Interview with creator of Amnesia. The Dark Descent
Root: When you released your new game Amnesia, I was really excited, because it was first good game for Linux in last months. Where do you get the idea about Linux port of all your games? Is it important to you for some reason or just economical attempt?
Jens: When we started making games we decided to use cross-platform libraries for everything so that we could with minimal effort support Mac& Linux. This was so that we maximized our possibilities to survive should it no go so well on Windows. I personally had also worked a lot with Mac games, so I thought it would be great if we could do Mac games as well.
Root: Do you work on another game for Linux this time? Linux version of Amnesia has 5 % share by your blogpost. It is not much, but I thing it is good. What is your opinion?
Jens: At the moment we are not that far as we have decided on how the new engine will be. So can't say if we are working on Linux support or not. I think 5 % is good, it fits with the market share of the platform, so it is what to expect. If we had the time to do special Linux marketing efforts I am sure that % could go up a bit. Or if there was a large place to sell games for Linux, like you have Steam on Windows.
Root: When i was buying Amensia, I was really surprised about price. Normal game (even much worst than Amnesia) cost about 30–50 USD/EUR in first months. What leads you to set this low price?
Jens: We are a small company and we personally think that around 20–30 USD is what smaller developers should charge for their games. Unlike retail sales you get a much larger share of the profit, so there were no reason to go higher. If you like at content, for example only graphics wise, the large game companies spend a lot of money there, while we do not, and that sort of perceived value has to be taken into account (even if it is all looks and no brains ;)).
Root: Did you notice, Amnesia is really scare? First day after release, I downloaded the demo and I can't get it to end (I can't complete second Penumbra too). After that I really hard thought about buying, but after all, I bought it. In first one hour, there is nothing, no monster, no action, but I was imaging everything behind every corner. (good job btw.) I think I could die after few hours in Amnesia. During the game my heart has at least 200 beats in minute. This tends me to question. Do you thing it is problem of Amensia? I know, if you give to player some weapon (like first Penumbra), it would not be same game, but there could be more buyers.
Jens: Yes and no. I do not think it is a problem for the niche market we are trying to be in. That is to make the best horror game in the horror genre. Then if we are said to be „too scary“ that will probably only be good as people will get curious. But if we want to expand beyond the horror market then yes I think that would not be very good at all. Then it would be better to have a great game, that is only a little bit scary for the good fun, to reach as many as possible.
Root: Did you scare when you was testing Amnesia? :-D
Jens: Haha, no, or yes, sometimes when you are testing something the game can surprise you and scare you. Like you are really concentrated on a puzzle that you are testing and all of a sudden a monster has sneaked up on you. But in general it is really hard to know if a game is scary when you know all about how it works and when everything is going to happen, and you have done it 20 times already.
Root: What is the biggest problem, when you develop game for three platforms? How many problems did you have with Linux?
Jens: It's not that much of a problem. It has some benefits as you find problems on one platform that actually is a problem on all platforms, but you did not notice it on the other platform etc. Closer to release it is a bit stressful, because you have to test 3 times as much. It might be so that in the future a Mac/Linux release will be shortly after instead, because as Windows is 90% of the market, it would be better ot be able to concentrate all the testing for one platform.
Root: What do you think about Steam for Linux? Would you appreciate availability of it? Do you think, it could lead to developing more Linux games?
Jens: I would say Steam for Linux is almost a must. It is such a dominating platform on Windows, that if it is not available on Linux it can stop people from using Linux or companies from porting. As we already are on Steam we would definitely enjoy its availability on Linux, I mean we would definitely add Linux support for our games on Steam. I do not think it would lead to more companies developing for Linux, I think that either you do cross-platform releases or you don't. If Steam is available and they only release Windows games, then I do not think it is of their interest to get the game onto Linux.
Root: How many differences had Mac OS X and Linux platform?
Jens: They are very similar so the differences are not that great. The main difference would be that on Mac you have Mac OS X and you know exactly what sort of technologies that include. On Linux you of course have all the variations going and that requires more checks and inclusions to make sure it will work as intended.
Root: In discussions under our game articles and news, many people wrote, game developing for Linux is not worth. Do you thing that too?
Jens: It depends on how you do the developing I suppose. In our case we have a guy that ports the game to Linux, for this he gets a share of the sales. So if the game does not sell, it does not cost us anything really. If you have a game that can be ported with little effort, then it should be ported as all sales should in the end make it worth.
Root: What software and OS do you use for developing? Why?
Jens: We mainly use Windows, because most of the programs used in the development are Windows based. But we also use Mac (for sound and music) and in addition to our Linux guru we also have machines with Linux on them, yet more for personal use.
Root: How long did you make Amnesia?
Jens: Three years!