Jane Jensen

Sierra On-Line

Posted by Alan Chan.
First posted on 01 November 1999. Last updated on 21 October 2008.
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Jane Jensen
Jane Jensen is a game designer and the creator of the Gabriel Knight series.

This article is courtesy of Sierra News One © 1998.

Jane Jensen is best known for her work on the Gabriel Knight series. Despite her success as an adventure game designer, Jensen considers herself, at heart, a writer and a novelist. Her literary influences include Stephen King and Anne Rice. Graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Anderson University in Indiana, she has worked initially as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard for 6 years. Since joining Sierra On-Line in 1991, Jensen has been involved in the development of many games including Pepper's Adventures in Time, Ecoquest series, King's Quest series, Police Quest series, and Gabriel Knight series for which she has won numerous awards and accolades from the game industry.

When did you join Sierra and what was your first project?

I joined them in Feb. of '91. My first project was to do the doco and text of Police Quest 3 and then to co-design EcoQuest: Search for Cetus.

What inspired you to write the first Gabriel Knight game?

I wanted to do a mystery series because I thought that kind of story translated very well to interactivity. And I wanted to add in supernatural /horror because I'm interested in it. As I worked on it over time it evolved into GK.

How did you come up with the dark images such as voodoo murders and werewolves?

Usually I pick up a book and get interested in a subject and that makes me want to write about it. It was that way with Voodoo. As far as werewolves go, in that case it was more a result of what I knew I wanted to test about the character — werewolves fit what I thought was Gabriel's primary struggle.

Around the time when Gk2 was in production, a lot of FMV games were released but received many negative reviews. Were you worry that people would view Gk2 as another FMV clone and not buy the game?

I was very excited about doing FMV and it was great to see live actors, sets, etc. do my material. I knew a lot of FMV games sucked, but I was confident that GK wouldn't. Most FMV games had been done by non-gamers. As for whether or not people would buy it — I thought they would when they saw how great it looked.

I've played GK2 and found the story to be very intriguing. How long did you spend on writing the story? I heard that you travelled to Germany to do research on Ludwig?

I worked 5 months on the initial plot outline plus another 9 months on the script. Yes, I traveled to Germany for research.

What prompted you to make another sequel to Gabriel Knight?

I feel the GK series could go on for quite some time and I really enjoy working with it. It's a great vehicle for my interests. I took a year off from GK and did a non-GK book called Millennium Rising, and then I felt I wanted to come back to GK.

How did you come up with the idea of using 3D characters in GK3?

It was Sierra's idea.

How did people respond to the use of 3D in GK3? Did they all want to see Dean Erickson and Joanne Takahashi back in this sequel?

Yes, there's been a lot of 'oh no!'. I can't say I blame people, because I felt that way too at first. But the world in 3D is *so* much more interactive and explorable it's converted me. I think most people will see the advantages.

From what I've heard, GK fans are obviously not pleased with the use of 3D characters. Have you ever thought of moving GK3 back to FMV?

It's just not going to happen. If you look at what products are in development all over the industry (like at E3) there just isn't FMV anymore. It's too expensive and too limiting on interactivity.

What do you think that makes Gabriel Knight games different from other adventure games?

I think the story and characters have made GK different.

I think that Gabriel Knight has the potential to become a blockbuster movie. Have you ever thought of it?

Yes, I'd like to see something done with it. There's nibbles from Hollywood from time to time, but Sierra holds the copyright and they're notoriously difficult to deal with for licenses. It may or may not ever happen.

Finally, thanks very much for your time?


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