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This time, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Riva Celso, CEO of Tycoon Games & ex-Winter Wolves.

He's another 1 man army from Italy, but making lots of Visual Novel(!)s very quickly & doing several jobs at once, with hired Artists & even Writers. Very unique case, even for an Indie Game Maker.

This interview could be another fun to read, and you could get some good informations. :)

Korean version of this Interview.

Trailer of [Bionic Heart], his recent Visual Novel work.

1. First of all, please introduce yourself to Pig-Min readers. You have made several games for many years, but we don't know you so well yet.

Well when I was 20-21 years old I worked for a short while in some local gaming companies (in Italy) but producing only minor games for national market only. Then after a long pause of 7 years I learned about shareware and indie games and I decided to try. Since I started I made so many games that is hard to keep track myself, but in my two websites I did:

Winter Wolves : Magic Stones, TV Station Manager, Supernova, The Goalkeeper, Universal Boxing Manager, Universal Soccer Manager 2, Quizland, Spirited Heart

Tycoon Games :Summer Session, Heileen, Supernova 2: Spacewar, Bionic Heart, College Romance

2. In the past, you made some hardcore games with Winter Wolves brand. But from 2008, you made new brand Tycoon Games & started making Casual Games. How come to decide that? Hardcore games as [Magic Stones] didn't sell much as you expected, so that's the reason?

Oh no not at all. Magic Stones didn't sold great but is still selling steady even today. A great thing about indie games is that they're unaffected by portal price wars.

The reason why I tried VN are several, in sparse order:

- making those hardcore games require LOTS of coding/testing. Making VN, since they're more linear, is easier from the coding point of view. After years of coding complex stuff I wanted to relax trying something easier.

- for my sports games, people were complaining about having non-real player / team names. Unfortunately for licensing reasons, I couldn't put them in the game. So that was another major downside in making "hardcore" games like sports simulation

- I love to tell stories, so for me writing 40-50k words (after they're proofreaded by a native english speaker) for a VN isn't a problem. I know that for other people would be a nightmare because they wouldn't know what to say to keep the story interesting!

Beside the reasons above, I have two upcoming games which aren't definitely VNs: Elimination, a strategy/wargame made with Phelios, and Tower Of Destiny that will be a oldschool first person RPG game (one of my favourite genres). To be honest my favourite genre ever is RPG, but it requires lots of effort and probably a full team to make a good one.

3. You don't submit your games to Portal recently, just selling from your own store & do some affiliates. Causal Games are too dedicated to Portals recently, and can you survive against them?

Well first of all VN aren't really casual games. They're not a mass-market IMHO. If you see my games they're all recommended for people 14 and up. In a portal or casual games world you'll NEVER see any game that isn't family friendly ;)

I submitted to portals but none was interested, except DFG and Arcadetown who are probably more open-minded than others. Still I had to make special versions for them eliminating completely the sexy references/images in the games.

I think is perfectly possible to survive without portals, but again my experience with them is very limited. I don't know if I'm missing a lot or not. I know that selling directly and exclusively helped me build a big fanbase overtime, and everyone knows that having a big mailing list is a key element for any online business (not just games).

4. Visual Novel could be another kind of Casual Games, but that's already minor genre only for manias in Japan. It's rarely exported outside Japan, and even exported, only through very limited distribution. Do you really think it's Casual? And how about opinion from others?

Ahah see my reply above. I don't think they're casual at all. In mainstream casual games they started to put VN elements too, like more dialogues and story in other genres (see wandering willows for example).

Other developers friends of mine mostly said that they were quite boring to play :-)

5. After you started making Visual Novels, you released a lot so fast. In fact, I saw your blog posting about making 5 games(!) at once. How come to decide doing that, and how can you do that at once? And doesn't it effect lower quality of each games?

Well since I live in one of the most expensive countries in the world, and with the increasing EURO value and the crisis at all, I had to come up with a plan to stay afloat without portals.

My plan is to TRY releasing many quality games in short development time. Anyone that played my last two games, Spirited Heart and Bionic Heart, said they were very polished (apart for the kind of gameplay that you might like or not). I have hired several artists and also writers, this way there won't be anymore grammar/language errors in games :)

6. Visual Novel is from Japan, but you're from Italy, and games are in English. What are feedbacks from others, about that cultural mixture? And do you have any episodes regarding to that?

Yes, language was a pain more than cultural differences. If you tell a story about a girl in 17th century doesn't matter if you're italian or english for example.

