Hey, who is a babe like you doing in a place like this? The correct answer is Larry, by the way. Larry Laffer. Aroused to meet you. I have to confess something: I lost my virginity. Can I have yours? You know, I’m a man, you’re a woman—just do the math. By the way. Those are very nice legs, what time do they open? Seriously, I’m not Fred Flintstone, but I can make your bed rock. Oh, come on! I’m doing you a favor. I know people who know people who could get you in touch with people who can get you into the movie industry. That’s right babe, daddy can make you a star! So, where are we going, your place? What do you mean: stop following you, this wouldn’t be much of a date if I did. What are you talking about, what restraining order? Oh yeah, like that could ever get in the way of true love! You’re breaking my heart. Seriously, I will never recover from such a loss. Damn. Another one gone. And she was like a solid five. Maybe even a slightly outdated six. Oh, hi! Who is a babe like you doing in a place like this? 
In the history of gaming there has never been a hero as persistant as Larry Laffer. No brave knight was as determined to slay the evil dragon, no galactic emperor was as hell-bent on conquering the Universe, no one was ever as devoted to their noble quest as Larry is devoted to his objective: getting lucky. Over the course of 7 games—scratch that, 6! Larry 4 is just a myth—the wannabe womanizer worked his disputable charm on innumerous women and got shot down more times than a kid spending his summer vacation playing Galaga in the arcade. Yet, he always bounced back and never lost faith in the true love that lasts for a whole night. You can follow his legend from the very beginning, to all of the brief happy endings in GOG-exclusive pack of Leisure Suit Larry’s Greatest Hits and Misses, that also include’s the series’ spiritual ancestor: The Soft Porn adventure!

Hey, who is a babe like you doing in a place like this? The correct answer is Larry, by the way. Larry Laffer. Aroused to meet you. I have to confess something: I lost my virginity. Can I have yours? You know, I’m a man, you’re a woman—just do the math. By the way. Those are very nice legs, what time do they open? Seriously, I’m not Fred Flintstone, but I can make your bed rock. Oh, come on! I’m doing you a favor. I know people who know people who could get you in touch with people who can get you into the movie industry. That’s right babe, daddy can make you a star! So, where are we going, your place? What do you mean: stop following you, this wouldn’t be much of a date if I did. What are you talking about, what restraining order? Oh yeah, like that could ever get in the way of true love! You’re breaking my heart. Seriously, I will never recover from such a loss. Damn. Another one gone. And she was like a solid five. Maybe even a slightly outdated six. Oh, hi! Who is a babe like you doing in a place like this? 

In the history of gaming there has never been a hero as persistant as Larry Laffer. No brave knight was as determined to slay the evil dragon, no galactic emperor was as hell-bent on conquering the Universe, no one was ever as devoted to their noble quest as Larry is devoted to his objective: getting lucky. Over the course of 7 games—scratch that, 6! Larry 4 is just a myth—the wannabe womanizer worked his disputable charm on innumerous women and got shot down more times than a kid spending his summer vacation playing Galaga in the arcade. Yet, he always bounced back and never lost faith in the true love that lasts for a whole night. You can follow his legend from the very beginning, to all of the brief happy endings in GOG-exclusive pack of Leisure Suit Larry’s Greatest Hits and Misses, that also include’s the series’ spiritual ancestor: The Soft Porn adventure!

Today, Gods Will Be Watching, a minimalistic point-and-click thriller presented by Devolver Digital, makes it debut on GOG.com. We join Deconstructeam’s Jordi de Paco, the games lead designer for a little talk.

GOG.com: Deconstructeam apparently has a point to make about minimalism, deconstruction, and stripping things down to bare essentials. That is perhaps why the concept of GWBW is so irresistible. Terrifying ethical choices presented as a pixelated point-and-click puzzler born out of a Ludum Dare game jam. Do you think that reductionism and limitations actually can boost how impactful a game can be emotionally?

Jordi de Paco: Yes, totally. I remember playing Metal Gear Solid, and how emotionally powerful the characters felt to me. I don’t mean that the more detailed designs from the sequels are bad, it’s just that the player’s imagination is always better! In Gods Will Be Watching we can cross some lines thanks to the pixelated representation of the game world, as cold-blooded executions or detailed torture would be horrible to see in a higher fidelity game… but at the same time it puts your imagination to work, and depending on the player, that can be way more terrifying.

GOG.com: The game is a daring exercise in translating simple decisions into mathematical variables, and then back into repercussions loaded with gore and misery. How do you approach feeding this thinking machine with scenarios and story points? And how did you decide that A leads to B?

Jordi: When designing the puzzles in Gods Will Be Watching we first brainstormed on hard situations. From that scary list of tough scenarios we chose the ones which could fit in an epic sci-fi space drama. The ones that survived this selection process were the ones good enough for both good gameplay and an interesting story. The rest, is a ton of hours in front of a spreadsheet and a notebook.

GOG.com: The most controversial theme no doubt will be the fact that the player has complete freedom and absolute power over the horrifying situation playing out on the screen. But only at this exact point in time. And then it’s on to the next step. There is certain inevitability and finality to everything you do. Is it a game about self-justification?

Jordi: Totally! In fact, that’s the name of the first chapter of the game, “Self-Justified Sacrifices”. We wanted to avoid popping moral dilemmas in front of the player at all cost. Like forcing you to choose between being good or evil, saving the girl or the man, etc. There’s no judging of your actions, tough decisions emerge from your lack of management skills, so it’s always your fault, and it’s your responsibility to asses the situation and decide what to sacrifice. However, if you’re skilled enough, the game can be completed without a single character dying.

GOG.com: You’ve mentioned that you’re a huge role playing fan and that actual role playing scenarios helped you in making in-game decisions and character reactions more emotional and real. What was the process of building the ecosystem of branching paths in the most severe situations the game puts players in.

