Llamas In Space: Catching Up with Llamasoft's Jeff Minter
April 4, 2007 Page 2 of 6
GS: Will all of the stuff we saw today make it into the final version of Space Giraffe? I'm guessing the "Cube is not for yiffing" message might get cut.
JM: Well, that's not actually saying that yiffing is a good thing! It's NOT for yiffing! If you actually look at that picture, there's a little no entrance sign. There's nothing actually shown!
GS: Recently we did a postmortem on Toys for Bob's Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, where they described having to remove certain names from their game. Certainly that climate does exist.
JM: Well, I think Space Giraffe is abstract, and you can't really fly into anything within the world. That fox is pretty much the most real-world thing we've got in there!
GS: Have you ever given up on a game? I know that Unity was cancelled, but is it ever going to be resurrected at any point? You've expressed interest once.
JM: The thing with Unity is that it would be a matter of projects. As I've said, we got a year and a half into it and realized that it was going to be too huge. It was too ambitious. Not only did we have the light synthesis generator -- which was actually working -- but the whole idea was going to be genetic evolutionary algorithms controlling everything, and it was just too huge, really.
I think a lot of the ideas are still valid, but they will appear perhaps in smaller games. As a small development team, we can't afford to take on projects that span two or three or four years. We can't do it.
GS: How many people do you have working with you?
JM: Me and Ivan [Zorzin].
GS: That's what I thought. You said "of our size"...
JM: Well, we've doubled in size! There's now two of us! We're also lucky, though, because we've got a lot of voluntary contributions from people in the Llamasoft community. Some of the music is being done by a bunch of musicians who also happen to be members of our forum.
Likewise, we've got other guys helping us out by doing logos and fonts and things. We've got a lot of people who contribute to us because they want to be in Space Giraffe, which is nice.
GS: And that's the final title?
GS: Originally, that didn't seem to be the case. You said, "Well, let's just call it Space Giraffe"...
JM: Well, it just kind of stuck. It all came down to this one forum post, where there was just this one picture. I was working on this little creature, and at that stage it was just called "The Little Creature." I didn't have a name for it. Then I saw this one picture of a giraffe at a watering hole, and it looked just like my little creature standing at the side of the web.
So I started this one thread in my forum called "The Space Giraffe," and posted that picture there. Within hours, all the gaming sites were reporting "Jeff Minter's new game: Space Giraffe!" At that point, why go back? Space Giraffe is memorable, and people remember it. It may be a silly name, but people remember it.
GS: That was partially my fault. I have a friend who reads your forums, and he relayed that post to me.
JM: This was all over the place within a few hours. One of the funniest posts was on Teletext in the UK. There was this post going "Space Giraffe invades Xbox 360..."
GS: Has PETA ever contacted you to make a game? It would kind of make sense.
JM: No, but the weirdest request I've ever had in making games was when I was once offered by a research place in Wales to develop video games for sheep. I guess it was some study into the cognitive abilities of sheep. I couldn't take it up because I was busy with other stuff, but I was genuinely asked to make video games for sheep.
GS: Did you have any ideas about it?
JM: I think we were going to see what kind of interface we would have for it first!
GS: Hoof-based controllers?
JM: "Avoid the barking dog!"
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