But if you write in bad english it matters. I tried everything: writing in italian and having it translated (very poor results), writing in english and then having it proofreaded (better) or writing just a sort of scene description and let native english people do the real writing (probably the best system).

7. [Bionic Heart] is kinda interesting case. Sci-Fi based / Beauty Girl Visual Novel / with Full Voice dubbing / located in Future of London (not Rome). That's exciting combination. Please share us feedbacks from others about that. Maybe some talked about 'British Accent English'?

Yes some said about the accent. It was my fault since when I picked the actors, I didn't care about the accent (also because I am not even sure I could understand it) but only about the quality of acting.

The reviews I got were all extremely positive about the game, everyone agreed was very polished, and the game also went live on several very popular Japanese websites: like an award of quality.

8. Have you ever tried or heard about Korean Games? If so, please share us your idea.

Hmm I am not sure, but isn't KOEI a korean company? If so I loved their games, in particular romance of three kingdoms and a very old but great game called Balor Evil Eye (I think ,was several years ago so might be wrong).

9. Please recommend us 5 games, and the reason why.

Ok here it is (in no particular order).

The Witcher - because the background story and the atmosphere is fantastic. You feel like living in a real world with people living their lives.

Mass Effect - because I think is a mix with FPS and Visual Novel elements! Lots of shooting but also lots of dialogues and character relationships

C&C Generals Zero Hours - the only RTS I still play nowadays after almost 10 years! A lesson of gameplay balance for everyone

Any of Sid Meier's games - that man is a genius. Any of his games are great, but I liked a lot Colonization and the new remake of Pirates

Spectromancer - similar to my game Magic Stones, but (I have to admit) better. I loved it a lot, more than the official Magic The Gathering games.

10. Please leave message to Pig-Min readers.

Well, check any of my games and see if you like them. I think there's one for every tastes, beside my recent VNs there are RPG, sports simulation and strategy games!

Korean version of this Interview.
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Pig-Min did interview w/ Dave Gilbert in the past, right before [Blackwell Legacy] released. He was so busy at then, can't answer many things. And around 3 years has passed, he has more free time than that, so here comes better new interview. Enjoy reading. :)

Korean version of this Interview

1. We did last interview right before [Blackwell Legacy] release in late of 2006, and around 3 years has passed. What happened to you after that?

Hm!  A loaded question.  In a nutshell, I was nominated for a Game Developers Choice Award for "Best New Studio" (but didn't win), I got a publishing deal with PlayFirst which led to Emerald City Confidential,  I released two other Blackwell games, I'm publishing another studio's game (Puzzle Bots), I'm getting into distribution myself, and I got engaged to a lovely UK game developer named Janet.  It's been a busy few years! :)

2. Dave Gilbert & Wadjet Eye Games is another kind of Indie super star, not just making good games, but also for business style. Your first game was part of RON, AGS community project, but I can't find any of your business experience before [Shivah]. Did you have some experience about Business or did major in University?

I was a communications major at Boston Universtiy, where I majored in Television Broadcasting.  I worked at CNN for awhile before I realized I hated working with media types, and soon drifted into - of all things - the garment manufacturing business.  I worked there for three years, acting as a shipping coordinator between the factories and the clients.  I didn't do anything important, really, but I learned a lot about production and the right way to get things done.  When I started making games on my own, I found myself channeling my old boss!

3. Till now, you made 5 commercial adventure games including 3 Blackwell series. You're doing full time self-employed job, but can you really earn such a lot? You don't make them only by yourself, lots of people involved, so even your game earns a lot - you must share them some.

Yep, I’ve managed to live completely off the sales of my games.  It's not always easy, and there are months when I don't pay my bills on time, but it's a very satisfying way to live.  I'm not rich, but I don't need a lot, so I managed to live quite comfortably.

4. About [Emerald City Confidential], it's made for Playfirst & your first not-so=indie work. (Budget dependent & Making-on=demand.) How come to start that, and how was working with Playfirst?

I met Kenny Dinkin (the PlayFirst creative director) at a party at the Game Developer Conference in 2007.  He was really impressed with my work and offered me a publishing deal, just like that.  I was always told to be wary of deals like that, so I made sure to check out the company and what games they made.  I wasn't familiar with Diner Dash or the whole "casual" scene, but I instantly knew that I didn't make games like theirs, so I just forgot about the conversation.  Then, six months later, Kenny called and offered me the deal again.  He wanted a pure adventure game, like the ones I already make.  So this time I said yes.  It's scary to think how close I came to blowing it!

