Two of a Kind Two of a Kind - The whole she-bang by Dave & Allister.
Date of interview: 24.09.2005.
Interview with: Dave L. Gilbert
Interview by: A.J. Raffles (via email)
Interview about: Two of a Kind

1. Do you actually know somebody like Tiffany? I certainly hope not...
Dave: Hah. Sort of yes and sort of no. I definitely had a good friend's voice in mind when I was writing her dialog. Not that I'd tell her, of course.

2. How did you come up with a company name like "Epileptic Fish"? Is there a story behind it or did you just choose it for sheer randomness and because it sounded funny?
Allister: I can't even remember what happened, but one morning I woke up, and we were called Epileptic Fish. I love the logo though, really made our name stand out, I think.

Dave: I'm afraid the story behind the name isn't all that interesting. I knew a guy in high school who tried to start a band, and when they were deciding on what to call it the name "Epileptic Fish" was tossed around. The name was rejected, but for some reason the name stuck with me. I've always wanted an opportunity to use it, so when the opportunity presented itself I nabbed it.

3. How did you go about making "Two of a Kind"? Did you come up with the idea for the story first and then look for people to help with the graphics etc. or had you teamed up with the others before you began working on the story?
Allister: We actually were formed by chance for a month long game making competition on the Adventure Game Studio forums. Dave already had the idea for Tim and Tiffany, and proposed it to the rest of us, which we all loved. The same day our team was formed, he had emailed all of us saying "Okay, I've got this story about two twins..."

Dave: I had a germ of the idea bouncing around in my head for about a year before I did anything with it. I knew that I wanted to write a game with two characters, and that they'd be twins with special powers. I love oil-and-water dialog, so I also knew that they would have to be polar opposites of each other. But as is often the case, I couldn't find the motivation to push forward beyond the initial cool idea. But then the ATC came along. The ATC ("AGS Team Competition") is a contest held twice a year on the AGS forums. The idea behind the contest is to get people of different skill sets to work on a game and finish within a designated amount of time. One person would do the writing, another the coding, another the art, etc. I tossed my hat in the ring as a "writer/coder", and I was eventually teamed up with Lisa ("Dart"), Allister ("BerserkerTails"), Thomas ("Yoke") and David ("Scotch"). They asked me to write the story, and that was the final push that enabled me to drag the idea out of mothballs and into the game you see today.

4. How did you meet the other team members of Epileptic Fish?
Kind of answered this one already. = )

Allister: Once again, it was mostly through the competition that we met each other, though I was familiar with Dave's work on Bestowers of Eternity before becoming part of the team. So it was neat to work with someone who I knew was amazing.

5. I really liked the graphics and was surprised to hear that they were in fact done by four different people, so you obviously did an excellent job there. How did you go about coordinating things among the graphics team? Was somebody in charge of designing one character and somebody else of another character or was it more about assigning whatever task needed to be done to the next person available?
Not only were they done by four different people, but it was all done in six weeks! The deadline for ATC games was six weeks, and we had to have a completely playable game by the end. The work was initially split pretty evenly. I would write the puzzles, plot and dialog, Thomas would do all the coding, Lisa would draw all the backgrounds, Allister would write all the music, and David would animate all the characters. Since I already had a good idea of who the characters were and what their office should look like, I immediately set them to work on those while I frantically hashed out the plot and puzzles. Three days later, I had an outline ready and the other team members had already accomplished much. Everybody pretty much knew their job and did it, with occasional guidance from me. Towards the end, our various duties began to blur a bit (Allister and Thomas had to do some animating, I did more coding, and Lisa did some character design), but the process went so smoothly that I had no complaints.

Allister: Well, very early on in development, we lost one of our team members who was working primarily on sprites. We ended up having to complete redo all the character work on the game, and so the task was kinda divided into sections. I took over Tim and Tiffany, and did all their animations as well as the score for the game. Lisa, who was already cranking out backgrounds at the speed of sound handled almost all the other human NPCs, and Thomas, our programmer, worked with the animals, of which there are quite a few.
The intro picture were done by me in the wee hours of the morning, the day our game was due for the competition. I actually finished it so late that the first release of the game didn't have the intro in it.

6. Was it hard to find the right kind of music to accompany each scene? Was the music specially composed for the game or was it rather a matter of assigning the right score to each scene?
Hah. You'd have to ask Allister about that. He scored every piece of music in the game by himself, with only a little feedback from me. Aside from the occasional niggly comment like "make it a bit faster" or "pump up the intensity", Allister did an amazing job - especially considering he did most of the music within a two week period!

Allister: Yeah, I composed all the music specifically for the game, with the exception of the main theme "Itchy Eyes", which was something I had written previously. Most of the tracks were done with only a background for the scene, so I tried my hardest to make the music fit each scene.

