"I'm inspired mainly by nature" - Jakub Dvorský, creator of Samorost
I’d like to start the feature with a little bit of biographical information. What can you tell me about yourself, your design team, and Amanita Design? How did you come to create the site and what other projects have you involved yourself with in the past? Do you have any plans for the near or distant future for online or game related projects?
I was born in 1978 in Brno - Czechoslovakia and I still live here however now it's only Czech Republic. I studied at high school and then at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague in the department of Animated Film (prof. Jiri Barta). In 2003 I established Amanita Design and since then I work as a freelancer. In 2005 I started to collaborate with new Amanita Design member my former schoolmate Vaclav Blin. When I was on a high school I created 3 cd-rom games with a bunch of my schoolmates - 1 point and click adventure, 1 adventure/RPG game and 1 crazy shooter. As my diploma work at the Academy of Art I created my first Flash game Samorost 1 and later we created sequel Samorost2 with Vaclav Blin and 2 Tomas Dvorak's (they are 2 persons with the same name - one is sound maker and the second is musician). We also created a couple of other small Flash games, some music videos, animations, web pages and also a lot of illustrations and graphic design commissions. Currently we work on another adventure game and some side projects.
Have you had any formal education in game design, Flash, or anything else applicable to the site?
No we are both educated only in classical animation and film making, however I'm doing games (more or less) for 12 years already so I have some experiences.
What inspirations and influences have you had to create your games? What types of games do you play yourself and are there any developers you favor?
I'm inspired mainly by nature but of course also by many artists (Max Ernst, Goya, Bosh, Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Salamoun ...), writers (Douglas Adams, J.R.R.Tolkien, Stanislaw Lem ...), film makers (Terry Gilliam, Bretislav Pojar, Nick Park ...), musicians (Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Bjork, Slayer, Master's Hammer ...). I'm also inspired by many games and I used to be a keen gamer. Generally I like adventure games (Day of the Tentacle, Gobliins, Discworld, Little Big Adventure, Neverhood, Myst) and also strategy games like Civilization, Settlers, Dune etc. On the other hand I don't like very much new games which are all 3D, realistic, look quite same and lack sense of humour however I look forward to play Little Big Planet, Spore and Viva Pinata - these games looks fantastic.
Were you surprised by the success of the Samorost games?
Sure, it spreaded so quickly.
The visual style of Samorost and Samorost 2 immediately sets it apart from other adventure games. What can you tell us about the development of the style? Is this something you had planned from the beginning or did it evolve as the games were created?
The visual style comes mainly from the pictures I made in the nature, the backgrounds in the game are collages from that pictures. But I made a lot of sketches and preliminary images before I started working on the first Samorost.
In Samorost 2, Tomáš Dvorák, aka Floex, is credited for doing the sound and the music, but there are no credits on the site for the original. Did he also do the soundtrack for the first game?
Tomas Dvorak aka Floex created music for Samorost2 and Tomas Dvorak aka Pif (different guy) created sounds for both Samorost1 and Samorost2. In the first Samorost the music is borrowed from older tracks by many different artists (Cinematic Orchestra, Noon, Funky Porcini etc.)
Did you try to direct Floex as he created the music or did you try to give him as much creative freedom as possible?
He had absolute freedom because we knew he is very sensitive and know what music will fit there.
Rocketman VC and The Question for the Rest were created for Nike and The Polyphonic Spree respectively. Were these opportunities that arose as a result of your success with Samorost? What was your reaction to the job offers?
Yes they contacted me after they saw Samorost. It was nice because it allowed me to continue doing games and animations and live from it. Now it's even better, because we can afford to refuse all these great commissions and create our own independent projects and live from it.
Your work is exhibited around the world not only through the internet, but during organized events, such as the GDC. As digital artists, do you find yourself traveling to these exhibitions or does the nature of the work allow it to be presented when you are not in attendance?
It's always great to travel somewhere and present our work there personally however I think our projects are (or should be) absolutely stand-alone so it require only player or viewer.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently now that you’ve had so much exposure?
Sure there are a few things but probably nothing substantial.
Finally, what do you think is the most important element of game design?
Not sure about that, we are very careful about visual side, original vision with a lot of ideas and atmosphere. Basically every player should feel good in our small worlds.