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I think a lot of people would give Limbo a try because it's quick to get into, simple, readable.
AJ: Yeah. It's supposed to be. We talked about being able to catch people's attention from the very beginning. You should almost never notice the world around, just get sucked into it. It doesn't matter what kind of game, it could be anything, it's just being able to do that is important.
DP: I also remembered when we talked about, a long time ago, which category to put it in, not because we needed it for ourself, but because for the platforms they required it. And it was so hard because we didn't want to put it in a box.
DP: You didn't want to put it in a box.
AJ: No. It's not a point and click adventure, but it's got some adventure elements... It's not an action game. It's not a horror game.
DP: It is a platform game, but it's nowhere near platform games in general where you need to shoot, have pick-ups, and have inventory. It's like [dismissive noise]. I don't think we can get around that, but again if you have a person who likes platform games, they don't necessarily like Limbo. And if you like Limbo, you don't necessarily like platform games.
AJ: People call it a puzzle game as well.
Well, that's like Braid. Is Braid a puzzle game, or is it a platformer?
I would say Braid is not a platformer, but I would say Limbo is, more. That's my personal feeling. I'm not saying I'm 100 percent accurate here.
AJ: But if you look like puzzle games, it's like Bejeweled and all this stuff I would never play.
DP: If you look at the category...
AJ: And there's Braid... It's kind of strange.
DP: If you look at the category and look at puzzle games, for example on Steam, you get Bejeweled and Puzzle Pirates and whatever. And that's... I don't know.
Speaking of Braid, the core of Braid is the logic. The platforming is a mechanism to deliver the puzzles.
AJ: Yeah, exactly.
Whereas I think Limbo has more visceral pleasure in the actual act of moving across the world.
DP: It's like in Limbo, you can't really get from A to B without being able to do some platforming action.
Sure. Though it's definitely not a skill-based platformer like a Mario game. And is it even relevant to have these conversations? It doesn't sound like you guys feel that way.
DP: No. I hate when it becomes in a box anyway.
DP: We were forced to it. We were forced to it because we had to choose, when we have to go to platforms. But we're in our own category.
AJ: It's like Half-Life. People talk about it as a shooter, but I'm not sure it's a shooter as much as an adventure game, because there's a lot of elements in there shifting all the way through. It's not like a Call of Duty shooter. It's much more complex.
DP: I don't really recall so much shooting in Half-Life.
AJ: No. It's everything else. It's an experience.
It's the weight of history, weighing down on the way games are perceived. The weight of the commercial industry. And you guys are sort of outside of it. You put yourselves outside of it, to an extent, creatively, but also now that you've had success, you can insulate yourselves from it to an extent as well, right?
People know who are you are. You don't have to meet the expectations.
DP: I hope that people know what we stand for, when it comes out. It's like the first time, it was hard to convince, and it was also hard to explain. And we didn't explain. But next time... People know what they're going into.
AJ: It's getting worse. It's getting worse to explain. [laughs]
DP: It's getting worse to explain, now, what it is. But people know, even though it is in the puzzle category, or the platforming category, they know it's not like the usual platform or the usual puzzle game.
What got you inspired to work in games rather than another medium if you're not such a big fan of games? Or was it specific games that you liked enough?
AJ: Yeah. Yeah. There were definitely a lot of games throughout the years, you know. I've been playing since I was 10 years old. I don't know. I've tried everything else. I tried to be an artist and make big posters.
Were you motivated by frustration with what was available?
AJ: Yeah. I think so... Yeah, maybe. It's such a hard medium to master, so it seemed like it would be interesting to try, I think. [laughs] In the beginning, I wanted to do it myself, and I wanted to convince people that you could make a good game without spending too much money and too much people on it. It's kind of just a thing to do.
But at a certain point it became clear that you're going to have to spend more money and get more people.
AJ: Yeah. It was because of Dino, because I wanted to do it myself. [laughs]
DP: So, I just hired a lot people. And he went, "What the fuck? Who are these people?" No, it wasn't like that. [laughs]
What was it like?
DP: For me, it was organic. It was like, we met, we started to plan. In the beginning, I just wanted to help Arnt get this out because I thought it was interesting. I thought he was interesting. And the business just became bigger and bigger. It was evolving.
It was not from the beginning, we planned what it was going to be -- the budget end of it and that kind of thing. We just needed more people, and we needed more money to have those people. We were like entrepreneurs without wanting to be so. In two years or something. And in the end we wanted some big money because we really wanted everything to be alright.
Alright for the company, you mean? Or for the game?
AJ: Yeah, both things, at that point. I think we didn't want to muddle through, every time we needed to get more people, we needed to get more money. So, one time, we tried to get the rest of the money we needed. And then quite later we're thinking, late 2008, we did the final plans like how we wanted to do. We started when I met Arnt in late 2006. And late 2008, we had the final plans for this and got the money, luckily. And also these bad investors.
They were bad investors?
Is that why you bought them out?
AJ: Investors are always bad, I think. [both laugh] From my point of view, anyway. Some people love it, but I don't know.
Well, again, it goes back to what your priorities are, right?
AJ: Yeah, exactly. It's very important, too, that we're able to take our own decisions, because we think we are the most clever ones take our own decisions. And it's been so hard to have those idiots trying tell us how to do it. Because we're talking about it every day. We're so deep into it.