Jordi: I didn’t really think about the design of Gods Will Be Watching as branches. As a habit while preparing my role playing sessions, I prefer not to design paths for the players, but interesting situations for them to deal with. I applied a lot of that experience in this game. Defined the situations, and then converted all the important values that represented these scenes into numbers, and designed a way through passive permutations and modifications through player’s input in which this “mathematical ecosystem” could get to a win condition.

GOG.com: In many respects GWBW is a body horror. The characters react mostly with their bodies - shuddering, freezing up, or writhing in pain. The faces remain hidden. Was it a conscious decision right from the go or, at a certain point, you guys just felt that this way it will be even more disturbing? Somehow your pixels seem to condense emotions…

Jordi: During the game jam prototype, it was an accident. We just went for it. But in the final Gods Will Be Watching, it’s been a thing we wanted to empower a lot. Instead of facing the remake through producing a more detailed pixel art, we wanted to work mostly on the animations. For keeping the mood of every stage, the objective was to reduce the UI at its minimum, so we couldn’t have HP indicators, moral status, or any number floating around. All that information had to be told through body expression and context of the stage. It sounds funny talking about pixel art, but we did a lot of acting to get this done… even torture!

Deconstructeam group photo

Deconstructeam (our guest, Jordi, is the one with the axe).

GOG.com: The main topic of the game is, of course, quite extreme, but easy to relate to for an HR specialist, a manager, a department head, anyone that can exercise power over others in a certain field. I imagine that “the greater good”, short-term vs. long-term, risk vs. reward were concepts that were bouncing around your heads?

Jordi: The first thing I did when I started the game design of Gods Will Be Watching was writing these keywords on the first page of the notebook: Feelings. Drama. Dilemma. Epic. Survival. Wits. Pain. Suffering. Commitment. Duty. Burden. Adversity. Challenge. Against all odds. Prolonged.

That’s the foundation of the whole game.

But now you mention it, “the greater good”, short-term vs. long-term and risk vs. reward, would have been awesome keywords too! (laughs)

GOG.com: Now that you are done with GWBW what do you think was your motivation behind making this game? Because, obviously, not FUN for gamers,  in the most common sense of the word :)

Jordi: In our website and our Twitter profile it says “Independent game development studio looking for new narrative experiences in games.” - That’s our main objective. I don’t think games have to be fun, strictly speaking, it’s all about creating an experience, like in movies, comics or books. You can enjoy drama or tragedy as much as nailing three headshots in a row. If you like what you feel, if you need the urge to interact more, to go deeper in any interactive experience… Then it is a good game.

Gods Will Be Watching is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux! You can get the bonus goodie-packed Special Edition for $19.99, or settle for the $9.99 standard edition.

50+ DRM-Free games for the DRM-free OS available today!
There’s also a Special Linux Launch Promo, with 29 Linux titles available up to 75% off until Tuesday, July 29, at 9:59AM GMT.
For both native Linux versions, as well as special builds prepared by our team, GOG.com will provide distro-independent tar.gz archives and support convenient DEB installers for the two most popular Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Mint, in their current and future LTS editions. Helpful and responsive customer support has always been an important part of the GOG.com gaming experience. We wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to Linux, and starting today our helpdesk offers support for our official Linux releases on Ubuntu and Mint systems.
Here are the games you can get for Linux on GOG.com, starting today:
Anomaly Warzone Earth Ascendant Bionic DuesBlake Stone: Aliens of Gold - first time on Linux!Blake Stone: Planet Strike - first time on Linux!Bloodnet - first time on Linux!BravelandCLARC - first time on Linux!Darklands - first time on Linux!DarwiniaDefconDon’t Starve + DLCDragonsphere - first time on Linux!Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic EditionFlatOut - first time on Linux!Flatout 2 - first time on Linux!Fragile Allegiance - first time on Linux!Gemini RueGods Will Be WatchingHammerwatchHocus Pocus - first time on Linux!Kentucky Route ZeroThe Last FederationLegend of GrimrockLitil Divil - first time on Linux!Long Live the QueenMouseCraftMultiwiniaNormality - first time on Linux!Pinball Gold Pack - first time on Linux!Pinball World - first time on Linux!Pirates! Gold Plus - first time on Linux!Realms of the Haunting - first time on Linux!Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender - first time on Linux!Rise of the Triad: Dark War - first time on Linux!Shattered HavenThe Shivah HDSid Meier’s Colonization - first time on Linux!Sid Meier’s Covert Action - first time on Linux!Sir, You Are Being HuntedSlipstream 5000 - first time on Linux!Space Pirates and ZombiesSpacechemStargunner - first time on Linux!SteamWorld DigSuper HexagonSurgeon Simulator 2013Sword of the Samurai - first time on Linux!TeslagradUnrest:Special Edition (Linux build on the way!)UplinkVVVVVV
Follow the GOG.com Blog for more Linux gaming news, and Happy Linux Launch day, everyone!

50+ DRM-Free games for the DRM-free OS available today!

There’s also a Special Linux Launch Promo, with 29 Linux titles available up to 75% off until Tuesday, July 29, at 9:59AM GMT.

For both native Linux versions, as well as special builds prepared by our team, GOG.com will provide distro-independent tar.gz archives and support convenient DEB installers for the two most popular Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Mint, in their current and future LTS editions. Helpful and responsive customer support has always been an important part of the GOG.com gaming experience. We wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to Linux, and starting today our helpdesk offers support for our official Linux releases on Ubuntu and Mint systems.

