James Dearden is an English film director and screenwriter, the son of Scottish actress Melissa Stribling and acclaimed English film maker Basil Dearden. He directed seven films between 1977 and 1999. His film Pascali's Island was entered into the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Dearden is married to British actress Annabel Brooks.
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Last month, Wadjet Eye released their latest adventure game, Technobabylon. Like some of their other games, such as Gemini Rue and Primordia, it was developed by a third party, in this case Technocrat Games (i.e. ME). If you want to know anything about the process of making a game, adventures, or life in general, here's the place for it!
Wadjet Eye's site for Technobabylon:
EDIT: Right then, it's been a delightful six hours, but it's getting on for my bedtime here in GMT. If you haven't played Technobabylon yet, I wholeheartedly recommend it! (though I'm probably not the most objective voice on this)
Was there anything you had to leave out of TB that you wished you could leave in?
Looaaads of stuff, and though some of it was due to executive meddling on Dave's behalf, a lot of it just took up too much time. There were two sections that ended up being dropped, Galatea was originally two separate characters whose roles were merged, and Regis was originally a much more terrible person (but it complicated the plot a bit too much)
When was the last time you went to an aquarium?
2011 in Busan, South Korea, with some of my students while I was teaching English over there. It's a beautiful city, I really recommend it!
Fortunately, it's just my surname backwards - it's what I've been using as a pseudonym since forever, since it's the kind of thing that nobody else has already taken.
Unlike my brother's, "Vomitor", which keeps finding people who've already taken it.
Any adventure writing/designing advice?
When designing puzzles in adventures, I like to treat them like mystery stories - that is, start with a conclusion, and work backwards. What's the obstacle? The cat was in the tree. How did we get them out of the tree? Cutting the tree down. The gap between those two things is where the "puzzle" comes from, like "getting an axe" or "negotiating with lumberjack". In any case, make sure it's logically consistent - Technobabylon at least tries to retain a sense of cyberpunk logic to the way puzzles work, though Dave made me cut out most of the things involving balloons.
Dave's an executive meddler? Any details you'd be willing to spill?
Fortunately he's not bad with the meddling - certainly the changes that he's suggested have made sense. The biggest was the complete rejig of part 2 of the game, which people who played the old freeware ones will notice is missing a scene on the balcony. The office was added to give Regis and Lao more investigating early on, but it meant that a whole new scene had to be created for it!
What is your favorite cut of steak?
Rump, though that's more out of habit than particular choice. It's all kind of samey, to me.
Have you started a new project yet or are you taking a breather after working on TB all that time? Any hints on what it'll be? Will it be in AGS again or are you switching to Unity like Dave?
I've started the preliminaries on three different projects at the moment, actually. Whichever one of those I end of pursuing in the end, it'll definitely be in Unity though - I want it to work with everything
Idea A: WW2 themed adventure that's kind of Biggles meets Monkey Island
Idea B: Sci-fi/Space, kind of "Mass Effect with more talking"
Idea C: Technobabylon Sequel, because why not?
What do you do when you can't sleep?
The problem with being sleepy is that it's hard to do constructive things, since fatigue leads to them being done sloppily. So I fire up my tablet and read, or play Battlefield.
Did you plan on eventually re-using Graf's hand in a puzzle or does Regis just like to collect human body parts?
He kept it for a snack. ;)
I had considered keeping it for a puzzle that was dropped, and figured it was funnier just to keep the hand anyway. It can be thrown away in the disposal chute in the office, which I'd originally considered making an achievement for!
N'aww... brother cameo, then?
Almost all of the names of non-speaking characters in the game are cameos of people I know! I like including real people in these things, whether as names, or their voices (e.g. if you dial random numbers on the phone)
I really enjoyed TB a lot! :)
Any chance for an iPad release?
Thanks! Wadjet Eye are in the process of converting their whole back-catalogue to iPad, so there will eventually be an iOS version of Technobabylon, but since it was the latest game they've released, it might be a while yet.
The next game I'm making, I intend to be able to release for PC, iPad and Android at launch!
A and C sound great, can't wait :D
Have to give it a while, I'm still figuring out how Unity works! On the plus side, at least some of the assets for A are already in place. http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o33/Nedraed/outside_wip02_zps4655195e.png
How many babies can you fit in a car engine?
Me personally, or anybody? And what kind of car? You're leaving an awful lot of details up to speculation.
What got you in this business? This seems like a really cool, fun job.
It's kind of been my ambition since I was about six - for years, I've been making small games myself, and messing around with Doom WADs and Half Life mods. With Technobabylon I thought I had an idea that merited a bigger game. So, I approached Dave Gilbert at the AdventureX conference in 2012 to see if he'd be on-board with doing anything with it, as he'd done with Gemini Rue before. At that stage, him saying "yes" was the unrealistic-best-case outcome, but it worked! So, that gave me enough reason to give up the day job!
How do you like your tea?
English breakfast, milk (whole), two sugars.
You know why communists only drink herbal tea? Because all proper-tea is theft.
So you develop full-time with no side gigs? How scary is that?
Fairly, but that's why I wanted to get on-board with someone like Wadjet Eye before I started. That way, their pre-existing audience/publicity machine is already there, and I don't have to start from scratch building a reputation quite so much!
That's awesome! What is there a specific game or game sequel that you have/have always wanted to work on?
In an ideal world, I'd love to be part of Deus Ex, but Montreal's a fair bit of a commute from the UK!
Ha! I like it. But honest, I legitimately was drinking English breakfast tea with milk and two scoops of sugar when I asked you that.
Me too, it's what keeps me going!
Well man, I have lots of respect! I've liked the games you've worked on so far! keep at it man!
I shall endeavour to keep living up to the standard!