Interview With Eric Nguyen, Marketing Director of Anuman Interactive

A few weeks back we reviewed The Bluecoats: North vs. South, a U.S. Civil War-themed strategy game created under Anuman Interactive’s Microïds – Games for All label. In our quest to learn more about the game’s background, we caught up with Anuman Interactive’s Marketing Director for a chat.

Let’s start out by having you tell our readers a little about Microïds and where the label falls under Anuman Interactive’s umbrella.

Microïds as a studio was created back in the 1980s. Over time, it released several famous adventure game licenses, such as Syberia and Still Life. However, Microïds as a studio no longer exists. Microïds as a brand, and all its licenses, were bought by Anuman Interactive in 2009. Historically Anuman Interactive is a French publisher, but we are now providing products worldwide through our four major brands. Microïds is one of them. As a reminder, those labels are: Microïds (for adventure games only), Microïds – Games For All (it gathers mainstream video game activity, except adventure games), Anuman Interactive (for software and applications) and last but not least, Home Design 3D, exclusively dedicated to Home Design 3D products, which have been developed within the company.

As far as Microïds games are concerned, today we collaborate intimately with a studio that works exclusively on our Microïds adventure games, and within Anuman itself, two project managers are dedicated to the Microïds collection of games, plus a sales team and a PR Manager.

It appears you have a strong interest in creating games that touch on real-world history. Would you say it’s your goal to show that videogames can appeal to a mainstream audience, but also be educational at the same time?

Our main objective is first to entertain players. With our Microïds and Microïds – Games For All games, everyone should get their share. Casual gamers will discover accessible new adventures while adventure game enthusiasts won’t lack of challenges to confront their neurons. However, if in the meantime we get the chance to include some cultural content – because the theme of the game lends itself to it – then we won’t hesitate to give players some educative content, as in Louvre The Messenger (encyclopedia) or The Bluecoats: North vs South (historical grounding), for instance.

The Bluecoats: North vs. South has a really interesting heritage. How does it relate to the comic strip Les Tuniques Bleues and the Amiga game, North & South?

As a reminder, Les Tuniques Bleues or The Bluecoats is a Franco-Belgian comic strip starring Sergeant Chesterfield and Corporal Blutch, soldiers in the Union army during the American Civil War. Published for over 40 years (55 albums released in France) by Les Editions Dupuis, which is a leading comic strip publisher in Europe, The Bluecoats has been translated in five languages. Regarding our video game, The Bluecoats: North vs South relates to the comic strip through three main aspects: humor, visual identity and historical grounding, which are the core ingredients of the comic strip’s success. We chose to incorporate those key elements in the game so that the comic strip lovers could appreciate The Bluecoats: North vs South as well. And of course, The Bluecoats: North vs South is also related to North & South since it is a remake of this 1990s Amiga game, adapted to present-day platforms.

Just like the old Amiga version, North vs. South has a really cool blend of action and strategy game modes, but you’ve replaced the on-foot side-scrolling segments with a third person cover shooter and a horse riding sequence. Why did the team decide to make those changes?

We wanted our game accessible and entertaining for a wider public. We went for a mainstream video game which could be adapted more easily to today’s platforms and technologies. Those sequences are as effective on PC as on touchscreen devices.

How hard was it to develop the game’s various user interfaces? Do you feel the North & South formula lends itself really well to touchscreen devices or was the translation from PC and consoles to iOS a real struggle?

Our objective is to release our games for a wide range of platforms. Therefore, from the very beginning, The Bluecoats: North vs South was conceived as a multi-platform game and we developed user interfaces which were appropriate for PC, Mac and mobile devices. That’s the reason why we included a third person cover, shooter for example.

Did you make any subtle changes to make sure the player would be sufficiently challenged regardless of choosing the Northern or Southern side, or was that something the original did so well, you could basically lift the strategy elements right from North & South?

We modified the game’s general objective. In North & South, players had to destroy the entire enemy army. In The Bluecoats: North vs South, there is now no victory guaranteed if a player only destroys all the enemy troops. He must wipe out every resource the enemy may still possess to win the game, which adds some challenge to the initial game. Besides, should players want to increase the strategic difficulty of The Bluecoats: North vs South, they just need to start the game as the Confederates in 1864 (rather than 1861). Historically, the Northern troops were about to win in 1864, which has been transcribed in-game.

Did the development team end up doing a lot of research into the U.S. Civil War era for this project?

Anuman Interactive built upon the basis of the 1990s North & South and its historical grounding. No major change had to be made. Moreover, we have collaborated with Lambil and Cauvin, the original comic strip authors. They have a great knowledge of the American Civil War, and validated every single part of The Bluecoats: North vs South.

Now that The Bluecoats: North vs. South has released, have you started thinking about possible content updates, or do you have plans to bring the game to additional platforms?

A release of The Bluecoats: North vs South on Android is expected at very short notice, and further updates (and surprises) are likely to follow. Meanwhile, we do encourage players to give us their feedback on our Facebook fan page, exclusively dedicated to our brand Microïds – Games For All, and on our Twitter news feed.

Big thanks to Eric Nguyen for taking the time out to chat with us about The Bluecoats: North vs. South and to Guillaume Bastide, Communication and PR Manager, for facilitating. Let’s leave you with that Bluecoats: North vs. South release trailer again: