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Faces Behind the Games Interviews

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Ionside (Argentum), Javier Dávalos


Five-Minute Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers
—by Jade Dragon

Have you 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 developer business?

Jaybot: I've 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.

Jade Dragon: An Ice Cream Parlor?

Jaybot: Yes, 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 the kids…

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.

Jade Dragon: And what does that have to do with the ice cream parlor?

Jaybot: Oh. Nothing. I think I was using my Pocket PC at the time though, and you just kind of reminded me of that.

Jade Dragon: How many game development projects have you been involved in? Which ones are your favorites and why?

Jaybot: Somewhere 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 .

Jade Dragon: When you approach a project, what kind of thought process and creative process do you go through?

Jaybot: First, 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 smoother.

Jade Dragon: How did the things you learned when making games like Snails, Argentum, etc. help you in making future games?

Jaybot: The interesting 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 into Snails.

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?

Jaybot: You mean... 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. . .

Jade Dragon: Whoah, Whoah! That's quite enough there!

Jaybot: But I was just getting started!

Jade Dragon: Well, let's just move on to your favorites for the Pocket PC .

Jaybot: ActiveSync is my all-time favorite Pocket PC game! Its been fun trying to get that thing to sync with my device for about 4 years now, it never gets old! ;)

Some of my actual favorites for the PPC are: Nutcracker, Snails, Gamebox (of course ;)), Ghost World, Interstellar Flames, Gem Hunter, and Insaniquarium.

And every gamer needs these emulators: Pocket SNES BE, Pocket SCUMM, Pocket NES, and Morphgear.

Okay, I'm done .

Jade Dragon: Do you have a girlfriend, because if not.. I know a lot of girls who would just DIE to date you!

Jaybot: Well, uhm... no I do not have a girlfriend at the present moment. . .

Jade Dragon: --HEY! I never asked that question! You're writing in you're own!

Jaybot: Whoops, didn't think you'd notice .





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