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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Interview with Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games

Anyone interested in AGS / indie adventure games in general will surely already know all about Dave's games and his company Wadjet Eye Games.  I was fortunate enough to meet Dave briefly at Adventure-X back in December 2012; I remember telling him then that I was probably the only game blogger on the planet who hadn't already reviewed him, and then just 12 months after that, I finally got round to actually doing it.  So here it is!

1 – So, the question we all want to know the answer to – why is your company called “Wadjet Eye Games”?

In a nutshell, I was was into egyptian mythology as a kid. I always thought the symbol of the Wadjet Eye was cool, and growing up I decided that if I ever needed a logo for anything, I would use the Wadjet Eye. Flashforward to 2006, I was trying to come up with a name for the company. I couldn't come up with anything, but knew that I would use the Wadjet Eye as a logo. So I just dubbed myself "Wadjet Eye Games" and was done with it. In hindsight, it wasn't the greatest name to use, but it's probably too late to change it now.

2 – Did you always dream of running your own company developing your own adventure games for a living?

Yes! And if I could give my younger self any advice, it would be to start much earlier. It just didn't seem like a feasible dream. Then one day I just went for it and everything just clicked into place.

3 – What’s it been like being the Producer for other people’s games?

It's fun, and challenging. I have met and been inspired by so many great developers. The only downside is that my own works takes so much longer to finish. I really wanted to focus on Blackwell this year, which is why we didn't publish anything else.

4 – WEG has an impressive catalogue of titles, including your own Blackwell games, Gemini Rue, Resonance, Puzzlebots… what can we expect to see in 2014?

The fifth and last Blackwell game is coming out! Beyond that, we're in the midst of signing up three other developers to help get their games released. So look forward to a much more productive year than this one has been!  (This year could have been something to do with the baby?!?)

5 – When you remember back to your formative years (in terms of game making) creating games for the RON (Reality on the Norm) series, does that seem like another world / a whole lifetime away now, or does game-making as your day job not feel all that much different from making games as a hobby?

Very much so. It's funny. Making games used to be my hobby, but now it's basically my life. It's so all-encompassing these days, and I feel like I need a new hobby! It's been seven years and I'm still searching for one. Maybe I should take up whittling.

6 – Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to Adventure-X this year… tell me a bit about the expo from your perspective.

Great fun! The talks were great, the people were great, everything was great! It gets bigger and more impressive each year.  (I'm sure he meant to say it would have been even better if I had been there too. :-D)

7 – At last year’s Adventure-X, we both sat on a panel about voice acting. Just how important would you say voice acting is in modern adventure games?

It can add immersion or it can destroy it! I don't know how important it is, but definitely feels more "real" when really good actors help bring your characters to life. Working with the actors is my absolute favorite part of the process.

8 – Do you think the market for indie adventure games is stronger these days? Or is there just a little more awareness that it exists?

If there wasn't a market in the first place, I wouldn't be in business as long as I have! Although I can't deny that there is a re-surging interest in them, which we are very eagerly riding the wave of.

9 – Which of your early (free) games are you most proud of?

I still have a soft spot for "Two of a Kind." It was the first game I created as a team leader, withing with a group of people. It's what made me realize that it was possible to do this for a living.

10 – And, looking back, do any make you cringe to think that you made them?

I am probably the biggest critic of "Blackwell Legacy." The opening puzzle is horrible, there is so much infodumping, and Rosa is so socially awkward it's almost painful. Yet somehow... people enjoyed it enough to keep playing it and its sequels. It's tempting to get all George Lucas on it and change everything!

11 – What games / developers inspired you to make your own adventure games?

Hm. I was really inspired by what Amanda Finch did with her Aveyond games. The fact that she was able to take an old genre (old-school Japanese-style RPGs) using a freeware engine (RPG Maker) and turn it into a successful business made me realize that I could possibly do the same thing with point-and-clicks and AGS. Her company was a trailblazer in so many ways.

12 – If you could give one single piece of advice to aspiring indie developers, what would it be?

Start NOW. Don't wait. You will fail. It doesn't matter. Keep going. But be smart about it. :)

13 – The most important question of all… when is Purity of the Surf 2 coming out?! :-P

Haha. I know this will be a HUGE disappointment to the many MANY fans of Josh Beachcomber, but there probably don't be a sequel. :)

So, sadly no Purity of the Surf 2 then. :-(

But that aside, so that I don't get sued by Enterbrain, I just wanted to make a commend on Dave's answer to question 11.  I think many people - including myself at one time - were under the false impression that the English build of the original RPG Maker was freeware.  After some time and digging I realised that actually the developers, Enterbrain, had never release nor sanctioned an English version - someone hacked the Japanese version and translated it, then distributed it freely. One upshot of this dastardly action was, however, to make Enterbrain aware of the interest in a JRPG creator in the English-speaking world, and future versions of RPG Maker - 2000, XP and VX, if I remember correctly - available for sale as a localised English version.  My memory's not perfect, but I think that's about it.

On a side note, Amanda Finch (who I am certain uses a completely legitimate bought version of RPG Maker XP or whatever version she's using nowadays!!) is the second game dev I ever interviewed, way back in 2008 on one of my other blogs.

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