Innovation, 3D, and why decent games writing is still comparatively rare.
Q: Your work is known for its great writing. I know from reading your blog that you're a big fan of The Wire. Do you think we'll ever get to that HBO level of consistently good writing, and what's your feeling about the current standard across the industry?
RG: I think it's not really in a good state. I think most games are not very well written, and I don't really know why that is. It's probably just that the whole industry is still in a fairly young, immature state. I don't know if writing is really appreciated, not only by players but also by reviewers. Occasionally a game will come out that has good writing and people will say "Hey, that was really well written!" - but they don't really notice bad writing. I think that's just where we are, we're a very young industry. As time goes on people will start to appreciate different artistic elements of games, and writing is one of them.
Q: In your keynote at PAX last year you were talking about how it's important that games don't seek to emulate film too much. I know you're not a fan of games which rely too heavily on cutscenes to tell their story. Do you feel that projects like Heavy Rain move too far away from what a game should be?
RG: I think it's very important that games are their own thing artistically, and if people are just saying "I wish I could make movies but I can't, so I'm going to make this game as much like a movie as I can", I don't think that's the right way to go. I think movies will be around for hundreds and hundreds of years because they are what they are, and people are always going to want some form of passive entertainment. But games will be as well. I think they're very different, and I think you have to look at telling stories in games very differently from telling stories in movies. That's one of reasons I don't like cutscenes. Cutscenes tend to take control away from the player, and when people are playing games they like control. That's why I like the dialogue in Monkey Island, and it's why I did the exact same thing in DeathSpank. You can tell a lot of story by letting the player have control of it. They can participate in these conversations that are going on with characters, and they can have a lot of fun and get a lot of humour out of them. Games really are a different art form, and we're just now discovering what that art form is, and how to do it well. And I think that's one of the things that's exciting about the industry right now, figuring all that stuff out.
Q: You mentioned on your blog that you recently had lunch with Gary Winnick, your co-creator on Maniac Mansion. Is that something you'd like to revisit?
RG: You know, I don't know. It's a good question, and people ask me that a lot. I don't have the same desire to revisit that as I would, say, Monkey Island. I'm not really sure why. It'd be fun to do, but it's not a burning thing inside me.
Q: How about the idea of working with Gary again? Is that something you'd like to do?
RG: Yeah, I love collaborating with people a lot. Gary's a great guy, he's a wonderful artist and he's very, very funny. We kinda bounce stuff around every time we meet, but there's nothing firmed up at the moment.
DeathSpank is due for release on July 13 on PSN and July 14 on Xbox LIVE Arcade.