Amanita Design Interview

By: Craig Lager

Published: October 23, 2009 Posted in: Interviews

The recently released Machinarium is utterly beautiful and quite unique. We thought we’d catch up with Jakub from Amanita Design to tell us about it. He apologises for his ‘weird English’ but I say this ‘you have nothing to apologise for, you made Machinarium.’

machinarium Interview: The police are here

Who is Amanita Design and where did it come from?
I established Amanita Design studio in 2003 after I finished art school, my diploma work was my first flash game Samorost 1. Later joined me my former schoolmate animator Valav Blin and together with musician Tomas “Floex” Dvorak and sound maker Tomas “Pif” Dvorak we created sequel Samorost2 and also a couple of other smaller Flash games, some music videos etc. Currently we work also with programmer David Oliva, painter Adolf Lachman and 2nd animator Jara Plachy – together we created Machinarium.
We are all in Czech Republic, but in 3 different cities (Prague, Brno and Pardubice).

How did the ideas for Machinarium come about?
First we knew, we want to create full-length adventure game and that it should be a bit different and more complex then our previous flash games. Then we came out with idea of a robot as the main hero who lives in robotic world. A lot of inspiration for the design comes from old rusty machines, abandoned factories and industrial buildings. Besides that we are influenced by many science fiction books and films (Stanislav Lem, Douglas Adams, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Stanley Kubrick, Karel Zeman) and also by older adventure games (Grim Fandango, Myst, Gobliins, Discworld, Neverhood, Monkey Island).

The art for Machinarium is beautiful and with a very definite style to it – did you originally set out to achieve this or did it expand with development?
Yeah, we wanted quite distinctive art style from the beginning. To invent and create the final look of the game was quite long process. At the beginning we knew we need a little bit different look from our previous games which is also very different from most of the current games and match the world of rusty robots. We felt we need something warm with visible human touch in it to create a contrast to that robotic world, so we came up with idea of hand-drawn backgrounds which are scanned and finished in computer. Of course the style also evolved during the long development so we had to redraw some of the initial backgrounds.

Which part of the project are you most proud of?
I’m proud especially of our whole team – everybody made his best and put a lot of passion to this work so the development process was a joy.

Point and Click gaming is making a steady come back at the minute, was it a worry that you might get lost in the crowd?
Well, I knew we have something different to offer, so I wasn’t afraid however I didn’t expect so big interest even from people who don’t play point and click games usually.

Tell us about how you went about developing the puzzles for Machinarium. Where there any puzzles that you really liked but had to be scrapped for one reason or another?
It was for the first time I designed the puzzles seriously – I wanted them to be much more logical and meaningful then in our previous games. I learned a lot during the process and now I can see which direction to go next time. I like the most those puzzles where is somehow broken tradition or stereotype of this kind of puzzles. Of course I had to dismiss some of the puzzles, but I thing my favorites are in the game.

What is in the future for Amanita Design?
Definitely we want to continue developing independently some original games and I hope we’ll be experimenting more with the game design.

And lastly, who is your favourite robot of all time?
Marvin form The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Many thanks to Jakub for answering our questions. Don’t forget you can grab Machinarium from the Amanita Design website

Craig Lager
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