2011-08-22

The Journey of Moses – A Chat With The Creator…Of The Game

by Yo Snyder

So, this whole concept of a Facebook game based on the Bible seemed
a little strange to me. After all, how do you take one of the most epic
stories of the Bible and turn it into a free to play, socially
interactive, Facebook game? Why? Why do this? And how do you do that?
Well, to answer these questions, I decided to go right to the source;
one of the creators of The Journey of Moses, Brent Dusing.

Yo: How in the world do you take one of the most epic stories in the Bible and change into a Farmville-like Facebook game? How did you conceive of doing that and what was the process like?

Brent: Yeah, the process is this; The Journey of Moses is a
game that’s more like an adventure/quest game. So, for those of you who
play games on Facebook, it’s a casual/social game, it’s not exactly like Farmville
because it’s not a farming game, it’s more of an exploratory game. It’s
a little bit like Zelda, if you’ve ever played a version of Zelda where
you find things, you have quests, you find items that you need to get
to the next place. And so, I’m a Christian, I’m a believer and I have
always been really impressed by people who have made high-quality,
Christian entertainment products. I think of the movie The Passion of the Christ,
for example. We made a couple of games for Facebook prior to this, and
I thought we could do a great job of telling a great Biblical story,
the journey of Moses, based upon some of the success we’ve had with our
two previous games, and so we really wanted to make a fun, compelling,
engaging game that could also share a great message of faith in God.

Yo: How did you decide what parts of Moses’ story you would use for
the game and how did you decide to represent those in a Facebook game?
That’s got to be a difficult process of translating that from Bible to
point-and-click adventure game.

Brent: That’s a great question. I’ve read through Exodus multiple
times, there’s also an account in Acts 7 where Stephen before he gets
stoned recounts a lot of details about Moses’ life. So I read both of
those two accounts and basically, wrote a story, I wrote the story
myself, about the character of Moses and kind of adapting a lot of the
dialogue and a lot of the events and characters that happen to the
game. Now, as the game begins, we took some creative license because I
wanted to set Moses up in Egypt as a character who’s fairly naive. He
doesn’t know about how cruel the Pharaoh is, and then early on in the
game as you play, Moses discovers how badly the Hebrews are being
treated. He then gets mad and tries to lead a revolt and is eventually
expelled from Egypt, and then is cast out into the wilderness and then
eventually encounters God at the burning bush and then we all know how
much Moses’ life changed from there. The story of the journey of Moses
is not, it’s an exploration game, but it’s also the development of a
character in terms of his relationship with God.

Yo: I haven’t gotten to this part yet, but I’m curious to know; do you get to part the Red Sea later on?

Brent: Yes you do. Absolutely

Yo: Alright!

Brent: Actually, God parts the Red Sea, you just get to wave your hand with the staff.

Yo: Was their any influence at all from DeMille’s Ten Commandments? Did you look at how he approached his retelling of the story and take some inspiration from that?

Brent: Well, we looked at the way the story has been told in various
different media. There are a lot of people who have told the story
either from a cartoon or a movie standpoint.  We wanted to take a
little bit of our own take, of course, because it is a game, it’s a
different interaction than a ninety-minute, or in the case of The Ten Commandments,
a three-hour movie. It’s very different. We have a lot more detail,
inside the story, a lot more characters, for example. We’re going to
show a lot of the details that occurred. And we add some things in as
well, where the Bible speaks to something we’re true to the Bible.
Where the Bible is silent or doesn’t give the details then we fill some
things in for the sake of either compelling gameplay or showing
compelling character development for Moses becoming closer to God and
learning to rely on God.

Yo: One of the comments I’ve seen about the game, I read an
interview about it on CNN.com, is the look of the characters and how it
looks like a Moses bobble-head. What was the thinking  so far as the
design of the characters?

Brent: Sure. If you look at most Facebook games, they’re done in a
very cartoony way. So we wanted to create a look and feel of a casual,
social game. You know our game players tend to be anywhere from
thirteen years old to seventy years old; we have a lot of middle-aged
people, and a lot females play our games. In fact, the majority of
Facebook gamers in the world are females; the people who play Farmville
and everything else. So we didn’t want to do something that was
photo-realistic or anything like that.  We wanted to take a more casual
art style that reflected the genre of a casual/social game, but that
was also respectful to the material. You know, there are some serious
things that happen in the game. Moses sees the slaves suffering, and
you’ve probably saw that when you played it. Moses winds up getting
into a conflict with an overseer. So wanted to balance fun with being
respectful to the content.

Yo: What do you hope people who play this game will take away from
it? You have a couple things on there where people can do things like
send verses to others. Are you hoping that people will not just learn
about Moses but also take some other things away from playing this game?

Brent: Yes I am. I do hope that everyone who plays the game has fun.
You know, this was built to be a fun, engaging game that everybody can
enjoy. I think if you’re making a product that’s an entertainment
product, it should be fun, but from a Christian stand-point, it also
needs to be Biblical. It’s very critical that the game reflects the
Bible and the story as it’s told in the Bible, and we feel, or I feel
that it’s important that faith in God is shown. This is a great story
of Moses learning to rely on God. If you read the Biblical account, and
this will be the way it plays out in the game, when God calls Moses to
go lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses repeatedly tells God no he
can’t do it, he’s not the right guy, and God ultimately tells him “you
can do this through me”. So I do hope that people take away, whether
they’re believers or not believers, a great example of God’s love and
God’s compassion and God reaching out to have a personal relationship
with someone where God’s saying, “Hey, I want you to learn to depend on
me and not depend on yourself.” I think that’s a great message for any
human being.

Yo: Are you making any plans to do other adventures from the Bible as Facebook games?

Brent: Yeah, we’d love to do more Biblically based stories.

Yo: Do have any ideas as to what you would do? Are you tossing any ideas around?

Brent: We are certainly considering quite a few options as we speak, actually.

Yo: You don’t want to tell me what it is, do you?

Brent: I can’t.

Yo: (Laughs) Okay, fair enough. I understand. How do you hope this
will appeal to not just causal gamers, but are you hoping that it will
bring hardcore gamers as well. You know, speaking for myself, I’m more
of a console gamer, this is the first time I’ve ever played a Facebook
game just because…well, just because. Are you hoping there are some
elements there that will draw in serious gamers or are you just really
focuses on the casual crowd?

Brent: Well, we built this game to be a fun game. You know, I grew
up playing the Nintendo console and the Super Nintendo console games,
and so as I mentioned there are a lot of questing, fun elements where
you have to get this piece and this item to get to the next area and
there are some clues and puzzles you have to unlock. So, I really hope
this is appealing to not only casual gamers, but also to people who
look to play more intellectually interesting games or games that have a
real plot or have some character development. I’m a huge believer in
storytelling when you have an entertainment product. So, for people who
are really interested in an engaging, engrossing story, I think the
story of Moses is such a fantastic story for people to explore.

Yo: For people who are curious and want to find it, how do you tell people where to find The Journey of Moses on Facebook?

Brent: Just go to Facebook and type Journey of Moses in your search bar. So you can type Journey of Moses
and it will pop up and you can click on it and play away. It’s a free
to play game. You can invite your friends to play and it’s completely
free. It’s a virtual goods business model, you’re welcome to spend
money if you like, but if you don’t want to, you can play the entire
game for free.

Yo: And what if they want to find out more about you, Brent, and
what you guys are doing at Hexify, where can they find more information
about that?

Brent: They can just go to our website, hexify.com and they can read about what we’re doing.