Interview with a Developer Part 1 Hardy Dev aka Igor Hardy

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 3:09 PM

Well it seems that someone out there was interested in my interview with reviewer Captain D. After publishing the second part of the interview, Igor Hardy a reviewer and game developer contacted me out about conducting an interview with him. After quite sometime, with a few hiccups along the way, Igor has finally been able to send me his answers which are brilliant and very detailed and I thank him for that. If you want to check out Igor's site it is called "a hardy developer's journal" and it focuses on independent gaming, adventure gaming and anything else that they deem cool enough to post about. Also his game, Frantic Franko, will soon be released so keep a look out for that. So here is part one of the interview for you to enjoy.

1. Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to get into the video game industry? If so what was it?

I'm afraid there is no easy response to that. For a long time (since I was a lil' boy) I was interested in game-making only as a complex, almost-mystical craft (or maybe some ability you get born with) and no concept of an industry figured into it whatsoever. Being able to create a computer game by oneself seemed to me something like developing super-powers. Someone who has mastered world-crafting skills, must be able to do pretty much anything, right? "How do you get it done then?" I kept asking myself. But in those days I wasn't getting very far with my own attempts.

Then there was the issue that all the interesting places in the industry (like the old adventury LucasArts, or Looking Glass Studios) were all the way on the other end of the world. And people over there spoke primarily English which I wasn't that sure then if I mastered well enough for more advanced communications. So as a kid I never seriously thought about getting into the video game industry. Besides, I had a lot of other interests too.

Nevertheless, years later and quite unexpectedly I got closer to the game industry thanks to starting out as a game journalist. Especially the conversations with developers, some of which were creators of my favorite games, really gave me a much better orientation how things worked behind the scenes and suddenly I didn't feel to be stuck on the consumer end of gaming anymore.

I think I was really lucky to get invited by Adventure Classic Gaming to write for their website. Since the beginning ACG was always responding very generously to my ideas and giving me a lot of valuable directions concerning them, but also a lot of freedom. They also helped me develop from someone who spend a month to craft and polish a smashing 3000 words essay about The Dark Eye and Edgar Alan Poe (which I'm still very proud of) to someone who, well, is also able to write things in a simpler, quicker way and easier to read too.

Later on I romanced with various other websites in different languages, tried this and that, and ultimately found myself a rather niche subject which I decided to invest in a quality portion of my time from that point on - indie adventure games and off-beat game design. I strongly believe that todays indie scene is not only a huge grinder for all kinds of crazy ideas, but also the actual source of any real future progress in gaming.

So besides starting to design my own games for real I also founded a blog devoted to the aforementioned type of indie games. Naturally, I called it A Hardy Developer's Journal. It's active only since January and while I didn't have enough time yet to put all my crazy ideas into motion, plus I'm still learning a lot of important stuff about taking care of the thing, I think there are already quite a few articles in there that show just how much potential lies within the often ignored adventure game genre. Including potential for development of new martial arts techniques.

2. What is your favourite console/platform of all time? Why?

My favorite platform is and always will be the PC. I like that it constantly evolves, that you can keep modifying your own box of junk and get different results. And I like the variety of games for it which include pretty much all my favorites.

I even like that PC cases are big and ugly (anyway, the truly hardcore white boxes are) and I like those beige/gray keyboards that after a while of using become all dirty and sticky. For all the fans of pyrotechnics out there, you should know that when too much dust, foods and insects gets into some PC parts, they tend to explode in an impressive manner  which is a good occasion for getting replacements.

Other than that I was always very fond of Nintendo platforms, first of all because of the Mario and Zelda games. I also have a bit of a weak spot for handhelds. However, for quite a while now I have a very limited time to play and I choose to spend it on my PC.

3. What is your favourite game/games? Why?

Oooh, my absolute favorite would have to be Grim Fandango - for the atmosphere, the heart, amazing audio-visual design, superb classic LucasArts gameplay, the amount of details and special touches. Actually, scratch all that. Because to be honest I have pretty much fallen for this game already from seeing the first screenshot (the one where Meche takes off her stocking and Manny reacts to it).

Some other of my favorites are: Azrael's Tear, Black Dahlia, Thief: The Dark Project, Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis, Planescape: Torment, System Shock 2, Gabriel Knight Mysteries: The Beast Within, Riven, DreamWeb and... Secret of Monkey Island 2 (so that no one thinks I don't see humor as an important element of games). Usually an uniquely delivered player's experience of some great story, coupled with a powerful atmosphere and well designed challenges is what I'm looking for.

