Journalism Interview: SilkWizard
Interviewed by EnigmaticGallivanter
EG: You've directed short films, you've lead the development on some of BYOND's greatest games, and now you're writing scripts. Did you ever think you would get this far?
SilkWizard: Ha... well in terms of 'BYOND Accomplishments' I never thought that I'd still be around 9 years later, and be capable of coding a game like NEStalgia. I started out coding silly games on a TI-83 calculator - I never thought that I'd make something like NEStalgia, something 'real'
EG: What was it that motivated you to keep going with your projects for all these years?
SilkWizard: It's hard to say. The biggest factor is that I just enjoy the actual process of making games so much. For me the fun isn't necessarily in releasing the game, it's in creating it. I think a lot of people don't enjoy making the games, which is why they don't get very far. So I guess that I'm lucky to be nerdy enough to truly enjoy it!
EG: For you, what has been the biggest hardship for you in making these games?
SilkWizard: Trying to balance the amount of time I spend working on them. Whatever the project is I'm working on, I tend to get caught up in it and work on it like mad until it is finished. Be it a short film or a BYOND game, I'll lose sleep until I get it done. Not because I'm stressed, but because once I've set my mind to do something I get really into it. Therefore, it's sometimes hard to balance working on NEStalgia with my 'real' work. I'm a very "all or nothing" type of person, so I'm just not satisfied unless I'm able to give something I'm working on the time it deserves.
EG: NEStalgia is one of your newer games to be added in the SilkGame's collection. This game has (what I believe) outdone all of SilkGame's previous games, do you think you could ever top it with future developments? Would there be a SNEStalgia or anything like that, or will you go back to older projects and rework them to a new tier?
SilkWizard: At this point I don't have any other BYOND games planned. There is enough to be done with NEStalgia that I could be working on it indefinitely. I'd love to remake 'SpaceTug', I'd love to go back and finish Acheron's Awakening. But with the state BYOND is currently in, I'm not making any long term plans past NEStalgia.
EG: You've kept your games strictly either RPG or Action. Do you think that you will try to branch out all of SilkGames to other parts of BYOND?
SilkWizard: I created a working Real Time Strategy game a few years back that I never reased. I've always been interested in making different types of games - so if I were to actually make another BYOND game down the road, that's a possiblity.
EG: The motto of SilkGames is "Kind of like a professional game development team... only not". If your writing career fails, do you think you and your team would move up to professional game development (2D or 3D)?
SilkWizard: Well I've got many years ahead of me being a "starving artist" before I'd give up on my writing! That said, I'd love to merge my love for game design down the road with my love for writing/directing. I think that because videogames are becoming more and more like movies in that they're hiring real directors and writers these days, that might not be too farfetched.
EG: Do you believe that with the release of better developed games will help set a standard upon the BYOND community to get out there and create?
SilkWizard: It's hard to say at this point. I don't think that there are many people left within the community who are willing or even capable of making quality games anymore. What the community needs is some new blood, and a game like NEStalgia could help to bring in a bunch of new people once it's exposed to the outside world. So yeah, some higher quality games would be a great start, but the current community likely isn't capable of producing them.
EG: With well made games for by BYOND Anime community such as DBOII and other "new" anime games that are not based off of Naruto, Bleach, DBZ. Do you think that there is still that bit of hope for BYOND Anime and that it won't continue to be the downside of this community?
SilkWizard: I think that BYOND is at the point where any fan game, be it an anime game or something else, will only be detrimental to BYOND. I'm not saying that people are morally wrong to make them. But the best thing that could happen to BYOND, in terms of the system itself having a brighter future, would be for all the anime/fan games to disappear. If BYOND only allowed original games to be listed publicly, I think it would be a huge change for the better.
EG: If you think that any new fan game to to BYOND will be detrimental, what do you think about the older ones? You own your own fan game towards Dragon Warrior, does that make you hypocritical to that subject?
SilkWizard: That's a good question. I don't think people should really concern themselves with whether or not their game is good or bad for BYOND as a whole. My point is that if I were in charge and trying to "save" BYOND, I would immediately axe every single fan game. And yup, that would include Dragon Warrior Online. Fan games aren't inherently evil. But at the moment they are destroying BYOND.
EG: Every big contributor to BYOND has their fame and misfortune. With the constant controversy over the NEStalgia bannings, how do/did you deal with these things?
