An Interview with the guys behind Machinarium and a Contest!

ForeverGeek had the chance to interview Jakub Dvorsky, one of the lead developers at Amanita Design, better known as the guys who created Machinarium. That’s Jakub on the left together with the entire dev team.

In addition we’re also giving away three platform independent licenses for Machinarium, which also includes the game’s downloadable soundtrack. So we’re running a contest and everyone’s free to join in. Contest mechanics are at the bottom of this post.

Machimarium has a beautiful “mime like” storyline. Plus, there are “side stories” that emerge when your character is left idle. Was it inspired by personal events?

No no, it’s all made-up:)

Tell us more about the art design that was put into Machinarium. What were the influences behind this visual style? Was it the style you all envisioned from the beginning?

To invent and create the final look of the game was quite long process. At the beginning we knew we need a little bit different look from our previous games which is also very different from most of the current games and match the world of rusty robots. We felt we need something warm with visible human touch in it to create a contrast to that robotic world, so we came up with an idea of hand-drawn backgrounds which are scanned and finished in computer.

A lot of inspiration comes from old rusty machines, abandoned factories and industrial buildings. Besides that the art style is influenced by many artists, filmmakers and also writers (Yuri Norstein, Karel Zeman, Stanislav Lem, Jules Verne, Leonardo da Vinci, Max Ernst and many many others).

What was the most challenging part of building this game?

I was a bit worried about the technical side of the game until I found our current programmer and putting together the whole team which consists of 7 people was perhaps the most important part. Everybody has to be really passionate about the development as it’s long and sometimes frustrating process. The worst moment was, when I had to say goodbye to our first background painter who is talented, but he wasn’t really interested in the game and was extremely unreliable. Then I had to find another painter very quickly – I was really worried about the whole project at that time, but I was lucky to find the best artist possible who was keen to work with us.

How exactly does one design the puzzles in each set?

First we need basic concept and also a lot of small assorted ideas (puzzles, characters, environments, situations or detailed pieces of a story) from which we create the final design. To collect these ideas and sketches you need to think about the game all the time and whenever you have an idea or vision you have to write it down or draw it. Personally I have most of the ideas while I’m on the train or out in the nature. Then we usually make very rough drawings of certain locations and think about what could happen there and take some older ideas to implement it there somehow. When the location with all of the puzzles is designed, we paint the background and characters and then it’s all animated.

The ambient music is amazing. Tell us more about it.

The style could be generally described as electroacoustic music with elements of ambient, soundtrack, classic music. Our composer Tomas Dvorak is very interested in fusion of this two fields – acoustic and electronic, and it is also noticeable in his music. It’s all composed in computer, but many real instruments and analogue effects and distortions were involved to achieve the final sound and quality.
We have more than one hour of really beautiful music in the game so we decided to include the soundtrack (HQ MP3s) to the package with the game to everybody who will buy it through our website.

In terms of story, how did the game evolve from what it was to what it is today? Did you feel that 3 years was too long a time, or just right?

It’s very long time and it wasn’t easy to stay focused on only one project all the time. Of course the whole game also changed significantly over the time. The basic concept was much simpler and our idea was to create longer but quite simple looking game and we thought it will take us about one year to finish it. In the end I’m really glad we spent all that time on it, because it’s much better and more polished than what was the initial plan and it definitely paid off.

In terms of your community, which platform of Machinarium has been most popular? How is Machinarium currently doing?

I guess it’s no surprise that Windows version is the most popular, but Mac and Linux versions have also many fans. However we don’t have any statistics on that, because we are selling the game in all 3 versions together (only on our own website).

Did you have previous experience in building games prior to Machinarium?
Yes, I’m developing games for more than 15 years already. I established Amanita Design in 2003 and since then we have created several smaller flash games (Samorost 1 and 2, Questionaut etc).

Point and click games are not very common today. Why did you decide on making one

It’s because this genre suits well to our needs – we want to create peaceful, relaxed games with good story and puzzles.

Any advise to other game developers for creating a hit?

My only tip for beginner developers is very simple: start small, create the most original, distinctive and polished little game you can and publish it at least on your website. You will learn a lot during the whole process. Also don’t forget listen to any feedback you will get.

CONTEST MECHANICS

1. Answer the following question in the comments section: “At one point in your life, did you feel like you were in a point and click game? Why?”

2. You need to leave a valid email address in the comments section so that we know where to send your prize.

3. Winners will be chosen by the FG staff. You can enter as many times as you want, so as long as you don’t give duplicate answers. This contest will run from today, January 6 2010 till midnight of January 10 2010 PST.

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