Luc Bernard is a 21 year old graphic designer and game developer on the cusp of making his big splash in the game industry with the upcoming WiiWare title Eternity's Child. After seeing Luc's work, it doesn't take long to see that he has a unique perspective on what video games are about. Like Shigeru Miyamoto, the cartoonist who went from designing Donkey Kong to becoming the world's leading game creator, Luc's focus on visual design and his almost defiant rejection of familiar game conventions could lead to incredible things.
I recently had the luck of getting through Luc's hectic work schedule and hordes of fans to actually score an interview with this would be gaming revolutionary.
Hit the jump to read Luc's thoughts on being a prostitute, his potential collaboration with Uwe Boll, and his hate of XBLA.
[Thanks to Savant for the Mr D. pixel art]
Destructoid: Hi Luc, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Luc Bernard: Hi, mate.
Dtoid: In your own words, what's the premise of Eternity's Child?
Bernard: The game is about how the whole planet was destroyed due to global warming and how there was a massive genocide of all the winged creatures in that world, and Angel (the game's protagonist) is one of the only left. That is why he is looking for another of his kind. The gameplay is pure platforming but you will aim with the Wii remote to shoot at the big mechanical creatures that have taken over. They were created to repopulate the life that was destroyed, but like their creators ended up destroying everything also. Hmmm, a bit like humanity.
Dtoid: That sounds incredible. Very innovative. Did you play Super Paper Mario? It had a gameplay mechanic sort of like that.
Bernard: No I haven't, but I would love to play it though.
Dtoid: If you ever come back to the States, you should come over my house and play it. It's like a fairy tale as well, but a much more conventional one than your projects.
Dtoid: If you don't mind, pleases tell us a little bit about your background in game development, and how you see yourself as a game developer.
Bernard: I saw videos on Youtube and I must admit I'm more excited to play that game that I would be to play Gears Of War, no offense to the Gears creators.
Dtoid: Tell us about your recent re-design of Angel? He looks a little different than he did last year.
Bernard: I saw a lot of people moan on forums about Angel not fitting in with the rest of the backgrounds, so well to make those people happy I made sure that he fits, I actually read a lot of what people think so I can make EC as great as possible.
Bernard: Well, I have no experience in game developing, none at all. I quit school at 18, and I did a awful mobile game of Eternity's Child a few years ago. That was quite terrible, to be honest, but it was for cell phones, and I care about cell phone games as much as I care about flying rabbits. I don't really see myself as a game developer, but more as a fairytale creator. I'm really interested in bringing new worlds and new stories for people to enjoy more than anything. I don't respect any rules in game development, and I guess that is what makes me different. I'm trying to make interactive fairy tales, not video games. I really want to show that video games can be a form as art as much as movies.
Dtoid: Are there any other games you've enjoyed that you also think fit the "interactive fairy tale" description?
Bernard: Games made by other companies? Well, I do enjoy Nintendo games the most, since they are fun and bring us into new worlds, I'm not fond of games where you play a big bald muscle man with no brains that is killing evil hamsters from mars, like, well, most games nowadays.
Dtoid: That brings me to my next question, why the switch from XBLA to WiiWare for your upcoming game Eternity's Child?
Bernard: A-ha! Well, this is going to be quite interesting. Well, I remember at first Eternity's Child was one of the first games created with the XNA platform. However, Microsoft gave Eternity's Child the red light. They didn't want the game on Xbox Live Arcade so I had to switch it to Wii. Since I was friends with Paul, the owner of Alten8 and they were doing Wii games... so I just contacted him and told Paul that I wanted Eternity's Child to come out on Wii, and now here it is today. I wouldn't of minded doing it on PSN, but I don't know any publisher that does games for PSN that was interested in Eternity's Child.
Dtoid: I've heard a lot of developers saying that XBLA is getting more and more strict with it's standards for developers. What was it like working for them? And will you have to start development of Eternity's Child from scratch now that the game has changed platforms?
Bernard: Well, I think it's stupid that they are so strict because Eternity's Child is one of the best looking 2D games out here, and they basically turned me down because I'm crap with paperwork. I filled it in awfully (laughs). Eternity's Child being on Wii actually helped me add some new features and gameplay, but I still think Microsoft will have a big loss. I don't think I'll plan to work with them in the future. The Wii and PS3 are the only platforms that interest me now. Eternity's Child is being done at Alten8 right now and we are making sure that it's released in Q2 when WiiWare launches, hopefully.