SilkWizard: I take most of it with a grain of salt. The fact that most of what I do becomes 'the talk of BYOND' doesn't help me, and it doesn't hurt me. At the end of the day the drama queens will have their drama, and those of us who actually make/play games will not be impacted by it. Granted, I do enjoy stirring the pot once in awhile... but that doesn't affect my games ;)
EG: You have been called the "most controversial BYOND member" by Tom and therefore are on high watch. Do you think this means you can't be trusted with all the things you post, or just that you have to be watched because people will take what you say, the wrong way.
SilkWizard: People can choose to listen to what I say, to ignore it, or to freak out about it. I don't think the moderators particularly care all that much about having to squelch large incidents. or them it's as easy as pressing a single "Hide" button and walking away. I think that Tom's decision to get involved in the recent debacle was a mistake... but he's the guy in charge so he can do as he pleases!
EG: Now, why do you think that people have the biggest issue over you? You can't please everyone and you know what, I know that. But it seems that for everything you do, there is always a negative feedback.
SilkWizard: There are several reasons. The largest reason is that many people are inclined to automatically dislike someone who is good at something, and who receives recognition for it. But aside from that, I am a person with very strong convictions and opinions, and I'm not afraid to express them. I strike a nerve with certain types of individuals who just can't stand the thought of me being so confident, and who make it their mission on BYOND to "put me in my place". Most people probably don't have an opinion of me either way. The "Silk Haters" are just so loud that they overwhelm the discussion.
EG:NEStalgia has had a lowering fanbase as of recent times. What do you plan to do to increase the fan base back up to 40+ players a day?
SilkWizard:It's unfortunate that I had to stop work on NEStalgia when I did. It was never my plan to leave the game without 'end game' content to keep players busy, but oh well. Most of those players will return when we release the next big content patch.
Regardless, the BYOND community has never been my target audience for NEStalgia. The true player base for NEStalgia doesn't exist on BYOND - I have to bring them here. As far as the world outside BYOND is concerned, NEStalgia hasn't even been released yet.
EG:Of course we've seen your posts about new additions to the game that will be added, Do you think these things will get the game back up to the top?
EG:If you have added things or have new ideas, do you mind sharing them so all the NEStalgia fans have a few things to look forward to (not leaking everything though!)?
SilkWizard:tenkuu has been hard at work both creating content and adding all sorts of crazy new game mechanics. The material I created for both the arctic and the end game dungeon is some of the best stuff yet. We're also fleshing out existing features - for example, more casino games
EG:Everyone has there source of ideas to work up and build upon, what has been your main source of inspiration? (Ex: the auction house resembles WoW and could be suggested that was your inspiration for the addition).
SilkWizard:I think that NEStalgia's inspirations are pretty obvious - the title says it all. In terms of more modern trappings: It couldn't "be suggested" that WoW's Auction House was my inspiration for NEStalgia's Marketplace, it *was* the inspiration for it.
EG:If fans followed SilkGame's they would know about Acheron's Awakening, this game hasn't been seen in a LONG time, do you think we'll ever see it again?
SilkWizard:I have no plans to return to that project right now.
EG:Some have said AA is all nothing but dead code or lacking it. Do you think in the future you will release AA as an open source program in hopes that someone will complete it?
SilkWizard:The only thing AA is lacking is story content. It would be like if NEStalgia only consisted of the first town and dungeon and none of the NPCs had any dialogue yet.
Anyone who is a skilled enough coder/designer to actually be able to use the AA source wouldn't need it in the first place. They'd just make something all of their own.
EG:NEStalgia and the rest of your games have a knack for having decent to solid gameplay while keeping that download size small and fast for easy access. Do you think that NEStalgia will ever break the 2MB rule you go by? If not, how is it you keep your code so concise that your download times are small?
SilkWizard:NEStalgia currently weighs in under 2 MB - something that people seem to think is a miracle based upon the size of the game. The fact is that it's not a miracle. We're simply trying to make the best game we possibly can, and part of that is file optimization.
It's inevitable that NEStalgia will break 2 MB someday, but it won't be out of carelessness or laziness (which is what I was railing against in that blog post).
EG:You've expressed your fondness of older games not only through your short films like Gamer's or in Wii Fit: The End of an Era, but also in your game NEStalgia (obvious by the name). What is it about these old, simple games and their graphics that just makes you adore them?
SilkWizard:I grew up with them, and they have been an important part of my life. Both of my parents played videogames with my brother and I when we were younger. My brother and I took turns playing the original Dragon Warrior on the same character. My friends and I used to camp outside in the backyard with a TV in the tent playing games all night.
