Discworld Noir, the third Discworld game is, like the previous two Discworld games, a point and click adventure. However, this doesn't mean you'll spend your time wandering backwards and forwards collecting objects. Perfect have taken a new approach with Discworld Noir, placing the emphasis on detective work rather than object collecting. You can quiz the various characters about many different subjects, although whether they actually answer truthfully is another thing - given that the game's set in Ankh Morpork, the truth-to-fib ratio is likely to be quite low. Fortunately, Lewton is equipped with a notebook in which he writes down pertinant clues and statements given by the game's characters, and you can piece together clues to determine just who is on the level and who, like many of the characters in the game, has something to hide. The game is viewed from a kind of semi-3D perspective, and the characters and locations are all pre-rendered, with the exception of Lewton who is rendered in real time. What that techno-jargon means is that while Discworld Noir isn't a true 3D game like Quake 2 or Daggerfall  it nevertheless looks pretty spiffy indeed.

You also get to do a bit of snooping around various dark and gloomy locations, as Lewton tries to crack the increasingly strange case. Like the previous two Discworld games, you will have the freedom to wander around Ankh-Morpork, doing plenty of snooping and investigating, although you'll be seeing the darker side of Ankh Morpork, since Noir is a definite departure in style from the previous two Discworld games. 

Of course, the real detective work is down to you, you can't expect clues to fall into your lap, so quite a bit of clue hunting will be in order. Terry Pratchett was reportedly happy to let the Perfect team take the third Discworld because Perfect had proved themselves capable of accurately representing the atmosphere and characters of his books previously, although Noir will certainly surprise many Discworld fans since it does take a different look at Ankh Morpork. That said, the game will still be funny, but the humour is a little darker than in previous games. The game will also feature a dynamic music system, which means that various events in the game are accompanied by appropriately atmospheric music, so you should find that Discworld Noir is more of a cinematic experience than previous games.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Noir does have some bugs in it - see the FAQ from the main Discworld page for more details. This game is also likely to be the last Discworld game to be produced.

Questions and Answers

Here are some questions about Discworld Noir that I've put to the Perfect team. Questions in quotation marks are questions that have been raised by visitors to these pages or the alt.fan.pratchett newsgroup - please bear in mind that as Noir is still being developed, although it's not long off release, some things about the game may change and the accuracy of these answers is not guaranteed.

Does Discworld Noir fit into the Discworld timeline anywhere? Discworld 1 and Discworld 2 seemed to draw plot elements from a few of the Discworld books.

A Perfect spokesman:'Discworld Noir is not officially part of the Discworld timeline - like all the previous games it takes place in a "Parallel Discworld". However, 'Discworld Noir' has been written to fit into both the regular Discworld timeline and the timeline of the games. Essentially, reference is made in the game to events that happen both in the books and the games, leaving the player to decide which timeline he or she is in.'

'Roughly speaking, I believe 'Discworld Noir' takes place a short time after 'Feet of Clay' and before 'Jingo' - certainly well after 'Men at Arms'. Fans are welcome to draw their own conclusions after they've played the game, however - there's certainly room for interpretation.'

Perfect:' As far as the plot itself goes though, this is an original story - it's not based on events in any of Terry's novels as the previous two games were. You'll be glad to know there are some familiar faces in there - a certain bony gentleman being one.'

What lengths did you go to to make sure you captured the look and feel of the Discworld, albeit a Discworld that is significantly darker in tone than fans of the books and games will be familiar with?

Perfect:' I think it's worth noting that a lot of the people working on Discworld Noir have already worked on both the previous games. We were pretty sure we got the lighter side of the world into those games, and consequently we were pretty confident we would be able to focus on the darker side this time around. Obviously, the players can judge for themselves if we've succeeded, but the initial feedback from those who saw the showreel at the Discworld Convention in September was very encouraging.'

Perfect: 'Their general reaction was "That's more like it!". I think this style fits in better with their mental picture of the Discworld. They had no trouble identifying certain well-known places and characters - that gave us a warm rosy glow, I can tell you.'

How easy or how difficult was it to persuade Terry Pratchett to let you take the Discworld in a new direction with Noir?

