By John Walker on March 11th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.
In today’s stop-and-search inspection of the IGF Award finalists, we grab Jason Roberts – creator of Gorogoa – out of the line, fling him against the wall, and pat him down for answers. Gorogoa is the spellbinding story in which four windows can be rearranged to create new pathways, which is essentially magic.
RPS: First off, can you introduce yourself, explain who you are, what you do, and why you do it?
Jason Roberts: My name is Jason Roberts. I worked as a software engineer, but not in the gaming industry, before leaving my paying job to work full time on Gorogoa. I’ve always had secretly smouldering creative ambitions, but until recently I didn’t think there was much hope of pursuing a creative career, so I mostly put the idea out of my mind. Many many years went by, until finally the indie game scene matured enough, and my disaffection for what I was doing became strong enough, for me to take the leap of faith.
RPS: How did Gorogoa come into being? Did it begin with the idea behind the mechanic, or was that created to fit the game?
Jason Roberts: I think philosophically I’d probably prefer my own games to begin a narrative and/or themes, and for the mechanics to follow. But the truth is that this project began with the mechanic. In fact, I designed a whole separate game before Gorogoa, with an entirely different setting and story but essentially the same mechanic, before deciding that idea was too ambitious and shelving it. I don’t know if I’ll ever make that game now.
RPS: Gorogoa’s been in development for quite a while now, and received its first round of recognition in 2012. How close do you think you are to finishing the game?
Jason Roberts: The money runs out this year, so there you go: 2014. And yes, developing the game has indeed taken much longer than I ever anticipated. I attribute this mainly to my own inexperience. This is my first game, and the way I see it I’m putting myself through my own unaccredited game-design school at the same time as I make the game. There’s a lot of time-consuming trial and error involved. I feel fairly confident about the design at this point; it’s just a matter of getting it done.
RPS: How do you feel about getting the IGF nomination this year?
Jason Roberts: Living in the San Francisco area, I’ve spent many years looking at GDC and the IGF from the outside, thinking it was a world I would never be involved in. So in addition to the great honor of being nominated, participating in the IGF has special meaning for me.
RPS: Which game would you like to see receiving the Grand Prize?
Jason Roberts: No way I’m answering that. It’s an impossible decision, and happily I’m not in the position of having to make it.
RPS: What’s next for you – any plans for when Gorogoa is complete?
Jason Roberts: I want to keep making games. I have a number of half-formed ideas for the next project, but I still have a while before I have to make that decision.
RPS: Thank you for your time.
You can download the demo of Gorogoa from Roberts’ website.