Here are the games you can get for Linux on GOG.com, starting today:


Anomaly Warzone Earth 
Ascendant 
Bionic Dues
Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold - first time on Linux!
Blake Stone: Planet Strike - first time on Linux!
Bloodnet - first time on Linux!
Braveland
CLARC - first time on Linux!
Darklands - first time on Linux!
Darwinia
Defcon
Don’t Starve + DLC
Dragonsphere - first time on Linux!
Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition
FlatOut - first time on Linux!
Flatout 2 - first time on Linux!
Fragile Allegiance - first time on Linux!
Gemini Rue
Gods Will Be Watching
Hammerwatch
Hocus Pocus - first time on Linux!
Kentucky Route Zero
The Last Federation
Legend of Grimrock
Litil Divil - first time on Linux!
Long Live the Queen
MouseCraft
Multiwinia
Normality - first time on Linux!
Pinball Gold Pack - first time on Linux!
Pinball World - first time on Linux!
Pirates! Gold Plus - first time on Linux!
Realms of the Haunting - first time on Linux!
Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender - first time on Linux!
Rise of the Triad: Dark War - first time on Linux!
Shattered Haven
The Shivah HD
Sid Meier’s Colonization - first time on Linux!
Sid Meier’s Covert Action - first time on Linux!
Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Slipstream 5000 - first time on Linux!
Space Pirates and Zombies
Spacechem
Stargunner - first time on Linux!
SteamWorld Dig
Super Hexagon
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Sword of the Samurai - first time on Linux!
Teslagrad
Unrest:Special Edition (Linux build on the way!)
Uplink
VVVVVV

Follow the GOG.com Blog for more Linux gaming news, and Happy Linux Launch day, everyone!

Back when Harvester was re-released on GOG.com, we’ve reached out to Lee Jacobson, the game’s producer who had shed some light on the troubled development of the gory cult classic. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to see the other side of the story? How does Gilbert P. Austin, the lead developer and game’s writer remember the process of making Harvester? Aarno Malin, the game’s dedicated fan and admin of the impressive Lodge Level 4 Facebook fanpage managed to speak with Gil and was kind enough to allow us to re-publish the interview right here, on the GOG.com blog. (Oh, by the way, the game is only $2.39 today!)
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Aarno Malin: As we all know Gilbert Austin is the man who created the best PC game ever and disappeared totally after that. How could he create such a twisted and controversial game? Why did he disappear? What happened to him?
It took me about a decade to find this mystery man. Once I was close. I managed to find out that there was a TV show in Austin, Texas called “Professor Griffin’s Midnight Shadow Show” and one of the main actor of the show was a guy named Gilbert Austin. His character “Dan Dan” had a mask on his face all the time and on the website of the show there was only one small photo of the actor. Without beard and long black hair he didn’t look like Gilbert I knew, but I was still sure that he was the right person. I sent emails to every possible addresses that had something to do with the show…but I never got any answer.
Years later I noticed that the show had a YouTube channel so I tried to make a contact one more time. This time I got an answer but I was told that the actor of Dan Dan was not the Gilbert Austin I was looking for. Well, Gilbert, were you?

The Master himself

Gilbert Austin:  Yes, I was Dan Dan on the Midnight Shadow Show. I have always had a love of horror movie, and the idea of horror hosts on local TV hosting cheesy horror movies at odd hours, so it was a great experience being able to live that dream and be that local horror host. We attended functions in character, appeared at the Austin premiere of “Freddy vs Jason” and “Van Helsing”, as well as doing appearances and advertising for Goodwill Industries, a thrift shop chain here in Texas (I’m not sure if it’s national)…it was similar, I imagine, to the experience that local horror hosts had attending supermarket openings and sales events at used car lots…very corny, but it was wonderful while it lasted. Unfortunately we had a bit of a falling out, and I disassociated myself from the Shadow Show. Ah well…that’s showbiz.
So, Gilbert, how did you came up with the idea of Harvester?
A friend of mine who wrote music at Origin, Dana Glover, contacted me and told me that Lee Jacobson at FutureVision was looking around for someone established to create games for them on a contract basis. I had worked on Wing Commander II, Strike Commander and Privateer, as a writer and as a storyboard artist, designer, and production supervisor for the cinematics, so I was pretty much the kind of guy they were looking for. I agreed that I’d talk to them, and so I was invited to come in and pitch any ideas I wanted.
My feeling was that FutureVision, being a small company, would need something “high concept” to compete with the industry giants of the time, and I argued that Harvester was exactly that idea. It was really the only idea that I pitched. I remember that it came to me in a flash. That’s how I get a lot of my ideas, in creative rushes where I can barely write fast enough to get it all down. But the concept of Harvester, the idea of a small town with a lodge that is creating serial killers, and the way that the game would serve as an examination of the controversy about whether violence in media creates, or is created by, violence in society, came to me in the course of like 30 minutes.
The concept of Harvester, the idea that at the end of the game I wanted the player to mull over whether he had internalized the over-the-top violence and surreal imagery of the game in the same manner that Steve had, and the primary ending…all this was in the initial concept that I jotted down in one of those small reporter spiral notepads in about 30 minutes. That’s what I pitched to FutureVision, and they bought it. I had complete creative control and could do whatever I wanted (with the exception of explicit sex and nudity, sadly, but even so, I think I managed to get some pretty fucked up stuff in there just the same). :)
You certainly did :)What’s the ”very essence” of Harvester?
The thing that really excited me about Harvester was, I felt that Harvester had the potential to be an actual work of art. By that I mean, a focused piece of work that, beyond the artistry of the visuals and the thrill of the gameplay, would have a more abstract underlying theme, like a literary piece. By its very existence, it would place the player at the end of the game in the position of the protagonist IN the game, raising questions regarding the impact of violence in media on the audience.
I thought that was a powerful and unique conceit for a game, something that could elevate Harvester beyond being just a video game into something more. Although Harvester was not all that I wanted it to be, it came about as close as technology would allow, and for the most part I think we hit the target we were aiming for.

Harvester was first announced to public at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 1994 in Las Vegas. What was people’s reaction?
Vegas during that CES was crazy…interview after interview after interview! I was pretty outspoken in those interviews, pretty fearless and outrageous, because Janet Reno was at the time making noise about censoring violence in games and movies, and as an artist censorship is absolutely fucking anathema to me. Anyone who censors anything is a piece of shit in my book, and I said as much. I still do. That tired argument about children is the first refuge of the dictator…oh, we have to protect our children from harmful influences. A kid might stumble across this, so we’d better ban it. Fascism in my book. You can’t childproof the fucking world. Not everything can or should be appropriate for kids. That’s what parents are for, to filter that shit. The government shouldn’t be doing it, and certainly artists shouldn’t be doing it.

