March 2, 2008 10:39 AM | Tim W.
An interview with Jakub Dvorský of Amanita Design, the development team responsible for Samorost 1 and 2.
Hi Jakub, can you tell us a bit about yourself and also introduce the development team working on Amanita Design's upcoming 2D point-and-click adventure epic, Machinarium?
My name is Jakub Dvorský, I'm from Czech Republic (that small country in the middle of Europe well-known for its beer), 29 years old and I'm a game designer and visual artist. I started doing games in 1993 and in 2003 I established Amanita Design and started to work on Flash games with my former schoolmate Vaclav Blin who is mostly an animator. At the moment we are also collaborating with programmer David Oliva, musician Tomas "Floex" Dvorak, sound maker Tomas "Pif" Dvorak and painters Jakub Pozar and Adolf Lachman.
Can you tell us what Machinarium is all about?
Machinarium is a strange rusty metallic place populated only by robots. The story is about a little robot who has been unjustly thrown out to the scrap yard behind the city. In the game he returns to the town where he meets the bad guys from Black Cap Brotherhood - they are just preparing a bomb attack on the central tower where the town ruler has residence in. Of course our hero must stop them and also rescue his friend robot-girl.
Does the main protagonist of the game have a name, or will he remain nameless?
At the moment he has just a working name which is Josef (after Josef Capek - Czech artist, initial inventor of the word ROBOT).
How similar will it be to the Samorost series? How different is it compared to the games you've created in the past?
It will be a point and click adventure just as Samorost was, but much more complex, bigger etc. The plot line is more complicated, the graphics are hand drawn this time as well as characters who are animated very carefully by cut-out animation technique. There will be many control improvements and also inventory.
What is the current progress of the project? Is Machinarium still set to arrive in the second half of 2008?
We are now approximately halfway done. Unfortunately there is a delay to the initial schedule - we have worked on one commissioned Flash game for a few months, because we needed additional money for the development of Machinarium. Now it seems the game could be ready by the end of this year. We plan on creating an online demo playable in web browser as it is in Samorost 2.
Is Machinarium part of a series? Will it have sequels? (perhaps an open-ended ending, to allow for more episodes perhaps)
No, it's not episodic - it will be only one part, but of course we can and we'd love to create a sequel in the future - the Machinarium world is a very good place for a lot of stories.
Inspirations for Machinarium?
Old industrial buildings, old rusty machines, SF books, some old-school games etc.
Is the object interaction interface for Machinarium similar to the Samorost series?
No, it will be a little different. This time it will be possible to click only on the objects which are within reach of the main character - then he will grab the object or carry out an action (therefore we need to create a huge amount of special animations for each action and each object).
How many "rooms" are planned for Machinarium?
There will be about 25-26 screens. Some screens will contain more "rooms" and almost every screen contains additional "windows" with puzzles, control panels, details etc.
How long is the game?
I'm not sure and it's difficult to estimate, but we'll be happy if it takes the average player six or seven hours to complete the game. It's not long, but it should be quite an intensive and enjoyable six to seven hours' worth of gameplay experience. We don't want to put there any boring filler sequences or insane puzzles to prolong the playing time.
I'm to understand that Machinarium will not have spoken words (like Samorost). Will it have subtitles?
Yes, there won't be any words, although there will be some communication, but only with symbols, pictures and animations.
Who is working on the soundtrack for Machinarium? Will it be just Floex? (music composer for Samorost 2)
Yes, we are happy with Floex and he is happy to write music for our projects so there's no need to change it.
Are the screenshots shown on the Machinarium front page the final art for the game? Is the game to run at a resolution of 1027 x 768, or higher?
Yes, these pictures are screenshots taken from the game. But the final resolution will be higher, 1280x1024.
Will you be posting more screenshots for Machinarium on the web site soon?
Yes, I will update it very soon. :)
How much will Machinarium retail for?
We are not sure yet.
Are you planning to use some of the new distribution channels for the retail release of Machinarium? (e.g. Steam, GameTap, casual games portals like the collaboration between Playfirst and Wadjet Eye Games)
Yes, but nothing is decided yet.
Am I correct to assume that Machinarium isn't related to Samorost universe?
Will there be crossovers, or subtle references to the Samorost series?
No, Machinarium is an absolutely different world with different physical laws.
What's next for Amanita Design? Will there be a Samorost 3?
It's too soon to tell. Perhaps a sequel to Machinarium, Samorost 3 would be nice too or something completely different.
Samorost 2 was submitted to the IGF previously (and won the Best Web Game category). Are you planning to do the same for Machinarium?
Yes, we'd like to enter the IGF again.
Any Flash games which impressed you lately?
Nifflas' Games and especially Knytt Stories (http://nifflas.ni2.se/index.php?main=02Knytt_Stories). And also this Limbo video teaser (http://www.limbogame.org/).
What do you think is the current state of 2D adventure games? Is there a revival?
I hope so. :) I'm tired of all those 3D realistic games.
You've mentioned that you're interested in creating games in other genres (besides adventure games) in a past interview. Is that still the case?
Not at the moment and I'm not sure if I can do that.
Ever considered developing a 3D adventure game?
Samorost is helping a lot, but as I said above we've done one commission game recently to get some more money (it's game for children commissioned by BBC - it should be online very soon - check out our web www.amanitadesign.com for the news). It's a full-time job for me and for Vaclav Blin, for others it's paid part time job.
What's the best accolade you've received for your works?
Probably all that very nice emails from fans of all ages (from 4 to 80).
In closing, anything you'd like to say to fans of your works?
I'd like to gratefully thank all people who bought Samorost 2 and therefore helped us to stay independent and work on our own projects as a full-time job.