Hello, introduce yourself, please.
My name is Ernest Adams. I am a freelance game design consultant. I have been in the game industry since 1989 years, including 8 years at Electronic Arts. Now I earn my living by a combination of consulting, teaching, and writing. I have written four books, including Fundamentals of Game Design, which is a popular university textbook.
What was the first computer you ever seen?
The first computer that I physically saw was an IBM 360 mainframe. It was in the computing center at the University of Kentucky, USA.
How you began working in the industry?
I was a programmer in the electronics industry, but I wanted to move into games. In 1989 I saw an advertisement in a magazine that said, "Are you a software Rambo?" It was from a small company called Interactive Productions. I applied, had an interview, and got the job. My first task was creating the PC client software for an online game called RabbitJack's Casino.
Please, tell about years of your work for Bullfrog and creation of Dungeon Keeper 3.
I worked for Bullfrog for just one year. I went there to work on a new game in the Populous series, but it was cancelled. Then they asked me to work on Dungeon Keeper 3. We only started the early concept design. The game would have been above ground, in castles (but castles with dungeons!). However, after three months' work, it was cancelled too. The company wanted to concentrate on the Harry Potter games instead.
How do you feel about the 'Hollywodification' of the games industry?
It is a dangerous error to think that game development is like movie development. Filmmaking is somewhat predictable. Game development is very unpredictable because each game requires a new piece of software. Actually, the game industry has expanded much more recently from making smaller games, not larger games. The explosion in the casual games business has proven that we don't have to make Hollywood-style blockbusters to make money.
What is the greatest influance on your work?
Probably the greatest influence on my work has been my love of travel. My parents were archaeologists and I spent part of my childhood in Sudan, while they worked on archaeological excavations in the Nile valley. We used that opportunity to travel to Europe, East Africa, and Australia. I find that a cross-cultural experience of life gives me a much better understanding of how people live. Although I was born an American, I how have dual American and British nationality and I live in England.
The other big influence on my life has been a love of books. I have a vivid imagination and that has powerfully affected my approach to game design. To me, games are all about the player's fantasy.
What developers studio do you really admire?
Most of the studios I really like have been bought by Electronic Arts! Bullfrog, Maxis, Origin, and Bioware are all studios that I admire. Looking Glass was excellent while it existed, too. At the moment I'm impressed by Turbine. I play The Lord of the Rings Online quite a lot these days.
What is your all-time favorite game?
I have three. Tetris is one of my favorite games because it is perfect. You cannot improve it in any way. I also like Planescape;Torment because it has a very unusual setting, protagonist, and story. Finally, Balance of Power was a brilliant game about superpower geopolitics during the Cold War. I learned a lot about international relations playing that game.
If computers didn't exist, what would you be doing now?
This one is difficult. When I was a child I thought I wanted to be a physicist... but I don't really have strong enough mathematical skills. Maybe I would be a board game designer! But in reality I think I would have some kind of job teaching or in the hard sciences.
Who would play you in a movie version of your life?
There's not a lot of demand for short, fat, bald actors. Danny DeVito?
talking Anton Zhuk
translate by Kirill Ulezko
Русская версия интервью (Russian version of interview)