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Road To The IGF:  Samorost2 's Jakub Dvorsky

Road To The IGF: Samorost2's Jakub Dvorsky

December 11, 2006 | By Alistair Wallis

December 11, 2006 | By Alistair Wallis
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Continuing Gamasutra's 'Road to the IGF' feature, which profiles and interviews Independent Games Festival 2007 entrants, today's interview is with Jakub Dvorsky of Amanita Design, developer of Flash adventure title Samorost2.

The game is a continuation of Amanita's previous work - the critically acclaimed surrealist point and click puzzle adventure Samorost, which Dvorsky created as a thesis work while studying animation at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. The sequel was in development for a year before its release in late 2005, and allows players to "once again meet with the main character of the first part - a tiny elf, whom they must, in this version, help to find his dog, who was kidnapped by evil space aliens when their UFO landed to steal pears from the elf's garden".

We spoke to Dvorsky about the game, its entry into the IGF, and his attraction to web-based releases.

What is your background in the games industry?

When I was child I had an Atari 800XE with some great games on cassettes, then in grammar school I got my first PC and started helping some older friends with animations for an adventure game they were developing. I also created my own adventure/rpg game called Asmodeus. After grammar school, I studied animated film on Academy of Arts, and my thesis work was Samorost.

When was Amanita Design formed, and what previous titles have you released?

I started using the name Amanita Design around 2003 for my creations, and in 2005 I was joined by my schoolmate Vaclav Blin. We did some short games (Samorost1, The Quest For The Rest, Rocketman VC), some music videos (Plantage, Na tu svatbu) and some websites and animations.

What inspired Samorost2, and why did you decide to make it?

It's a sequel of Samorost1, which was quite popular, so it was easy decision. It's inspired by many things - games, music, books but mostly by nature.

Why did you decide to release the game as a web-based title?

Our game doesn't have the scope of a regular PC or console game, so it wasn't suitable for retail publishing. Also, as the half of the game is available for free, a huge number of people can play it easily in the web browser without any installation or anything.

What was the reaction to the first one like, and how did that affect the way you approached Samorost2?

The reaction was very nice - I was really surprised how many people played it. Samorost2 is more professional - longer, better animations, and it has great original music!

What were your expectations from your game, and do you feel the end product lives up to those expectations?

I'm not sure what we wanted, we did our best and waited for the feedback. Of course, we wanted people to like it at least as much as the original. Also, we needed some money from it to pay our bills, as we spent almost an entire year on it while not earning a penny. We are happy now, because the feedback is great and it has also brought us some spending money.

What do you think the most interesting thing about your game is?

Perhaps the world where the game takes place. I hope it's original and atmospheric, but it's up to players to review it.

How long did development take?

Almost 1 year.

What was the development process like?

It was fun. 4 people worked on the game - everybody at from their own home, so we are actually more of a virtual studio. We live about 200 km from each other so email, ICQ and Skype are very important. The only time when we really saw each other was in a pub drinking beer.

What do you think of the state of independent development, and how do you think independent games fit into the industry?

I don't care very much about games industry, because it really is 'industry' - all talented game creators are dependent on investors and publishers, so they have to make 100% commercial games - they have very little room to experiment and try something new. On the other hand, independent developers always have to try new things if they want to make it.

Have you checked out any of the other IGF games?

Only a couple of them, briefly.

Which ones are you particularly impressed with, and why?

Armadillo Run looks promising, and Aquaria has very nice graphics.

Which recent indie games do you admire, and which recent mainstream titles do you admire, and why?

Frankly I don't play many games - besides foosball (table soccer) - but recently I was hooked on Psychonauts, Motherload and Guitar Shred Show - it's not actually a game, but it's great.

Do you have any messages for your fellow contestants or fans of the IGF?

Good luck in the competition and with your future projects!

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