5. For [Blackwell Convergence], game became more easier than last ones. I think [Emerald City Confidental] process put some effect on you, as 'Casual Adventure Game', Adventure Game made for Casual Portals. That could be another future of Adventure, as I think. What do you think about that, and how is situation in that market?

I've realized that nobody likes being stuck in adventure games.  As interesting as the game is, as cool as the characters are, the minute you get stuck the game stops being fun.  And with the one-hour trial demos that games are being sold with these days, you need to make sure the players are having lots of fun while they play.  These days, people will get annoyed at puzzles very quickly and instantly reach for a walkthrough after five minutes of being stuck.  My philosophy is to make the overall experience as pleasurable as possible.  The puzzles are simple, but clever, and don’t make you want to throw your computer out the window.

6. Up to now, 3 Blackwell series released, including 1 prequel. However nothing ended at all, just started, and all of those 3 games seem to be just 'big prologue'. Do you have fixed plan how long that series will be? And what's next?

The Blackwell series won't end for a while, that's for certain!  I have at least three more games planned.

7. All of your games have some similar style. Genious design & plot, but always short. For [Blackwell Convergence], puzzle became easy & playtime became more shorter. What do you think about short playtime of your games?

I'd love to make long epic games but I don't have the budget for it.  As an indie just struggling to get the cash to make the games in the first place, there's only so long I can make them.

I personally think Convergence is longer than Unbound or Legacy, but some players have zipped through it in two hours.  This surprises me, since *I* can barely get through the game in two hours!  But either way, Convergence has a much more dense and complicated plot than any of my other games.  In fact, dense is the word I'd use for Convergence, since there's always something new to do at any given point.  So much happens over the course of the game.  Rosa grows up a lot, a bunch of questions from previous games are answered, and I think it's a much more satisfying experience despite the length.  The length is the only complaint people have, and if that’s the only complaint then I will be quite happy.

8. You seemed to be very friendly with others. All of your games had somewhat different Staffs (or Assists), and they seem to be satisfied somewhat always. If not, people will hear rumors & nobody will help you any more. And now, you even started work as Distributor.  Please share us about that, how to work other people.

I am usually forced to work with different people because I work with freelancers, and I can never be sure of their availability when I start a project.  For example, John Green did the backgrounds on Emerald City Confidential but he recently got a very big freelance gig with another company, so he will not be able to work on our next game.  So, I will have to go with someone else.  That's the nature of using freelancers, unfortunately.  I have been very lucky with the folks I've worked with.  I don't have a bad word to say about any of them, and most of them have gone on to do great things and I'm very proud of them.

As for distribution, I am looking forward to it!  My biggest regret with ECC is that I had to be so secretive about it, so there was nothing new on the Wadjet Eye website for almost 18 months.  So people stopped coming.  My goal is to have enough content on the site so people will come on a regular basis, instead of just when a new game is released.

9. Please recommend us 5 good games & the reason why. 

Oh man.  I so don't have time to play games anymore.  Let me think...
1- "Anito - Defend a Land Enraged" is a wonderful but underrated RPG from the Phillipines.
2- "Aquaria" - great indie game from Bit Blot.  So beautiful and atmospheric
3- "Iji" - a neat and FREE platformer.  Surprisingly moving.
4- "Dance Till You Drop" - a freeware adventure game where you play Richard Simmons!  Too cool. :-D
5- "Fallout 3" - I was a big fan of the originals and this one remained true to the spirit.  I loved it.

10. Leave Pig-Min readers some message.

Thanks for all the support you guys have given me over the years!  I love getting your emails and I save all of them and read them when things get stressful.  I hope you continue to enjoy them.

Korean version of this Interview
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Interview : Fabien Bihour, CEO of Wizarbox

This time, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Fabien Bihour, who is CEO of Wizarbox.

Wizarbox did several outsourcing job for 6 different platforms for 5 years, and released their 1st. own IP [So Blonde] (adventure game) for PC & will release sequel (or spin-off) for Wii & NDS. And now, they are working for [Gray Matter].

Korean version of this Interview

User image

Cover of [So Blonde].

1. First of all, please introduce us your company Wizarbox & your job role.

Wizarbox is a videogame development’s company created in 2003 as JEI (French Government Label for Innovative Company) employing 60 employees ( programmers, game level designers, artists,…).

