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Thread: Interview With Austin Grossman about the making of Shock 1

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2011
    Location: Boston

    Interview With Austin Grossman about the making of Shock 1

    Hello,

    I am conducting an series of podcast interviews with ex-members of Looking Glass and thought folks here would like to know. The link is:

    http://gambit.mit.edu/updates/2011/0...s_intervie.php

    This is just the first of several to come, including ones with Tim Stellmach and Randy Smith.

    The first podcast mostly concerns the making of Underworld II, System Shock 1, and Trespasser... with a few mentions of Deus Ex.

    If you like it please help get the word out.
    Last edited by sajon77; 8th Mar 2011 at 12:48.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Vertigo, DragonSand, Xeen
    OK, this is AWESOME!

  3. #3
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Nice interview - longer than I was expecting. The only slight negative for me was that some of the interview questions, particularly in the first half, were phrased in a way that pre-judged what Austin may say rather than allowing him to talk. However, it's a minor point and it's good to hear him talking about UW2 (even if he couldn't remember the name of the world he wrote - Praecor Loth's tomb) and the thought process behind the SS1 concept.

    I'm really looking forward to the others in this series.

  4. #4
    The Architect
    Registered: Dec 1998
    Location: Lyon
    Moved to Gen Gaming where I hope this will get alot more attention.

    Also, I don't know if the podcast goes into this (haven't listened yet) but there's also an interview with Austin on io9 right now.

    http://io9.com/#!5777939/soon-i-will...hcoming-novels

  5. #5
    jtr7
    Guest
    This is great! Thanks Matt and all who contributed!




    Who knew of the Spoon River Anthology influence?

  6. #6
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Can anyone name a single reason why would you do an interview as a podcast as opposed to text?

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Vertigo, DragonSand, Xeen
    Yes.

  8. #8
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2011
    Location: Boston

    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    Nice interview - longer than I was expecting. The only slight negative for me was that some of the interview questions, particularly in the first half, were phrased in a way that pre-judged what Austin may say rather than allowing him to talk.
    This was my first podcast as interviewer, and I think my inner fanboy was probably less under control than in some of the upcoming podcasts. Hopefully it gets better as it goes.

    Please give me feedback, because I don't want these to be boring. I am thinking of ways to do them better as I go. I've got another one lined up this Thursday in fact.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Vertigo, DragonSand, Xeen
    Quote Originally Posted by sajon77 View Post
    I think my inner fanboy was probably less under control than in some of the upcoming podcasts.
    That is exactly the way I perceived it, and that is also why I loved it so much! It felt like I myself was in that coveted seat, and it made it that much more personable. Oh man, I cant wait for Tim Stellmach!!!!

  10. #10
    jtr7
    Guest
    If you happen to dig up anything new after all these years, it will be great! I'm interested in the roots that led to the games, and the changes made from the beginning of the conceptualizing to the final product, that haven't been touched on so much. I know that's vague, but your personal fandom might actually be the key to getting past the typical interview questions, if you can go unconventional. Stories of Jonathon Conant's motion capture performance, casting Stephen Russell, the live-action performance for the cutscenes, the writing that got cut, cheesy and embarrassing anecdotes, the special twist they had in mind for Thief co-op multiplayer (has it still never been done?), previous projects' influences carried over... I know you did the interviews months ago, but hope you can eventually fill in some blanks.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: Moscow
    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    Can anyone name a single reason why would you do an interview as a podcast as opposed to text?
    I second that. Had it been in text, I would've read it days ago. Currently I'm trying to find time to listen.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2002
    Location: Yes / No / Other
    Excellent Interview! Great stuff.
    Of course some of the answers and remarks do pose new questions. For instance, I totally get the reasons for dropping all friendly NPCs, I agree that a very limited set of responses can break the delicate construct of smoke and mirrors that make the game the believable world that it became. But: it also automatically turns everything that moves into something hostile. I really liked the friendly NPCs in UW and I had hardly any trouble suspending disbelief when friendlies didn't respond properly surprised and/or annoyed when being pelted with fish...

    I really missed the friendly NPCs. The first time when I got the mail from the survivors asking for help in dealing with the cortex reaver, it made me so happy. I dropped everything and was determined to save them..

    I'd like to know if there were any ideas or even attempts at introducing non-hostile NPCs. Like for instance simply introducing some maintenance bots that are just doing their maintenance thing, only to turn on you when attacked.

    Also, throughout the interview there's a pretty grim view on the possibilities for interactive storytelling. LG's 'Backstory Excavating' (great term btw) works very well. But I do feel that the possibilities for interactive storytelling are far from exhausted. Perhaps by deeper deconstructing a storyline and its details there are ways of finding multiple ways of recreating the essence of the story without resorting to static paths*. I would have liked to hear Austin's visions on that front.

    *) I know this is pretty daunting stuff for a classic writer. It's like asking a painter to make a sculpture: the added dimension kills part of the control the artist has over the experience of his audience.


    Quote Originally Posted by d'Spair View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    Can anyone name a single reason why would you do an interview as a podcast as opposed to text?
    I second that. Had it been in text, I would've read it days ago. Currently I'm trying to find time to listen.
    If any of you two had listened to it you wouldn't hold this position.

    But I offer you two each a single reason:
    1. A transcribed conversation doesn't convey the same information as the actual spoken text. Emphasis, pauses within, and overall tone of a remark get lost when transcribed; even when attempts are made to include them.
    2. There is a section about a garbled voice effect and the various interpretations that exist of its original content. It would be quite hard to get this across using text only.

