Mind's Eye Go behind the scenes with the maker of Mind's Eye
 
Date of interview: 04.01.2006.
Interview with: Shane "ProgZmax" Stevens
Interview by: DeathDude
Interview about: Mind's Eye
 
Is Mind's Eye the first game you ever worked on?

No, not by a longshot! I've worked on many games over the years to varying degrees of completion, some were even commercial projects--but the companies went under. Some of the shorter AGS games I've made include Dance Til' You Drop (an adventure game where you play Richard Simmons), Blackmail In Brooklyn (A River City Ransom style beat-em-up) and Woolly and the Quest for the Golden Beard (a short game I plan to expand).

How did the idea for Mind's Eye come about?

I've always been fond of horror movies and so I conjured up this idea of taking characters from different horror films (even history) and somehow incorporating them into a totally different story. Dr. Knox, Burke and Hare are of course loosely based on actual people in England's shadowy past.

Were there any specific goals you wanted to accomplish when you first thought up the idea?

I think it's important to have a clear goal before you make any game, otherwise the result is a mess. My goal was to present a mystery with a damaged protagonist--that is, a man who by all accounts seems untrustworthy. I also decided from the start that I wanted to implement Delirium Mode, which is the state where Noah receives glimpses of his past.

What were some of the big challenges for you when you started to work on Mind's Eye?

The lack of hardware acceleration in AGS was the main stumbling block. Multiple transparent animating layers really slows down the game on some systems, and so I had to downscale the effect from my original plan. Everything else was cake.

I thought the animations in the game were superb. Did you use a particular program to accomplish this or was it all done in AGS?

I've used Pro Motion for all my artwork since I found it about 6 years ago or so. It's simply an excellent, excellent program for both sprite work and animation and I can't thank Jan Zimmermann enough for making a program truly worthy of DPaint. If people would like to check out a demo they can find it at http://cosmigo.com/promotion/index.php . If it looks like I'm pimping his program it's because I believe it to be the ideal tool for sprite artists.

The music was very creepy and really conveyed that sense of fear and being trapped. When it came down to start working on the music were there any challenges, or did you already have in mind what you wanted the music to sound like?

I pretty much knew how I wanted the mood to be. Creepy, foreboding, something of a John Carpenter 80's soundtrack. Hopefully people enjoyed it.

If you could change anything about Mind's Eye right now what would it be and why?

I would make the game the length I originally planned. I find that when you are working completely alone on a project you often have to scale back the design if you hope to ever finish, which was the case with Mind's Eye. I wanted it done, and to do that I needed to make the story tight and the pace quick.

The story was very well written and depressing I thought. Did you draw on any inspiration for the story from other sources? Or did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do when you first thought up the idea?

Since Mind's Eye was originally planned for a Halloween release (missed it by two weeks) I included references to a lot of my favorite horror films. Childs is a character from John Carpenter's The Thing, Dr. Fuchs as well, and Dr. West is from Re-Animator. As far as the actual story goes I just thought it would be fun to create a game where the protagonist is unreliable and the player has to figure out for themselves what is real.

Would you ever like to return to Mind's Eye to make a sequel of sorts or have you accomplished everything you wanted to do with Mind's Eye?

Definitely. The sequel will tell a new story from a certain doctor's perspective.

How has the world accepted Mind's Eye from what you've seen and read?

I think that the professional reviews so far have been kind to Mind's Eye, and I appreciate it. I ultimately just set out to make a fun game with a different kind of protagonist and gameplay. I think some people have this misplaced idea that adventure games shouldn't have action sequences and were put off by the flickering lights puzzle, though other people loved it. One thing I learned about games a long time ago is that you cannot please everyone.

What sort of other hobbies do you have other than game development?

Writing. I'm currently working towards publishing my first novel.

What sort of game if you had the choice in terms of style and genre, would you like to develop for in the future?

Well, I'm a fan of old 8-bit platform games, so I've started a new project that I'm calling 'Master Blaster' for now. It's basically going to include gameplay elements from Blaster Master (the ability to jump in/out of a tank) but with a more open-ended gameplay and set in an apocalyptic future not unlike Mad Max. I want to bring back the fun of these games to the younger generation, because 3D really isn't everything. I'm also going to finish Woolly and the Quest for the Golden Beard at some point, since people have expressed an interest in seeing more.

What are some titles from either the freeware community or commercial releases that may have influenced you in any of the games you have worked on or even for future releases you like to do?

Well, Blaster Master and Metroid are certainly big influences in my new project.

Are there any other projects which you are working on or plan to in the immediate future?

I'm working on an action-adventure game called Drug Bust with Tom Simpson. It's about a tough homicide detective named Tony Moretti who has to solve the mystery behind a drug that is turning people into killers. The setting is the 80's and has minigames like interrogations, fist fights, and gun battles, while still retaining some adventure game puzzle solving. Don't expect Guybrush situations, however--Tony doesn't take crap from anyone!

Any advice you wish to impart on up and coming developers, based on your own experiences of developing?

If you decide to work alone, scale down your projects to compensate. Also, if you do work in a team be prepared to compromise on everything from the story to the music; when people are not being paid for a project, they really need to have a stake in the development or they just disappear.
 

 
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