The company provides services on 6 different platforms (XBOX360, PC, Wii, DS, PSP and PS3) and works worldwide with international prestigious partners such as Ubisoft, DTP-AG, Atari, Koch Media, etc.

The company has mainly two activities:
?    A video game development studio
?    A services provider specialized in technologies, production pipeline and conversion

Moreover, the company can outsource or insource customers’ projects in order to offer the perfect answer to the customers’ needs and become a gain of time.

My name is Fabien Bihour, I am Wizarbox’s C.E.O.
My job consist in taking into consideration the company's needs and have a global vision of the future of the company. I am also taking care of the commercial and business aspect of the company

2. Wizarbox is from France, but we don't know much about French gaming scene. Gameloft / Infogrammes / UBIsoft are from France, but not more than that. Please let us know about French game scene.

The French scene is well known outside with UbiSoft, Atari/Infograme and Gameloft, but there are also lots of talented smaller developer. Mainly the studio are located in 2 areas : Paris and Lyon.

We have studios working on AAA like Darkworks, Arkane studio, Eugen System and other smaller studio like Neko, Menkensleep, Eko, Loadinc … The studios know pretty well each other and we meet very often to share our experience.

3. Wizarbox visited G-star 2008 as B2B booth. G-star seem to be too dedicated to Online gaming, but Wizarbox is not making Online games at all. How come to visit G-star? And did you visit Korea (G-star or something else) before this year?

It is the third year that Wizarbox come to the Gstar. As you explained, G-Star is dedicated to the online market, and obviously Wizarbox is not doing online game.

But we really think that some of the PC Korean game could be converted and ported to the consoles (PS3, X360, Wii). I have seen lots of Korean casual game which could fit perfectly to the XBLA, Wiiware or PSN. Even if the console market is not very strong in Korea, it could be very interesting for them to optimize their revenue by porting their game into consoles.

4. Wizarbox was doing several outsourcing job, and [So Blonde] is your first original title. How come to make your 1st. title, as PC Adventure game, while you did several other various games for Consoles in the past?

Wizarbox was created as a service provider in programming. This positioning provided us quick revenue and a track record. Then I wanted to develop our own game in order to give an IP to the company.

Why we have chosen a PC Adventure game while we’re providing hardcore programming on consoles? The answer is easy, it’s just because I wanted to start with a “no risk” project. So I have met publisher with a 0 risk project in all area: No risk in programming, No risk in graphics thanks to our graphic team, no risk with the story thanks to Steve Ince("
Broken Sword") . And of course the development budget of an adventure game is pretty low, which helped to find a publisher.

5. Adventure Game is good genre, and Adventure never died. Adventure fans have strong Community & Webzine, as GameBoomers / Adventure Gamers / Just Adventures. Do you have some friendly contact with them, as sending review copies / doing some giveaway contest / answering direct questions from their forum?

Yes, of course, we are always taking care of our public because we think that is very important to answer questions and help them for examples with the puzzle-solvings of the game. Moreover, thanks that, customers can feel that they are closer to us.

In fact, our Lead Game Designer, J?rome, answer questions in some websites and forums where it exists So Blonde reviews.

6. [So Blonde] sequel will be released for NDS / Wii. Some other adventure games were re-made for NDS recently, but no console-only sequels were made. Do you have some specific reason to release sequel for console only, and no plan for PC version? And what will be difference between NDS & Wii version?

So Blonde DS Wii sets itself as a combination of game genres which could be defined as adventure-party game. It is aimed to be playable by all audience above 7 on both Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii.

The story is written by Award-winner Steve Ince (“Broken Sword”) in a way that it  perfectly completes the PC version. If some events take place in both stories, the Nintendo version has been designed to be a stand-alone game but also a complement of the existing PC game. Having played the PC version is not required to play So Blonde DS Wii.

The game is not a conversion of the PC version but is an entirely new story based on a simple starting hypothesis: What if Sunny had awakened on the “evil” side of the island instead of the “good” one, like on the PC version?

Although some places, characters and situation will be the same as in the original game, some places disappeared while some new locations will be accessible. Several existing locations have been entirely re-designed to fit on the console’s adventure games standards and thus fulfil console player’s expectations.

On Nintendo systems, the mini-game approach will be slightly different to take full advantage of each platform’s unique controllers. These mini-games benefit of a better integration into the story to feel more “natural” when they start. Last, the object management in general and the game controls have also been completely revamped in order to take advantage of both DS and Wii unique controllers.

We have chosen this approach to develop So Blonde’s universe. We learn more about the island, more about the characters, more about the history.

