not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake
nothings

interview

five questions from fourcoffees:

  • If you weren't doing computery things, what would you most like to be doing?
  • Do you miss working at a company like LGS, or do you prefer to freelance?
  • Will there be a Chromatron 4?
  • When are we going to see feelies for your game(s)?
  • And finally, where do you get your ideas?


If you weren't doing computery things, what would you most like to be doing?

Eeeagh. That's really a hard question; I've been programming computers since I was 12, or... (close your eyes, Storme) 23 years. I was really good at mathematics, but I didn't really enjoy it that much.

In college, when I was taking my mandatory "breadth" requirements, I had teachers saying "you're really good at this, have you thought about majoring in it" multiple times: in an intro speech course, an into psychology course, and in a tech writing course. I don't think any of those really appeal.

I also majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, but it didn't do anything for me but make me realize how little I wanted to spend time on it in the "real world".

So, if I imagine a fictional world where computers didn't exist, I suspect it would be math, which is in some ways like computers, the creative manipulation of this intangible medium that is perfectly manipulable. (I.e. 2+2 always equals 4, you don't have to worry about the voltage swinging high, or worry about whether the bridge will oscillate in the wind.)

Do you miss working at a company like LGS, or do you prefer to freelance?

I'd like working at a small company, say 5 or 8 developers. LGS got kind of big in its heyday--over 80 developers, IIRC--and I was never very happy there because I wasn't happy with the direction the company was heading, the general mismatch between the executives and the developers in the trench (and, really, of the executives and of the real world, given our financial failure).

So, you know, I'd love to work at the perfect company. But it probbaly doesn't exist. Working as an independent (I don't think we'd call it freelancing unless I sold a game to someone else to publish, and even then not likely) just keeps so much stuff simpler. Of course, it doesn't yet pay the bills, and it may never; in the short term, I'll do contract work to stay independent, but in the long term, if I can't make it work, I will go back to a company full time.

Will there be a Chromatron 4?

Yes. I could cut the final right now, but I'm still hoping for a few more beta test reports.

When are we going to see feelies for your game(s)?

Cry.

I'm having a lot of trouble finding the motivation for Heroes, because the game as written doesn't lend itself naturally to feelies--there wants to be a token per character, but there's nothing in the game for it. I've worked out a possible thing, but for it to feel really satisfactory, it involves me doing a bunch of writing, writing which I'm incredibly blocked on--my first attempt for the important bit just did't work out, and I need to come up with something new.

And what with all the other stuff I'm trying to get done, feelies are pretty much lowest priority.

But hey, The Weapon already has feelies!

And finally, where do you get your ideas?

Finally, an easy question.

Ideas come through inspiration--that is, they appear like magic, partially formed, to the conscious mind. But, there is a lot of grinding that I go through to produce that moment. Often things are driven by constraint, hence my fondness for lipograms and the like. Occasionally I do think of ideas through an explicit, not-at-all-subconcious brainstorming, chain-of-associations process. Sometimes I explicitly rip an idea off from another source and then hide it as much as possible.

  • Heroes: I've always been interested in the idea in IF of giving the PC special powers, something I think was central to a lot of Infocom's variety. The idea of writing an IF where the PC had unique abilities led naturally to the idea of writing an IF where you had a choice of PCs, each with different powers. (Naturally given the roguelike rip-off.)
  • Chromatron levels: Some levels I create by just putting out pieces and moving them around until interesting things happen, but a lot of the levels that require a clever trick came about by me thinking carefully about how the pieces worked and looking for boundary conditions or surprising interactions. Sort of an exhaustive mental search.
  • While I was walking to "work" on Sunday of the second Indie Game Jam, I was trying to think of what to name my game where two players posed and had to match each others poses. As I walked, I was thinking, "ok, well, in the real world, who does this sort of body posing thing?" (The game is called Supermodel Shootout. This may seem obvious in hindsight, but it was a good couple minutes nailing down the first word, and many more on the second.)
  • Mage: The Dark Project. Back at LGS, I made a proposal for a mage game, which was an idea that was generally talked about. My idea was distinctive in a number of ways, the most important of which was that the gameplay involved mages being medievel enforcer dudes who would show up at Lord Whomever's castle and blow lots of shit up to communicate their employer's displeasure. The central gameplay idea was that the PC would intimidate characters he encountered, and this whole design arose from me thinking about the fact that in normal FPS, you shoot and kill people; in Thief, you avoid people; and asking myself, what other way is there to interact with people, people who are otherwise an obstacle to you? There may be other answers, but I thought of intimidation, which led to the idea of enforcers, which led to several other idea that fed in as well.
  • Music: no fuckin' clue. I noodle and notes come out. I keep the good bits.
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