Developer Spotlight: Interview With Mateusz Skutnik
There are a lot of game developers out there, but few have achieved the cult following and widespread popularity of Mateusz Skutnik. From the post-apocalyptic tale of The Fog Fall to the simple yet oh-so-stylish puzzling of his charming 10 Gnomes games, Mateusz has taken players around the world on memorable point-and-click adventures, to say nothing of his smash-hit ten year series of Submachine games. It's hard to believe he gets any time off at all... just one month after the first Submachine game, he released Submachine Remix, which dramatically expanded upon the original. Since 2005, he's made or been involved in the creation of a staggering amount of free online games, to the point where it isn't officially the New Year until he's released a new installment of his Where Is... ? series to ring it in.
Just lately, he's agreed to work on a very special project for us, an escape game just for JayisGames, but then, he's always working on something special, from comics to tutorials, to special HD versions of the games people love. What's your favourite Mateusz Skutnik game? What was the first one you ever played? Do you like them whimsical... or just a little freaky? What's your favourite thing about them... what makes, for you, a Mateusz game, a Mateusz game?
Click on past the break for a short interview and a sneak peek at his upcoming escape game! And remember, if you've enjoyed any of the many fantastic free games he's released over the years, consider supporting him by purchasing HD versions from his store!
A big focus of your games is usually story and setting. Is there any sort of story genre that you haven't tried yet but have always wanted to?
Not really. I'm not looking at genres while writing a story. Often when I write... I don't know what will come out of it. The readers and players determine whether that thing that I did is cute or disturbingly fascinating. That concerns mostly graphics, but story as well. Long story short, I don't know in what genres I operate. I don't know what genres I'm missing here.
Few people actually think about or understand the time, effort, and talent that goes into creating the games they play online for free. What is the process like in creating the average point-and-click adventure you make?
60% is thinking, imagining, writing, going through the game in my head. Another 30% is drawing everything. 5% is programming and the last 5% is all other stuff, like engine integration, implementing sound effects, music, debugging, beta-testing, releasing...
Submachine recently released its ninth installment... and has been going on for nine years to boot! Has the series changed direction or vision significantly since you first began, or have you always had a specific storyline in mind?
No, of course not. When first one came out I didn't even have a plan for a sequel. But the overwhelming popularity of this game dictated that it turned into series which is now closing to a ten-year run. I have a not-so-clear vision of the entire plot, but creating each installment is shaping the game to its final state. And with that, the overall story as well. I had a rather clear idea about how the series will end by the time Submachine 5 was released, but how we'd get there... I had no clue. Now, after Submachine 9 we know.
Out of all the different settings and storylines you've worked with and created over the years, is there any one in particular that you find the hardest to work with, or the easiest? Something that just "comes to you", while another you might find yourself really puzzling over how to proceed with it?
For me there's no such thing as a setting that's hard to work with. I don't struggle with my games, I let them flow, my games are like a river, they take the easiest path to the sea. It's about floating alongside that river. It's kind of hard to explain, but that work that I do while creating games isn't really "a work"... it's more like drawing my comic books. If I don't feel good while creating... I just don't do it.
Most of the Submachine games have a very distinctive approach to puzzle solving and exploration. What's most challenging about coming up with puzzles that fit their environment and are often something the player needs to experiment with to understand, without going overboard to the point where the design gets too obscure?
I always had a fixed answer to that question, which is... I don't know. But the more I think about it, the more I know there's more to it. I think that's because I, myself, am an average gamer. I probably wouldn't be able to solve a Submachine game if it wasn't me who made it. So I'm just pushing the puzzle design right out of my reach, and that's that golden spot, not too hard, not too simple, just average enough.
Have you ever thought about creating a game in something other than flash, such as Unity or HTML5?
I have, and we did. We, as in Pastel Games. But that didn't go so well for us. However, I'll probably be moving away from flash-based games starting from 2015, I'm thinking about creating a game that I'd be able to put on Steam. But that's distant future, right now I have a series to finish. I can't abandon my players who've been waiting almost 10 years for the resolution in Submachine series (What, pressure? No, no pressure at all...).
Finally, you have a lot of different multipart games you've been working on over the years. Do you have anything new you're thinking about starting, or are you planning to focus on the stories and games you've already got going?
No, no new series for now. I'm saving that for something completely different, big and bold and sparkling new that I'd be able to put on Steam and earn a pot of gold. Meanwhile wrapping up the flash-based part of my life, I'm creating HD remakes of my best games, which are available in my store.