7. Wizarbox is working for [Gray Matter] at now. Well. It has somewhat long history in the past, and Wizarbox is not first maker who deal with that. If you could share some updates about [Gray Matter], please do.

I can only say that Gray matter will be a very good game with very nice graphic and story. We are working very closely with Jane Jensen and it is really a pleasure for us to work with a such talented writer.

8. Please recommend 5 Good games & the reason why.

Everquest : my first MMOPRG game. Wonderful experience with very nice people. Unfortunatly no actual MMO game give me the same feeling I had with EQ…maybe because it was the first time, maybe because I’m older.  :)

GODS : I’m a big fan of the bitmap brother game. Gods is for me one of the best platform game. But I’m also a huge fan of their other production (cadaver, xenon, speedball…)

Powermonger : The first time i had the feeling that a game was living by himself

Bioshock : almost the perfect artistic direction. The atmosphere and the gameplay are really nice.

Gran turismo / Forza : because I really like the simulation game and these 2 titles are very realistic.

And I could have spoken about : FEAR, Rez, Q3, Fable 2...

9. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.
Yes, I already heard about Korean game!

I have played to Lineage for the MMO, and I tried some other games like pangya.
They are really different from European game and it is very interesting to see something new.

10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

Thanks for the interview! I was surprised to see that there is a fan community of adventure game in Korea and  I really hope you will enjoy to play So Blonde!

Korean version of this Interview
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This time, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Lukasz Kukawski, who is doing PR & Marketting of GOG.com

GOG.com is new Download Game Store, which carries Old Good Games only. It could be another good example & case for Game Market scene, especially it's made by CD Projekt from Poland.

And this interview is done at 15th. Oct. 2008, around 2 weeks ago before I update. Something is changed, as GOG.com started Public Beta - Started new publisher as Stratedgy First. Please make sure about that, when you read this. :)

Korean version of this Interview

User image
GOG.com started Public Beta, and you could subscribe freely.

1. GOG.com is made by CD Projekt, and CD Projekt is famous for [Witcher]. But we don't know CD Projekt very much, except for [Witcher]. Please let us know about mother company of GOG.com. And CD Projekt is from Poland, but we don't know much about Polish gaming scene, game makers / players / ... etc. . Please let us know about that, too.

CD Projekt was founded in 1994 and is one of Eastern and Central Europe's largest game distributors. CD Projekt group includes the publishing and distribution companies in Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary; the dedicated Localisation Centre, which is the leading provider of cross-platform porting, quality assurance and localisation services in the region; CD Projekt RED, the development branch responsible for the hit role-playing franchise, The Witcher; Metropolis Software, currently developing the anticipated multiplatform sci-fi shooter; and GOG.com, the ultimate online destination for DRM-free classic PC games.

As for the polish gaming market it's still pretty young, but it's growing really fast. In the early 90's Poland had a big problem with the piracy, so the western publishers didn't care about the Polish market. But thanks to domestic gaming companies like CD Projekt the gaming business started to evolve and now Poland is one of the fastest growing market in the Eastern and the Central Europe. The foreign companies see that and are opening offices here, just to mention this years openings of Sony Computer Entertainment Polska and UbiSoft Polska.

With the development of the gaming market, development studios have appeared. CD Projekt RED's "The Witcher" is definitely one of the most popular games made by Poles, but there are more and more games made by Polish development studios. For example, Metropolis Software, the creators of Gorky 17 (Odium) and The Prince and the Coward, is now working on a big project which is a multi-platform science-fiction shooter. And People Can Fly, who made Painkiller, are working on some projects which should be published by Electronic Arts. We have lots of able programers, graphic designers and we have great potential.

2. 'Good Old Games' is every gamer's dream, but nobody did it before. They were around some Abandonware area, or cheese re-issue as Sierra did for old adventure re-issues. How come to decide starting such a store? And how about feedbacks from all over the world, including Press & Gamers?

The reaction of both gamers and gaming media was incredible. We've announced the service just before E3 and we were worried if announcing the service so close to the biggest gaming event in the world won't get omit by the gaming world. We couldn't be more wrong :). Couple of hours after we've sent the announcement, GOG.com was all over the PC gaming portals and forums. We've received thousands of sign ups for the closed beta and decided to change the 2,000 people closed beta to the Early Access Beta for everyone who have shown the interest in our project. The whole Early Access Beta is a great experience for us. Everyone is very helpful, we're getting lots of positive feedback and lots of additional ideas to make GOG.com even better.

