Scott: Mark and I teamed up working on the Black Cauldron project. I begged Ken to let me work on it; I wanted to be more creative. I was interested in programming, but I didn't really have any background. I bugged Ken, and he finally said, "Okay, we're working on it out at my house. Come on out, and we'll see what you can learn." Mark: I had been working in the Marketing Department as an illustrator and layout artist, and had been transferred into the computer graphics division. During the Black Cauldron project, which was my second "medieval" fantasy, we decided to put our heads together and develop a space adventure. Scott: In other games, you always played this very noble hero. We wanted to do something different. What if this guy was just your average Joe, forced into the hero role? He gets lucky sometimes, and does the right thing, but he's nobody special. We knew that space games didn't really excite Ken, because I'd already proposed one, but it had just been an idea; no art, no storyline or anything. For this one, Mark whipped up four rooms of graphics, and I put together the code to run them. It was basically the first four rooms of Space Quest I. Ken came and looked at it and said, "That looks like fun." So, we went ahead and did it, and darned if people didn't seem to like it!So it was an idea whose time had come?
Scott: Well, it was an idea anyway. A lot of people seem to like it, which tells me that there are a lot of people out there who are quite deranged, and I'm happy to have almost known them. At least, they've known me a bit. Mark: We can't really say that it was the first space adventure, but certainly the first funny one! Scott: One of the really fun things about making Space Quest I was that we were so ignorant. Mark: Hey, speak for yourself! Scott: We didn't know what we where getting into. We really had no idea how much goes into creating a game, and how much it takes out of you. It seems simple from the outside, but it all has to work together, and I don't think everybody can make that happen.Do you get a lot of fan mail?
Scott: Yeah, we do get a lot. One of the most interesting pieces of mail we've gotten recently was from Russia. They don't sell the games there, so obviously it had to be smuggled in somehow, but there's a computer club there. It's very exciting to get mail from people all over the world, and seeing how we've affected them, made them forget their problems, or just given them a laugh -- it's one of the best parts of the business. Mark: We also, on occasion, get letters on cassette tapes from some very imaginative people. Those are the most fun. But it's becoming harder and harder to answer all of the mail. We're trying, folks!How does game design happen for you? Do you know exactly where it's going from day one, or is it more spontaneous?
Scott: A lot of our design starts with a basic idea: "Here's where we're going to start, here's where we're going to end, and I think we want to go here, and here, and here in between." Then we get bored with talking about it, and we just start doing it. I think we've done some of our best work that way -- Seat-of-the-Pants game design. There were a lot of brainstorming sessions where we'd be working, and one of us would turn around and say "Hey, what if we did this?" and the other one would say, "Yeah, and then we could do this!" There were times when we didn't have any idea what was going to happen next. It was really fun for us. It was almost like a game, making a game. If it isn't fun for us, we can't feel like it will be fun for people who buy it. Mark: Yeah, we're our own toughest critics. We have to make a game that we would enjoy playing. If we don't, it's like, why bother? Oh yeah, the money. I forgot about that.What kinds of projects do you want to be involved with in the future? What's your dream game?
Scott: My dream game is a game that has much more depth of story and character. Space Quest is kind of a fluffy game, which is fine, but I want to do something a bit more hard-edged. Actually, right now I'd like to do absolutely nothing. I'm going to be brain-dead for a while. Mark: Well... I'd really love to design something for the new "Brain Boy" game system. It's a brain-implanted micro-game card that... Scott: Shut up, Mark! Mark: Oops! I guess I let the cat out the bag on that one. Sorry, Ken!
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