Unknown Pleasures 2009: Machinarium

By John Walker on January 28th, 2009 at 12:28 pm.

Amanita Design have quietly made gentle adventure games for a few years. As well as the gorgeous Samorost games, they’ve also produced equally charming Flash games for the BBC, Nike and The Polyphonic Spree. Machinarium is their first full-length project, hand drawn and meticulously animated, about a city populated by robots. We spoke to front man, Jakub Dvorský, to find out more.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about Machinarium? A poor robot’s been thrown out of the city, right?

Jakub Dvorský: Yes, the story is about a little robot who has been unjustly thrown out to the scrap yard, out of Machinarium, which is town populated only by robots. In the game he returns back to the town and meets the gangsters from Black Cap Brotherhood – they are just preparing a bomb attack on the central tower where the town ruler has residence. Of course our hero must stop them and also rescue his friend robot-girl.

RPS: We’re very excited at the idea of a full-length Amanita game. Why did you choose to go in this direction, making a longer adventure?

JD: It was my dream for many years to create full-length adventure with a little different graphic style. In a bigger game is more space for creating story and atmosphere, and the player is more sucked into it. We were also encouraged to make bigger game by the players of our previous games.

RPS: Has the process been very different?

JD: Yes it is different, mostly because we put together bigger team and the communication among us is now a very important part of the work. Therefore it’s more complicated, but we have also more fun and the results are better. Also we need more patience as the developing process is really long and it’s always difficult to stay concentrated on one project for such a long time.

RPS: Are you having to create puzzles differently?

JD: Perhaps it’s not because the project is larger but yes, we are creating puzzles much more carefully now. Everything is more logical and the player really has to think about the puzzle before he is able to solve it. No more brainless clicking :) We believe the game would be a good tool for brain training.

RPS: You’ve mentioned that the animations for the characters is a “cut-out animation technique”. Can you explain a bit more about this?

JD: It’s a simple classical animation technique when you paint all parts of character’s body separately, cut it out with scissors and the animate it frame by frame under the camera. It’s similar to puppet animation only it’s 2D. Of course we are doing all graphic parts and animations in computer so we don’t use scissors and camera, but most of the animations are done essentially similarly – frame by frame and very carefully.

RPS: The sombre atmosphere of the Samorost games perhaps came from the dark, worn organics and creaking, rusted machinery. The artwork shown from Machinarium shows similar themes, but slightly more optimistic, with glimmers of colour, and cheerful-looking robots. Can you talk a bit about the art design, and the reasons behind these themes?

JD: We wanted Machinarium a little bit more funny. There are some quiet jokes and funny characters, however we don’t like humor at any cost. On the other hand the atmosphere is still slightly dark so it’s in opposition to that funny side and that is interesting for us.

RPS: How did you first come to work with Tomas Dvorak? How important do you think his music has been to the success of your games?

JD: First I had his album Pocustone at home and I liked it a lot. I felt that his music would be perfect for our style so I contacted him and luckily he was very glad to work with us. He already knew Samorost1 when I asked him to create soundtrack for Samorost2. I consider our games as fully audio-visual-interactive pieces so the music is very important for us.

RPS: We certainly wish such things like Questionaut [an educational game created for the BBC] had been around when we were at school. Did the BBC respond positively to it?

JD: Yes they told us that it’s their most visited game and the feedback from teachers and players is very good. It was also nominated for BAFTA Children’s Awards.

Machinarium should be out later this year.

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25 Comments »

  1. rob says:

    I really hope these guys do well because their games are beautiful.

  2. RuySan says:

    This looks gorgeous. What are their other games?

  3. Severian says:

    Very much looking forward to this. I played the Samorost games and adored them. My girlfriend watched over my shoulder and was entranced.

  4. John Walker says:

    RuySan, the opening paragraph links to every one of them. Follow the first link, click Flash games, and the earlier stuff is there too.

  5. pauleyc says:

    Very much looking forward to Machinarium; hopefully it’ll preserve the style (the screenshots suggest so) and atmosphere of the Samorost games.

  6. danielcardigan says:

    The Samorost games were great.

    Something that still puts me off traditional adventure games is having to haul inventory back and forth through screens. What I liked about those flash puzzle games was that you did a screen then moved onto the next, essentially without baggage.

  7. Kua says:

    I remember coming across Samorost much by chance and being absolutely delighted. Thanks muchly to RPS for getting this interview. Roll on Machinarium, one of my most anticpated games of too fowsand and nein!

  8. Bremze says:

    Wow, I like the visual style of this game. It also reminds me of another awesome adventure game – Pilot Brothers. To this day I still think its the best adventure game I have ever played. Damn you refrigerator-safe!

  9. Markoff Chaney says:

    As a long standing lover of the adventure genre, I am eagerly anticipating Machinarium. I enjoyed both Samarost games, even if I felt they were a little too much toward the random pixel hunting side. The art direction and sound made them a breath of fresh air, even with a few puzzles that didn’t make too much sense.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to playing through yet another of your games.

  10. BooleanBob says:

    While pretty enough, I found the samarost games (and even the bitesize revision) a bit of a chore to play.

    I did still play them, of course – because they’re pretty and weird and therefore of obvious value in our often staid and samey medium – but the actual playing to be done? Pixel hunting. And puzzles so obscure that you rarely knew what the problem was, let alone the solution. So this interview has been a great encouragement that Amanita’s first full-length project has more than an incidental resemblance to an actual game.

  11. Acosta says:

    I can’t wait.

  12. yhancik says:

    I’m really looking forward this one too.

  13. pnutz says:

    The art style looks a lot like Jacek Yerka, I wonder if he’s a major influence. Though it does seem much more lighthearted.

  14. Pags says:

    One of the games I’m most looking forward to this year, especially as I loved Samorost 1 & 2.

  15. Adventurous Putty says:

    Questionaut is the most addictive thing I’ve ever seen. Ever.

    In love with this studio.

  16. Logo says:

    When you started this series of articles this game immediately jumped out at me as needing to be included. Good to see it here and definitely one of my most anticipated titles of ’09.

  17. Angel Dust says:

    After Resonance, this is the adventure game I am most looking forward to this year.
    Regarding the animation it sounds like it will be similar to Aquaria which is cool.

  18. Nero says:

    This game looks so beautiful. I’m very much looking forward to this game.

  19. Butler` says:

    Stunning artwork.

  20. Igor Hardy says:

    The Czech school of animation had always an unique style of its own. I remember it very fondly from the cartoons I watched during my childhood and I love seeing it used in adventure games now. Thanks for doing it Amanita!

  21. Conquests says:

    …can’t wait to play it. Would buy it twice if it reminded market that pc players don’t want to play only action crap from consoles.

    I hope puzzles are hard enuff.

  22. Karnov says:

    sooo, what happened to the post about the trailer that popped up in my google reader: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/01/29/machinarium-in-moving-pictures/

  23. praz says:

    awesome game…finished in 1 day…cudn wait til i finished it. keeps u thinkin all d time. my fav part of d game- mimickin bird :P

  24. Lilo says:

    I wonder if he’s a major influence

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