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Fountain of Scribbles: 5th Cell's Jeremiah Slaczka Speaks
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Fountain of Scribbles: 5th Cell's Jeremiah Slaczka Speaks

October 9, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Did you play Crayon Physics before or after the concept came about?

JS: Oh, well after.

The grabbing of the shiny object as a goal, using procedural things to do so, it's quite similar. "Well, what's the most simple kind of goal?"

JS: Yeah. And that's how you make something really accessible to everybody. That was the whole point. You have the hardcore gamers, you have the casual gamers, and we wanted to make sure we could fit everybody because this is the Nintendo DS.

When I was actually looking at new ideas for us to do, I had to consider, "What's the DS about? What's the platform about?" It's about everybody. It's the most casual platform there is, but there are gamers on it, too.

It's a good point, because I feel like people are really going 100 percent either/or. They may say, "Yes, I want this appeal to everyone," but they're just saying it. They're not designing something that has the ability to appeal to both.

You shouldn't just make a first-person shooter, but you also don't have to necessarily make like a game about puppies or something. You can still have weird humor and quirky stuff in there, and make an interesting game. I feel like people get trapped.

JS: They do. They absolutely do. When we started 5th Cell, we wanted to make games that are completely different from everybody else, and not just different in a quirky weird way that's not going to sell and nobody likes it. We wanted to make awesome games.

We almost have that indie mentality, except for the fact that we understand that demographics matter. We're not just like, "Oh, we're making games just for us." We want to make them for everybody. I think that if you look at all of our games, they definitely try to do that broad appeal. That's kind of what we're about.

I guess I heard [5th Cell co-founder] Joseph Tringali saying, basically, "We want to make games that nobody else has made." I was like, "Whatever, guys. You guys just made a couple cell phone games. You think you're hot shit now? Well, okay."

JS: No, it's true. Actually, I was talking to Stephen Totilo at Kotaku, and he asked me, "What's the hot games?" And I'm like, "Scribblenauts." And he's just like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. A developer would say that about their own game." And I'm like, "No, no, no. I'm serious. Everybody's exploding at E3."

And people, journalists, are so jaded to PR people just slamming "It's the next best thing since sliced bread," that like when people are genuine about it and say, "Look, no, we're trying to change the industry. We're trying to do awesome things," they say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever."

It's funny, I tell Stephen things now, and he says, "I tend to believe you when you tell me these ridiculously amazing things that I don't believe." But then I'm like, "Dude, have I lied to you yet?" He's like, "No, you haven't. You have not lied to me." We're not about that. I just tell the truth. We're gamers. We want to make awesome stuff.

The thing that to me is amazing about it is that the simple behaviors that these objects and creatures have when they're put in the world; they're simple, but they're logical. They're so logical that they can surprise you, that these simple building blocks can tell a story, and you can just extrapolate it.

JS: It's really cool. The stuff that you came up with -- I don't think people have written "gallows" as their first word. That's from your brain. That's where your creative process is going. That's what's so great about Scribblenauts. Like Mark [PR at Warner Bros.] was saying today, he was just watching people play, "I haven't seen some of these things ever been written or seen these things in the game ever."

That's what's sort of great, because you have no idea. We just give you a toolset and say, "Do it." Other people say like, "Oh, open world! Sandbox!" and all this stuff. But it's not really. You're in a giant square, and you can drive a car anywhere... sort of. But that's not really emergent or anything, you know what I mean?

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