Dtoid: That's really exciting! Your first game on major consoles. That's a dream come true for a lot of people.
Bernard: I wouldn't say it's really a dream. I never planned to do any PC games, I'm not in this industry just because I want to have a dream come true. I want to try and change it. I would of just gone into animation movies if I didn't plan to change the game industry.
Dtoid: Yeah, speaking of that, I find it very interesting that you say you think of yourself as more of a fairy tale maker than a game developer. Do you see a connection between those two mediums?
Bernard: No, there isn't any connections between them, but let's put it this way, the player will have more emotions and feel more attached to the characters if he plays with them, gets to be them, than if he just watches a film. The video game industry is doing so well because people don't want to just be watching a film or listening to music, they want to be the hero, they want to be the rock stars. The industry is changing, I believe that the games industry is the future of entertainment.
Dtoid: Video games are getting to be bigger and bigger business, and as that happens, I feel like they are losing a bit of their soul. It was common place in the 80's for a game to be made by 5-10 people. Now, you have games with +500 people on staff.
Bernard: Yes, I find that completely stupid, since what is original nowadays? "Oh, let's just create World War II shooter #24" and "Oh, let's get a bald man to kill loads of mutant ducks that have come to invade the Earth". This industry is losing it's magic and imagination. That is why I decided to give it a chance because I am planning to bring something new that no one else is going to try. It's just all corporations now, there isn't anymore art anymore. Just look at the music industry now it's a load of shit, lucky there is artists like Amy Winehouse there to save it.
Dtoid: When she gets out of rehab, that is.
Bernard: (laughs) Well, I think that most people do drugs, it's just that she is in the public eye. What I love about her is that she is not manufactured like most of those celebrities who are just created products and who I think well are just polluting our society.
Dtoid: Do you do drugs? Any other vices? Prostitution maybe?
Bernard: Well drugs, I mean who doesn't do them? I can't say that I do drugs because I could get into trouble, but I can say that I love vodka! Prostitution... (laughs) I bet you saw that from another interview (laughs). I've done it in the past, but when you go through hard times you have to do whatever you can to survive. I must admit I have great respect for prostitutes and escorts, and woman in general. I guess I'm also considered rude. Well, some Americans thought I was rude, but I just call it being honest. I'm just human after all. We all have our bad side I just don't hide it, but I can be very trustworthy. I believe that love is the most beautiful thing in this world.... with shiny things.
Dtoid: I've met some very nice prostitutes myself. Porn stars as well.
Bernard: Oh, one of my friends is a porn star and I have a mate who wanks off on camera for a living. It's a way to make a living like anything else. I mean, humans are sick. That is why you need things as dominatrixes and stuff like that so then the businessmen can cheat on their wives without them finding out. The most fucked up people are the ones we don't suspect.
Dtoid: I sort of think of therapy and prostitution as having some things in common. They both involve doing intimate things with people that you don't know all the well for purposes other than what they are usually performed for. It's funny that if you share your feelings with a therapist, you're considered normal, but if you share them with a hooker, you're considered gross.
Bernard: Well, I tend to reveal myself more to people I don't know. That is why my relationships fail when I get too close to a woman. I just go insane and can't be myself. What I find gross is men considering woman just like meat to shag. I think they (women) are the most powerful and beautiful beings in this world.
Dtoid: Yeah, using people is always a negative thing, I agree with you there.
Dtoid: Back to your game, how much can you tell me about the EC team?
Bernard: I can say that I'm not just by myself on it, and that Alten8 looks after the Wii part. I always have programmers to yell at me which is good since so then I just won't go off my head and do any kind of stupid game. One of my favorite people on the team is Sean Beeson,the composer. He is very important, I think that music is just as important as art direction. Sean is a genius. His music is just beyond words, it's just amazing what he brought to this interactive fairytale. It really helped me with my vision of Eternity's Child.
Dtoid: What kind of music are you going for with EC's soundtrack?
Dtoid: I had read on Gaygamer.com that Eternity's Child may feature an openly gay character? Is that true? And if so, does Nintendo know that?
Bernard: Well, orchestral of course. The soundtrack of Eternity's Child is as good as any big game out there.
Dtoid: Did you ever consider using a rock or techno soundtrack like so many games do these days?
