GameBoomers Talks to mif2000 (Denis Galanin), Developer of Hamlet

GB: Could you explain briefly about your background as a developer?

mif2000: I have been developing games for a long time, around seven years now. I spent five years working in a Russian game development company and took part in the creation of several commercial games. However, I currently work exclusively on my own projects. Hamlet is my latest one.

GB: Why did you select a play by Shakespeare as inspiration for the game?

mif2000: I decided to create a game based on a popular piece of literature, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the first candidate. I couldn’t recall a single game based on Hamlet, which made me think it was the right choice.

GB: The character of Hamlet ranks fifth in the list of "The 101 Most Influential People who Never Lived." Yet Hamlet (the character) is removed in Hamlet (the game), and his role is taken over by a short, purple-clothed Hero. Why is the small Hero better at defeating the villains and rescuing Ophelia than Hamlet would have been? (Also, just curious -- is that a hat or a crown on his head?)

mif2000: Frankly speaking, I don’t remember how I added a new character to the game. Now that the game is out, I understand that adding him was the right thing to do. The image of the character was inspired by the American trash-fantasy of the 1950s-1960s. His head is topped by a “bulb," which will eventually become a standard accessory of all residents of the Earth.

GB: This game surprised me with its visual style -- cartoon-like, with a pastel color palette, darker locations in silhouette, quirky angles and frequent animations. The environments are unique and the characters made me grin. Why did you decide to take the game in a direction that is so different "Hamlet"(the play), with its tragic setting, dark conspiracies, and emotional anguish?

mif2000: Serious games are a major problem of the game industry these days. Everyone can make a serious game, but can you name any truly fun and entertaining titles released in recent years? As for parodies, they simply don’t seem to be represented it all. When was the last time you laughed while playing a game? That’s why I decided to fill the void with a fun, satirical version of Hamlet. When the situation changes and we start seeing fewer serious games on the market, I may consider a “serious” adaptation of Hamlet.

GB: In the course of this game, the gamer can influence devices and creatures that the Hero can’t reach. What role is the gamer playing? Should she think of herself as a companion to the Hero or as the Hero’s guardian angel?

mif2000: In my opinion, gamers should not be thinking about such things at all. They should be just playing and enjoying the process, so it’s important that the initial immersion into the game be easy and hassle-free. When gamers start thinking about these types of things, it means that the game has serious problems—that the people playing it get bored and try to entertain themselves by looking for unnecessary meanings.

GB: Some of the puzzles in Hamlet require out-of-the-box thinking -- even stepping outside the standard adventure game conventions. Why did you decide to take this risk? Do you have a philosophy that influences the way you design puzzles?

mif2000: I think the adventure genre has been stagnating for years. The same old puzzles have been migrating from one game to another for decades. How much longer can we solve the same old riddles??!

For me, Hamlet is a collection of original puzzles that you will not find in any other game. I used physical, psychological, and other peculiarities of the human body, so the puzzles are truly unique.

GB: Hamlet contains a timed challenge involving Claudius and his guitar. You recently released a version of the game that makes this challenge much easier after asking for a Hint. Why did you decide to include a difficult timed challenge, and why did you later decide to give the gamer the option to select a more leisurely solution?

mif2000: A lot of players use a touchpad, so the notes puzzle is somewhat hard for them. I read some comments from people who really liked the game, but got stuck on the “Claudius with a Guitar” level. So I decided to help by tweaking that puzzle, so people could have more fun playing Hamlet.

GB: Is that Manny Calavera with the scythe late in the game? Or maybe a cousin? :)

mif2000: This character is both a reference to Grim Fandango (three dashes on the forehead) and Discworld (capitalized text).

GB: What was the hardest thing to animate in the game?

mif2000: Actually, I am not an animator. My knowledge of animation was limited to some videos and tutorials I watched and read online. That made all animations very complex, yet interesting and challenging tasks. I think I did a pretty good job with the Octopus with tentacles and Claudius on a horse, though.

GB: What aspect of adventure gaming most appeals to you? How do you try to translate this into the games you create?

mif2000: I believe that original puzzles are the key component of a successful adventure game, so I invested a lot of time and effort into this aspect of Hamlet.

GB: How are adventure games different than casual games? Where does Hamlet fit on the adventure/casual continuum?

mif2000: I think it’s incorrect to draw parallels between adventure and casual games. Adventure games can be casual or not. At the same time, casual games may or may not contain elements of adventure games.

GB: How difficult is it now for an Indie game to find an audience? Is it getting easier or more difficult as digital downloads become more common?

mif2000: I don’t divide games into “indie” and “non-indie.” My standard categories are “cool” and “everything else.” And I think an interesting game will always find its audience.

GB: Is there any other information about the game that you would like to tell us?

mif2000: A lot of people don’t realize (or don’t believe) that I created Hamlet alone—it was a one-man project. Here’s another interesting fact: Hamlet was initially designed to be a non-stop action game in the style of Metal Slug.


For mif2000's blog, click here.  To purchase the game via download from the Alawar Games website, click here.

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