Another World creator speaks
3rd Mar 2007 | 12:10
Eric Chahi is the creator of Another World, the sci-fi powered action-adventure from the early 1990s. The game featured what was, at the time, an innovative cinematic visual style and became a cult classic, starring a lead character who got teleported to an alien planet while conducting an experiment in a high-tech laboratory on Earth.
Another World has recently witnessed revival with Another World 15th Anniversary Edition on PC; and Chahi is currently conducting preliminary work on a strategy game which he quips is being influenced by "donuts, universe, spice and teleportation!".
CVG recently caught up with him for a chat about his new game, Another World and his opinions on the development of the videogame scene since the early 1990s.
Imagine today's console and/or PC technology existed when you developed Another World - what sort of game would it have turned out to be?
Eric Chahi: It is a tricky question because this kind of technology needs a lot of people to create content and exploit fully the specificity of today's hardware. Game creation, as with any kind of creation, is really dependent of the context. The feeling of Another World has emerged because I was working alone, there was an echo between the hero and the game creation. But in the context of a team it would have been different.
So just for that I would probably have designed another game rather than Another World. Also this game has been the result of an improvisation process, something impossible with today's expensive projects. As a pure indie game designer, maybe it would have been a mod using the Half-Life engine. Maybe I would be just an employee doing computer graphics in a huge company for the rest of my life.
Or maybe I would have created a game out of the system with 2D clever graphics taking advantage of the power of all that 3D stuff. Yeah I much more prefer that!
What prompted you to release the recent Anniversary Edition of Another World?
Eric Chahi: Another World always had a special place in my heart, but for many years I thought it was not in gamers' memories. With the internet I realized that this game was as important to some people as it is important for me. Even if this game is not the ideal I wanted to reach, it has been an important step in my creative evolution, I understood things and first of all it is a game that has been driven by an inner feeling.
The 15th Anniversary edition is in the continuation of the site that is explaining its genesis. I wanted to share this with all people that love this game as I love it with it flaws and qualities. It is also a way to say games are not only something disposable (like Kleenex) that only exists six months in the shop.
Have videogames in general developed, or moved forward in, the way you hoped back in the early 1990s?
Eric Chahi: Not really. Like many I have been attracted by all the shiny stuff, name computer graphics. During 10 years gaming, evolution and creativity has been slowed down to a frozen point because projects were so costly, with publishers leading the dance, a dance directed by marketing, licence and sequel. Today it's like this more than ever, but for the last five years the new generation of game designers and old ones also, hum... is slowly rising with the help of the internet, a new window for independent game developers. Each year the voice of independents is stronger.
What would you say is your favourite thing to occur in the world of videogames in the last 15 years or so?
Eric Chahi: The internet, because it allows developers to communicate between themselves and it connects players. Because it is a way of distribution, increasing the commercial lifetime of game. Because it allows small developers freedom of creation, and to self-publish their game without being spoiled by marketing rules or editorial pressure.
In the continuation of this, consoles are now for the first time open to independent game developers. That is a very cool thing. How would we have heard and played Façade without the internet, or Bridge Builder or Darwinia? It seems I get obsessed by indies... But it has been the root of many things in the industry.
On the flip-side of that coin, what's your least favourite thing?
Eric Chahi: On the other hand the internet is so saturated by useless information. I mean over-information. It is sometimes so redundant and repetitive that a lot of energy is lost just finding good information in this swamped sea of data. Well, it is not truly about gaming, but it is the flip-side of the internet...
In your opinion, will innovation in videogames now be 100 percent hardware-led, or do you still believe there are innovations to be made at the game design level?
Eric Chahi: Innovation is always possible even without new hardware. Just freeze hardware evolution for ten years, and we will be forced to find new concepts. Often constrain forces imagination.
Who in the games development industry comes closest to sharing your vision for videogames?
Eric Chahi: Keita Takahashi [creator of Katamari Damacy - Ed] because he is an artist that is not game self-centered. I mean, he is not only interested by games, his inspiration does not come only from game culture but from anywhere. He has a true vision, he doesn't care about marketing.
You recently revealed you're conducting preliminary work on a strategy game. What's influencing the design of that title?
Eric Chahi: I can't tell you anything, the clues would be too high, because it is very conceptual. But mainly donuts, universe, spice and teleportation!!
When can we expect to hear more on that game?
Eric Chahi: It is really too soon to talk about it. I will talk about it when it will be in production, ideally not sooner than a year before it will be released. I remember how negative it has been to announce Heart of Darkness very early. Add to this I don't have a publisher yet. So, it would not be reasonable to talk even if I'm very excited about all these ideas.