|What's Next For Amanita Design?|
January 26, 2011 | Jon Carr
I recently had a chance to conduct an email interview with Czech Indie studio Amanita Design, creators of Machinarium, Samorost and other splendid adventure puzzlers. Jakub Dvorsky answered my questions on development, game music, the Humble Indie Bundle experience and inspirations behind Amanita's work.
Jon Carr: Before Machinarium, you were designing Flash games. Was this a difficult transition? What was the most interesting part about creating a full-on game as opposed to one in Flash?
Jakub Dvorsky: Machinarium is also Flash game so there wasn't any difficult transition, at least not technological transition. The truth is it's our first full-length game which means the whole project was much more difficult, the team was bigger (7 people) and it took us almost 3 years to finish it. We needed strong will and patience but it was worth it.
JC: How important has Machinarium's award winning art style been to the success of the game?
JD: Of course the art is important for every game because it's the first thing you can see and if the art isn't interesting it's much more complicated to attract player's attention. However that's only the first stage, then you must proof the art corresponds with animations, music, sounds, story and also with the gameplay.
JC: A number of your games have featured the outstanding music of Tomas Dvorak. Can you tell us anything about the inspirations or design process of the music?
JD: Tomas is very interested in fusion of classical acoustic and electronic music and that's also where most of his inspiration comes from. He is influenced by experimental electronic scene (Fennesz, Arve Henriksen, Lusine, Apparat).
JC: You featured Samorost 2 in the Humble Indie Bundle #1, and now Machinarium in the HIB#2. How has your experience been in terms of being part of "pay what you want" bundles?
JD: The HIB project is fantastic idea and the guys behind it worked really hard to make everything as cool as possible so in the end it worked great and we are honored to be part of it. The whole communication and agreement was smooth, fair and easy and everybody was happy, customers, developers, HIB guys and two charities. What more can one desire?:)
JC: Your games are DRM free, how has this worked out so far? Earlier this year you ran an "Amnesty Sale" for Machinarium. How successful was the effort?
JD: I don't believe that DRM would help us. Of course, the piracy rate is high but we are happy that many people play our games, if they like it they'll recommend it or copy it to their friends and eventually it will get to enough good people who understand that is important to support the developers if they want them to continue making games.
As for the Pirate Amnesty, it was basically well promoted 75% off sale so it worked very well but I believe it also made a few people to start thinking about the whole piracy issue from a different perspective.
JC: You have partnered with various digital distributors to sell your games, and your titles are also multi-platform. How important has this been to your success as independent developers?
JD: We don't have any statistics on this but I guess there's a lot of Mac and Linux gamers who highly appreciate games for their platforms and as you can see there are exponentially more and more games for Mac/Linux these days which is proof this market isn't negligible. As for various digital distributors, the only really important one is Steam where we sold almost the same amount of copies as on our own website, but we want to keep our games also on other services as it's always good to support competition.
JC: The team at Amanita Design has made some amazing point and click adventure games. What are some of your inspirations behind creating and crafting these unique titles? Have you considered other game genres?
JD: I was influenced by many books, films and games. I love books from Stanislav Lem, Douglas Adams, Jules Verne, J.R.R.Tolkien, films from Yuri Norstein, Karel Zeman, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Stanley Kubrick and also many older adventure games influenced me a lot - for example Myst, Gobliins, Discworld, Neverhood, Grim Fandango, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream or Monkey Island.
We don't want to try completely different game genre at the moment, but we definitely want to move it forward, mix the genre with other styles, innovate it and evolve it.
JC: What's next for Amanita Design in 2011? Might we see Machinarium 2 or a brand new adventure?
JD: We are working on two games at the moment, we want to announce both in a few weeks or months. Besides that the English version of puppet feature film Kooky (http://kookymovie.com) will be released and my colleague Václav Blín created Flash interactive music video which will be available at our website soon.
JC: Thank you for your time!
Amanita design is hard at work on two new titles which we can hope to see announced soon and you can expect IMG to report on it. For all their previous titles, visit Amanita's website where you can learn about their games and buy t-shirts and soundtracks. While you are there be sure to check out the Flash games they have available.