Still shot from “The Making of Harvester”. Gilbert is showing how to bite a leg. Unfortunately the video clips where kids were eating their mother were censored in Europe.

That said, the reception for Harvester was phenomenal. We were kicking the ass of the big companies conceptually. That Sierra game, Phantasmagoria, was coming out at the same time, and we were eating its lunch, taking its milk money, stealing its Penthouses and then pissing on its leg for laughs…but alas, to do all that you have to actually release the game. Important safety tip that apparently was lost on other members of the team. To quote Admiral Kirk: “As we say on Earth, c’est la vie.”
Later that year the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) was formed. Who knows, maybe Harvester was the main reason for that :) How did the production of Harvester work out?
I was contracted to design the game and write the script. Because I cared about the game and wanted it to stay true to my vision, I essentially donated my time in directing the video shoot and all the audio sessions after I had already met my contractual obligations. I basically did that work for free. So after shooting the video segments one long, hellishly hot summer in the back (and un-air-conditioned) warehouse of Merit Software, I had nothing further to do with Harvester, period. All the creative work was done, except for the art tasks associated with compositing the video characters into the game, their combat moves and so on. But I was comfortable letting the team handle that because all the combat moves had been determined in the design document, and I was present during shooting, so I knew that had been handled properly. At that point I left it to Lee Jacobson to handle.
See, I lived in Austin, so any time I was directly interacting with the team I’d have to fly up to Dallas. If I lived in Dallas I would’ve had a better sense of what the hell was going on, of what was taking so long. I certainly would’ve been hanging out with Kevin (Obregon, artist) and Mike (Napodano, artist), as we were tight friends at that point, but as it was I by necessity had to move on to other things. I had to make a living.
So you did all the creative work in 1993–1994 and after that Lee Jacobson was in charge?
Yes, I left Lee Jacobson in charge. He always was in charge in terms of writing the checks and day to day supervision of the team, since it was his company. I had absolute creative control, yes. I solely designed the game, wrote the script (all the dialogue, all the cinematics), cast and directed the actors, and guided the art team in what I liked and didn’t like, both the concepts and the finished art, much as a film director does. But Lee was the producer, and the boss at FutureVision, so he paid the guys and supervised them physically day to day. He was the one that remained, and I guess what happened afterwards was ultimately his responsibility.
Harvester was not released until September 1996, two years after you had finished your work. Do you know why?
I blamed the programmers, but really I should say that the programming is what killed us, and if the programmers were slow for whatever reason, or needed help, or needed a good kick in the pants, in the end that was Lee’s job to make that call, and whatever ultimately happened, he was responsible.

Oh no, this is not gonna end well. Gilbert played the role of Mr. Moynahan in Harvester. If you beat him in combat he falls on his own knife.

Technically, Harvester is not a difficult thing to program. I mean, if you look at it from a technological viewpoint, it was just a simple point and click RPG! And that’s always how it was supposed to be…a game that would be remarkable for its content, not its bells and whistles. I knew that FutureVision was a small company, and I had absolutely no desire to push any technical envelopes, only conceptual ones. They didn’t have a lot of money, they had done one other budget title before Harvester, and they wouldn’t have even hired me if I’d pitched anything technically challenging.
Was there anything you wanted to do but it was technically impossible?
The one and only thing I wanted to do technically that we didn’t do was have a time-based night in Harvest. In other words, you wake up and the clock is running at some compressed scale, so that if you went by the graveyard at a certain time something would happen, or if you went over to the base at a certain time you’d overhear something particular. I was told early on that they were throwing that out, and I was fine with it…though to this day I don’t understand why that would’ve been such a big deal. Still, I didn’t care that much about it, and I let it go. That was the sole point of contention in the design of Harvester, and not a big one at that.
Midnight Shadow Show started in 1999, three years after Harvester was released. What did you do right after Harvester?
I formed Maelstrom Software with several folks I had worked with at Origin, and we completed another game, a 3D shooter comedy called “The Fortress of Dr. Radiaki”. I wrote that one, did the voice of Dr. Radiaki…I think I did all the voices actually, which was often the case in those days (I was the voice of Prince Thrakhath in Wing Commander II, for example). Anyway, Radiaki was a bargain title and did well as such, but nothing groundbreaking (though I was very happy to learn that when an acquaintance of mine worked in Korea teaching kids English, one ofthe kids was thrilled when he learned that my acquaintance had worked on Radiaki, as it was his favorite game…in Korea! Something very satisfying about that.)
I also worked with the same guys on a space combat game called “Ares Rising” for a different company called “Imagine Studios”…I wrote it and directed the cinematic sequences. It bombed. The guy who owned Imagine refused to take my advice that a bargain space combat game would bomb in the crowded marketplace, and when it did my partners and I were not paid the sizable fee we were contractually owed at the end of development. For me, that was the end of my game career…it was just too chaotic and full of weasels, so I decided to do freelance work instead, everything from animation to graphic design, acting and soon.

Dr. Radiaki was released in 1994, two years before Harvester. How come?
To answer your question, the reason why Radiaki came out two years before Harvester is the same reason, I believe, why Harvester was not as widespread a success as it should have been…the incredible length of time the programmers took to finish the game! It was amazing to me…I had finished the design, the script, recording and editing the voice acting, and filming the green screen video sequences, and then it took them a year or two beyond that to finish programming the thing. To this day, I can’t understand how this could have happened. I had a contract to develop the game with FutureVision (later DigiFX is what I believe they changed their name to), and after I had completed all the creative work listed above I was no longer in the office, so I have no idea what actually took place.

GILBERT DIRECTING HARVESTER IN 1994. STILL SHOT FROM “THE MAKING OF HARVESTER”.

