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Do you do much coding or scripting at these days, or do you prefer to delegate that down to the dedicated programmers?
RG: No, I actually love to program. I just love it. I programmed a lot on this game. I programmed a lot on the engine in C++. And in our custom scripting language, I do a lot of programming in that.
I think a lot of people wouldn't necessarily expect that. That's the nature of how people know other people, I guess: you get known for one thing, and I think most people know you as a writer and a designer, as opposed to an engineer or a programmer.
RG: Yeah. That's how I got started. I got started in programming, and certainly back in the early '80s there really were no game designers. There were programmers who also made games. There weren't even artists who made games back then. That's how I got into everything, but it is just something that I've loved.
Occasionally, I've not done it for a couple of years, but when I start programming again, I'm so happy doing it. I also like to tinker a lot, so when I'm working on DeathSpank, I'm playing the game. It's very hard for me to play the game for more than ten minutes, because I see all these things that are wrong, and then I go in and try to fix them all. Sometimes, I wish I actually could.
Actually, before we went to [consumer expo] PAX [in September], I just told myself, "You know what? For the next three days, you're going to play this game and you're not going to stop and fix anything." That was actually a nice experience.
It's funny -- I've interviewed you a few times at this point, and I don't think actual programming has ever come up.
RG: No, I don't think it has.
Do you have any personal philosophy about game design? You're known for doing so much in the adventure genre, and now you're doing something that draws a lot from other types of games. Do you see design as being fairly genre-specific, or is it more of a spectrum?
RG: It is hard to define. A lot of things cross over. There certainly are genres of games, but I think they do share a lot in common. I have a lot respect for movie directors who direct movies in all different genres, who have done really good comedies, and action movies, and sci-fi stuff.
I really like that breadth, and I think that's true also with games. There are strategy games and adventure games and first-person shooters, but there are a whole lot of things that are common there.
One reason I ask is because when I interviewed you several years ago, I enjoyed how much you had to say about other genres besides adventure games.
RG: Adventure games are probably most commonly known for how they tell stories -- or at least that's how I think about them. It's how the stories are structured, how the puzzles are structured, and how the story weaves in and out of the puzzles.
I do wish that was something that people who do other genres would understand better. Even doing a first-person shooter, I think if you understood how really good adventure games are structured, there is a lot that can be learned.
And vice versa, too. There are a lot of really great things that first-person shooters and real-time strategy games do that I think adventure games could really learn from.
That must be particularly applicable to DeathSpank, because you have to deal with flowing in and out of adventure game-style puzzles and dialogue without it being jarring.
RG: Yeah, that's true. I think if there were any two genres that do fit well together, it's adventure games and RPGs. There's a lot they share in common with how they tell stories. RPGs are about quests, and adventure games are about going on little problem-solving missions.
Those have very [much] in common. They're both about collecting items at some level. Adventure games are about stealing them from somebody's house, and RPGs are about killing monsters to get them.
There's a huge overlap. Actually, melding those two things together in DeathSpank wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.