Interview: To The Moon

After my post on storytelling, I got a recommendation to try out “To The Moon” from Freebird Games. It truly is a special experience, and I wholeheartedly extend the recommendation to anyone interested in exploring the potential of storytelling in games.

The lighthouse
Kan Gao is the team director, and was kind enough to offer a few words to share.

Can you give a quick intro to who you are and why you make games?

Kan: I’m just some guy from Canada who struggles to hold his chopsticks. I make games mainly to tell stories.

What other games inspire you and your projects?

K: The old school RPGs in general, I suppose. I’ve always enjoyed the storytelling in them, even if contrived at times; it made you feel involved.

What era of games did you grow up in?

K: Late 80s and early 90s.

It appears that you use death as a running theme, what draws you to that?

K: It’s only a running theme in To the Moon, I think. At the time I started the project, my grandfather was ill, so it was one of the things that got me thinking, and eventually became the base of the story.

Are you proud of your results?

K: Well, things could’ve always been made better, but aye, I’m more than happy with how things turned out.

That’s good. What is your development process? How long does it take you to produce a game?

K: Not that I recommend it, but it’s pretty loose and non-strict. It’s pretty much just me working away at it, doing one thing today and another tomorrow as fit. Then I’d run into things that I can’t do, and knock on talent peoples’ doors with a jar of cookie while begging for help. To the Moon took about 1.5 year to make, though it wasn’t full time.

Would you ever work for a studio that didn’t give you creative control?

K: Not entirely unlikely; there’s a lot to learn from experiences like that too, such as work ethics. Though for now, I’d be a lot happier to be able to finish To the Moon’s series as I see fit.

Do you have a plan for the future?

K: Late lunch.

Hah. On a more business-oriented note, have sales met expectations? Do you care about finance at all?

K: Aye, it’s my first commercial project and I’m hoping to be able to devote my time to this for a living, so I’m really glad that the sales are gaining enough support to make it viable for now.

Superb, I’m glad to hear it. Finally, do you have any advice for other developers looking to write more compelling stories?

K: Writing stories is a pretty personal thing, so I can’t exactly dictate the exact directions. . . but if there’s a choice, I think it’s better to write smaller-scaled and delicate stories than epic ones. There are plenty of the latter around nowadays, but we could use more of the other.

Thanks for your time, Kan.

K: No problem, thanks for the opportunity!

So there you have it, some thoughts on development and storytelling from the developer behind Gamespot’s Best Story of 2011. If you didn’t notice at the beginning of the article, I seriously enjoyed this game and I demand you download the demo now.

What do you think?

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One Response to Interview: To The Moon

  1. FlashMush says:

    Always great to hear from the developers first hand. As for To The Moon. I have yet to play it but it looks superb!