Friday, January 10, 2014

Interview 22: Dualnames

Dualnames has made it his mission in life to interview as many AGSers as possible, which is a nice service but would leave one AGSer out. I mean, the man can't interview himself, can he? So let's return the favour and play a game of 20 Questions with the man I always imagine to reach for his towel when things get rough. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Spanos!

So, the obvious questions first: How did you find AGS?
Well, I bought this magazine, and it had a two page feature article on AGS. It focused on how easy and professional it looks to make games with the engine. However, that didn't get me here. What did was the very fact that I had downloaded over 40 engines, and the only one that looked worth bothering was AGS. I still have that folder in my computer. Aptly and randomly named "game on my ass". I don't know either.

How did you come to like adventure games? And while we are at it: First game ever played?
Secretly, I don't like adventure games much. But my favorite game is an adventure game. Thus I was very fond of the idea to make one. First game...? Mhh.. a tennis on the ATARI 2600.

Do you have a favourite AGS game? And also a favourite non-AGS game?
Well, favorite AGS game is probably the Barn Runner series. I've never laughed so much in front of any screen, and felt so guilty afterwards. Favorite non-AGS game would definitely be Monkey Island II. I eventually give it a yearly go.

Which games have you made so far, and which one are you the most proud of, and why?
I've made/worked on 26 completed games. Proudest moments include some work on Downfall and the Cat Lady, remaking the text-based Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, making a short game based on the last four chapters of the first book, the AGS Ceremony game alongside Wyz, providing music for two Barn Runner games, one bake sale entry, 4 MAGS entries and the list is practically endless. The game I considered my top notch work is Primordia. The code lines endlessly running every 1/40 of a second are way lot to make sure everything works fine. Plus I spent 2.5 years working on it.

Is there anything you are working on right now- on your own or as part of a team?
Some projects including other engines, but nothing worth showing or talking about.

What is YOUR opinion about the elusive Golden Era of AGS? Did it happen, does it happen? Will it happen?
I believe it probably happened. I've spent many days browsing the forums, looking for older posts, I'm quite sure it's all nostalgia glasses.

Three favourites: Book, Movie, Song.
Book: So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams
Movie: Brazil by Terry Gilliam
Song:  Saber Rider Theme

You're very involved in the AGS Awards. What makes them so special?
Bicilotti. 'Nough said.

If I were to explain it, I'd say it's like a reunion, a festive joy full of people excited about game-making celebrating efforts of the previous year and getting pumped up for the one currently on-going. It's magical really.

You often assist with music and programming- not exactly very related skills. Which do you like better?
Programming. Music is a passion in general, and I thirst for it, either listening or creating, but programming is where my home is.

Worst game you ever played? (And actually stopped playing because it was THAT bad!)
Tales of Monkey Island. Perhaps the expectations were high, but it really let me down. I was expecting a continuation of the series, not just boring tales of Guybrush's life.

Since I have one of the Primordia team literally in front of me: Give us a little anectode, a glimpse behind the scenes, if possible.
The most amazing thing regarding the game's creation process was how an australian (Victor Pflug), a greek (me, duh!) and a west-coast american (Mark Yohalem) with about 10 hours difference from each other, would end up talking in live chat at the same time. A wonderful thing would be how I would nagg to Mark about how impossible was what he asked me to code, and then I would code it anyway. And that kept me trying to see if there would be an end to my luck.

Your contribution to the Bake Sale, RETINA, was one of the more unconventional games in the bundle. How did you come up with the idea?
Retina was an idea of a two-game bundle along with Igor Hardy's Inertia, that wasn't finished by that time. Igor had his plot, I only had the idea to use an anagraph of his game title.
The game is mostly based on Yume Nikki and 1984. I came up with the idea by combining the dystopian hell, I had constructed for Troica and the interrogation room from 1984, with the inevitability portrayed in Yume Nikki.

Odd question, but: Favourite dish/food?
Mash potato. Not the AGS member.

If I were to give you unlimited resources- What game would you make?
Brazil, the movie, into a sci-fi noir game.

Since you did both, what would you say is nicer; making a game all on your own, or as part of a team?
Definitely working with a team. It's easier and amazingly entertaining.

How do you feel about more and more commercial AGS games being made- and actually selling quite well?
Frankly, I think it's about time. AGS has always been a beacon to adventure games, and the very fact that Yahtzee has created one of the most celebrated indie games, showed the potential in the market in commercial terms. The game quality in AGS has increased drastically, and people, realizing the profit, prefer to actually spend their efforts on commercial projects and actually gain some income from their hobby.

You made an AGS remake of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, an beloved Infocom text adventure (that is reportedly one of the most illogical, unfair, unplayable-without-knowing-the-source-games). Tell us a bit why, and how, you made that game.
The time I spent on the remake will always be something I hold dear. Plus it fullfilled a long-time dream, of me being featured in a greek videogames magazine. It's a wonderful game, it's only drawback was the fact that you could reach a dead-end or die. Which is why I removed the dead-ends and made this a bit easier. Why is easy, because noone else would. How is with lots of work and endless time spent on the original source, conceptualizing, coding and drawing.

It's 2020 now and you boot up your computer. How does AGS do at the time?
Hopefully alive and kicking. Ben304 has made the exact amount of games as the number on his nickname.

"Adventure games: The genre is dead." We hear that a lot. Your comment, Mr. Spanos?
Not yet.

To make it Twenty Questions: Who's the hoopier frood, Zaphod or Ford?
I'm going to go with Ford. Most sarcastic alien ever created.

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