Duncan Jones - Retro GamerDuncan recently gave an exclusive interview with UK magazine Retro Gamer’s Jerry Bonner on the subject of his passion for video games. Being an avid, long time gamer, and having worked in the industry, Duncan has plenty of experience to fall back on when it comes to being grilled on his gaming credentials…

It’s a great piece, that clearly shows Duncan’s passion for gaming, and also his opinion on current games compared to those that first introduced him to the world of gaming in the first place. When asked by Jerry what the difference between today’s great games, and those of the past is, Duncan replies:

Humour and surprise.  Like the Spanish inquisition!  Old games used to be less corporate… they were less afraid, less rigid.  OK, so sometimes they got the play balance wrong…maybe you occasionally had to really struggle to get past a section that a modern game would be designed to let you succeed at, but that was the point!  You felt a real sense of accomplishment.  Also, because they were being made by small teams of really passionate people, and not by squadrons of corporate producers, they had a whimsy to them that we have really lost.  And it really is a loss. That whimsy is something I really do miss.  Come back Origin & Sierra… come back Cinemaware and Lucasarts.  We need you now more than ever.

While it’s true that gaming has grown into a massive industry, where some of that old whimsy has been lost, there may be a return of that with the resurgence of success for small, passionate teams developing for mobile platforms ( have a look at the fantastic Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP for iPad & iPhone) Duncan is aware of this as well, and comments on the possibility of developing a game himself, when asked if he’d like to take a crack at it:

Probably something retro!  Seriously.  I think I would try to distil the best memories I have in games into a small, tightly made package that could be played on an iPad, phone or browser… and if that went well, I would go for a great big fuck off RPG sprawler, like Richard Garriot used to make!

Of course, it’s impossible for an interview with a film Writer / Director to stay away from the subject of video game adaptation to the film world. And while Duncan looks favourably upon the possibility of a successful video game based movie, it’s all about one thing, the writing. It’s something Duncan has touched on previously when interviewed by Devin Faraci for Badass Digest on the subject of a World Of Warcraft film.

I really believe World of Warcraft could be the launch of computer games as good films. And from the little I’ve read of interviews with him (Sam Raimi) the way he’s approaching it makes so much sense. It’s what I was talking about – it’s not worrying about how the game plays, it’s about creating the world of the game and investing the audience in that world.

World creation, be it in film or gaming, is a theme that occurs regularly in interviews with Duncan. The need to create a solid, believable world stage for a story to develop in, and for characters to live in, one that the audience will go away from with the feeling that the world they have just had a peep into, may still exist, may still have stories to tell. It’s a feeling that Duncan himself has when watching Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and as an aside, is similar to what my old art teacher used to tell me, that it’s not always what you can physically see in a frame, but what is hinted at, that may intrigue the viewer more.

And what intrigues me now is the fact that we know Duncan is working on ‘Film Number 3‘ along with a graphic novel for ‘Mute‘, but will we also see Mr Jones stretching his talents to the world of video gaming? Who knows, but at least we have an idea of what a retro style point & click MOON adventure game might look like.

Mads Johansen - SCUMM MOON

As a treat for Duncan, I’ll leave you with his favourite piece of in game music, a blast from the past, ‘Wanderer’ from Ultima 3