Bernard: Bloody hell no. It needs to be proper music, something different. The music has got to be magical but also dark, so when the player plays it on a wide screen TV with surround sound goes completely into my world.
Bernard: Yes, well, I planned to feature that character. However, since I've got a film version planned, he may appear in the film version. I'm planning for a film version of Eternity's Child that will be the prequel to the WiiWare game.
Dtoid: Woah! Are you in talks with anyone yet for the film?
Bernard: I'm talking with Uwe Boll about an animated 2D film of Eternity's Child which I would want to be directly involved in. He loved the story so far, and though nothing is official yet, a film version will come. Most of the game franchises I'm working on I also plan to do sequels in movie form. I don't want to do a sequel to any of my games in video game form.
Dtoid: Holy smokes! Uwe Boll? Why Uwe Boll?
Bernard: Well, because he is European and even if people hate him (pauses), he has only had franchises with crappy stories to work with. Eternity's Child will have a great story, and I think we could make a film that could be as good as any Disney film. Of course, I would only do it if I can do the story, decide who does the songs and voice overs etc. But I think that we could do something really great. I'm a perfectionist. Also, if I did it with Uwe Boll I could have more control over my vision than any Hollywood company,
Dtoid: That makes sense. It sounds like you'd be asking Uwe to help you make your movie, as opposed to asking Uwe to make your movie for you.
Bernard: Yes, I would only collaborate on a movie. I don't plan to let anyone destroy any of my fairy tales just to make them public friendly.
Dtoid: That's funny, because most people probably think that "fairy tales" and "public friendly" go hand in hand. I get the sense that you don't see it that way.
Bernard: I think fairy tales are quite dark. Take Little Red Riding Hood, for me the wolf represents a pedophile. I think fairy tales are very dark, they are basically representing society in a beautiful way, so that everyone can enjoy them without being too shocked.
Dtoid: The old Grimm fairy tales were pretty gruesome. As I recall, in the original version of Cinderella, the evil step sisters cut off their little toes in order to try and get the glass slipper to fit. Is that the kind of fairytale you're going for?
Bernard: Well, Eternity's Child is my first one, so I'm trying to make it public friendly, but Angel does get his wings cut off to prevent him from being murdered like the rest of his kind.
Dtoid: Yeah, you don't see that kind of stuff in modern fairy tales too often.
Luc: Well, I think Disney changed the whole fairy tale vision, just made it public friendly.
Dtoid: So, what inspires you creatively? Do you have any major influences?
Bernard: Well, video wise there was 2 music videos that really changed me when I was young. They were both done by Chris Cunningham, Bjork's All is Full of Love, and Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy. Music inspires me a lot. That is why I love Amy Winehouse so much. Her Back to Black album is exactly how I feel sometimes. Love and break ups inspire me a lot. I fell in love with this beautiful woman, but because of the way I am I just managed to destroy everything. She was clearly my muse and still is. I think that I do fairy tales is just to try and be loved. Happiness is not fame and money unlike what most people think, Most of my characters are mainly parts of my personality and the stories are parts of my life. I don't like to reveal myself too much so I reveal stuff in fairy tale form. I think artists just don't know how to show their feelings, that is why they put all their effort into their work.
Dtoid: Some of the most creative stuff I've ever done has been in hopes to communicate something to a girl that I liked. Does the woman you are making EC for know it's for her?
Bernard: Eternity's Child is not for her. Eternity's Child was something I imagined in my childhood. One of my other future interactive fairy tales is inspired by her. I have no hopes of getting her back. You can't make someone love you. I'm not depressed either. I live life doing what I do best. If I can entertain people and make them happy with these interactive fairy tales and be remembered as someone who brought something to this world I can die happy
Dtoid: Good philosophy.
Dtoid: I hate to ask this next one, but I feel I have to.
Bernard: Ask it.
Dtoid: A lot of very creative, original games for the Wii, like Sadness from Nibris, have yet to materialize and are rumored to be vapor-ware. Is there any chance that EC will end up vapor ware as well?
Bernard: Eternity's Child is up and running and is nearly finished. It has been accepted by Nintendo for WiiWare. It's one of Alten8's biggest priorities so it's going to come out. The problem with Sadness is that it was too ambitious. Eternity's Child is WiiWare so that is quite normal, and will only be 500 Wii points. People haven't even seen what the Wii version looks like yet in motion. Eternity's Child is what will allow me to make other bigger games if it's a success so I'm not going to abandon it, knowing it's nearly finished
Dtoid: That's a relief. I haven't heard of Alten8. Are they a new publisher?
