Interview with Dave Gilbert

First, tell us a bit more about yourself, what you are like, what you do for a living, what you do in your free time…


Bit of a broad question, but I’ll give it a whirl. I’m 28 years old. I live in New York City and love it. In my free time I try and take advantage of city life. I’m part of an improv comedy group that performs every couple of months. For my Real Job, I work in the garment center.


Which was the first adventure game you played? And freeware one?


The first ever was probably the “Collosal Cave” text adventure, which I played on a LAN machine when I was very young. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I spent hours exploring it. I never did finish that game, but it introduced me to one of adventure gaming’s biggest mysteries: just how in heck do you pronounce “xyzzy” anyway? As for freeware, I was a big text adventure junkie in college. I downloaded and played the first “Unnkulian Unventure” and was hooked.


When did the idea of making games first strike you?


I discovered the indie IF (text adventure) scene when I was in college. My favorite IF game at the time (Unnkulian Unventure) was made with an engine called TADS. so I downloaded TADS right away and started studying the manual. I eagerly attempted a few games, but with schoolwork and other activities I just never had enough time or motivation to complete anything worthwhile.

I came across AGS back in 2001 when I read about the RON series (I forget where). I checked out the site, played through the games, and developed an inkling to create one myself. I was unemployed at the time, and it seemed like a good way to keep myself occupied, so I downloaded AGS and created “The Repossessor” in a few weeks. The rest, I suppose, is history.


The stories of your games are one of the best on the freeware scene. Have you ever thought that you could be, for example, a writer or a playwright?


First of all, thank you! And to answer your question, yes. As a kid, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would instantly say “a writer.” I spent an huge amount of my precious youth in front of my family’s clunky Apple IIC, typing random flights-of-fancy into an ancient word processor program. My interest in writing kind of waned as I got older, and for awhile I kind of gave up on that dream. AGS and the indie adventure scene is what really began inspiring me again.


How much time do you spend on your games?


If you mean actually sitting in front of the computer and physically creating the game, it varies. Many factors contribute to motivation – the weather, stress, social obligations, what have you. Although even if I’m not physically working on a game, I am usually thinking about

them. I usually carry around a small notepad that I use to jot stuff down whenever a brainstorm strikes. There’s nothing worse than coming up with that really Cool Idea and then forgetting it five minutes later.


How long did it take you to produce “Bestowers of eternity” part I?


Altogether? About a year. And most of that was working out the back-story.


Did you do any research for it?


For the original? Not really. I really wanted to create a real sense of what NYC life was like, or my personal experience of it at least. I’m not sure if you can actually call that “research” or not. Rosa‘s lifestyle isn’t all that uncommon.


When will we see the second part? In what ways will it be different from the first one?


It funny you should ask that. I haven’t really formally announced it yet, but I suppose this is a good a time as any. Bestowers of Eternity is undergoing some major rehauling. The entire thing is going to be completely redone from the ground up at a professional level and, if all goes well, sold commercially. I’ve adjusted the plot quite a bit, incorporated some actual research into the backstory, and brought other folks on board to help. It’s a very daunting prospect, but I’m feel it was the right decision to make.


How many people are there on the BoE team?


As of right now, four people other than myself. I’ve worked with all of them before and know I can trust them to the ends of the Earth.


What graphics technology will it use? 3D characters on 2D backgrounds or? Will it use AGS?


I debated trying another system, but in the end decided to go back to AGS. It’s silly to re-invent the wheel. It’s going to be standard 2D graphics on 2D backgrounds, just like the original,


Will it include a digital music and/or voice pack?


You bet!


If all goes well, how will it be distributed, and for what price?


If all goes well, I plan to sell it for $20 plus shipping. There are a few outlets that I’m looking into for distribution, although I haven’t chosen one yet.


Is working on RON games something you do as a break from serious game-making?


Are you saying RON isn’t serious game-making? 🙂 RON is very much a comfort zone for me. There’s a unique pleasure in creating something, unleashing it onto a virtual world, and seeing what other people do with it. I really believe in the concept – even if it has been, shall we say, a bit slow in the last year. It’s a shame that more people aren’t attracted to RON, as I think it’s a fantastic arena for creation.


In what ways was working in a randomly chosen team for the ATC different than working on BoE, for example?


The Team Challenge was probably one of the most creatively inspiring – not to mention surreal – experiences of my recent life. I had never formally “met” any of the other team members, but we all instantly hit it off. Allister, Thomas and Lisa were all so talented, so hard-working, and all around COOL people that we all inspired and motivated each other. Towards the end, it became less about winning the contest and just about going the distance. Thomas refered to the experience as a totem – a structure with separate, unique pieces that fit together perfectly. It’s an apt analogy, and it’s something you simply don’t get with solo projects.


In what ways do you think that the competition should change in the future?


Personally, I enjoyed the challenge and the experience so much I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that I was very lucky with the team I ended up with, but there’s really no way to foresee what your team members are going to be like in a contest like that.


What are your views on the current state of the adventure scene? Do you think they will take over again? Which ones are you looking forward to?


That’s a loaded question. 🙂 In a selfish way, I’m kind of happy that the adventure scene is in the state it’s in. It enables folks like you and me to step forward and share our visions with the world. It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t have had ten years ago. The adventure genre might have a small market, but it’s a very loyal one.


Do you have any plans for future games you’d like to share?


Well, I already told you about “Bestowers of Eternity.” If you have any further questions about that, feel free and ask.


Thanks for your time


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