narrative setting around him: the city of Mavropolis did born this way, when I was about 17; I thought it as a big, corrupted city, raised from the garbage, plagued by human scum and (badly) guarded by a dirty and inefficient police department.
Back to AMOC
Back to nowadays, then, I took again this character, adjusting his details to show him to the general public.
So, the color went from green to purple, as a homage to Purple Tentacle from “The day of the tentacle”; the graphic design got closer to Humphrey Bogart: his eyes and his clothing were drawn over an old photo of him; his personality was deepened and better defined.
Not a clumsy weakling anymore, this private eye all of a sudden became cinical, witty, determined, melancholy, full of misteries and eaten up with a dark guilt. Now, we had a mature, complicated and compelling character.
Thinking about the name, we didn’t need too much time: while designing the main story, we couldn’t but think about the basic teachings from the SUPREME MASTER of point ‘n click games, Ron Gilbert, and it was like a flash in the night – Mr. Gilbert! The name fitted perfectly, introducing the character we wanted to tell about.
The basic idea for Mavropolis grew up together with Mr. Gilbert: the storywriting was very easy, characters and setting were telling the story by themselves.
The protagonist that we got in our hands was, by then, designed by many peculiar elements:
Mr. Gilbert is a “Small Ancient” (in obvious reference to the Great Ancients from H. P. Lovecraft), the last of his own kind – or, at least, the last one living in Mavropoli’s world.
From the very beginning, our detective tells us that he’s an alien being, coming from a far distant world; about his origin something will be hinted, but most of it will be revealed in future adventures.
He posses weird mind powers, like the ability to sense other people’s intents, or to inflict strong sensorial suggestions; still, the magnitude of those powers depends on the target’s mind strength: some of them will be immune to such powers, while others will be very easily to manipulate.
Also, he shows he can understand reality in a much deeper way than common mortals; because of that, he can perceive and interact with the players, often breaking the fourth wall, without taking anything from the narrative coherence.
He can’t use fire weapons and some other devices, because of his alien origin.
Still, the most significant trait in Mr. Gilbert’s character is his own humanity – in a world based on the darkest side of hard boiled narrative, in a sick city, populated by cruel, petty, dishonest and devious people, a place lacking love, compassion or hope, Mr. Gilbert is, despite his “monstrous” nature, far more human than all the humans he’ll meet.
I could go on telling SO MUCH more about Mr. Gilbert; still, I’d risk too many major spoilers.
If this character’s origins intrigued you, though, you’ll be glad to know that I’m getting an exclusive interview with him, together with some other main characters from our adventures.
In the meanwhile, I wish you a great life and, of course, to keep having fun!