|May 14, 2010 (Last Update)|
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RYAN KAUFMAN
Ryan Kaufman was the official Star Wars
continuity supervisor at LucasArts. Keeping the continuity of the Star
Wars universe on such games as Republic Commando and Revenge
of The Sith (and also being a writer on those games). From time
to time he also writes for the Star Wars Insider and the Clone
Wars Adventures comics. Given his huge knowledge of all things Star
Wars I could have asked him a lot about it. But I didn't, as he has
more important things to share with us, like his input on the flavor
of Astronaut Ice Cream.
Not sure if the world is happy, but I'm pretty happy in it. So. Screw the world. :)
Cosmopolitan-kind of-question: Tea or coffee?
Both! Coffee gets me
going, and tea keeps me running.
What were the first games you remember having played at youth?
I programmed on the Commodore 64. We wrote our own games by copying lines out of a book. It was pretty sad. The first one I copied was a psychologist who would ask you questions and repeat back your answer in the form of a new question. The second was a program that took me hours to copy, then ended up using too much memory, so I couldn't run it. Story of my life.
So, how did you got into LucasArts?
I went to high school with Mark Cartwright, who ran the LucasArts QA department for many years. After I graduated college and was unemployed, I ran into Mark at a New Year's party. I was completely sloppy drunk and babbling incoherently. I was surly and smelled funny. From that, Mark decided that I would make a good tester.
Getting paid to play games in development. What could be better? There is a catch isn't it? Come on, there has to be a catch.
Yes, the catch is that generally 99% of the people who play your game will hate your game. They will also often hate you. You will run into these people at cocktail parties. In fact, these are the only people you will meet at cocktail parties. The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who hate your game, and those who have never heard of it. Or maybe that's just me.
Tell us about the testing process. Do you intentionally go to places or try different things looking for bugs or just play the games normally?
First thing you do when
you arrive in the morning, you sit down and you play through normally.
You play through every way you can think of, with all the objects you
are supposed to use. Then, boredom sets in. You start to experiment.
Then you get angry, and you try to find bugs everywhere. Then, you begin
to experience a cold, creeping fear that you will never escape test.
You curl into a small ball, and suck your thumb. Then you start talking
to the characters in the game, wondering if they love you. Then, you
check your watch. It's probably about lunchtime, so you get up and go
out with your friends.
Do you recall if The Dig was particularly "bugged"?
The Dig had its fair share of bugs, mainly because it was such a big game. My favorite bug was where, if you talked to Maggie in a certain area, her head would detach and float offscreen. It was very awkward to talk to her after this happened.
What is your
opinion of the finished game?
I think game genres are
often a refection of how the platform technology is used by people.
Adventure games were really popular at a time when PCs were used by
a small(ish) group of people who tended to be thoughtful, curious, and
interested in very cerebral puzzles.
Rumor says you've
tasted Astronaut Ice cream. What is your report?
I'd ask myself the same question I ask every morning of my life: WWBD - What Would Boston Do?
is the LAST thing you would do?
Nothing that I could say without legal troubles. :)
Have you been
in The Dig's pizza orgy?
I'll answer as Ben would have liked: First, a vicious head-butt, and then we can talk about why you would've loved it.
Now a philosophical
question. When a character dies in a video game....where do you believe
he or she goes?
In the same
line of philosophicness. Who are you?
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