Interview with Epic Games’ Jay Wilbur

Since its inception in 2008, the Dubai World Game Expo has been the annual showcase for game developers in the Middle East. In the last few years many western studios have taken an interest and have come to sponsor or give panels, including CryTech, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Epic Games.

Epic had a large presence at DWGE 2010, showcasing their latest development tool, the Unreal Development Kit. Their booth featured a workshop with tutorials on the basics of the UDK, and representing Epic at DWGE were Jay Wilbur, Vice President, as well as Markus Arvidsson and James Tan – two of the independent developers behind UDK-based game The Ball. I sat down with these fine gentlemen to discuss a variety of topics including Unreal Engine 3, the UDK, and games development in general. What follows is my conversation with Jay.

The Slowdown: The Unreal Engine has a long history of licensing and modding; how did the decision to launch the Unreal Development Kit only come about now after all these years?

Jay Wilbur: So, all the while, we’ve always made our games open and available for people to mod – Unreal Tournament 3, going back to the original Unreal. People would be able to use the tools to make their own mod. But that locks those creative endeavours to the game, so somebody else would need to own that particular game in order to play the mod. With the UDK, we’ve freed developers to create standalone applications, turn it into a standalone playable entity – asset, I should say, and then deliver it to anybody who wanted to play it. They wouldn’t necessarily need to own that game in order to play it. So the goal was basically to have more people use Unreal Engine 3 in the development and also have more people be able to play the end result.


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The Journey Down Interview with Theodor Waern

In this interview with main Skygoblin Theodor Waern, who is fresh off releasing the very first chapter of his four-part adventure game series, The Journey Down, we discuss the game’s unique look and feel, Waern’s inspiration for the game and find out more about the role Adventure Game Studio played in the game’s development. We also got around talking about the importance of polish, what makes a puzzle a good puzzle, and Waern’s workflow.

In addition to this interview, we have also simultaneously published our review of the first chapter of the game here at The Slowdown. “Over the Edge” can be downloaded from Skygoblin right now.

The Slowdown: Starting off, I would like you to return to the origins of the series for a minute: In the manual provided with “Over the Edge,” you reveal how the game’s origins actually lie in brainstorming sessions with your colleague, Mathias Johansson. How big a catalyst, though, was simply finding the correct tool to work with?

Theodor Waern: There’s no point denying that when me and AGS first laid eyes on each other, we both knew it was love. I realized right from the start that this was THE tool for me. The learning curve was perfect. I had a problem, I banged my head at it, I solved it. I had another problem, I banged my head some more, and I solved that one too. It has been that way ever since I started production on the game and I doubt I will ever come to a complete stop.


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Interview with The Whispered World Designer Marco Hüllen

Note: This is Day 3 of “The Whispered World Week” at The Slowdown.

Maro Hüllen, with Pet

In today’s interview, we talk to the original designer and primary illustrator of The Whispered World, Marco Hüllen (on the right), in the hopes of shedding more light on the curiouser details of the development process of the game – especially, on details that are still left uncertain for non-German audiences.

After all, German fans of the adventure game have had the privilege of reading Marco’s posts on various adventure gaming forums – as well as having already played the game. For those of us not yet in the know, the interview below should hopefully reveal some further facets of the make-up of the wildly imaginative ride that is the six-year development process of the game.

Finally, please do remember to take a look at our introductory post to The Whispered World – the article, written in conjunction with this interview, details the game’s history from inception to conception, between the years 2004 and 2010, and should by all means get you better prepared for the game’s release on the 23rd.

A special thank you goes to the very genial mister Hüllen, who braved our questions despite a minor language barrier. Therefore, the interview has been translated, from German into English, by Martyn Zachary and Richard Scary for The Slowdown. The original answers, in the German language, will also be published on the website later.

The Slowdown: After having worked so long on a project that began way back in the first half of the 00’s as an university project, are you feeling any fatigue now that the game is finally coming out?

Marco Hüllen: A little, but the joys do outweigh the fatigue. When I first started work on the game, I never expected it to become such a marathon for me. Much has been enjoyable, and a lot was equally frustrating. In the end it all came together nevertheless, and with that in mind it has all been worthwhile.

How long have you been working on the game, exactly?

Oh, it has already been quite a few years: I started work in the year 2004, with The Whispered World as the topic of my diploma thesis. When I completed my degree in late 2005, I made the decision to develop the game further at Bad Brain Entertainment, for whom I had done graphics on some other titles during my studies.


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Interview with Yama Designer Mark Edwards

Source level designer Mark Edwards is currently making a bit of a splash in the Left 4 Dead customization community with his promising work-in-progress custom campaign, Yama, refreshingly set in the country of Japan. Though L4Mods currently rules Yama content with an iron fist, Edwards nevertheless graciously took the time to answer our questions.

Edwards, fresh off releasing a custom survival map, Dead Meat (his portfolio additionally includes a contest-winning level for the Steamworked Zombie Panic: Source) is no stranger to gaming horror, and while we explicitly wanted to hear his feelings on the more technical intricacies and design-related dilemmas present in developing Left 4 Dead content, Edwards also touches on broader conceptual decisions, issues and themes that are present in the horror genre, relating his vision to titles such as Silent Hill and Siren: Blood Curse.

We would like to thank Edwards for answering our questions, and for those with a keen eye, there are Yama and Dead Meat screenshots sprinkled amidst the answers after the jump! Dead Meat can be acquired from


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Downfall Interview with Remigiusz Michalski

We recently talked to the very accessible Remigiusz Michalski about some of the more burning questions relating to his horror adventure game, Downfall. In our interview, we touch on his feelings about being an indie developer – including how Steam had shockingly outright rejected the game as unfit for their audience – and how the game’s style and structure really came about. Michalski also clarifies how the game relates to the adventure game genre all the while gently jabbing poor Guybrush.

The interview additionally contains never before seen side-to-side comparisons of development sketches and exclusive versions of backgrounds – including unfinished art that never made it to the game – to allow readers more insight into Michalski’s development cycle.


Here at the Slowdown, we also noticed how some players have been on the fence with the amount of gore in the game, so we wanted Remy to clarify the true nature of the horror present in Downfall. In turn, we also learned how some of the game and its locations are really reality-based.

Finally, we intend to publish our complementary review of the game, with more in-game screenshots to go, in a matter of a few days; If you’re interested in the game, the easiest way to read the forthcoming review is to subscribe to us on Twitter or to our RSS feed. Downfall is currently available on Direct2Drive, and our thank you goes to Mr. Michalski for taking the time to answer our questions.


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