Love: Eskil Steenberg interview

PhotobucketWe found one – man programming army Eskil Steenberg wandering the corridors of his procedurally generated mansion, looking lost.

The program hasn’t generated a toilet yet.” he explained, with a strained voice.

CG: What sort of game are you trying to create in Love? How did the concept first come about?

Eskil: I’m trying to create a very dynamic game where the players can be part of their own story. My goal is to have the players have a very high degree of freedom but then have the world respond to the players actions. This was always the goal: to build a cause and effect arena for people to create their own stories. At the moment the basics of the game are up and running, but the idea is to make a game so open ended that I can keep adding new possibilities forever.

CG: What are the main advantages and disadvantages of creating a game by yourself?

Eskil: It’s lonely, but on the other hand there are no office politics.

CG: What sort of feedback have you had from those participating in the beta?

Eskil: Mainly very good, there has been many bugs but none that I haven’t been able to squash.

PhotobucketCG: The graphics, from screenshots and video released so far, are strongly reminiscent of Flashback and Another World. Was this intentional?

Eskil: Not really, While being a fan of both those games, i would say that concept artists such as Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie and Craig Mullins and ArtDeco have been inspirations, but it has taken a lot of experimentation

CG: What sort of uptake do you expect the finished, subscription – based game to have? Do you see this as the ideal business model for indie developers?

Eskil: I have no idea if anyone will play it. It probably won’t be a business model that would work for most indie developers. It takes a very specific type of game and development style to be able to do what I do, so it’s not something I think would fit everyone.

CG: Your news updates have made it clear that the main problem you now face, is the ‘butterfly effect’ within the code which means any one bug, however small, can have unforeseen and far reaching consequences. How much can you quash this problem before general release?

Eskil: I think I got a handle on it, but then again I don’t want to get a complete handle on it. The fact that your actions have consequences is at the very heart of the game and part of it is just changing players’ expectation. This is not a game where you are being lead down a carefully arranged path, this is a game where you create your own path.

PhotobucketCG: As Love is almost entirely created procedurally, do you worry that you will be credited with the concept but not the substance?

Eskil: The procedural content is the substance. It makes it possible to do things no other games can do. The “Concept” of how it’s being done doesn’t matter to the player, just the result.

CG: You seem determined to create a work of art here… but what is the balance between ‘art’ and ‘a game that’s great fun to play’?

Eskil: Love has always been made to be fun to play, if someone wants to call it “art” that’s up to them.

CG: What other high – concept games have you played, and what do you think of them? Flower for example, for all the pretentious talk of an ‘interactive poem’, is relaxing and enjoyable to play…

Eskil: I don’t think the “what” is as important as the “how”. Right now almost all games are trying to tell you some story, and that doesn’t interest me very much, because to me games are about interactivity. Games try to present a rich environment but where I’m very limited in my interaction. I actually prefer simpler games that are all about interaction like Quake or Wipeout. Having said that i would say that i find very little time to play games, and when I do, very short play sessions are often enough to pick up on interaction and game mechanics, which is what I am interested in.

CG: Do you have any plans or wishes to bring your game to consoles?

Eskil: Not at the moment, I have gotten some interest, I’m not against it, but so far no one has been able to present me a good case as to why I should do so.

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Written by Patrick G

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