Alexey Pajitnov - Tetris: Past, Present, Future
June 28, 2010 Page 2 of 4
Whatever happened to the predecessors to Tetris? Do they still exist, or are they lost?
AP: Well, I did publish a couple of them later, something based on those early prototypes. But most of them were lost, of course. In my profession, as I became a game designer after that, it's about no more than 15 percent of your original ideas came to even the project, you know. As far as product is concerned, I think it's about 10 percent, so it's kind of natural.
Do you find that that's still the case? What are you working on today that you can talk about?
AP: I have a couple... I do a couple of projects just for my own kind of fun, but they are really slow and in the very early stage. But mainly, I am working on next Tetris versions.
So, you still actively work on the Tetris property at this stage?
AP: I can't say it's very actively, but yes, I do spend some time on versions. First of all, we need to approve of the versions which we license out. So, that's part of the job. I need some time to review the versions.
And basically, while we have some discussions on "what should we do next?" and "what is important for Tetris next?" I am not involved in any real projects in development, but strategically, yes, I am involved.
One of the things about Tetris that I think is really interesting is that once it became popular, all the companies that had the rights to it started creating evolutions of it. So, if you look back to the early '90s, you'll have things like Nintendo had Tetris 2, which wasn't really Tetris. One of my favorites is the really obscure Tetris Battle Gaiden for the Japanese Super Famicom.
AP: That was a wonderful game. Yeah, I really loved it.
Did you find it interesting when you started to see these evolutions of Tetris, building on your ideas and coming out? Was that surprising?
AP: Oh, absolutely. Besides those, I saw lots of pirate versions and lots of kind of amateur versions. Some of them had some kind of promising ideas inside, but I don't know... Unfortunately, none of those versions come close to the original. I don't know what the reasons were. [laughs]
That's something really hard in general -- when a game is simple but deep. To add onto that foundation, I think, is really hard. I think it's something difficult with the puzzle genre in general, even when the original creators are working with their own game, if you look at sequels to puzzle games.
AP: Yeah. Usually, it's really hard to seriously improve an original idea, but that's the phenomena which are hard to explain. But yes. That's what happened. But I think in other genres, like in movies, I could barely remember a good sequel to a good original movie, as well.
I think with more complicated games, it's a lot easier to make a sequel because you've got a lot more elements to work with. I mean, look at what PopCap does what Bejeweled.
AP: Well, I don't know how, but the very original version was demonstrated a brilliant idea of the game, but it had really bad implementation. So, I really enjoy the later implementation of Bejeweled. They had really good improvement, but they didn't improve the original concept, of course.
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