So, Mr Limping Fish, you are a game maker from Ireland. Do you want to tell us a little more about yourself by way of introduction, please?
My pleasure. My name is Chris Taite. I'm 33, a Virgo, and I enjoy long lurks in the undergrowth.
Where does the limping fish name come from?
Ooh. Way back in the pre-AGS days of 1989, I sent a letter to Computer and Video Games magazine - this was when it WAS an actual magazine - and I signed it "The Limping Fish of South Dakota", which struck my thirteen year old mind as absolutely hilarious! I had stolen it from a children's book written by members of Monty Python; the title of which escapes me. Uncle somethings Book of...something. Anyway, in the book it was The Limping Catfish of South Dakota. I dropped the CAT, and LimpingFish was born! What a terrible story.
And why the bald animal/rat/pig thing in your avatar?
The hamster? I have a soft spot for hamsters (is that old Richard Gere joke still alive?). And I generally find bald animals extremely endearing. So I totally dig bald hamsters. Not too many pictures of bald hamsters exist on the internet, so when I find one I usually make an avatar out of it.
So, you've been blazing the trail on using AGS for first person games. Why do you like that style?
Two reasons. The first is that I like the 1st person perspective in general. Whatever game I'm playing, whatever genre, if it has a 1st person option, that's the one I'll play in. I like the extra sense of immersion it brings, and it helps me feel part of the game world, rather than an observer. The second (and best!) reason is that it means I don't have to create an on-screen player character, or worry about animations and such. Yay!
Do you think some games are better as 3rd person than they would as 1st person?
Oh sure. Some things just wouldn't work, and I'm not saying that all games should be 1st person. But, conversely, a well-implemented 1st person experience can do things that might be lost with (in my opinion) the sense of detachment that can happen with a 3rd person perspective. Personally, I think there's a strong case for horror-themed games to use a 1st person perspective. Many people didn't like it, but the 1st person elements of Silent Hill 4 were extremely effective for me. More so than when the game reverted to to it's usual 3rd person perspective.
How do you do the artwork for your games?
I use a 3D package called Cinema 4D to do everything related to the CG elements of my games. Modeling, textures, rendering, etc. I try to model as much of it as I can myself, but sometimes it's just handier to use some royalty-free models if suitable ones are available. Then I usually run the finished render through Photoshop to add any post-processing effects it might require. Everything else (gui, titles, etc) is also done in Photoshop.
What's the biggest problem using AGS for 1st-person games?
Well, static 1st person games are pretty easy to do with AGS straight out of the box (as it were). But the panoramic effect is only achievable with the use of a specialized module (big shout out to Steve Mcrea for his excellent modules! Use them, people!), and coordinating nodes - interconnecting panoramic views of a single location - is pretty much trail and error. But I can't really complain. AGS is a great program, and modules are a big help to the code-illiterate such as myself.
So Heartland and Unbound were reasonably well-recieved but not the highest profile: are you happy with how they turned out in themselves and the response?
I'm extremely grateful for the responses people have sent me about both games. Good and bad. Of course, the good ones are my favourite! It's really satisfying when somebody says "I really enjoyed your game. Please make more.". I'm actually surprised at some of the nice things people say about them. They're pretty short games, and there's not much to do in them, but I tried to make both of them interesting experiences, and I'm glad some people say I succeeded. So thanks to everybody who took the time to download and play them.
What can we expect to see with Mobius? More of the same, something extra?
Ah, the short game that never arrives! Mobius is where I try to tie up the story arc in a satisfying way. It's the story of Alex Roland, and how he relates to what has already happened in Heartland and Unbound. There's actually a timeline running through the three games, I just never actually stated where each game is situated on it. But I can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that Unbound takes place a number of years BEFORE Heartland, and Mobius will take place a SUBSTANTIAL number of years AFTER Heartland. Which, if you cast your mind back to Heartland and the letter Lawson finds with Alex Roland's name on it...hints at were I might be going with all this madness. And which will hopefully hide the fact that I'm making all this rubbish up as I go along, in the hope that it looks like an actual story in the end!
When will Mobius be ready?
This year. I hope. No, this year for certain. I have to finish it before it finishes me.
Have you any plans for after Mobius is released?
I do indeed. People might have seen a thread I started last year on the Games in Production forum. "The Hallow" will be my first attempt at a full-length game. Scary, 1st person, 1024/768 resolution, non-panoramic (sadly), and completely unrelated to my other games. It's a big project, but a chunk of background graphics are already finished, so I hope to have something more tangible to share in the future.
What is your favourite AGS game?
Oh wow. There are a number of titles that could vie for that position. I don't think I could narrow it down to just one. Put it this way, I'll play anything by Ben304, Yahtzee, The Ivy, ProgZmax, Vince Twelve, Grundislav...oh, man...I could go on. That's the hardest question in this interview! Ummm...PMX!
Do you play many AGS games?
An unhealthy amount.
You're part of the review panel: do you find that rewarding?
Yes. And I'm glad I could, and continue to, help out with it. It's a great bunch of people (and me), playing games, discussing what we like, and what we don't. Sometimes we might have a friendly debate over a rating or two, sometimes we might have to deal with a disgruntled author or two...
What do you think about people in general (no names!) who don't like the review they get from the panel?
Oh, that What's-his-name, and Mr. thingy-face! I hate them so-...seriously, though, people who contact us regarding ratings we awarded their games are usually cordial and completely willing to listen to what we have to say. And we've had remarkably few people complain. Most game authors are behind the concept, and understand what it is the panel is trying to do. We're not trying to stop certain games reaching an audience, and we're not just throwing our weight around. We try to offer a fair and unbiased opinion. For those few who are more vocal in their resentment towards the panel...well, it's up to them how they want to behave. If they really feel that strongly about it...so be it. Removing their games from the database is really only hurting themselves. We'd rather people DIDN'T remove their games, but, again, so be it.
You also keep a blog about AGS in the media. What got you interested in that?
I do! At agscene.blogspot.com! Plugerific! I decided to attempt to keep track of when AGS games appear in print media, because I think it's a damn fine achievement, whoever the author, whatever the game. I also think it's because I can remember a time before the internet, when print was king, and only commercial games appeared in magazines. Maybe it's nostalgia. I'm so damn old. I'm largely limited to the UK media, but people have been nice enough to share items from more far-flung shores. I'll admit it's not the most active of blogs, but I try to get stuff up on it whenever it appears.
If you could tie CJ up and force him to change one thing about AGS, what would it be?
How can you improve on perfection!? One the one hand, AGS gives us lots of freedom. On the other, it limits us in some technical ways. I suppose I'd like to see future versions (AGS 4?) take full advantage of the available resolutions, media integration, and graphical prowess that modern PCs offer. Having said that, though, AGS is a free, fully-supported program, so it's hard to feel justified in complaining.
If you could change one thing about AGS forums and related culture in general, what would it be?
I add more breasts. Anything can be improved by adding breasts. I don't think there's much I would change. The forums are a great social outlet, despite the odd hiccup, run by people who are only interested in making it as friendly and accessible a place as it currently is.
So, that's about it. All that's left for me to say is thanks to SSH and the AGS Blog for giving me this opportunity to waffle. Thanks!