    Also it's not the type of interview that you need listen to right now. If you don't have the time now, listen to it later. It'll be just as good within a couple of years.
    Last edited by addink; 9th Mar 2011 at 18:48.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2007
    Location: Finger paintings of the insane
    Quote Originally Posted by d'Spair View Post
    I second that. Had it been in text, I would've read it days ago. Currently I'm trying to find time to listen.
    I found time to listen to 30 minutes of it, and fell asleep. Just because you can podcast, doesn't mean you should.

    I whole heartedly support a text dump.

  14. #14
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by addink View Post
    Also, throughout the interview there's a pretty grim view on the possibilities for interactive storytelling.
    I thought that too, but I took that to largely be Austin's opinions and possibly reluctance to give up control on how a story is developed for the player. It'll be interesting to see if that comes out in the other interviews as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by gunsmoke View Post
    I found time to listen to 30 minutes of it, and fell asleep. Just because you can podcast, doesn't mean you should.
    That's a bit harsh. It would be nice if there was a text version as well, but being able to hear the nuances in the discussions made it worth listening to.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2007
    Location: Finger paintings of the insane
    It isn't harsh, it is just true. I literally fell asleep. I am sorry, I work 2 jobs. I am very busy. Others in this thread have agreed with me as well. Sure, record it and upload it for those that are interested, but make it available in text for those of us who don't jive with the format. Personally, I have never been interested in nuances in the discussions, and gravitate instead to the meat and potatoes of the content.

    I also read at an extremely accelerated rate, and could have skimmed the content on my phone on my lunch break and been in love with it. As it is, I'll pass.

    Just different strokes for different folks, man.

  16. #16
    Cuddly little misanthropic hate machine
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: 4 doors down, bad side of town
    And I'm hearing impaired. I am literally physically prevented from being able to fully enjoy a podcast. What about me? Am I forever to be shut out of this because of my disability?

  17. #17
    jtr7
    Guest
    Hey, nobody gives a damn about my disabilities. I gotta compensate all by myself, for myself. I used to transcribe things for taffers, but my disability killed that from ever happening again, except for tiny and infrequent projects. Since hearing isn't an issue for me, yet, I will still enjoy listening to my heroes talk a bit about the work they did that has given me so much enjoyment. I'm all for someone transcribing the talks, though, since it also makes it a great deal easier to find a quote, as well as helping the non-English speakers translate and yeah, the hearing impaired.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jun 1999
    Location: Procrastination, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    Can anyone name a single reason why would you do an interview as a podcast as opposed to text?
    Cos you can do other productive things while you listen to it, which I do a lot lately. Unless you're studying the given subject, reading's just a time consuming distraction.
    As addink says, if an interview was done live it'll always have more information in its original form than if put down in text. It's just the way talking works.

    Before anyone says anything, I know there's various reasons text is better, maybe english and accents are better for you that way, maybe hearing etc. We're asked for a single reason. There's two. That's all it is.

  19. #19
    Taking a break
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by addink View Post
    A transcribed conversation doesn't convey the same information as the actual spoken text. Emphasis, pauses within, and overall tone of a remark get lost when transcribed; even when attempts are made to include them.
    Which is usually a good thing, since such interviews are made mostly by nerds who are not exactly famous for their mad oratory skillz.

    Can't argue with your second point though. You win!

  20. #20
    Cuddly little misanthropic hate machine
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Location: 4 doors down, bad side of town
    Quote Originally Posted by jtr7 View Post
    Hey, nobody gives a damn about my disabilities. I gotta compensate all by myself, for myself.
    Well bully for you. It must be nice to never need help because you're a HARD MAN and no puny DIFFERENT ABILITY ever gets in the way of simple things like COMMUNICATION or SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, because you're BADASS.

    Seriously, fuck off wanker. I'm not trying to play entitlement-whore here, but ffs don't act like I don't have a good reason for not giving a shit about podcasts (or really anything else that doesn't have subtitles or a text dump that I can read.) I am physically incapable of being part of a HUGE chunk of human culture simply because I lack one of the five major senses. No amount of dickwaving bravado is going to help me surmount that. Can you even comprehend just how much is closed to me? Or are you just going to flip a table and tell me to man up because YOU don't need any help (when you're not even fucking deaf anyway so what's your fucking point?)

  21. #21
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    I know you have hearing problems, dethtoll and as I said before the best situation would be if there was a transcribed version as well as the podcast. At least it's possible to create one with the material that has been posted. If the interview had only been uploaded as text then it wouldn't really be possible to create the audio version for people who prefer to listen to the source material.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: not anymore :(
    I'm with Koki on that one.

    Text = future references, quotes, long-lived data, google referencing and personal indexing.
    Podcast = waste of bandwidth and hosting space, search for specific terms impossible, hard to understand for foreigners, fundamentally linear.

    I'm not sure that "can be listened to casually" is something positive. Tone and specific auditory cues are a fair point but they're usually not essential information. And you can put audio excerpts for those parts.

    Less podcasts, more journalism please.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Since they've got the thing as an audio file, it makes sense to post it as a podcast. It shouldn't be an either/or situation - almost any interview will exist in audio format before it's transcribed. It's just a bummer that the last step - transcribing and putting the interview up in text form - is skipped.

  24. #24
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Australia
    That was quite entertaining and informative and I am looking forward to hearing more of these. As a result of the length of the podcast, I had to listen to it over three attempts: on the bus, on the way to work; during a virtual meeting at work; on the way back home. For situations like these, Podcasts are very useful but unlike text if you skip over a section you don't really know what you've missed; as with text you can skim/speed read over parts that you're not interested in.

  25. #25
    Moderator
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Everywhere
    I'd be up for transcribing it if that's okay with the OP?

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