Welcome to the Funfact catefory! The “funfacts” will take you through the past and the archives of the two opuses of Twinsen’s Little Big Adventure Classic from 1994 and 1997. The work we are doing on the remaster invites us to reread the history of the game creation process, with the help of those who worked on the project at the time.
Today, we wanted to share with you the genesis of the character of Twinsen. This may deconstruct some myths, but you’ll see, it’s exciting to discover behind the scenes! Gwen and I met up with Frédérick Raynal and Didier Chanfray in a cafe near the studio offices to reminisce about all those memories.
Samantha: Thank you Fred and Didier for agreeing to give us the secrets of Twinsen’s origins. While studying the archives of the different versions of the scenario of Little Big Adventure 1, I discovered that Twinsen was called at the very beginning… TWINKEL!
Frédérick: At the beginning! (laughs) Like “Twinkle Twinkle little star”, the song… when we became aware of the reference we went “well no, that’s not going to be possible”. But at the beginning Twinsen was indeed called Twinkel, because we liked this idea of using “twin” like the twin suns.
Samantha: So the symmetry between the name of the planet and the hero was really an intention from the start?
Gwen: And Twinkel means twinkling, that was a good fit too…
Frédérick: But given the reference to the children’s song, we finally preferred to call it Twinsen.
Samantha: And how was the character born? Do you remember Didier?
Didier: When we gave it a name, it was already drawn.
Frédérick: Yes and Didier you modeled it in modeling clay, the “big nose” version…
Samantha: The “big nose” version? (laughs)
Frédérick: Yes yes! To explain, we didn’t even have a computer yet! By the way Didier, the first drawing, it was Yaël who did it in 3D.
Didier: Yes, that’s it.
Frédérick: And it is this first version that Yaël modeled via 3D studio max. We said to ourselves that it was not good, a little too “Belgian school of comics”.
Gwen: In the archives, there are sprites for the decor. And there are statues with Twinsen with the nose like that. I have a 3D modeled PCX file that reminds me of what you are saying.
Frédérick: No, it’s not possible?
Gwen: Yes, I’ll get it to you right away.
Frédérick: In the decor sets, is it a library?
(Gwen pulls out her laptop)
Didier: It is indeed the first modeling.
Frédérick: Yes, that’s it! Unbelievable! But it was fake, it was never in the game, it was just for testing.
Samantha: And how did you agree on what Twinsen was going to look like?
Frédérick: I wanted Twinsen to have a blue tunic. Because compared to Alone in the dark, at the level of the polygons, it was the first time that there was lighting and that it gave round surfaces. Quite simply, the tunic made it possible to catch the light better, it made for a more flexible, evolved character.
Didier: It was purely technical choice at the beginning.
Frédérick: Yes, highlighting technology by using it so that it is seen as little as possible. It allowed us to erase the polygons. Moreover, at the time, people did not suspect that the characters were in 3D, they thought that they were sprites…
Samantha: So you create the character in 3D, you give it a name…
Frédérick: Yes, Twinkel then Twinsen. But besides, there must be texts by Jean-Jacques [Poncet] where the character is still called that.
Samantha: I confirm, I read all the archives and you can clearly see the transition from one to the other. Twinkel eventually becomes Twinsen. We understand the reason for the tunic, but then… where does the ponytail of our Quetch come from?
Frédérick: We couldn’t draw hair. We had to find a trick.
Didier: It’s also because in animation, when the character turned his head, we had what we call the delay, which also amplifies the different gestures of Twinsen. The ponytail is for technique and aesthetics. And then in terms of machine time, it cost almost nothing.
Frédérick: Yes, we also saved money. Polygons were counted back then! (laughs)
Samantha: And to finish on this symmetry between Twinsen and Twinsun, last question: why?
Didier: Maybe it was a mistake…
Frédérick: I think it was Jean-Jacques [Poncet] who found that, to ultimately mean that Twinsen was the son of the twin suns.
Samantha: Thank you very much Fred and Didier for sharing all this with us!
We hope you enjoyed this first dive into the archives! After all these discussions, we all went to dinner together to talk about the future. So tell us everything: what would you like to learn about the design of the original games, for our next interview?
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