Perfect:' As far as I know, Terry was quite enthusiastic about the idea. And although this is the first ever fantasy game to wed Film Noir to a fantasy environment, I don't think it is really a new direction, per se. The Discworld in general - and Ankh Morpork in particular - was a perfect setting for a private investigator, and we're delighted that Terry allowed us to create Lewton.'

Can you tell us any more about the game's plot?

Perfect:' Well, no. We have to keep this hush hush, sorry. After the intro, the story does begin (in true Noir style) with a sexy broad walking into Lewton's office and giving him a case which is not all that it seems...'

Every software house of late seems to be latching onto the Quake engine and using it to churn out 3D shoot-em-ups. Which raises an obvious question - have you ever thought of producing Discworld Quake?

Perfect:' The most likely way anyone is going to see Discworld Quake is if someone just plugs their own graphics into Quake, to be honest. However, let's be fair, a Discworld first person shoot-em-up is going to be pretty much a total waste of such a great background. A Discworld CRPG, though, that's another matter... '

Have you had any thoughts about Discworld 4?

Perfect:'Since there isn't a Discworld 3, where would a Discworld come from? There are currently no plans for a fourth game, although if there is, it'll most certainly be a fully real-time 3D adventure.'

What games do you and the other folks at Perfect enjoy playing?

Perfect:'This is another of those questions that vary from person to person. First-person shooters are a popular game in the sense that a lot of people use the network outside of work hours to play in huge deathmatches, but there are other people who prefer to play CRPGs, racing games, strategy games... even table top battle, role-playing and boardgames You name it, we have someone who's a fan. That works to our benefit, I feel, since we never get too locked in on one way of looking at games.'

Perfect: 'Yeah, there's a real cross-section of tastes in the office. Me, I like Zelda-style adventures and the odd cutesy platformer (Spyro the Dragon is currently separating me from my life).'

If you, or the whole Perfect team, could produce any game you wanted to, had an infinite budget, with no deadline what game would you like to make?

Perfect:' I think everyone in Perfect has a different answer to this question. But infinite budget with no deadline? For me, it would have to be the ultimate multi-user environment - a multi-dimensional universe, available online, to which anyone could connect to and create their own section of that multiverse. The game world would be accessible by a host of different game engines - constantly evolving - and populated by a vast number of different characters (some of them other players, some of them computer generated), who would all be evolving too. Each game engine would allow the connecting player to play a wholly different game. For example, you could play the universe as a role playing game, and follow a computer developed storyline, or you could connect a first person shooter engine and go on a blitzkrieg with other like minded players - or as flight sims (as planes, or starships, or dragons...) or in just about any genre available or imaginable.'

Will Discworld Noir be a full 3D game a la Quake? In other words, will the characters all be rendered in real time? (NEW)

Perfect: ' Lewton is a real 3D character (with the biggest polygon count probably used for such a character) and everything else is prerendered in all its glory. And I have to say it is looking absolutely superb, with rain and lightning giving Ankh Morpork a real noir flavour.'

'Does that mean it will be able to utilise a 3D card, a la Grim Fandango?' - Owen Morgan-Jones (NEW)

Perfect: 'There are no plans to include 3D card support in Noir'- (Me: I suspect this is mainly because given that only Lewton himself is rendered in real time, any performance gain would be minimal.)

'You said it (Noir) was going to be humourous, but is it going to be crap, American humour, or great Monty P. style like in the previous two? ' - Robert Whittle (NEW)

Perfect:' Neither really. Pratchettesque if anything, and a lot darker than the first two games.'

'What machine will Noir need to run?' - Robert Whittle (NEW)

Perfect:'The game will run a P133 with 16MB of RAM.'

When will Discworld Noir be released? And are there any plans to release it on the Mac? - Robert Whittle (NEW)

Perfect:'The release date is June/July for PC and maybe a month later for PSX.. There are no immediate plans to put it out on Mac'

'Didn't you think the second game was terribly easy compared to the first? How hard will the third one be?' - Robert Whittle (NEW)

Perfect:'It's a different game to the previous two, being a detection based game with some classic adventure elements. Certainly those that found the first two games too difficult will enjoy the different nature of this game. People who aren't used to adventure games will also get more into this game.'