Bernard: Yes, they are a new developer/publisher they started off with cell phone games and publishing PC games. They are a small company but really great. They allow me to be as creative as possible and don't stop me from doing anything, and for WiiWare you don't need a big publisher since everyone can access the game directly on their Wii.
Dtoid: I know you don't work directly on this part of it, but do you know how hard it was for Alten8 to get a license to publish for WiiWare? I know a lot of our readers are budding developers themselves and will want to know what their chances are of getting a game licensed for WiiWare.
Bernard: I have honestly no idea. Alten8 did everything (laughs). I'm not really the right one to ask, but from what I've heard it's easier than XBLA. Nintendo is going to kill XBLA. I would like to work on the PSN to be honest also, just because there is no size limit and also HD.
Dtoid: Last question for you, if you had unlimited money and resources, what would you make?
Bernard: If I had unlimited money and resources, I think I would make free games and films, so everyone could enjoy them, while collaborating with my favorite musical artists for the soundtracks so I could make the perfect entertainment. Something that would remain immortal. Being famous is meaningless, being immortal and changing the world is what matters/
Dtoid: Fantastic last words. Now did you say you had your composer handy? I'd love to ask him a few questions as well.
Bernard: OK! Go on! Shoot!
(Luc calls Sean in)
Dtoid: Hi Sean, it's nice that you are on hand for a co-interview with Luc. Hope you don't mind fielding a few questions.
Sean Beeson: Not at all.
Dtoid: Is EC your first game?
Beeson: No, I have actually worked on a handful of other titles. Most are still unannounced. I am under NDA's so I can't officially say what those games are yet. I can tell you that they will be coming to an Xbox 360 near you sometime in the near future. However, I met Luc years ago when Eternity's Child was first being conceived, so although I have worked on games prior to Eternity's Child, Luc was one of the first developers I worked with
Dtoid: From what I've heard of your work, it's pretty exquisite stuff. What's your take on music's role in video games?
Beeson: Music in games can function in multiple ways and through various means. Some soundtracks are merely "wallpaper" while others are present, there to directly communicate emotions using visuals and the narrative as a vehicle to do so. I feel Eternity's Child is a great example of this union.
Dtoid: Which sort of music do you enjoy writing more? Wallpaper, or more direct, attention getting work?
Beeson: While I personally enjoy writing both, I feel that my nature as a composer leans more towards writing direct, attention-getting works. I had a lot of liberty with Eternity's Child. Musically, I feel I was presented with a white-walled room, and Luc said, "Paint this how you see fit". I think the results speak for themselves.
Dtoid: That sounds like a fantastic experience. It's rare for a composer to get such creative freedom. I heard that even John Williams had a lot of his music butchered by the sound editor for Star Wars because it didn't fit with his "PEW PEW PEW" noises. Any particular composers, video game or otherwise, that you liken yourself towards, professionally or personally?
Beeson: Two composers that have been influential in my Musical career are Debussy and Charles Griffes. As for my personal career, I couldn't even begin to list the number of composers and people that have been influential in my life, but you know who you are!
Dtoid: Thanks so much Sean! I look forward to hearing more of your work. It's a real breath of fresh air
(Sean excuses himself)
Dtoid: Luc, can I interview you again sometime? I want to hear more about what you're up to.
Bernard: You can if I can have a photo with Mr. Destructoid (laughs).
Dtoid:Absolutely. Actually, I'll pay you $100 dollars to put him in your game.
Bernard: (laughs) Are you guys serious?"
Dtoid: Yeah. I'm serious. It's my money.
Bernard: Well, if I can have Angel destroy Mr Destructoid I'm up for it! (laughs) And as long as you guys don't sue me for murdering him in a video game
Dtoid: Well, I wont sue you, but I can't promise Niero, Mr Destructoid himself, wont have me fired for this. Or even killed.
Bernard: Is Destructoid a hidden mafia pretending to be a video game blog then?
Dtoid: No Comment.
Dtoid: Well, before I get myself into more trouble, I should bring this interview to a close.
Bernard: Right. Well, it was fun. Best interview I've done so far.
Dtoid: Thanks! I look forward to doing it again!
Bernard: Oh, we will! Take care Jonathan.