Alexey Pajitnov - Tetris: Past, Present, Future
June 28, 2010 Page 3 of 4
I was thinking back to the old versions of Tetris, and the Atari Games one, that arcade one, really capitalized on the Russian theme. You know, and it also had the backwards R, which is supposed to look like Cyrillic. Do you think that the Cold War mentality of the era, right around the softening of the Cold War, do you think that helped the popularity -- that people had an interest in Russia?
AP: Yeah. Yeah, that was kind of a coincidence at that time. The interest in Russia was really high, and the fact that they decorated it in kind of a Russian style really helped to the marketing of the game. But it wasn't essentially... I didn't really care [laughs] what kind of decoration they put on it.
At the time, you didn't have any sort of oversight. Now, you say, you definitely evaluate the versions, but at the same time, you didn't have any control, I'm guessing.
AP: Well, if something was obviously wrong, I could object, but yeah, that's right. I didn't participate in any of those kinds of developments.
Well, I mean, communication was, I'm sure, very hard to get out especially before the actual dissolution of the USSR.
AP: Yes. Yes, but... the version was okay, the design was pretty good, so people... the designers, they liked the game and they did their best for the decoration of it, so most of the time I was satisfied with their work.
I think it's probably because they had a fundamental respect for the game.
AP: Yes. I agree with you. So, generally, I noticed through my career that if the game is good, the concept of the game is good, and if the people who work on it like it, they are doing a really amazing job from their part, and that's how the good games are coming out.
The game industry has changed tremendously since the game was originally released, and we're at the point now where there's a huge proliferation of platforms -- mobile, online, consoles, handhelds. From your perspective as a creator, how do you see the market today?
AP: I am very pleased with what's going on because I love games, and I'm very pleased that human beings are playing much more these days than it was in days of my young years, you know. So, I feel that gaming is much better entertainment that movies, television, and reading because it's really active.
Still, though, the industry is not in a very mature stage, and I'm pretty sure it will be a really great future in the nearest time when the more serious kind of creators will get involved, and more engineering and software achievements will be applied to games. But still, it's tremendous progress with the industry, and it's very pleasant for me to observe it.
When it comes to your personal taste and interest in games, are you mostly interested in puzzle games like Tetris, or do you look at the wide variety of stuff that's out there right now? Because there's a huge range of stuff available.
AP: Well, I'm not very involved in the kind of heavy action games. I never was, so it's not my genre. I'm still in love with all the puzzles and casual games. That's my favorite genre for all the time. I really enjoy what's going on there. But it's very interesting stuff in multiplayer as well. So, finally games start to be a medium which joins people together, which is a very important social role of the game. I'm playing World of Warcraft and enjoy it. [laughs]
Speaking of multiplayer, obviously the original version of Tetris wasn't multiplayer. Other people came up with ways to make Tetris multiplayer through new versions. Some were good, some were not. Did you ever give that thought yourself?
AP: Oh, absolutely. We are working on multiplayer versions for more than 10 years -- I've been trying to design it. I should admit that we are not quite there yet.
It's interesting because it's such a simple game in terms of its mechanics.
AP: Yeah. It was quite a problem with Tetris that... the game is very intense, you know? If you play on the high level -- and that's where you want to play usually. So, you play on the edge of your abilities, in terms of the speed and reaction, and everything. So, you kind of have no brain resources to observe what the other people are doing.
AP: Yeah. That's the kind of measured theoretical problem which we need to resolve with multiplayer Tetris. So, if we lower the intensity of personal game playing, we, a little bit, lower the excitement of the game. But if we keep it at the same level, the players don't have resources to really do some kind of multiplayer actions, to observe, to analyze what's going on in the big picture, and adjust their strategy.
So, we have been seated on this problem for a while; that's the brief description of it. But there are still very promising ways to do it, so the version we have now is pretty good. I mean, when you send the garbage in the multiplayer to the other player, it kind of works.
But unfortunately, my dream would be the game, when you could really see what the other people do and take their gameplay and their achievement and their status in the game really in account. That's what the main joy of a multiplayer game is, in my opinion.
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