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Dead State Interview Bonanza

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Dead State Interview Bonanza

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 27 June 2012, 09:21:15

Tags: Brian Mitsoda; Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

A few interviews with DoubleBear's Brian Mitsoda appeared in the depths of the internet. Let me bring them to you, toward the light.
Here's a sample from the one on Forbes:

In your own words, could you describe the experience of playing Dead State?

Dead State is all about human survival and psychology in the wake of a global disaster. You need allies for security, but they also need food, and that can lead to morale issues. Your goal is to keep the shelter from falling apart, going out into the dead-filled streets and towns looking for food and other supplies, dealing with the much smarter and unpredictable humans, and trying to keep your shelter fence up while improving the conditions inside.

Allies bring issues to you, are assigned jobs, build items, upgrade the shelter and handle crises. On the area map, you can travel to known locations, find random encounters or events, and harvest wild sources of food. On the combat maps, you can explore in real time, find items and supplies, enter turn-based combat with humans or zombies, and sometimes meet other characters or groups.

Again in your own words, what were your visual and gameplay inspirations? It looks like there is some Fallout, some Jagged Alliance 2 – but the art style, of course, has to be contemporary (or during-apocalyptic rather than post-apocalyptic). What would someone training for Dead State be best advised to “work out” with?

Definitely, we were inspired by Jagged Alliance and X-Com, and also Fallout, which was pretty much the game that directly got me into the industry – I applied to Interplay directly after playing it. Our allies can die, same as the characters in any of those games.

I’d say we were also mildly influenced by the base-building in the old PlayStation game Suikoden, and some of the turn-based mechanics/balance of Final Fantasy Tactics. As far as the dialogue goes, I wanted to make sure that the characters were as strong as the dialogue that people associate me with for Bloodlines, but with a deeper morale and political aspect to the management of the many personalities in the shelter.

Here's a healthy snippet from the one over at Rampant Coyote:
Jay (Rampant Coyote): How did you get your start? What made you want to become a game designer? And how did you get to where you are now?

Brian Mitsoda: Back when I was younger, game designer wasn’t a thing, or at least it wasn’t really known as a position you could aspire to. I’m not sure the majority of gamers still knows how games are made, but the dedicated probably have a good idea of what a designer does and some possible ideas on how to become one. You can even mod/create games pretty easily now to get your feet wet. If I had known such a job as designer had existed, I probably would have spent more time prepping to become one.

Aside from gaming since near-birth, I’ve always been interested in writing and it’s a talent that I started developing in grade school. That led to my eventually becoming an English major, which helped me develop story and dialogue skills, but is not a path I recommend to anyone who is going to sink a boatload of borrowed cash into education. I got some use out of my degree, but I would go back in time and tell myself to get a more well-rounded technical and creative education. That would probably cause a paradox though.

Anyhow, I crossed the country out to Los Angeles after college to pursue a career in screenwriting, which also resulted in adding catering and bartending to my skillset. I didn’t really care much for the Hollywood system and it was already obvious that the 90s boom was giving way to the modern cycle of remakes, sequels, and retreads, so I began rethinking the decision at the same time I just happened to start playing a game called Fallout. Writing and non-linearity and branching narratives? Why, that’s some exciting territory to contemplate as a writer. And there it was – the solution.

I found out Interplay was in Orange County (35 minutes from L.A. if a car-eating microbe destroys all of the world’s vehicles except for yours) and I applied for a position in QA and got it. I got promoted up to designer at Black Isle a few months after Icewind Dale testing wrapped up. This was back in the days where development was kind of like a series of dorm rooms where a bunch of enthusiastic NES-generation twenty-somethings talked, played, and worked on games. For at least some of the time at Interplay, it was “by gamers, for gamers”, though the marketing/corporate influence was starting to show up at uncomfortable levels. Oh, and I worked on a game called “Black Isle’s TORN” (yes, it was spelled in all-caps thanks to marketing) which was cancelled – welcome to game development!

The next place I worked was Troika. Oh, man, Troika was awesome. Great staff, small teams, a lot of the old Interplay feel (we were across the street) and pretty indie/garage by modern development standards. I worked as a writer/designer for Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, which a few people have played and enjoyed, which is very cool. Had a lot of fun working on Bloodlines, but boy did we crunch on that. Troika couldn’t secure funding after we shipped the game, and sadly that was the end of that.

I went to Obsidian next and worked with some great people on a game that we all thought was going to be something special before it got cancelled. Then I worked as a creative lead on Alpha Protocol, designed the dialogue system, and wrote a first draft of the story/dialogue, though that ended up not being used in the final game.

Which brings me to DoubleBear – the studio my wife and I founded and that is currently at work on the now funded Dead State: The Game Which Can Not Be Killed!

And finally, here's one of those next-gen interviews where you only listen, no reading involved. They call it pod-cast.

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