My memories of those games aren't of playing them alone in a dimly lit room - they're of enjoying them together with friends and family. As much as I love modern games, the games from my childhood have a special place in my heart.
EG:Will you ever make a game that uses more updated graphic types and using more shades and colors like todays games do, or will you always stay gold and use the NES style?
SilkWizard:I'm not concerned with how many shades/colors I'm using - all that I care about is whether or not the graphics look good and that they fit. Ex: Proelium II doesn't need 32 bit graphics to be an attractive game... and the island that was created for AA is easily the most beautiful environment I've seen on BYOND.
EG:In todays society if kids aren't just loving their first person shooters, it's the graphics they rave about. Looking at past screenshots of games like AA and Proelium I & II, will you ever upgrade the graphics in these games or will they stay the same to preserve what once was, or what will be?
SilkWizard:I think that the graphics for those games are perfect as-is.
EG:In our earlier questions you said you have created an RTS that has yet to be released to BYOND. Will this game ever be released for the public? Are you able to share anything about this game so we know what is going down over at SilkGames development lab?
SilkWizard:It was a fun little 'proof of concept'... but in a world in which easily accessible multiplayer RTS games like Starcraft exist, it was ultimately pointless.
NEStalgia, on the other hand, is unique. Part of the reason that it's such an exciting project to work on is because there isn't anything else like it out there.
EG:Has your writing career ever led you to write ideas, scenarios or game concepts? have you ever used them in your work or future work? if so, please tell us some examples!
SilkWizard:Yup, it goes both ways. My next big screenplay project will likely be Acheron's Awakening. The story that I came up with for that game will translate really well into film.
EG:You have claimed that you will start a marketing / PR run for BYOND and your games. Some have said you haven't started this. The BYOND community wants to know what you plan on doing to help it, or what you have done. If you had, what did you do and how can the SilkGames community help you in this plan?
SilkWizard:I haven't started my campaign yet. The plan has always been to wait until the 'end game' stuff is in the game - and unfortunately I haven't had time to do that yet.
The nice thing about NEStalgia is that it doesn't have an expiration date. I could start promoting the game three weeks from now or three months from now and it wouldn't make any difference.
EG: You go with the ideals of Objectivism (I also do to the lesser extent). What is it about that philosophy that just comes right out at you and makes you think "This is the thing for me!"?
SilkWizard: I've always had Objectivist points of view, because I've always believed that individuals are ultimately responsible for their own lives.So yeah - Objectivism is directly inline with the way that I've always viewed the world.
EG: My favorite writing of Ayn Rand is "Atlas Shrugged". Being a fan of her philosophy, what is your favorite book written by her?
SilkWizard: Atlas Shrugged is my favorite, but The Fountainhead is a close second. Even if you disregard the philosophy, she's an amazing writer and storyteller.
EG: Earlier I asked what kept you going, but lets talk about what started you. What is it that originally inspired you to start directing short films, creating games, and eventually up to writing scripts?
SilkWizard: I've always been an "artistic" person. All of those things are outlets for expressing my creativity, so I enjoy them. I guess that I've always had a wild imagination.
EG: The answer is obvious, but do you enjoy your writing? What is it that you write about, life experience? Or do you writing your own original content?
SilkWizard: Yup, I really enjoy it. I write all kinds of things - my favorite is "dark comedy" based upon my own personal experiences. I think that the short I made "Just Wonderful" sums up my writing style - a bit goofy and off the wall.
EG: BenMakesMovies is your little short film team. It has been awhile since a new video was released. If there are any fans reading this, would you like to tell them if you have had any new ideas to film?
SilkWizard: I've got a few new ideas. For the most part I've been distracted by a million other things, and I really haven't had the motivation to make another YouTube short. But hopefully that will change someday!
EG: With your career hopefully kicking off, how do you see yourself in the next 5 years or so?
SilkWizard: Hopefully doing exactly what I'm doing now - enjoying my work, whatever that may be. I'll also definitely be living in Seattle by then - I can't stand Los Angeles.
EG: Do you have any words of advice to the BYOND community, up-in-coming writers, film directors, and game developers?
SilkWizard: If I had any advice for the BYOND community, it would be to stop spending so much time worrying about the latest drama, and start producing something.
EG: My final question is, Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? (you can google the proper response* if you want, or make your own)
SilkWizard: Ha - never heard of that meme. But I guess that it didn't work on me :P