But that vast delay between finishing all the creative elements and implementing the technical elements stalled the momentum we had in terms of publicity and public anticipation, and I think by the time it actually came out people had forgotten about it…plus the marketing geniuses had the idea of advertising Harvester SOLELY on the radio. Can you imagine the immense stupidity of that decision? Advertising a computer game on the radio, a medium where the gamers couldn’t see the provocative graphics, the game play…between the lengthy delay in releasing Harvester and the lack of advertising support, Harvester never got the exposure it could have had.
The marketing of Harvester was also misleading in many ways. For example the official Harvester website contains so old still shots that their graphics has nothing to do with the finished game. Marketing team sucked but what can you say about the production team?
The production team I had no say in choosing, they were the employees of FutureVision, but I was lucky to work with those guys (well, the artists anyway…the programmers not so much…they were great guys personally, but I have problems with how long they took to code the game, which proved to be disastrous). I especially loved working with Mike Napodano and Kevin Obregon, two incredibly talented artists and brilliant guys who immediately responded to my ideas. They were dreams to work with, just great people.
I have heard that Kevin Obregon’s (the actor of Sergeant at Arms) original titles were “Creative Director” and “First Unit Director” but in the credits of Harvester he is mentioned only as a graphic artist among other artists. Do you know why?
As far as Kevin’s credits, I don’t know for sure what happened…as I said, when the game finally came out I hadn’t set foot in the offices in, what, years? The dates are hazy at this point, but I wasn’t there. Personally, I feel that Kevin was a great friend and collaborator. We really got each other. He absolutely deserved the First Unit Director credit, because when we were shooting I would direct the actual cinematic sequences, the expressions of the actors, any special combat moves (like Pottsdam digging the grave, for example), but then Kevin would handle all the combat figures moving, their different angles and all those nuts and bolts elements we needed, exactly serving in that role.

As for Creative Director, I think that credit might’ve been a bit misleading on Harvester (though perhaps he was Creative Director at FutureVision…I’m not sure how the company was structured). Obviously I was the “buck stops here” guy creatively over the project, but I think something like Art Director would’ve been appropriate…he knew what I wanted, and he worked with his team of artists to give it to me. But regardless, he deserved more credit than he got in the end, and I don’t know what happened.

The only disagreement Kevin and I had on Harvester was the box cover. Kevin had a vision of a dark and barren tree for the cover, abstract and ominous. I respected that, but given that such a tree had nothing to do with Harvester I just couldn’t see that representing the game to the world. I didn’t think it would give people enough of a feel for what the game was, how weird it was, and the dark humor underlying the thing. So in the end I had to overrule Kevin on that, and the cover as it exists is my design, putting in the ominous element of the Mystagogue, the Lodge, and DNA’S DINER for that little element of weirdness to tip people off that Here Lies Weird Shit. But Kevin hated it, and I respected his hatred and his talent.

You mentioned also Mike Napodano. What can you tell me about him?

Mike was a very eclectic and talented guy in his own right. He’s a singer with the Harmonaires (not sure if I spelled that correctly), a doo-wop musical group of four guys that have played around in a lot of places, including Vegas. He’s a really funny guy, really smart, and like me always restlessly trying different things…he would for example wire lights in his small model of the Y-9 robot from “Lost in Space” to make it light up and flash…I’m more a software guy than a hardware guy (more Bobby Hill than Hank Hill), so I always admired his ingenuity in that regard. He was also making small models of naked women in latex, or at least experimenting with that…he and I share the same interests: sci-fi like Star Trek and Lost in Space, drinking, and naked women. Not necessarily in that order. Yeah, Mike is like a brother to me, and I love to see him whenever we get the chance.

You made Dr. Radiaki and Ares Rising and you were the actor of Dan Dan. What else have you done after Harvester?

I’ve done a lot of things since then, I’ll try to touch on some of the highlights. I did some work in comics, sold a Batman story to DC (I have the completed artwork for the story by Cliff Chiang, but it didn’t get published on schedule due to DC’s legal department getting paranoid about an element of the story, and so it’s currently in limbo). I was also published in the Dark Horse anthology “Happy Endings” and I was honored to appear beside some of the biggest names in comics, including Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, and Tony Millionaire. I also wrote and illustrated a story in Star Wars Tales # 16 called “The Kessel Run”. The story that appears in that anthology is a prologue to a large graphic novel I was working on at the time, which Diana Schutz at Dark Horse loved and wanted to publish, but couldn’t get Mike Richardson onboard for. I have completed the first three issues of that, and hope one day to finish it when I have the time.

WHO COULD BE A BETTER CHOICE FOR THE ROLE OF MR. MOYNAHAN?

I wrote, produced, directed, edited (everything basically) two feature films shot on HD called “My Naked Villainy” (a comedy about a director who mounts an avantgarde production of Othello for the sole purpose of destroying the lead actor, who stole his fiancee) and “Henchmen”, a 3+ hour indie epic about working for a low-rent supervillain. It currently survives in a rough cut with some special effects still being worked on. It will be completed one day but may well never see release because of legal problems with it (which is always the case…I think the single greatest impediment to art is lawyers, when it comes right down to it).

I also wrote “Hamlet Z”, an adaptation of the classic Shakespearean play revised extensively (innative blank verse that blends seamlessly with Shakespeare’s) to explore this premise: what if Claudius’ crimes, killing his brother the King, stealing his crown and marrying his wife, were so offensive to the Divine Order that it destroyed the natural order, resulting in the dead rising and converging on Denmark like the wrath of God? It’s a serious examination of a premise that amplifies Shakespeare’s original themes of alienation and paralysis, and I had a great time writing it. I hope to stage it one day, as I think it would be spectacular, but in the meantime it’s available at Amazon.

