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Interview: Mateusz Skutnik (Submachine)

FEBRUARY 20, 2008

An informal chat with Mateusz Skutnik, developer of Submachine and the Covert Front series.

Hi Mateusz, can you provide us with a little introduction for the benefit of the readers who are unfamiliar with your works.

I'm a flash games architect, most known works include Submachine series, Covert Front and DayMare Town, and I'm also graphic novelist, with ongoing series of Rewolucje, Blaki, and more one shot albums. I live in Poland and here are my graphic novels published, that's a reason why you probably associate me more with online games, than comics.

Which do you prefer to be associated with, if you had to make a choice? Your art, or your games?

Hard to tell, if you'd ask me that question before the Submachine outbreak I'd say by my comics, but now... They're equal let's say. Besides I do manage to fit my art into the games as well, so it's like the same story, just different medium.

You've created a couple of spin-off Flash games in recent weeks, The Great Kitchen Escape and 10 Gnomes - can we expect more of the same? Or will you be sticking to Submachine, Covert Front and DayMare Town?

Kitchen Escape isn't mine. I was just a programmer on Kitchen Escape. I don't consider a game "mine" until it has my art and my scenario. That's why Kitchen Escape wasn't featured on my blog for example. About 10 Gnomes. It's a full year project. One game monthly. 12 games in 2008. I already have an episode for february finished.

Will all twelve games involve searching for ten gnomes? Or are you planning to introduce something different for each episode?

No, ten gnomes in each game.

There have been comments that some of the gnomes in The Rooftops were very difficult to find - are we to expect the same difficulty for subsequent episodes?

Hard to say. I can't objectively judge that. I know that if the game wasn't mine I'd never find those little bastards. I'm lame at solving puzzle games. So I can't tell you. :D

Will you be working with the same group of people again, on a sequel to Kitchen Escape (or different projects) in the near future?

My business partner, Karol Konwerski, co-owner of the Pastel Games is a story writer. He wrote Covert Front, and few of my graphic albums. We both agree that it's time to extend our horizon of possibilities by hiring more graphic designers. So he contacted few polish graphic novelist, researched on who has a good Flash background and picked this one to do the game. Karol also wrote scenario for this game. And yes, we already have "The Great Living Room Escape" in our plans, also with the same kind of humour and the same graphic designer. Along with other projects..

Any release dates for some of your games you'd like to share?

We have two new games coming up in February for ArcadeTown. Besides that - it's hard to say. There are no release dates, because we don't set them. Even if the game is finished and sent to the sponsor, it can take up to two weeks before release. But besides our normal schedule I create games by my own, for example DayMare Town 2 which is made after hours. And I don't have a slight idea when it will be finished. :D

You've attempted a couple of platformers and arcade games in the past, with varying results. Will you still attempt something to that effect?

I'm not really a programmer. There is a certain level on programming skill that I won't reach. It's good enough for puzzlers or simple platformers, but that's it. That's why we're hiring programmers to turn our ideas to reality. Now I don't have to think how in the world am I going to program what I've just imagined. I've got a programmer to do that. So we'll try other genres of games with better results I hope. :D

How is it humanly possible for one person to create this many games in such a short amount of time? What is your work schedule like?

I just work fast. Would you believe that after completing the engine for 10 Gnomes it takes me one day (1) to create another episode? Go shoot some pics in the morning and put them together in the afternoon. Add some gnomes in the evening and voila! :D

Which game or series of yours do you enjoy working on the most?

The one that I am currently working on at given time. Right now it's 10 Gnomes and Daymare. Later on it will be Covert Front.

What are your plans for the next three years? Amanita Design has decided to create a large scale adventure game after their success with the Samorost series, have you considered attempting the same?

I'd need a proper contract to do that, to have time to create a big game. My plans for next year or so is to expand our company, create as many good games as possible. I want to create DayMare Town 2, Covert Front 3 and possibly Submachine 6 this year. And those 12 games of finding gnomes.

Do you have a set number of episodes you'd like to create for Submachine, DayMare Town and Covert Front? Will we ever see an ending to these series?

Only Covert Front has set number of episodes - 4. Karol wrote it like that and we will see the ending. Other are open stories, and DayMare Town is just the beginning.

You've mentioned a compilation CD recently. How is that coming along, and when will it be released? What will you include, and how much will it cost? How do you plan to distribute it?

Well, I have to retouch 3 Submachine games. Those long ones. 2, 4 and FLF. That's why this project is on hold right now because I simply don't have time to do that. I also want to include more movies - as seen in games but not only original soundtrack with special extended versions of tracks made by Thumpmonks. Some Submachine theories, walkthroughs. The whole thing. CD will cost about $10 but I have no idea yet how its going to be distributed.

Played any good games lately? Any unknown developers that you think deserves some mentions? Any inspirations?

Makibishi Comic is a completely insane flash game, high quality art. Wada Nanahiro constantly amazes me with all his works. Hats off. You've mentioned Samorost before. Just a level above everything. But I don't take inspiration from games. Maybe Wada taught me that a game can be sketchy, like DayMare Town. But besides that - I'm going my own way.

Since we're on that topic, are you looking forward to Machinarium? If you had the chance, would you consider a collaboration with any of these developers?

Yes, Machinarium is something to look forward to. I remember waiting for Samorost 2. Oh the tension, the impatience. But collaboration? I don't think so. All of those developers live in their own reality and we just want to look at it with their eyes, joining different worlds could be disastrous.

Anything you'd like to say to your fans?

Thank you for your constant support in whatever I do. :D

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