4. What is your favorite trend in gaming at the moment?

I think I'll going to repeat mostly what Captain D said in your previous interview. First of all I like how meaningful the indies have become. Some of them are really becoming trend-setters in the industry. The people behind them have much better tools, are more resourceful, organized and efficient than their predecessors from a decade ago (at least that's my impression). They even organize some cool contests. Most importantly some of these games truly shine creatively - and I'm not talking only about those chosen few that have become really well known - like Braid and World of Goo.

The other great trend is the come back of adventure games. And everything seems to suggest it won't be temporary. The most promising event recently was the return of Monkey Island resulting in a financial success. It's important not only because of the series prominence in the computer gaming history, but also it serves as a good comment to LucasArts's once trend-setting decision to give up producing adventure games a few years ago. Furthermore, Telltale's strategies for producing and marketing their games are most impressive and should be followed by those keen on creating story-based games with smaller budgets.

Another big moment should come soon in March 2010 as we are supposed to finally get a new, true adventure game from the designer of Gabriel Knight games - Jane Jensen. It is promised to be a haunting tale of experiments with the perception of reality and it is titled Gray Matter.

Besides those big names, I should also mention the prolific and often brilliant Kheops Studios, and two even smaller adventure games designing companies - Wadjet Eye Games and Zombie Cow Studios - that seem to be doing very well for themselves (and for the players, as well as other indie adventure games creators too).

5. What is your least favourite trend in gaming at the moment?

The public is constantly growing in numbers, but as a whole it is becoming less and less demanding when it comes to the game mechanics. Very often the controls become simplified to such an extent that it leads to a very simplified gameplay as well. Sometimes it feels a bit like we are going into the interactive movies direction again, only now this will be interactive movies in 3D so you have the freedom to move the camera around while you watch the events ensue. I think that's also part of the reason that indie games and 2D games are getting more attention lately and are not thought of as simplistic anymore - often there is much more actual game in those productions than there is in the top selling titles.

Another worrying trend is that the more the industry grows old the more the landmarks of game design are set in stone and worshipped. Sometime old is made synonymous with genius. It is not a great atmosphere for trying completely new things and breaking the once set rules.

6. What is the game you'd most like to see made into a movie? Why?

Let me start by saying I'm a big fan of the first Mortal Kombat movie and would love to see an adaptation of another game that is as good as it. However, usually if you'd like to see a game made into a movie, it actually means you should be afraid to see that game made into a movie. I'm thinking specifically of Alone in The Dark here. What were they thinking?

Having said that, I'll give a cautious vote to the Gabriel Knight series. Partially because it has a huge potential to deliver some truly emotional storytelling on film, but an equally important reason is that it already has strong ties with movies. Sins of the Fathers was inspired among other things by the excellent horror Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. Rourke's part seems to be in many ways a template for the character of Gabriel Knight. Then there is the fact that Gabe was voiced by Tim Curry which immediately gave him an additional depth personality and presence. I wonder if someone would give at least an honest attempt to carry that charisma over to the big screen. But there's also the FMV Gabriel Knight: Beast Within with Dean Erickson playing Gabriel and giving an equally powerful, but also different than Curry's interpretation of the character. Not to mention the character of Baron Von Glover (played in the game by Peter J. Lucas) would be a terrific role for any actor to play.

So, what I'm saying is that it would be incredibly interesting to compare a true Gabriel Knight movie against all those interpretation, inspirations and performances we have already seen.

7. What is the movie you'd most like to see made into a game? Why?

Avalon by Mamoru Oshii (of Ghost in The Shell fame). Usually I don't see much point in turning movies into games (they don't make for interesting games), but Avalon is a movie about gaming itself that brings several twists on the way things work in games. One thing is the aesthetic style - it's a mix of a world filled with grit, junk and dirt and everything worst. Nothing shows any sign of design except the virtual reality equipment which the main heroine seems to spend all her free time and money on (well, besides her dog). However, concurrently there are those aspects of the real world that make it feel like it's virtual too. And it's not a Matrix like situation, we never get any character get suspicious about this - they accept it. And then there is the on-the-surface pretty basic Counter Strike like virtual reality game which everyone treats in a deadly serious manner. But then there are those secret game levels... well lets not spoil the movie, but let me say that the missions' goals become silly and the level of detail of the game world suddenly clearly doesn't fit the simple gameplay premise. Overall, very surreal experience in some ways completely shaking up the basic, sane rules of designing games, so why not have an actual game like that?

Now that was only the first part and now Igor has finished the rest of the interview so head on over to this link to read the second part of this very interesting interview.

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