And it all started from a nostalgic chat of couple of guys from CD Projekt's management about a year and a half ago. They were recalling those good old days and the games they used to play back then and found out that it's almost impossible to buy most of those classics in retail or on-line. Even if you have your collection of original old games, they won't run on modern operating systems. That's how they came up with the idea of games-on-demand platform with classic PC games, sold dirt cheap, without DRM and compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista.

3. GOG.com games are cheap. Some are 9.99$, but most of them are 5.99$ only. Cheap price is good, but can you make the profit from such a low price? Your games are not so light-weighted to download, over 2-300 MB usually. Traffic might cost money seriously, and even Casual Game download sites are very sensitive to traffic. Can you really make the profit from that price, even if it needs several hundred megabytes of each games to be downloaded?

The price points were set after a detailed research of digital distribution market. Those two price points seems to be the best for gamers, publishers and for us. Even if we are, hopefully, considered as user-friendly service, we're not doing it for free. At the end of the day it's all about money. We are aware of the costs of traffic, but we're considering it more as an 'Investment' than a 'Cost'.

Retro gaming has great potential and we believe that offering good, classic games for low price, without DRM, optimized to run on modern OS and with cool additional stuff is something gamers are missing and will take advantage of. The Early Access Beta showed us we're heading the right way and as soon as we'll launch the site to the public and get more deals signed we can count on big interest and hopefully big sales.

4. You dealed with Codemasters & Interplay. [Witcher] was distributed through Atari, so we could understand if you dealed with Atari, but... Codemasters & Interplay? How come to deal with them? And for Interplay, do they still have copyrights for older games? We heard that [Fallout] copyright was sold to Bethesda.

Interplay and Codemasters were the first couple of publishers we approached. Their reaction to our offer was pretty fast and that's how we've managed to sign the deals.

As for the copyrights for Fallout, Bethesda is the owner of the Fallout IP, but Interplay has the rights to sell the classic Fallout games so everything is legal :).

5. [Fallout] question. It's really good chance for you to sell [Fallout] 1 & 2, because many gamers are hyped by upcoming [Fallout 3]. But does it really effect GOG.com marketting, and are gamers really happy with that? Are they really best sellers, or some other games are selling much better?

The hype around the Fallout 3 is not a problem for us :). The upcoming premiere of Fallout 3 and all the hype around it is motivating younger audience, which haven't played the first Fallouts, to check what's all the fuss about this series. As for the gamers who already know and played the Fallout games, they were just excited about getting the games without DRM and for such low price, no matter the hype around Fallout 3.

The Fallout games are our top sellers, but as we're still in the Early Access Beta we can't really say if it's going to be remain the same after we'll open the service to the public. Right now most of our users are older gamers who know and recognize the Fallout series, but maybe after the service's opening some other games will become the best-sellers.

6. All GOG.com games are Windows XP - Vista compatible. It might need some additional tech work, maybe not so easy. For example, Gamersgate sells older game [Majesty Gold Edition], kinda compatible but not so perfect. So we might guess it's not so easy work, to make older games compatible with XP / Vista. How do you proceed that process? And How long does it take for each game, to make it compatible with XP / Vista?

I must say it takes a little magic from our programming team to make the old games work. Our programmers search for any incompatibilities which may occur and bypass them with their great talent and little programming tricks that us ordinary people wouldn't understand.

Of course the whole process of optimizing the games to work on modern OS depends on the game, but generally it takes several weeks to finalize it.

7. Will GOG.com restrict sales regarding to Region, or always worldwide available? For example, [GTA] series are only available in USA from Steam / Direct2Drive. Region Strict is another wave of Download Purchase, and wish to know if GOG.com is free from that or not.

Right now all games offered in our catalogue are available worldwide and we'll do everything we can to sign future deals to remain so. It's tough as some games have different rights owners on different territories. Getting the worldwide licenses takes a lot of time and is very complex, so there's a possibility we'll have games available only in some regions. But like I said we'll do everything we can to offer all games without any region restrictions.

8. Until now, GOG.com doesn't have so many games, but you might update more & more in the future. What games are the next, and how often you will update games? And besides Codemasters & Interplay, there might be more distributors. What company will be the next you will deal?

Of course we will add more games with time. Right now we're concentrating on signing new deals and getting as many Good Old Games as possible. We believe that when we launch the service and show other publishers great interest in GOG.com from the gamers and big sales it'll be easier to convince them to sell their back catalogue classics via GOG.com.

