A chat with the developer of Buried

Okay folks…Buried goes live tomorrow. Links will be provided here very soon. In the meantime, since I managed to nail down an interview with Gimu, the artist that crafted the music for the game, I thought it would be an equally good idea to pick the brain of Brice Morrison, the man that originally contacted me about writing a script for his game.

He’s been a pleasure to work with and I certainly hope there’s more collaboration on the horizon…

Hey, Brice. Thanks for stopping by. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background with designing and creating games?

Sure. I’ve been making games since I was in middle school and taught myself how to program. I went to University of Virginia and founded their Student Game Development Group, and then went to EA out in the SF Bay Area where I worked in the Sims Division on Wii and PC games. That was around the time Facebook games were exploding, so I went over to Zynga where I worked on ChefVille, which was the world’s largest cooking/restaurant game. Last year I left to start up my own company, which led to us working on this project together!
One of the things you and I have sort of discussed off and on is the proper way to develop a narrative within a gameplay environment. Can you share your thoughts how telling a compelling story in a game environment is different than writing a novel?

The single biggest difference between games and every other medium is that games are interactive: the experience is different depending on who is playing. So in a traditional story you would read about someone who decided to pull the trigger, but in a game you get to decide for yourself, based on everything that’s happened, whether you want to pull the trigger or not.

The approach you and I have taken is to start with a compelling traditional story as a baseline, but then insert ourselves into the scenes and ask: what would I do? Would I handle this differently? If I was actually there, would I care about that, or would I be more interested in doing something else? If those questions are being answered adequately, then I think we can end up with compelling choices.

Why did you decide to go with a text-based approach for Buried? Is there an existing market for these sorts of games or is it relatively new territory?

Interactive fiction has been around for a long time, since the 80’s. However it’s always been a relatively small niche. But with mobile devices I saw an opportunity to bring those great kinds of stories to a wider audience.

What sorts of games do you like to play in your own spare time?

I’m a big fan of the TellTale games, and the influence in Buried is obvious. I also play a lot of mobile games, most recently Smashy Road and Rovio’s Retry.

How about books? Any favorites?

The original Dracula will always be one of my favorites. It’s amazing to read about the moon peeking through the clouds, the dark forest looming over a lonely dirt road, Dracula’s high bridged nose and unusual annunciation of his words and think “Wow, this is all really cliche.” But then you realize, no, it’s actually the original! Everyone else is the cliche.

Once Buried is released, what does the game-making future look like for you?

We’d like to make more games! Depending on how well Buried does, we might make another. But we have other games planned as well. We showed off our puzzle game Cloud Grove this year at PAX Prime in Seattle, so that will be coming out sometime in 2016.


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