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IGF Factor 2012: Botanicula

Amanita Design does the chat

Next up in our series of chats with (almost) all the PC/Mac-based finalists, it's the near-legendary Jakub Dvorský from Amanita Design, creators of Machinarium, Samorost and, soon, Botanicula - which is up for the Excellence In Visual Art and Excellence In Audio awards. Here, Jakub talks indie, experimentation and his answer to the most important question of all.

RPS: Firstly, a brief introduction for those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?

My name is Jakub Dvorský, I used to be animator and graphic artist and now I'm mostly a game designer and director of our studio Amanita Design which I founded in 2003. But I guess I should also introduce Jára Plachý who is the main author of our new game Botanicula. Jára is experienced filmmaker and illustrator and our youngest member who joined us in the middle of the work on Machinarium as the animator of those funny communication bubbles. At that time he was absolutely untouched by videogames but soon he realized it's very interesting medium for him. He studied animated film at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, the same academy and department where I and our other animator Václav Blín studied.

RPS: Tell us about your game. What were its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What would you change if you could?

Soon after Machinarium was released Jára started to think about making his own game so he did a couple of interactive experiments in Flash and then began with the work on Botanicula. Since then he learned a lot of things and with some help he managed to create beautiful, funny and surprisingly large game. The music and sounds which fits perfectly to the game were created by quite popular Czech alternative band DVA (which means two, because they are two of them). Botanicula is point'n'click exploration game about saving the last seed from a dying tree which is infested by evil parasites - that's the main story but the game itself is about exploration, solving little funny puzzles, meeting strange tree creatures and listening to the music. So it's a game based on comedy, atmosphere, great funny animations and playfulness. The release for PC and Mac is planned for March/April 2012 and later also for iPad and other tablets.

RPS: What are your feelings on the IGF this year? Pleased to be nominated? Impressed by the other finalists? Anything you worry has been overlooked?

It's much much bigger than in 2007 when our game Samorost2 was among the finalists, almost 600 indie games entered this year. That's great and of course we are very happy to be nominated to two categories in such stiff competition, it's a big honor. As for other nominees, we like and are looking forward to play many of them - Dear Esther, Fez, Mirage, Proteus, Wonderputt and others. I miss SpaceChem among finalists which is also great game.

RPS: Which game would you like to see take the Grand Prize this year?

From those nominated I have played only Fez for a very short time so I'm afraid I can't really judge. I need to play those games first.

RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene of late? What would you like to see from it in the near-future?

I'm happy to see the scene growing really fast, but I at the same time indie developers should be more brave, cheeky and experimental in my opinion. The scene is growing mostly because people feel the opportunity to earn money which unfortunately isn't the best motivation when you want to create something innovative and push the whole gaming medium forward. I hope more artists and creative people will join the scene to make really new, strange, original, crazy or even completely stupid games and the medium will become more diverse and colorful.

RPS: And how does the future look for you, both in terms of this game and other projects?

The future is bright! We want to continue making our games and stay small and fully independent. We'd also like to try some more experimental stuff but my vision about that is still very blurry at the moment.

RPS: If you could talk to the monsters in Doom, what would you ask them?

I would ask them what they think about John Carmack and if they are happy with their job.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.