Let’s meet James, our Programmer and Writer.
Q & A
What is your role and what aspect of the game are you working on?
The team is small enough that I tend to have a “whatever needs doing that I can do” role.
I program, obviously, but I’ve also been writing some of the recent news posts. Those “blueprints” that are pretty clearly “15 minutes in Paint” in the articles were my work… With apologies to your aesthetic sensibilities.
Did any game(s) inspire you to shape any of the features or provide input in Imagine Nations? How so?
Several. I’m someone who loves to think about games as the systems they are, and in a metagaming fashion, think about the purposes of those systems. Dwarf Fortress is probably the biggest inspiration, and to an extent, I kind of hope this game can be a means of achieving all DF’s ambitions for Adventurer Mode, especially. However, I also really look to Paradox games like Crusader Kings II.
CKII is a great game at the broadest “resolution”, the worldmap made of counties, but it doesn’t offer any detail in the simulation lower than at the county view, relying instead upon mostly random events and randomly gained traits, all because the game lacks the ability to abstract out the characters who are far away from the player. I’d like to see IN become like CKII with abstraction, so that we can have grand strategic interactions, but also have the first-person to handle events without needing just random luck and multiple choice to resolve everything.
What game(s) influenced you the most? What impact did they have on you as a person today?
Probably the old games from my father’s Commodore 64 I played back when I was 4 and older. Bard’s Tale, Mars Saga, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and some SSI American Civil War games like Shiloh. Because of where I lived when I was little, I didn’t have other kids to play with, so the computer was my best friend. I had to play the turn-based games, since I lacked the coordination to play action games. (I played the civil war as both sides, since it was two-player only. That meant I could always win, anyway.) They got me into RPGs and strategy games for life.
Combined with, probably, Final Fantasy 2 (4 JP), which gave me the real sense of the storytelling power of games, they helped me to see the world as mechanical systems interacting, and how games can express an outlook on the world.
What is your favorite video game character?
If we’re not going by fan interpretations or my own player-built characters, then probably Jaqli from the Ar Tonelico series.
Not to spoil too much, but she’s one of the more complex characters I’ve seen in a game. She’s outwardly a ruthless cold-blooded type, but buries deep traumas. She’s both victim and villain. In a series where the main theme seems to be that all of humanity’s problems can be overcome if you just get past the differences in perspective and miscommunications, she is probably the greatest exemplar of that sort of optimism for humanity.
What game(s) are you playing when you are not working hard?
Well, I’ve got a pretty big stack of games in the “to play” pile I wanted to get back to or start… Crusader Kings II sings its clarion call. I was partway through a playthrough of Wizardry 8. Dwarf Fortress will be releasing a new version soon. I haven’t played through Atelier Ayesha yet. And that’s not even starting on the “everyone’s must play” things that have been sitting in my pile forever, like The Witcher 2, Deus Ex, BioShock, etc.
What is your favorite food and drink?
My favorite foods are generally flavorful and spicy things. If I’m cooking, my favorite dish is probably chili. I also rather love Indian and Chinese food. A local chinese place has a Hunan-style chicken that I’m especially fond of having. The variety of vegetables is a big plus point.
My favorite drink is tea, and I’m especially fond of Egyptian Licorice Mint tea right now. It has the added bonus of being good for digestion, which means I need not fear heartburn after throwing a little extra cayenne on my food.
Any last words?
“Storytelling” and “narrative” don’t have to come in the form of text or cutscenes. The rules of the games themselves push players to see the game world in a specific way. A game like Patrician 3, where a town continuously blooms as you trade more with it, inherently reinforces in the player’s mind this theme of optimism of the power of its sort of free-market capitalism. When I play through Dwarf Fortress, it’s references to real-life sciences makes me interested in, and pushes me to learn things about history and science I never would have otherwise been interested in. I hope to see the arcs of history for each of these little cultures the players can join with become something epic in the minds of the players, but also help to give people a better understanding of the arc of our own history, and an appreciation of our past and future.
Weekly Forum Roundup #12
We have a released a very important update this week in the April “State of Game” Address. Please be sure to read it. We are making major strides in preparing the first release for our “Backers”, helping our campaign to pick up with the news. We have also released our new polls for this month on our forums. Click the links below and vote.
- Poll: Dangerous Creature Spawning (Backer’s Only)
- Poll: You’re In the Army Now, Player!
- How does Multiplayer work?
-Imagine Nations Team