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For many, it was quite a surprise when Graeme Devine was hired as id's in-house game designer a few months ago. The designer of the popular but hardly hardcore-gamer-friendly 7th Guest was going to be muscling in on the design for Quake 3? Good golly, Miss Molly.
To be fair, Graeme Devine's experience in game design stretches back over 20 years, and 7th Guest is but one example of his work. Gamasutra jumped at the opportunity to conduct an interview with the elusive Devine, who discussed the past, present, and future of id software, as well as that of his own career.
Coming to id from Trilobyte, people think of your background as being primarily 7th Guest. But you worked in the gaming industry for a long time before that. I've seen it quoted that you helped develop the classic fighting game Double Dragon – is that true, or was it more of a conversion that anything else? Also, what did you work on pre-Trilobyte? Did I hear a rumor about something related to Pole Position way back in the 80’s?
I worked at Atari, Lucasfilm, Activision, and Virgin. I've been in the industry since the late 70’s and worked on a lot of titles in just about every genre you can imagine. I worked on the PC port of Double Dragon, and the various ports of Pole Position. I've owned three of my own companies, and now work for id software.
Devine's days at Trilobyte were punctuated by the company's big hit, 7th Guest.
7th Guest was clearly a landmark title in gaming – how and why was it devised and why do you think it was so successful?
Hmm. Right technology, the game design, and the timing. CD-ROM was just coming into its own, and people wanted something other than a text based encyclopedia to show off their system. It didn't hurt that 7th Guest wasn't a bad family game either.
Extreme Warfare was the title you were developing before Red Orb got grabbed by TLC, and the ensuing political machinations prompted the project to lose its funding. Could you explain the situation around the canning of Extreme Warfare and the (presumable) dissolution of Trilobyte? How hard did this turn of events impact you, and how close to being finished was Extreme Warfare when the plug was finally pulled?
Very, very hard, and I think I, along with all the other Trilobyte lost souls, am still recovering in many ways. I think you see parts of X-War (Extreme Warfare) in games like Halo and Tribes II. You can also find the innovative ways in which we constructed worlds with numerous players in X-War in many newer game offerings. I don't think TLC quite grasped that the Internet was quite what it was, nor that they had the developer who made 7th Guest, which had given MYST, one of the reasons that they purchased Broderbund in the first place, a good run for its money. They could have had X-War and future 7th Guest games, but alas politics makes for strange decisions.