There’s lots more, some acting, some art, lots of screenplays and plays I have in development, but those are at least some of the highlights.
You have done so much but it’s impossible to find any information about you (or at least it was when I was tracking you down). To me it seemed like you disappeared from Earth in 1996. Was that on purpose?
Not really, though I generally work under the name Gil Austin now.
That was the clue I needed at the time. One of the fans, Allistair Pinsof, sent me a message that you might now work under that name. I started my detective work and sent emails here and there…and here we are now. Finally!
Has the reputation of Harvester influenced on your career in any way?
Honestly I don’t think so. I think the botched promotional efforts helped keep Harvester at the cult level, limiting it to people “in the know”. Which I think is very cool! Some of the best things ever made fly below the public radar because truly original and boundary pushing work is generally not going to register with the great common bulk of humanity, so in a way I suppose it’s a badge of honor. And the fans of Harvester turn out to be very creative people themselves…I mean, there’s all sorts of songs and art about Harvester out there, most of which I didn’t even know about before I went on your site Aarno. What a fascinating surprise that was!
I’m so glad to hear that! Did you have any idea that there was a cult following for the game?
Not really, no. I figured there were some people out there that probably remembered it, but I assumed it had pretty much died. Digital media is, oddly enough, quite perishable. Operating systems come and go, it gets to be an effort to play even a ten year old game. Very easy to be forgotten, although now with emulators and so on it’s possible to survive.
GOG.com just re-released Harvester. What do you think of that?
I wonder how many more people will find the game now, what the reception will be…at the same time, it pisses me off that I’m making no money off of it [the publishing rights are with Lee Jacobson]. But what the hell. Overall I think it’s cool.
Last autumn I asked on the fansite if anyone has questions for you. I got a bunch of questions and I picked five of them for this interview. The first fan question is from Derek Altobellis, who has Harvester sign tattooed on his arm. Derek: What was the inspiration for Harvester?I was pissed off at all the bullshit about violence in media. I saw it as censorship, which is anathema to any artist. When I read about some of the violence being edited out of classic Warner Brothers cartoons (the guns, the explosions) I was deeply outraged. Those cartoons are some of the funniest goddamn short films ever made, as classic as Casablanca or Citizen Kane in my book. Any defective submoron who took it upon themselves to cut those masterpieces to somehow save the lil’ chilluns from being corrupted deserves to be tried and executed for crimes against humanity…an exaggeration, perhaps, unless he’s cutting the last print in which case I mean it literally, but you get my point. So Harvester was of a theme, in a medium, that responded to the gestalt of the times. So in a way, I suppose you could say that Harvester was inspired by Wile E. Coyote, super genius.
So that’s where the classic line “Road Runner cartoons” came!
The second fan question is also from Derek: Were any scenes ever cut from the final North American release?
No, I don’t think so.
The third fan question is from Jack Forge: Were there any ideas thrown out because of lack of money?
Well, I suppose the time clock programming feature I wanted was cut due to the time it would take, and time is money, but beyond that I don’t think so. I still wish I could’ve had sex and nudity in Harvester though. My one regret, the final frontier as it were.
The fourth fan question is from Mike Lombardo, who has told me that Harvester is the reason why he started to make horror films. Mike: There has been a lot of success with indie games being crowd funded through sites like Kickstarter. Would you ever consider a making sequel to Harvester, possibly using these methods?
I don’t own the rights to Harvester. I would certainly do so if the opportunity arose, and the numbers were right. I did way too much for free on Harvester the first time around, but I won’t do that again.
The fifth and the last fan question is also from Mike: Do you believe it’s possible for a film or game to go too far?
Yes, insofar as that film or game incorporated actual real-world crimes like murder, violence, or rape. I would not tolerate actual child or animal abuse in a film or game. But beyond that, dealing with fiction, no…I believe in complete artistic freedom, especially today when the world is becoming a fucking corporate hive full of like-minded drones. I will always take pride in being Unmutual. (A reference from “The Prisoner”, the greatest television show ever made in my opinion.)
So, Gil, is any of your films or other work available anywhere?
The comics I mentioned earlier arestill available I think, plus “Hamlet Z” is on Amazon. And as a note to fans, I would appreciate it if you would spread the word about Hamlet Z. I feel like it only needs to get in front of one open-minded theatrical producer to make it to the stage, and I would really love to see it. It’s a savage and horrific work of which I’m very proud.
There are plenty of fans who consider you as a genius and Harvester as the best game ever made. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
I would like to thank every single fan of Harvester not only for their support, but also for persevering in this straitjacketed world, retaining their individuality and remaining free thinkers. It gives me great comfort to know that there are pockets of us that survive being incorporated into the hive mind. I would also tell them that within the next six months I will be releasing something that will be of great interest to them..
Wow, something’s coming up! I can’t wait!
There’s one more question left. I have seen the fans wondering this many, many times. What’s the meaning of the tampons in the toilet of the Pottsdam residence? Is it just a joke or can you do something with the tampons?
As I recall, Mr. Pottsdam put the tampons in the toilet out of a kind of symbolic denial. He hates that Stephanie is no longer “his little girl”, and so he rejects that symbol of her womanhood. I don’t think you can do anything with them (though I may be wrong…it might be an Easter egg I’ve forgotten about, it’s a complicated game and it’s been awhile).
Harvester really is amazingly complicated game with an enormous amount of possibilities. I never get tired of playing it and every time I find something new.
Thank you so much, Gil!
Interview © Aarno Malin

Back when Harvester was re-released on GOG.com, we’ve reached out to Lee Jacobson, the game’s producer who had shed some light on the troubled development of the gory cult classic. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to see the other side of the story? How does Gilbert P. Austin, the lead developer and game’s writer remember the process of making Harvester? Aarno Malin, the game’s dedicated fan and admin of the impressive Lodge Level 4 Facebook fanpage managed to speak with Gil and was kind enough to allow us to re-publish the interview right here, on the GOG.com blog. (Oh, by the way, the game is only $2.39 today!)

Read More

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt digital DRM-Free pre-orders on GOG.com have been enhanced with new exclusive bonus content: The Witcher Paper Toys, designed by the renown papercraft artist Tougui.
We’re launching a paper toy photo contest! Enter before July 31 for your chance to win amazing Witcher goodies, including a sculpture of Geralt fighting the mighty griffin, straight from the collector’s edition!

