Dink Smallwood Seth tells the history of the making of Dink Smallwood
Date of interview: 15.02.2005.
Interview with: Seth Able Robinson
Interview by: Tom Henrik
Interview about: Dink Smallwood

*** Note for readers:  If you haven't completed the game, maybe you should before reading this because there are some spoilers ***


 - What is your name and where do you live?
 - I'm Seth Robinson and though American, I've been leaving in Japan the past three years.

 - What do you do for a living?
 - I run a tiny game development studio called Robinson Technologies. 

 - What are your hobbies?
 - Grilling (Korean BBQ especially!), music, reading, not leaving the house for weeks.

 - Favourite website?
 - www.thesmokinggun.com because it's more fun to hear about celebrities is when they're in trouble.

 - Where did you get the idea for Dink Smallwood from?
 - A lot of inspiration came from Legend Of Zelda, like the overhead map and screen based movement.  Other parts, like the irreverent dialog style came from adventure games like Monkey Island.

 - What made you set this idea into effect?
 - I was living the good life on previous text RPG type games I'd made, (BBS door Legend Of The Red Dragon) it seemed like a natural progression to do a RPG for my first truly graphical game.

 - Did you recieve help from other people?
 - Yes!  I couldn't have done it without:
Justin Martin (we partnered for this game, he did a lot of design and all the artwork)
Greg Smith (lot of story and scripting, later, all of the new art for the add-ons we made)
Shawn Teal (lots of stuff including testing and order fulfillment)

 - Why did you choose to make the game in C++?
 - I used C++ because I had the compiler and a bit of experience with it from doing an MBBS LORD port earlier.  But man, what horrible coding.  It's not even C++ really, it's really just C in .cpp files.  If anyone wants to have a good laugh, check out the source code, you can download it from www.codedojo.com.

 - Was this your first programming choice?
 - Yep, isn't it everybody's dream to make a RPG?

 - Why?
 - RPG's are really fun to work on.  It's an amazing feeling to wake up and think "I think I'll make a town full of nice skeletons" or something and then go make it.  You really are creating a world, I guess you get a rush from playing God.

 - What would you say was the most difficult part to make in the game?
 - I should say, RPG's *START* really fun to work on.  But the last 10% is hell, you're tiring of it, there are no more fun pizza party brainstorming sessions and it's all about fixing the crap you've half done and getting it shippable.  It's really stressful.

 - How long did it take you to make the first fully playable draft?
 - I had Dink running around and lopping the head of  Ducks in a few days flat.  But the game wasn't fully playable (ie, winnable) until a few days before release, the last 1/3 of the game was done in only a week or so.  Them was crazy days.  I think the rush job shows a bit.  The end boss was NOT the original plan, but Justin had the art laying around as a joke he'd done earlier and I had nothing else so? well, I used it.

 - When was the game launched on the net for the first time?
 - There were demos out near the end of '97, but I couldn't start shipping until January because of how slow the CD manufacturing process is.  Christmas rush ??n all.

 - If you would start from the beginning again, what would you've done different?
 - Well, I might have taken a year or to learn C++ properly.  But of course, being logical and practiced doesn't get games done, it's more about being illogical and ridiculously optimistic.  I would have done the animation/movement timing better.

 - How has the world accepted the game?
 - It did ok, not too shabby at all.  Then as soon as I made it freeware all of a sudden people got a lot more interested in it which is cool.

 - Are you thinking about making a sequel?
 - I've talked to Justin and we're both interested in doing a sequel (we've already designed it, in fact) but alas, timing to do it just hasn't worked out, we're both busy with other stuff.

 - Has the game changed your life in some way? Any fan-mail or wedding-proposals?
 - No wedding proposals (a tear runs down one cheek) but if "hey I killed u in the game" counts as fan mail than yeah, I get a lot.

I've met a few semi-famous people who said "Hey, I was inspired by your game", that's always good.

 - Have any companies showed interest in you or the game?
 - Not really.  I've had a few dealings but they've all left a bad taste in my mouth.  For instance, people who don't own the game take it and try to sell it to other companies (planning to license it from me at a pittance later, if they find a good enough deal for it) ?? then later if I talk to the company it's like "hey, we've already been shown this".   That and getting shafted over payments.  Screw them.  Don't need ??em.

 - What can be expected from you in the future?
 - I've been dabbling in a lot of things, starting to finally give a crap about game design.  I've got unfinished RPG's, platformers and puzzle games lying around, just a matter of time before I design to finish up this junk.  In the meantime I've been very busy with freelance development, 3d mobile games and what-not.

 - Any tips you want to share with future game-makers?
 - It's hard finding the right balance between your game design and what's technically possible for YOU (and the DEPENDABLE members of your team) to do. 

If you screw up the balance you end up with a MMORPG that will never be playable, much less finished, or at the other end of the spectrum, a 3d tic-tac-toe with normal mapping that's really boring.

The secret is don't lose your ambitious dreams, but be flexible about how to represent it. The most incredibly complex RPG in the world could still be a text game, for instance.

 - Any last famous words?
Don't eat the yellow snow! Erm and install the latest version of DirectX if Dink gives you any problems.

Thanks for the interview!


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