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Thread: Interview with Dan Schmidt is up!

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

    Interview with Dan Schmidt is up!

    The next interview is up. Here's the link:

    http://gambit.mit.edu/updates/2011/0...intervie_1.php

    And here's the text from the blog post:

    Part 2 of a continuing audio podcast series, where I interview members of the now-defunct but highly influential Looking Glass Studios (1990-2000), which wrote the book on 3D first-person narrative game design in such games as Ultima Underworld, System Shock, and Thief.

    In this episode I talk with Dan Schmidt, who was with the company from its very early days (back when it was called Blue Sky Productions). A programmer by vocation, but filling a variety of roles from project management to design to music composition, Dan helped set the tone for the company's subsequent creative output in early projects like Ultima Underworld and Ultima Underworld II.

    The podcast covers these projects, as well as Dan's work on Terra Nova, the ambitious squad-based robot sim, and his work in the early stages of Thief before moving on to work at Harmonix Music Systems in its pre-Guitar Hero days.

    If you want to know what NHL '92 has to do with both Ultima Underworld and Rock Band (and who doesn't?) give it a listen.

  2. #2
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Excellent interview. I particularly enjoyed it as my first encounter with Blue Sky / Looking Glass were the Underworld games which this covers more than the first interview. I'm transcribing a copy for my own future reference and if it's still OK with you I'll post it in case there are others who don't have the time or capability to listen to the audio version.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2002
    Location: Yes / No / Other
    Indeed excellent stuff. Very interesting.

    I really like the notion that the loose structured story/stories, viewed by Dan as one of UW's weaker points, might actually be the strength of its exploratory feel: You never know what you'll come across next.

    The thought that every part of the game has got to have purpose is -IMHO- exactly the reason why modern games tend to be more linear, and with that more predictable and less exiting. Give me a huge collection of original, loosely related subquests that for the main story do little more than generate XP, and I'm a happy camper. The main story still needs to be there to give reason to it all, to drive the game, but it doesn't need to permeate every nook and cranny of the world.

    UW was amazing in that sense. It truly delivered a sense of exploration and wonder.

  4. #4
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2011
    Location: Boston
    Quote Originally Posted by addink View Post
    Indeed excellent stuff. Very interesting.

    I really like the notion that the loose structured story/stories, viewed by Dan as one of UW's weaker points, might actually be the strength of its exploratory feel: You never know what you'll come across next.

    The thought that every part of the game has got to have purpose is -IMHO- exactly the reason why modern games tend to be more linear, and with that more predictable and less exiting. Give me a huge collection of original, loosely related subquests that for the main story do little more than generate XP, and I'm a happy camper. The main story still needs to be there to give reason to it all, to drive the game, but it doesn't need to permeate every nook and cranny of the world.

    UW was amazing in that sense. It truly delivered a sense of exploration and wonder.

    Yes. I didn't want to contradict Dan, since I really wanted his personal thoughts to be voiced, but it is true (and I think it comes across in the podcast) that such "undirectedness" might be a plus, at least for a certain kind of player. This is why Demon's Souls was so great to me, and why I disagreed with everyone who felt it had "no story". It had a great story the same way UW had a great story.

  5. #5
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2011
    Location: Boston
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    Excellent interview. I particularly enjoyed it as my first encounter with Blue Sky / Looking Glass were the Underworld games which this covers more than the first interview. I'm transcribing a copy for my own future reference and if it's still OK with you I'll post it in case there are others who don't have the time or capability to listen to the audio version.
    Sure, go ahead.

  6. #6
    jtr7
    Guest
    Thanks again, guys!

  7. #7
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by sajon77 View Post
    Sure, go ahead.
    Thanks. Transcript is now available. I've tried to keep it true to the conversation where possible rather than impose too much editing but hopefully it's still readable. If not, or you spot any mistakes then let me know and I'll correct.

  8. #8
    jtr7
    Guest
    Fantastic! Thanks, Al_B! This is very much appreciated.

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