We are finalizing couple of deals right now so you can count on official announcement from us in the nearest future.

9. Your community service has 'Wish List' feature, and [System Shock] series are top. Is it just 'Wish List', or will it effect very high for your business way? Can you really sell top list of your wish lists, as [System Shock] series - [Monkey Island] series? If you'd really sell them, it will be real big news in gaming scene.

We've made the wishlist because our goal is to sell via GOG.com the classics which gamers want to play again. We can't promise you anything, but we will do everything we can to get them.

Like I said before, first we need to launch the site to the public and then hopefully we'll be able to show the publishers like Electronic Arts or LucasArts astronomical sales and huge interest from gaming media and gamers which should convince them GOG.com is the best place to sell those great classics.

10. Please recommend 5 Good games & the reason why.

These are my personal types so please don't treat it like official GOG.com statement :).

My 5 most favourite Good Old Games would be:

Sam & Max: Hit the road
- the game is hilarious and in my opinion Max is one of the best game characters ever created :)

Maniac Mansion
- I played it on Commodore 64 and it was one of my first point'n'click adventure game.

Secret of Monkey Island series
- these games doesn't need recommendation :)

The Settlers
 - one of those games that never get bored. If you start playing it, you just can't stop, you want to build another house, another mine, another windmill, etc., etc.

- the dark and brutal science-fiction climate makes this game so enjoying even nowadays.

I could go on, but it would be boring.

11. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

For me the Korean gaming market associates with MMO games. I know NCsoft and played some of their games like "Guild Wars", "City of Heroes" and "City of Villains". I also know that cyber sport is really popular in Korea and you have lots of talented professional players.

12. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity of introducing our project to the Korean audience. We hope you like our initiative and you'll find at GOG.com the games that will bring back memories form the past. As soon as GOG.com will launch to the public, which will happen very soon, we'll inform Pig-Min editors, so be sure to check for more news on our service. 

Korean version of this Interview
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Interview : Jesse Venbrux, maker of [Karoshi] series.

This time, Pig-Min did an e-mail interview with Jesse Venbrux, who made [Karoshi] series.

[Karoshi] series became too famous, due to different kind of dealing with Death. It's even featured in Edge - PC Gamer UK, and even [Fallout 3] Lead Producer wrote about [Karoshi] in his blog.

Korean version of this Interview

User image
Screenshot from [Karoshi 2.0]

1. Your game [Karoshi] series are underground hit even in Korea, but we don't know very well about your other games & yourself. When did you start making games, how come to decide making games, ... etc. Please let us know about them.

I didn't know Karoshi was popular in Korea, and I'm very pleased to hear that!

About myself : From when I was very young I've been making my own things. I made a lot of stuff, for example board games, comics, stories, drawings, mechanical stuff. A lot. At some point I discovered Game Maker and slowly learned how to make games with it. Games are interesting to me to make because they are a young medium, you can do so much with them, they are fun, and I can spread them to many people over the internet.

I like making as well as playing games, hanging out with friends, and traveling. In fact, and this may surprise you, I've been in Korea! I'm interested in Asian cultures and when I was on a long trip through Japan I also spent 2 weeks in South-Korea. I was traveling with a friend, but we mostly played StarCraft in the PC Bang's (and I'm still very bad at it by the way!).

Currently I'm studying to become a game designer at an art school in the Netherlands, my home country.

2. For [Karoshi] series, they are praised very highly in webzines / blogs / magazines, including Edge & PC Gamer UK. Please let us know how popular it is all over the world, and what you think about that.

Well what you say there is pretty much how popular it is. It's mostly known within the indie games community, maybe a little outside that. It's not known amongst most average pc gamers, obviously, but I would have never guessed that it would become this popular.

It's very encouraging, and I love reading what people have to say about the game. It has brought me "in the picture" a little. It's a good feeling to know that whenever I release something, there will always be some good feedback.
3. You are making so many games very fast, especially for [Karoshi] series. You have released [Karoshi] at 2008/03/02, and [Karoshi 2.0] at 2008/04/09. Very little time for such a big improvement. How did you do such a excellent job, within just 1 month? How come to make such a lot of games so quickly, in good quality? And how many games have you made in 1 year, each of 2007 & 2008?

Good question... I think I've released about 12 games 2007 & 2008.

1 game in 2007, and that was [Frozzd], which won 1st. prize & 1,000$ for the 1st. paid competition from Yoyogames. 11 games in 2008 up to now.

