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?
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!
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!