Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers by Jade
ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love?
What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions
for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software
companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got
a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what
they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.
If you hang out in the
Pocket PC gaming community long enough, you will hear the name
Jaybot. Some say his name is Jason Surguine, some say he’s
a robot, others think he is an alien who came from far away galaxy.
While his true identity and his whereabouts might be a mystery,
his talent is as bright and obvious as the day. He has been involved
in a dozen Pocket PC game development projects such as Argentum,
Snails, PDAmill GameBox Clasic and the upcoming Speedway Jam.
To help fans get a closer look at this mystery man, we put on
our space suits, brought our universal communicators and caught
up with Jason in an un-named location, and brought you the following
Interview: Jade Dragon: You
have an art and music background. How did you get into game
always believed that a video game itself can be considered
art and can express art on many levels. But to answer your
question... one day I was in the middle of an ice cream parlor.
Ice Cream Parlor?
an ice cream parlor. And this young married couple was having
an argument. They were arguing over who was going to go to
the grocery store while the other stayed at home and watched
Seriously, I've always been an avid console gamer,
and when I discovered that Palm-Size PCs and Pocket PCs could
run emulators (e.g. MAMECE and Pocket NES), I bought one immediately.
Soon after, original games by Jimmysoft and Zio were released.
These games were much better in the graphics and sound department
than any other handheld games at the time, including the then
latest Nintendo handheld, the Game Boy Color.
Around the same time, more independent developers started
emerging, e.g. Ionside announced their work on an RTS and Peter Balogh
announced development on an RPG for the Pocket PC. I immediately started
sending out samples and asking developers if they needed an audio guy
(as I was just finishing my Bachelors in Music at the time).
Ionside responded favorably and wanted my work in
Argentum. And Peter Balogh soon asked me if I'd like to create some
'cartoony' music and sound effects for a certain project he was working
on involving violent Snails.
what does that have to do with the ice cream parlor?
Nothing. I think I was using my Pocket PC at the time though, and you
just kind of reminded me of that.
many game development projects have you been involved in? Which ones
are your favorites and why?
in the realm of 12 projects that I can think of. My favorites? Snails
was definitely a blast to develop for everyone that was on the team.
It was just a great experience overall, as we all enjoyed the game
we were developing.
I had a lot of fun creating the music for Speedway Jam!.
It was the first game that called for using more of a Rock-type edge.
It was quite difficult to get that type of music scaled down for the
PPC, but the end product was very rewarding.
And for some reason, I got really involved in the
development of Gamebox Classics. PDAmill originally just wanted me
to update a couple of the tunes from the old Gamebox.. but I went nuts
and wrote a new song for each game, and then started writing ludicrous
background stories and making up funny characters for each game (in
the same fashion as Snails), which apparently, worked out pretty well .
you approach a project, what kind of thought process and creative process
do you go through?
I pray to the ancient Incan god of the Sun for inspiration, and then
I go on a drinking binge for 15 days to come up with ideas. Next, I'll
have one massive hangover to remind me 'never to drink again', and
that's when I start writing.... and then ...
Wait, that's not true! Ignore everything I just said! What
actually happens... Well, it all depends on the project.
Many projects ask for music or sounds, without seeing any
artwork or even a single screen-shot from the game. Instead, I’m
just given a description of the game or what they want the audio to sound
like. Sometimes, I’ll even hear something to the tune of, ‘Just
write something that sounds good’. In every case, I try to tailor
the audio specifically to the match the developer’s ideas.
As for the actual creative process (for music), I usually
try to write most of the song in my head, before I get it all on to paper
or on to my computer. The translation doesn’t always work so well
on the computer, so I’ve been thinking of buying one of those synaptic
links they’re developing to try and make the transition a little
Jade Dragon:How did
the things you learned when making games like Snails, Argentum, etc.
help you in making future games?
thing about mobile platforms like the Pocket PC is that the technology
keeps progressing and changing. When I developed audio for Argentum,
the format in which they wanted the music was very different than the
format that Peter Balogh needed by the time we were integrating music
I've learned that you definitely have to keep rolling with
the punches and moving with the technology and needs of the developers
in order to keep up.
It’s also been interesting to see all the different
angles in the way each developer approaches a project. Which has really
helped with the development of the current projects we're doing at Jaybot7.
Jade Dragon:What are
you working on? Any info on some future games you can share with us?
Jaybot:Right now I'm
working with PDAmill on Anthelion, an upcoming 3d space shooter, along
the same lines of the old X-wing games… and it’s seriously
turning into an incredible game, for any platform!
Gamebox Asia, following the example of the other Gameboxes,
this will include some super-polished versions of games like Mahjongg,
Go and Chinese Checkers.
Gamebox Casino, along the same lines... but in the middle
of a casino :) with games like Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Slots, etc.
shaping up to be a really killer Casino game.
Jaybot7 is also collaborating with PDAmill on Broken Blueprint,
an interesting logic game; if you've ever played The Incredible Machine
(or if anyone remembers that old board game Mousetrap ;), you'll be right
at home with this game. One of my favorite things about the game is the
fact that it includes over an hour of animated cut-scenes... oh, its
just too cool... you'll just have to see it :)
And possibly our largest project, is an epic RPG named
Chamber Star. This game will be similar in fashion to the famed Dragon
Warrior and Final Fantasy games you see on consoles.
Jade Dragon:What do
you think of the people you have worked with on PDA game development?
Who are the funniest and who can drink the most?
Jaybot:Next to cartoon
characters, Game Developers are some of the coolest people on the planet!
Randall Schleufer, the artist for Snails, was a riot to
work with, our personalities definitely clicked on that project.
Sven Myhre from Amazing Games was really cool to work with,
very intelligent guy.
Dan East, of PocketQuake and Dex-plor fame, is possibly
the most level headed, well rounded person I have ever known... very
quick, and very cool.
I'm the funniest, hands down, just ask me…but I guess
I don't count…next to me, the one who has made me laugh the most
would probably be Peter Balogh. His Hungarian sense of humor just baffles
me to the point of crying.
And Goro (Laszlo Kesmarki), the programmer for Anthelion
could probably drink the most... but I'm not sure, because we haven't
had an official drinking contest... yet.
Jade Dragon:What type
of games do you enjoy playing? Any favorites?
like, this week?
I enjoy playing all types of games! However, I do have
this sick fascination with good puzzle games, and a fetish for word games,
especially those obscure ones you find in the dark corners of bars.
Some of my all time favorites off the top of my head: Zork,
Monkey Island 2, Street Fighter II Turbo, Final Fantasy VI, Castlevania
II, Leisure Suit Larry, Pitfall, Zaxxon, Yars Revenge, Food Fight, Double
Dragon, Solomon's Key, Ultima 3, Bionic Commando, Mega Man X, Kid Icarus,
Kings Quest VI, Ninja Gaiden, Seiken Densetsu, Battle of Olympus, Punchout,
Rush N Attack, Tetris, Track and Field II, Golden Axe, Zelda III, Star
Tropics, Strider, Wizards and Warriors 2, Metal Gear, 3D World Runner,
Contra, Donkey Kong, Jr., Pac Man 2, Dragon Warrior, Gauntlet, Double
Dragon, Excitebike, Goonies II, Kid Niki, Kung Fu, Wario Ware Inc, Prince
of Persia, Metal Gear, RC Pro AM, Magic of Scheherazade, Faxanadu, Section
Z, Q-Bert, Arkanoid, Gradius, TMNT 2, OOTW, Actraiser, Chrono Trigger,
Top Gear, Wolfenstein 3D, Blaster Master, Saga Frontier, Wild Arms. .