I guess I've become very good at working with Game Maker. I also try to keep things simple so I don't spend weeks on the game's engine. Apart from all that, I just work a lot on them and have had a lot of free time this year.
4. You are using Game Maker as game production tool, don't use others. Just Game Maker is the best tool you ever met, or any specific reasons?

Game Maker is indeed the best tool, for me at least. I've made games with Game Maker since 2003.

Maybe some day I would like to try a 3D game, which Game Maker is not that great for. With Game Maker I can make about any 2D game I want and pretty quick too. However in the future I may try making games with Flash, since Flash games have the advantage of being able to be played on a website.

Still further in the future I may be working as a game designer at a company, which means I don't have to do programming!
5. Some of your games are related to 'Death', in very different way. For example, [Karoshi] series / [Execution] / [Deaths] are very close to 'Death'. Some people like your bizarre way to deal death, but others consider your game 'Very well made but sick to play'. Do you have any specific reasons, to make such games based on 'Death'? You already made good games without 'Death', as [Frozzd] & [Torque].

"Death" is a subject that affects everyone and is pretty mysterious. It's also something we find in most games.

I think since I came up with Karoshi I have gotten a few more ideas on how to deal with it. Ideas I had never seen before, so I had to make them.

I'm not entirely sure whether I have a strange fascination with death (if so it'd be subconsciously) or that it's just a coincidence. Either way my games about "death" have gotten some of the most press.
6. Recently many brilliant Indie Games & Makers got commercial deal, as thatgamecompany of [flOw] & Wadjet Eye Games of [Blackwell Legacy]. Even [Karoshi] series can't be released at retail market, [Torque] or [Frozzd] could be sold, as I think. Did you get such contracts from some publishers / platform holders? And do you have any plan to do some commercial projects beside freewares?

I've had contact with someone who was interested in Karoshi, although nothing has come out of that yet. (Maybe in the future, I hope). Other than that, nothing.

I'm planning on making some money with Flash games, and in the future I may consider the iPhone platform, which is looking very good at the moment.

7. You are from Netherlands, and student at Utrecht School of the Arts and study Game Design & Development. As I remember, [De Blob] was made by the students of your school, too. Please let us know more about your school & projects done there. And please share us some brief idea about Indie Game scene at Netherlands.

At my school the subjects are divided into 3 categories, for the most part. Art, Code, and Design. So I learn a bit from every side of the development process. This is why I now know a little C++ and why I can texture a 3D model! However I'm mostly interested in the Design part, of course.

We get lessons from people who work in the dutch games industry (it exists, but is very small). Often we have to work in groups on a project; for example, we have to make a game for a specific audience, and learn to work as a team.

I don't think a dutch indie scene really exists. We are just a (very small) part of the international (english speaking) one. I know a few other dutch people who work with Game Maker, but there aren't many others that I know of.

8. Please recommend 5 Good games & the reason why.

The successor to the Flash game N, N+ is the Xbox Live Arcade version. It looks so simple, yet it's very challenging, and keeps being interesting to play even after a hundred levels.

Killer 7
One of my favorite games for it's weird story, style, and unique gameplay ideas.

One of my favorite games by cactus. Very nice visuals, atmosphere, and gameplay that makes you think. Unfortunately it was a little short and the bee part was too difficult!

Resident Evil 4
This is my favorite game ever. I have played through it several times, which I almost never do. The graphics are (still) stunning, the gameplay keeps being fun and varied and the atmosphere in the game is amazing.

Ceramic Shooter
This game is not very well known, but I wanted to mention something more obscure here as well. It's a recent indie retro shmup which does some very original things and is quite challenging. In the game your ship is crashing and firing automatically, and you have to try to NOT destroy things.
9. Did you try some Korean games, or even heard or experienced about them? If so, please share your thoughts about that.

I have once tried Maple Story, and when I was in Korea I saw many advertisements for Korean Games. I haven't really tried any other Korean games, though. I have heard MMORPG's are very popular but I'm not a fan of them myself.

I also don't know of any indie games from Korea. Please tell me if there are any good ones so I can check them out. : )
10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min readers.

I was very surprised to see an interview offer from Korea, which is pretty far away for me!

It's great to hear that many of you have enjoyed my work, and I hope you will do so in the future as well. I hope this interview was interesting. I recommend checking out http://www.venbrux.com/GamesGallery/ if you want to see more of my games.

Korean version of this Interview
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