Continuing our recent indie focus, we recently had a chat with Erik Svedang, the single developer of Blueberry Garden, one of the finalists at this year’s IGF awards. He was also the maker of World of Pong, and has worked on various other projects which can be found here. The main focus of this interview was on Blueberry Garden however, which is a wonderful little enigma of a game that couples a wonderful visual style with an emergent style of play. Expect our impressions by the end of the day. Interview below.
The Reticule: Blueberry Garden is a very intriguing game, not least because it serves as somewhat of an enigma when you are playing it. Were the elements of discovery and deduction intended?
Erik Svedang: Yes, absolutely. The idea was to let the player really think for herself and let her experience the feeling of exploration and revelation in a first-person kind of way. Most grown up people rarely get the chance to do that in their daily life, I think.
TR: There seems to be a lot going on in the game that has little actual effect on the levels, such as some of the plants and animals found in the garden. How did you intend them to influence the player’s actions? Were they just Red Herrings or meant to add to the atmosphere of the game?
ES: When I started making the game I didn’t know how much the ecosystem would really interact with the gameplay elements. In the end I found it not very wise to make the connection too strong and let the plants and animals main function be to create more of a feeling of a world that is truly alive. Their lack of purpose somehow makes them more like real creatures and not just some puzzle pieces, I hope.
TR: The game credits ‘Daduk’ as doing the music. How did you go about getting him to do the music?
ES: I found the songs on the internet for free when I was making the trailer. When people started telling me that they loved the music I contacted Daduk and he gave me the permission to use his songs in the full game.
TR: The visual style of the game is very strong, and certainly allows the surreal elements of the game to come to the fore. Are they influenced in particular by anything you’ve seen or played?
ES: Not really, it’s just the way I draw. The style is something that has evolved during many years of doodling on every piece of paper I could get my hands on.
TR: Since becoming a Finalist in this year’s IGF, especially in the Seumas McNally Prize, has there been considerable increased interest in both you and your game?
TR: How have you found developing a game almost entirely by yourself? Do you think there are increased difficulties when you are on your own as opposed to in a small team, or does the singular driving force aid the project in clarity?
ES: For this game it was absolutely necessary for me to work on my own, the vision was too clear (and hard to communicate to others). Usually I really like collaboration, though. It is so much more fun — hanging out and working on something creatively together.
TR: 2009 seems like the year the Indie scene takes a leap forward in both awareness and quality. Has the recent popularity of games like World of Goo and Audiosurf influenced or helped you in your path to releasing Blueberry Garden?
ES: Yes, it is very inspiring. The fact that those games, among many others, are better and more interesting than most other things on the market really helps bringing attention and credibility to smaller productions like mine.
TR: How are you intending to distribute Blueberry Garden? Are you intending to have any protection on the game?
ES: I don’t know yet.
TR: While a little aside, you are the creator of World of Pong. Is there any particular reason you decided to make that game? What exactly were you trying to say? (Beyond the obvious)
ES: Well, first of all a lot of people new to game making talk about creating MMO’s all the time so I thought it would be funny to create one with the Gamemaker tool . Secondly, I often find conversation on the internet really frustrating and dull so it’s kind a commentary on that — a proof that many people accept totally random chat bots as real, bad mannered humans.
TR: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!