Now, wouldn’t it be amazing to get your hands on that fantastic Collector’s Edition figure before anyone else? How to enter? How to win? Just follow these simple guidelines:
Download and assemble the paper toys (templates are now available with your GOG.com pre-order of the game).
Arrange them into a scene that will capture our attention, and snap a photo.
Give your photo a title and tweet it with the #PaperWitcher hashtag (just a general tweet, please—don’t start it with “@GOGcom). Multiple entries are allowed.
Not a Twitter user? No problem. Post your in the GOG.com forum thread.
Your photo will be added to a curated gallery that will launch as soon as we get enough photos. The gallery will be updated periodically. By submitting your work, you grant us the right to re-post it in the gallery and CD Projekt RED / GOG.com communications channels.
Post-processing is allowed. Adding elements in PhotoShop (or equivalent) is fine, as long as the final effect still looks more like a photo than computer graphics.
You have to enter the contest before Thursday, July 31, at 9:59AM GMT.
UPDATE:We’ve seen many people in the forums or our social networks saying that they would love to take part in the photo contest, but they can’t get their hands on the paper toy templates for one reason or other (pre-ordering a physical copy, no free funds, etc.). We’ve decided to level the playing field by releasing three of the figurines to the general public. You can get the templates for Geralt, Triss, and the Leshen paper toyswithout the need to pre-order The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on GOG.com. The files come complete with a PDF catalog presenting how the figurines should look assembled (back and front). The same booklet has been also added to the bonus goodies section. Now, that everyone can take part in the competition, the entry deadline has been extended to Sunday, August 10, at 11:59:59PM GMT. Have fun!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt digital DRM-Free pre-orders on GOG.com have been enhanced with new exclusive bonus content: The Witcher Paper Toys, designed by the renown papercraft artist Tougui.

We’re launching a paper toy photo contest! Enter before July 31 for your chance to win amazing Witcher goodies, including a sculpture of Geralt fighting the mighty griffin, straight from the collector’s edition!

Now, wouldn’t it be amazing to get your hands on that fantastic Collector’s Edition figure before anyone else? How to enter? How to win? Just follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Download and assemble the paper toys (templates are now available with your GOG.com pre-order of the game).
  2. Arrange them into a scene that will capture our attention, and snap a photo.
  3. Give your photo a title and tweet it with the #PaperWitcher hashtag (just a general tweet, please—don’t start it with “@GOGcom). Multiple entries are allowed.
  4. Not a Twitter user? No problem. Post your in the GOG.com forum thread.
  5. Your photo will be added to a curated gallery that will launch as soon as we get enough photos. The gallery will be updated periodically. By submitting your work, you grant us the right to re-post it in the gallery and CD Projekt RED / GOG.com communications channels.
  6. Post-processing is allowed. Adding elements in PhotoShop (or equivalent) is fine, as long as the final effect still looks more like a photo than computer graphics.
  7. You have to enter the contest before Thursday, July 31, at 9:59AM GMT.

UPDATE:
We’ve seen many people in the forums or our social networks saying that they would love to take part in the photo contest, but they can’t get their hands on the paper toy templates for one reason or other (pre-ordering a physical copy, no free funds, etc.). We’ve decided to level the playing field by releasing three of the figurines to the general public. You can get the templates for Geralt, Triss, and the Leshen paper toyswithout the need to pre-order The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on GOG.com. The files come complete with a PDF catalog presenting how the figurines should look assembled (back and front). The same booklet has been also added to the bonus goodies section. Now, that everyone can take part in the competition, the entry deadline has been extended to Sunday, August 10, at 11:59:59PM GMT. Have fun!

Sneak peek: GOG.com-exclusive Witcher 3 Paper Toys!
Six exlusive papercraft toy templates will be added to GOG.com game package of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as a part of our extensive bonus content offer. Here’s Geralt, the white-haired witcher, encountering the Leshen, deep in the woods. What other figurines have we prepared for you? The face of #PaperWitcher will become known soon.

Sneak peek: GOG.com-exclusive Witcher 3 Paper Toys!

Six exlusive papercraft toy templates will be added to GOG.com game package of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as a part of our extensive bonus content offer. Here’s Geralt, the white-haired witcher, encountering the Leshen, deep in the woods. What other figurines have we prepared for you? The face of #PaperWitcher will become known soon.

The Evolution of MouseCraft
In today’s guest-post the guys from Crunching Koalas talk about how MouseCraft, their cute puzzler mixing Lemmings with Tetris and a dash of Incredible Machine, came to being. Prepare for a short trip into the mind of an indie game dev. Enjoy!—GDoc

People often ask us what was the inspiration for creating MouseCraft and how did we come up with the idea of mixing two classic games into one title. Was it the love for retro puzzle games we played as children? Some experience from real life? Or maybe the idea just struck us out of the blue? Well, as much as we like those classic games, it was a bit more complicated and took much more thought to come up with the concept for the game. To properly explain it we would probably have to start from telling you what was the idea for creating our studio - Crunching Koalas. 


When founding our studio we decided to specialize in creating games in a specific graphic style that will be always recognized by our fans, in making games placed in a single universum shared across all our future titles, and a specific genre called crossover games. Never heard of them? No wonder - we came up with the term ourselves.
This is how we like to call games that can be placed somewhere between casual and core games, mixed with a pinch of craziness typical for indie games. In other words – crossover games are titles that appeal to indie games enthusiasts, casual players and core gamers. 
Some might ask – “Ok, but how is that even possible?”
While we are still trying to find the right balance, we established few ground rules for making a crossover game. Here are some examples: 
·        Think of simple game mechanics, explainable in one sentence that are easy to play, but hard to master. Mechanics that can also bring back memories of titles we loved to play as kids.
·        Make the difficulty depend on player’s ability to make good decisions, not his agility or manual skills.
·        Create immersive experience, environment and graphics - attractive for core gamers, but clear and acceptable to casual players.
·        Reward players for good performance and do not punish them for making something wrong.
·        Facilitate inexperienced players, but do not force it to skilled players and let them play the game in their own pace and style.
Of course, for some that it is just a definition of good game design, but we prefer to call it our recipe for crossover games, which was the true inspiration behind the concept of MouseCraft.



