A couple years ago, you wrote this blog post, and you've described yourself before as a reactive game designer, in that you play a game, you get annoyed or pissed off about some aspects of it, then you go out and you make a creation that you feel that tries to remedy a problem that you identified.
Did you play a game that pissed you off before coming up with the design of Epic Mickey? Is there something you're trying to fix here?
WS: Yes and no. Clearly the game has been pretty up front about the fact that this game is -- my goal anyway -- is that it be a combination of the best of platform games, the best of action-adventure games, and the best of Deus Ex-style role playing.
And so at the deepest level I think all I wanted to do was honor these games that I absolutely love, and I've been really up front about my love for Zelda, that's for sure.
So from that perspective, it's really more about taking things that don't belong together -- you know, peanut butter and chocolate, right? Or a DJ in a club taking two tunes that don't belong together and mashing 'em up -- and see what we come up with that's new and fresh and original.
In terms of frustration, it wasn't any one game that frustrated me; it was kind of a general sense that in the platform space and the action-adventure space in particular, the design side hasn't changed all that much in the last 10 or 20 years. And so I thought there was room to innovate on the design side in those categories.
And so it all sort of added up. It wasn't like I played a specific game and said, "Oh my God, I can't believe these guys are doing this!" (laughs) A general sense of categories that could use a little goose, you know. And specifically platforming and action-adventure, I think we need some new design ideas, and so I thought I could provide them, while I mashed everything up.
You have repeatedly mentioned the mission of Play Style Matters, and the way it adds to the game. You use the paint and you use the thinner; you can change the world, you can change the way the characters react to you. It sounds to me very Deus Ex-y. What cues have you taken from the design of your previous games?
WS: Well, if you go look at the first two blog posts I did years ago, it's the long version of the studio mission, which is my personal mission, really, in life. I just don't intend to ever to make a game that isn't about player choice and consequence. I mean, I just don't have any interest.
Whenever I talk to a publisher, Disney included, I always say I don't do budgets, I don't do schedules, I make the games I make, go look at the last 19 games I've done, if that's not what you want, let's not do business together. Let's remain friends.
And I tell the team that all the time: if you don't buy the studio mission, if you don't buy my personal mission, don't work here! I don't care how talented you are, you need to feel like you're on the same mission I am.
I'm not saying you even have to see this -- it's almost like I don't care if people see it, but every single game I've worked on since Ultima VI, which is where I kind of hit on this idea. I noticed the power -- saw the power -- of players actually expressing themselves through play. Ultima VI was the first time I saw that.
It was an accident, in Ultima VI, when I saw it happen, but ever since I've been making games where I try to do that better and better, or aligning myself with developers who are trying to do that better and better, or supporting other designers who are making games that do that better and better. So every game I've done has been what I see as an evolutionary step along the same path, and this is just the next step in the path.