Hidden object games are the old mainstay of casual games.  Free-to-play social is the new mainstay.  So how do you find a way to make these two magical formulas work together?  If you’re Game Insight, you release an insanely popular hidden object hunt like Mystery Manor.  Following on that game’s success, Game Insight recently published their second free-to-play hidden object game, Join Games’ Mirrors of Albion.

We recently had a chance to talk with CEO and Founder of Join Games Eugene Oreshin about Mirrors of Albion‘s origins, what the team learned from Mystery Manor, and what fans can expect next.  Not only did Oreshin share some exclusive concept art with Gamezebo (pictured below), but he shared some great answers too.  Here’s what he had to say;

Mirrors of Albion takes a literary classic and twists it into a variation on real world London.  How did this idea come about?

We’ve always been big fans of Lewis Carroll, specifically Alice in Wonderland. We’ve always found the duplicity of the story to be intriguing; a children’s fairy tale that meets a twisted world of deceit. Carroll’s vast collection of art and illustrations were a great inspiration for us. The idea of a bright, yet deviously mysterious experience was the driving force behind our gameplay and story design. With this in mind, we set out to create a game that would be both kid-friendly with deep intrigue to entertain adults.

Another inspiration is legendary London Detective, Sherlock Holmes. Not only are we fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s signature super-sleuth, but we thought the mystery angle would lend itself perfectly to the gameplay mechanics of a hidden object game. This is when the Sherlock Holmes influence is really felt – the time period, environmental setting, and (of course) the mystery. Once we had our backdrop of Victorian England and our core gameplay mechanics locked down, it all fell into place from there.

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Were any other classic tales considered before settling on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

Truthfully, we were set on Alice in Wonderland from the start;. As I mentioned earlier, the story was intriguing and the possibilities offered by such a twisted tale excited us! I think you’ll find a few “nods” to other traditional fairy tales in there though – can you find them? 😉

What changes took place from idea to execution?  Was the original concept for the game much different than the final product?

As you know, there is almost always a difference between concept and execution; Mirrors of Albion was no exception.  You never really know how everything is going to gel until you’re mixing the individual assets. For the most part, our environmental setting and character designs were some of the most malleable and mercurial factors leading into execution. Nailing down the time period and backdrop, we knew we were on to something. Character design was paramount to us – not only did we want them to fit the style and look of the game. For example, we knew we wanted a helpful officer to act as the player’s guide through the game. As we continued to develop the character, we realized the Cheshire cat would fit the role perfectly – once again acting as a guide – but to the player this time, not Alice! I think overall we stuck to our original plans, but there were definitely some unexpected surprises (both good and bad) that shaped the development and release of this game.

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What lessons did you learn from Mystery Manor that you applied to the development of Mirrors of Albion?

That is actually a great question. One of the many benefits of working with Game Insight is the extensive knowledge of our colleagues. The team behind Mystery Manor, we had the chance to learn from their experiences and share knowledge across studios. Their advice helped guide us through the process and streamline our development.

Now that the game has launched, what can players expect in future updates?

Game Insight really encourages full support of titles well past launch. Right now we are getting ready for special events like the holidays, you know, the big ones! (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) Keep an eye out for those and more content updates in 2013. As long as there are detectives to solve our mysteries and the Red Queen threatens our safety, we will be there with updates!