Choosing the right game mechanic was, of course, the most difficult task – we could brainstorm for days or even weeks, but then we thought maybe there is no point in reinventing the wheel? While there are many good game concepts, created back in the days, we decided to mix the two probably most recognizable classic puzzle games, and make a game about guiding a group of characters from point A to point B, with the use of Tetromino blocks.
By making this single decision we have ensured not only that the rules of the game were clear and recognizable, yet easily extended by adding new kinds of bricks and obstacles, but we also focused the game around thinking and planning rather than mashing buttons. 
Now it was the time to make the game meaningful and compelling. The easiest way of achieving this was to define a conflict that could drive us to play the game and that is, obviously, how we came up with the idea of making a game about a cat experimenting on mice. It evolved during the development and our ultimate game goal is to actually help Schrödinger (the cat himself), not beat him.

The next thing in our “crossover game recipe” was to create an immersive experience which, believe me, was an extremely difficult task when making a puzzle game. It took us nearly half of the development time to figure out how the environment and graphics should look like. 

Things that drastically increased the feeling of immersion include:
·        Replacing brick buttons with actual brick models and hanging them on a rail, placed inside the cat’s laboratory.

·        Setting the player’s perspective as he was inside the machine and was a part of the experiment.

·        Implementing a smooth transition between the levels – there are no pauses or fade outs after finishing the level. The camera just moves to right, to the next part of the experiment.

·        Making the level selection menu look like a blueprint of Schrödinger’s machine.

Finally, the last ingredient - we facilitated players by implementing an infinite Undo option, an extensive tutorial system and an Active Pause, which can be used to freeze time and calmly plan next moves. But all this is optional – tutorials can be disabled, the Active Pause is just an option, and more experienced players can even increase the speed of the game if they feel that is something they want to do.
That is a short story on how “the MouseCraft course” was made. Hopefully you will all find it tasty!

The Evolution of MouseCraft

In today’s guest-post the guys from Crunching Koalas talk about how MouseCraft, their cute puzzler mixing Lemmings with Tetris and a dash of Incredible Machine, came to being. Prepare for a short trip into the mind of an indie game dev. Enjoy!—GDoc

People often ask us what was the inspiration for creating MouseCraft and how did we come up with the idea of mixing two classic games into one title. Was it the love for retro puzzle games we played as children? Some experience from real life? Or maybe the idea just struck us out of the blue? Well, as much as we like those classic games, it was a bit more complicated and took much more thought to come up with the concept for the game. To properly explain it we would probably have to start from telling you what was the idea for creating our studio - Crunching Koalas.

When founding our studio we decided to specialize in creating games in a specific graphic style that will be always recognized by our fans, in making games placed in a single universum shared across all our future titles, and a specific genre called crossover games. Never heard of them? No wonder - we came up with the term ourselves.

This is how we like to call games that can be placed somewhere between casual and core games, mixed with a pinch of craziness typical for indie games. In other words – crossover games are titles that appeal to indie games enthusiasts, casual players and core gamers.

Some might ask – “Ok, but how is that even possible?”

While we are still trying to find the right balance, we established few ground rules for making a crossover game. Here are some examples:

  • ·        Think of simple game mechanics, explainable in one sentence that are easy to play, but hard to master. Mechanics that can also bring back memories of titles we loved to play as kids.

  • ·        Make the difficulty depend on player’s ability to make good decisions, not his agility or manual skills.

  • ·        Create immersive experience, environment and graphics - attractive for core gamers, but clear and acceptable to casual players.

  • ·        Reward players for good performance and do not punish them for making something wrong.

  • ·        Facilitate inexperienced players, but do not force it to skilled players and let them play the game in their own pace and style.

Of course, for some that it is just a definition of good game design, but we prefer to call it our recipe for crossover games, which was the true inspiration behind the concept of MouseCraft.

Choosing the right game mechanic was, of course, the most difficult task – we could brainstorm for days or even weeks, but then we thought maybe there is no point in reinventing the wheel? While there are many good game concepts, created back in the days, we decided to mix the two probably most recognizable classic puzzle games, and make a game about guiding a group of characters from point A to point B, with the use of Tetromino blocks.

By making this single decision we have ensured not only that the rules of the game were clear and recognizable, yet easily extended by adding new kinds of bricks and obstacles, but we also focused the game around thinking and planning rather than mashing buttons.

Now it was the time to make the game meaningful and compelling. The easiest way of achieving this was to define a conflict that could drive us to play the game and that is, obviously, how we came up with the idea of making a game about a cat experimenting on mice. It evolved during the development and our ultimate game goal is to actually help Schrödinger (the cat himself), not beat him.

The next thing in our “crossover game recipe” was to create an immersive experience which, believe me, was an extremely difficult task when making a puzzle game. It took us nearly half of the development time to figure out how the environment and graphics should look like.

Things that drastically increased the feeling of immersion include:

  • ·        Replacing brick buttons with actual brick models and hanging them on a rail, placed inside the cat’s laboratory.
  • ·        Setting the player’s perspective as he was inside the machine and was a part of the experiment.

  • ·        Implementing a smooth transition between the levels – there are no pauses or fade outs after finishing the level. The camera just moves to right, to the next part of the experiment.
  • ·        Making the level selection menu look like a blueprint of Schrödinger’s machine.

Finally, the last ingredient - we facilitated players by implementing an infinite Undo option, an extensive tutorial system and an Active Pause, which can be used to freeze time and calmly plan next moves. But all this is optional – tutorials can be disabled, the Active Pause is just an option, and more experienced players can even increase the speed of the game if they feel that is something they want to do.

That is a short story on how “the MouseCraft course” was made. Hopefully you will all find it tasty!