David Bottomley breaks down some five unlikely creative influences that helped shape the world of Eternal Threads.
While it didn’t serve as a direct inspiration, where we ended up actually doesn’t feel too far from Quantum Leap. Obviously, unlike Sam Beckett, we don’t relive the events as one of the characters, but rather remain outside as an observer. We can move up and down the timeline, changing things back and forth as many times as we like, whereas Sam only had one shot at each decision point.
The small glimpse of the future that we see in Eternal Threads was greatly inspired by Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. However, in the film time is immutable, so how we treat it ended up being much more like how they do it in the TV show – where past events can be changed. As something of an optimistic nihilist, it’s a view that I much prefer. The film gets all the love, but the TV show is fantastic - particularly once they get beyond the plot of the film.
Sapphire & Steel
A big influence at the very start was a 70’s TV show called Sapphire & Steel, which featured a team of mysterious Time Agents who travelled up and down the timeline stopping extra-temporal beings from disrupting the time stream. This fitted with a much earlier version of the game when we had more mysterious time travel and supernatural shenanigans taking place, but the influence is still there to see in places.
Oddly, a further inspiration was the art of non-linear video editing. Essentially, Eternal Threads sees the player assembling a complete story that takes place over seven days. Many scenes have been shot in multiple takes with multiple outcomes and many scenes and threads can only be used depending on certain outcomes of particular scenes. The player is constructing history in a similar manner to the way a video editor constructs a cut of a film. The difference here is that the director here had Kubrickian ambitions and shot multiple different versions of everything!
Perhaps even more oddly, once we decided that the central mechanic of the game was to change decisions in the past to try and save the housemates, we started thinking about how the experience compared to everyone’s favourite puzzle. Effectively, each of the six characters was one of the faces of the cube: you could save each of them independently, but to complete the mission and the game, you had to find the right combination of moves, twists and turns to correctly assemble all six faces of the cube in the correct colour. This served as both an inspiration and a perfect analogy when we needed to explain the game’s central mechanic.