Friday, February 20, 2009

23 interviews: Cryptic Sea

23's interview with Edmund McMillen and Alex Austin from Cryptic Sea

Both Edmund and Alex have had various projects with game development, but together, they make up the team of Cryptic Sea. Together they have made Gish and Blast Miner, also listed on the site are Alex's works Bridge Building Game and A New Zero. They've been working on, and hopefully complete in due time; Gish 2, and No Quarter. They have very different styles, both very unique, and together they create exceptionally unique and entertaining games. So, here's the interview :)

Who are you, and what company(s) are you apart of, and could you give a brief explanation of both?

Alex: I'm a designer/programmer, right now I release my games under the Cryptic Sea label. From 2001-2005 I was a part of Chronic Logic.

Edmund: Edmund McMillen, i make games. im an design and artist for Cryptic sea and my own personal side projects.

How did you get in to making games?

Alex: I've been making games since I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the possibilities of computer games. I started making money from games when my friend Ben and I started Chronic Logic to release Pontifex.

Edmund: I had been doing basic interactive flash projects from 2000-2003 and started working on a game with Tom Fulp Called Cereus Peashy. Shortly after starting the project i got a job doing freelance art for Chronic Logic, a company that alex founded a few years earlier.

How did Cryptic Sea/the partnership between Alex Austin and Edmund McMillen start?

Alex: Edmund and I started working on Gish when he was doing art for Chronic Logic.

Where did the name Cryptic Sea come from?

Alex: Originally it was a name I was going to use for some music projects I was working on.

Who are some other people you've worked with?

Edmund: Ive worked with quite a few, Jon Blow, Kyle Gabler, Tom Fulp, Tyler Glaiel, Florian Himsl and Alex Austin to name a few.

What games have you made (I know there's a very long list, so, just some highlights/series would be good) also, how would you describe your style?

Alex: Bridge Builder, Pontifex, Triptych, Pontifex II, Gish, Blast Miner, most of the games I've done involve phyiscs-based gameplay.

Edmund: Gish, Meat Boy, Aether, Coil, Triachnid and Blast Miner are the games im most known for. Id describe my style as "awesome".

What are some of your influences? (Other games/outside of gaming)

Alex: I'm definitely influenced by Sid Meier's games, the Ultima series, simulation games from the 90's, and NES games like Super Mario Bros or Zelda. My non-gaming influences include music like Boards of Canada, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Aphex Twin and Pink Floyd. I've been really interested in Stanley Kubrick recently, not just his films but his approach to the creative process also.

Edmund: Game wise ive been influenced by all the classics, Zelda, Mario, Street fighter 2 and so on. outside of gaming id say my major influences come from film makers like Rod Serling, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Lloyd Kaufman and Comic writers/artist like Jack Chick, R Crumb and Sam Keith.

What's your favorite game (if not answered in the last question)?

Alex: Civilization.

Edmund: Probably the first Zelda.

What's your favorite game that you've made?

Edmund: Right now its Aether.

What game(s) are you working on now?

Alex: I'm working on No Quarter, A New Zero, Pontifex III, Gish 2, and a few other ideas.

Edmund: Im currently working on 2 flash games, No Quarter, Super Meat Boy and Gish 2.

How do you feel about your fan base?

Alex: I don't think I really have a fan base, unless it's like the Flight of the Conchords fan base, except without Mel.

What are your future plans?

Alex: It depends on how No Quarter does, if it does poorly I'll probably look for a job.

Do you plan on making any games or ports on a console?

Alex: Yes.

On Gish/Blast Miner:

Who came up with the idea for Gish and how?

Edmund: Gish himself came from this strange demon i had been working on for a local magazine. He was origionaly made of smoke and had small arms and legs.. he kinda de evolved into how gish looks today.

How is Gish 2 coming along/when can we expect to see a final product or at least a beta?

Alex: Not for a while, we haven't been working on it much lately.

Are there any plans to make a Blast Miner 2?

Alex: Nope.

On No Quarter:

When is the planned release date?

Alex: Late March or early April.

When will you post a new video?

Alex: Probably not until it's finished.

How is the game development and beta testing going?

Alex: Some days it's good, some days I feel like quitting.

When will you get the next beta out?

Alex: In the next week or so, we'll probably add another game into the next beta.

How much will the whole CD cost?

Alex: Not sure yet.

Is there any way to pre-order it?

Alex: Nope.

For Edmund

How was the Global Game Jam?

Edmund: i wasn't actually a part if it, we just talked at UCSC to a few of the teams that where working on games for it. I decided to make a game for it a few hours before it was over. Tyler and i finished AVGM in about 3 hours, the game is a joke... it really isnt to be played.

What's the story with you and Tyler Glaiel, you two seem to be working together a lot?

Edmund: Technically we have only worked on 2 games together now, Aether and AVGM. But tyler has a great mind for games, and good eye as well. Its fun working with him because he works really fast and is basically up for anything :).

Where do you get the idea for such strange games?

Edmund: I just look around, everything in life is strange. Its strange to me that my stuff is even considered strange or weird these days. i mean look at us.. we are these delicate sacks of flesh that eat shit and reproduce... isnt that strange? we dont know what happens to us when we die, that's pretty strange. Life is strange, im just mirroring it.

Do you plan on making more art games (like coil) or more fun games (like meatboy)?

Edmund: Yeah, Ive been writing this game called Huck for a few months now. its a simple design that would be probably considered an art game, its another auto biographical piece like aether. The game im working on with florian might be considered an art game, its a social experiment.

When can we expect Super Meat Boy and how is it going?

Edmund: Late this year, we are still in the very very early stages of development.

Can you tell us anything about your current and future projects like spew and your untitled game that you're working on with Florian?

Edmund: Other then they will both becoming out in about a month, no.

For Alex Austin (sorry for doing yours second, no prejudice)

When can we expect a finished product of A New Zero?

Alex: I'm not sure, I'm not working on it full-time so the development has been slow.

How is Golf? Going/when can we see an update or final product (you are part of that team, right?)?

Alex: Golf? is pretty much dead right now, I was doing programming and design but at this point it doesn't look like it will ever be finished.

What's your role at Chronic Logic?

Alex: I'm no longer a part of Chronic Logic, but some of my games are still sold through there.

You seem pretty hard to get information on, is this on purpose, or am I just missing something?

Alex: It's not on purpose, it's probably because I haven't done many interviews lately.

Do you plan on making A New Zero playable over the internet instead of just LAN?

Alex: It is playable over the internet.

23: oops... I guess nobody has been on much lately...

How did you develop such a unique style?

Alex: I'm not sure I have a style really, but I create graphics and physics engines for each game which I think helps make them unique.

Is there any hidden games (other then what's on Cryptic Sea and Chronic Logic, and Golf?) that you've made or are working on that you can tell us about?

Alex: I'm working on a puzzle game called Shadow that I might release in the next few weeks.

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