I had the lovely opportunity to have a short chat with Jan Serra, the game designer over at Scarecrow Studio. While chatting, we discussed the upcoming Scarecrow Studio title, 3 Minutes to Midnight.
mxdwn: What is the basic run down of 3 Minutes to Midnight?
Serra: I will try to tell you the story without spoiling anything because we have a lot going on. 3 Minutes to Midnight is a point-and-click adventure game, and it is sci-fi. It is not horror; it is just sci-fi, and it is full of humor. We have a lot of jokes, we have a lot of puzzles, and the story happens around the late 40s in the United States and a little town in the middle of Mexico. You will be playing Betty, who is the main character of this game. At some point, you will be able to play with another playable character, who is the mayor of that town, but that will be later on. So, when you start with betty, she wakes up with no memory, and soon she realized that the rest of the town also lost their memories. Things here will start to get a bit weird. The mayor asks you to go to the dam because a bolt of lighting struck there and cut the power supply to the town. When you go to that area, you will see a secret military base where they are hiding something really big. They are not going to let you in, so you will come back to the town and try to explain what you saw to the mayor and the people there. However, the mayor is gone, and then, the people in town might not be who they said they were, so things will get really mysterious at this point.
We have a lot going on. You will be able to visit an airfield that is abandoned, you will be able to see a plane crash, and it is a military plane, and the cargo is missing, and it had something dangerous inside. So, we really do have a lot going on. I don’t want to go into more detail for spoiler reasons, but this is pretty much it.
mxdwn: Usually with point-and-click adventure games, you only play as one character. What made you decide to have the player play as more than just one?
Serra: The reason for this is because the two characters have very different personalities. When you play with Betty, she has a heart, she is naive, she wants to help people, and she really wants to know what’s going on. She wants to solve this problem. But when you play with Eliza, the mayor of the town, you will realize that she is a politician, so she is mean, she will tell you what you want to hear to get what she wants, so it gives you two different perspectives of the same story. And actually, when you play with Eliza, you play in flashbacks that are one year before the events that happen in the game. So, you will be able to understand a lot of stuff that is going on and be able to unravel that kind of stuff as well. It is just really interesting to have the two characters. The thing is, and I want to be clear on this, you cannot switch between characters at all times like other games. You will start playing with Betty, and then at some point, you will switch to Eliza, and then you will finish with Betty. That is how it is going to work.
mxdwn: Since there will be puzzles in this game, what kind of puzzles can we expect from 3 Minutes to Midnight?
Serra: We have 126 puzzles in this game, which is a lot, and we have different kinds of puzzles. There are puzzles where you will have to talk with people in order to keep progressing in the story, and sometimes you will grab object in a scenario and you will use them somewhere or give them to someone. Sometimes, you can combine those items inside your inventory to create new items that will help you progress, and sometimes you will just interact with the environment to get through to the next objective. Those are the kinds of puzzles we have in the game.
mxdwn: What inspired you to make this game? From what I’ve heard, it seems unique in its setting. What made you say “we need to make this game”?
Serra: By the end of 2016, I was quitting engineering because it was a very stressful job, and I wanted to do something relaxing. So, I was just writing this story to keep my mind off problems and being busy and stuff. When I started, it was not even related to what this game ended up being. When I finished my first draft, I had 8 pages, but now, it has evolved into over 80,000 lines of script, but it was originally just 8 pages. I really liked the story at first, and I thought it would be cool to this game. Also, the frontrunner of this is a very strong female character because the game takes place in a very sexist era.
Actually, my initial idea was to have the game be in 3D, but the budget was so out of our reach because we really had to struggle to make this money to make this game, so my team decided to settle on point-and-click games. It is a genre that people don’t play that much anymore, but we have tried to make one that’s really good. So, we needed the graphics to be really good, the voices to be good, and the puzzles to really work. This is why we went with this story.
mxdwn: So this game has been in development for how long would you say?
Serra: We started in November of 2016, and development is going to finish around February of 2019 so we can release it in April of 2019.
mxdwn: What consoles can we expect this game on?
Serra: Right now, I can confirm that it will 100% be out for PC, Mac, and Linux, and it is currently 99% confirmed for the Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. We are just waiting for the final paperwork to be done by this month or next month to really confirm that the game will be out for consoles, but the game is being made to be supported by those platforms, and we are doing all the steps to get confirmation that our game will be on all of those platforms.
mxdwn: Do you have anything else that you want to add?
Serra: I just want to say that we are a team of 10 people, and we are working really hard on this. We have someone that does the environments, and someone that does the characters and animations, and they are literally working their asses off on this project to make it cool so people can see how much love we put into it. I just want to give a big shoutout to my team because they have been working so hard on this. They couldn’t all be here, so it is just 3 of us, but they deserve to be here too, so thank you for letting me say that.
After our chat, I was shown some of the gameplay. We were about 2 hours into the game (as to avoid spoilers), and we were tasked with becoming a camp counselor in order to obtain a counselor-only set of keys to progress. We were given a list of things to do to prove ourselves as a fit camp counselor. One of our tasks was to clean an outhouse, but one obstacle lay in our way: a pesky swarm of mosquitos. What followed next were a few small tasks that helped assemble an item to get past the mosquitos.
We found out that the oils from a certain plant will ward off the mosquitos, and we found the plant relatively easily. We ground up the plant to get its oils, but we couldn’t just throw the oil at the mosquitos. What we ended up doing was eyeing a candle, but there was a mean raccoon guarding the candle. We had to find a way to distract the raccoon while we collected the candle. We found an empty spray bottle, so we filled it up with water and sprayed the raccoon with it to get it to leave the area for a bit.
Once the raccoon was taken care of, we collected our candle and soaked it in the oil we had. Finally, we went over to the mosquitos and lit the candle. The mosquitos flew away, and we could continue to the outhouse to clean it. Unfortunately, that is where the demo had to be stopped, but there was more to be seen.
3 Minutes to Midnight is expected to have both a public demo and a Kickstarter up later this year.