Originally, I was going to make two versions of each song, one for when the player is controlling Tim, and one for when the player is controlling Tiff, but that idea ended up being junked as it would take away from the ability to make the score fit the scene.
If you're interested, however, the two versions of Itchy Eyes (Tim and Tiff's) are both in the game. The normal one plays while in the office during the game, but right at the end, before the credits, when Tim and Tiff are in their office, Tiff's version of Itchy Eyes is playing. It's slightly happier sounding.
The recording during the credits was actually done with some friends of mine who are into jazz. It's actually me playing piano on the recording too!

7. Making games seems to be your hobby rather than your job, and I suppose it takes several months to make a game like "Two of a Kind", which means you probably dedicated quite a lot of your free time to it. Was there a point at which you felt you had run into a dead end and would have liked to abandon the project or was it pretty much a smooth process throughout?
This is mostly Dave's question, but I'd just like to say that when we lost our character artist, the future of the game started looking pretty bleak. I'm just glad Dave decided to give us a chance to shine, haha.

Dave: Things hit a bit of a snag at the beginning when David dropped out because of real-world obligations. This forced us to shift gears somewhat. As I said earlier, our various duties began to blur a bit. I am still amazed at how lucky I was with the team I had. We all worked so smoothly that everything went like clockwork, even after the loss of David. Everyone really pulled together. I have many fond memories of the night before the deadline. We were all on IRC, trying like mad to finish the game on time. We worked well into the night, and we were virtually holding each other's hand the whole time. I would be writing up a scene and then I'd get some animation from Allister, or a background from Lisa, or a piece of complicated code from Thomas and I'd merge it into final product. There were so many laughs and jokes that night, and it became less about winning the competition and more about just FINISHING. And we did. It was an incredible feeling. It really gave me a tiny taste of what it might be like to work for a real company someday.
(if you are interested, there is a log of our last hour on IRC here:

8. What was the first bit about the story you came up with? The two main characters, Tim and Tiffany? Or was it that "special powers" thing?
Both, I suppose. I had just re-read Orson Scott Card's "Seventh Son", and I started thinking about the concept behind a community of people with small powers (or "knacks", as OSC called them). The characters followed soon after. Originally, Tim had the power of invisibility, but that was changed pretty quickly. I wanted everyone's ability to be relatively interesting, but not TOO powerful. Tiffany's talk-to-animals power is kind of powerful, but well, it's Tiffany.

9. It's been a while since you made the game. If you could improve one aspect of it, what would you choose? Or would you prefer doing a proper sequel while you were at it?
Dave: I've actually been in touch with someone to help improve the artwork, and Allister has offered to make mp3 versions of all the tunes, but it's slow going. It's funny. It took us six weeks to complete the game for the contest. 95% of the artwork, all the music, and the majority of the coding and dialog were complete. You could play the game from start to finish, albeit with a number of bugs along the way. However, it took another three months to finish up these small niggly things to make it perfect. The deadline looming over us was SUCH an inspiration. It's amazing what we accomplished when there something at stake. Once there was no pressure, it became very hard to gather up the motivation to finish quickly. I actually have an idea for a sequel in mind (which involves a murder and ninjas and the Bluff City mafia), but nothing concrete yet.

Allister: If I could improve one aspect? Well, I'd make the score longer. Each song is only about a minute and a half to two minutes long before looping, since we were on such a tight schedule. I'd love to make the tracks longer, so the music doesn't get on people's nerves, haha.
As for a sequel, we have kicked around the idea before. In fact, I made some sprites for one idea that was going to set in the haunted Bluff City Hotel... But I think Dave's scrapped that idea.
Don't worry, I think Tim and Tiff will return eventually, hehe...

10. Which of the games you've made or contributed to is your personal favourite and why? Or are you always most interested in the project you're currently working on?
Dave: Shall I be cliche and say that they are like my children? = )

11. As far as I can tell you've become a bit of an AGS celebrity, winning lots of awards and all that. Do you think that for your future projects you are going to stick to AGS-based adventures or could you imagine doing something completely different (like, say, a simulation or a platform game) for a challenge?
Actually... yes. I'd love to do something a bit more action-oriented, like an RPG. RPGs really rely on stories to drive them forward, and the combat aspects keep things from getting too boring. The main problem I have with adventures nowadays is that they are turning into movies that you click through. I do believe that adventure games are just another medium of storytelling like a book or a film, but there should be something that sets it apart (like interactivity). Otherwise, why make a game at all?

12. "Two of a Kind" very much depends on the humour and the funny dialogues (another thing I liked about the game, by the way). Could you imagine making a game with a dead serious theme or do you feel that funny dialogues are an integral part of your style?
Dave: Six of one and half a dozen of the other. smile.gif I enjoy writing serious games, and many people have said that my "funny" games have some serious bits interwoven in them. "Bestowers of Eternity" was pretty serious, and I find that I get immense satisfaction out of putting my characters through hell and misery. Is that sadistic of me?

13. One more question: What is so creepy about that red cup? That it isn't blue?
Allister: That red cup did things to me... When I was a child...

Dave: Hahaha. Bit of an subtle AGS inside joke there. If you can't figure it out, I ain't telling you. ; )


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