DGC Ep 096: Tom Hall Interview

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we present our interview with Tom Hall, Project Lead of 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk about the team, the labor of love, what got left on the cutting floor, and various other bits and bobs. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Interview segment
55:28  Break
56:00  Mail/outro

Issues covered: the game's science fiction underpinnings, JRPGs and adventure games, the surprise of having the adventure game elements, the lore bible and map of the Universe, generating the background information to make characters sound consistent, creating alphabets, the black and white pirate world, PAL-18's digital home world and cel-shading, knowing what happens next, writing and cinematic direction with tools (PLANET), programming the mini-games (APE), in-depth cinematics and facial animation and mitten hands, getting a story in the bathroom (and starting with the name), talking process with Terry Gilliam, little ideas coming together to unite a concept, having a poisoned past, Nick Danger and radio plays, coming up with the most surprising things you could think of, Democratus having its origins in John Carmack's D&D campaign, a planet walks into a bar, playing with expectations, feeling episodic, making characters come first to drive those episodes, loyalty missions in Mass Effect, hidden content, having different levels for different choices, renaming characters, origin of Paco's and Rho Bowman's names, Stiletto Anyway's origins, crunching too much and team size, team cohesion, structure of ION Storm, Dream Design, doing one take of Walton Simmons, thirty years into the industry, being just a bit ahead of time for mobile, directing Gordon Ramsay, missing the big references to Hitchhiker's Guide, talking about the black and white world, talking crunch, potential achievements for Anachronox, adding achievements to remastered adventure games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tom Hall, SoftDisk, John Carmack, John Romero, id Software, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Apogee, Rise of the Triad, Terminal Velocity, ION Storm, Monkeystone Games, Hyperspace Delivery Boy, KingIsle Entertainment, Loot Drop, PlayFirst, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Monkey Island, Lee Perry, Epic, Fornite, Jet Set Radio, Borderlands, Richard Gaubert, Jake Hughes, Joey Liaw, Brian Eiserloh, Crystal Dynamics, Watchmen, Terry Gilliam, Monty Python, Brazil, Firesign Theater, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Mass Effect, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, Peter Marquardt, El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez, Band of Brothers, Eidos, Deus Ex, Murder One, Daniel Bengali, ngmoco, JAMDAT, gluMobile/PlayFirst, Cooking Dash/Restaurant Dash with Gordon Ramsay, Diner Dash, Eric Zimmerman, Jeff Green, Marc Laidlaw, Half-Life, Valve Software, Quake 2, Jedi Starfighter, MaasNeotekProto, Day of the Tentacle, Aaron Evers, Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Revolver Ocelot, PlayStation, Hideo Kojima, Peacewalker, PSP, Brandon Fernandez.

Next time:
Metal Gear Solid: Up thru Revolver Ocelot

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub