Special thanks to Roberta Williams for allowing this interview, and to Lars Christensen for allowing me to help.
"Quality that you have come to expect!"
Lars:You've mentioned that you want to take a 6-9 month sabbatical - can you reveal what you "might" do after that? Or does this depend on how well Mask sells?
Roberta: ANY PLANS THAT I MAY HAVE FOR THE FUTURE HAVE NO RELEVANCE TO HOW WELL "MASK" SELLS; KQ:MASK IS ALREADY SELLING WELL. AT THIS POINT IN TIME, I HAVE NO PLANS OTHER THAN TO TAKE TIME OFF AND DO OTHER "MORE PERSONAL" PROJECTS FOR AWHILE AND THEN SEE WHAT INSPIRATION STRIKES ME.
Lars:When starting a game, how much time do you put into research?
Roberta: USUALLY ABOUT THREE MONTHS OF PURE RESEARCH -- AND THEN I BEGIN THE ACTUAL DEVELOPMENT PROCESS.
Lars:What's your all-time favorite Sierra game?
Roberta: I HATE TO SAY THIS (BECAUSE IT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF MINE
Noah:If Mask of Eternity is not one of them, then how does it compare to the one that you mentioned?
Roberta: I LOVED WORKING ON "KQ:MASK OF ETERNITY," BUT, "PHANTASMAGORIA" HAD MORE OF A STORY AND MORE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT (NOT TO MENTION WORKING WITH ACTORS, WHICH WAS REALLY FUN), WHICH I PERSONALLY FIND MORE SATISFYING AS A WRITER. ALTHOUGH I AM TECHNICALLY A GAME DESIGNER, I CONSIDER MYSELF FIRSTLY A WRITER, AND INTERWEAVING A GREAT STORY WITHIN A GAME ENVIRONMENT IS THE MOST FUN FOR ME.
Lars:You mentioned in the two radio shows at Talkspot, that there was actually 3 designs made for Mask Of Eternity. What changed most in the game - the story, or the way the puzzles and characters were linked to the story?
Roberta: YOU'RE RIGHT; THERE WERE THREE DESIGNS FOR "MASK OF ETERNITY." (THAT'S THE ONLY GAME I EVER DID WHICH HAD SO MANY CHANGES. IN FACT, IN JUST ABOUT ALL OF MY OTHER GAMES, THE FIRST DESIGN WAS THE ONE THAT STUCK.) BETWEEN THE FIRST DESIGN AND THE SECOND DESIGN EVERYTHING CHANGED: THE STORY, THE PUZZLES, THE WORLDS, AND THE CHARACTERS. BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THE THIRD DESIGN, THE STORY AND THE WORLDS WERE PRETTY MUCH SET, BUT WE STILL HAD SOME MAJOR CHANGES AND ADDITIONS TO PUZZLES AND CHARACTERS. IN FACT, WE STILL WERE CHANGING AND ADDING PUZZZLES AND CHARACTERS RIGHT UP TO THE VERY END!
Lars:Who is your favorite character and monster from Mask Of Eternity? And what's your favorite world in the game?
Roberta: OBVIOUSLY, MY FAVORITE CHARACTER WOULD BE CONNOR. (I ALWAYS FEEL THE CLOSEST TO THE MAIN CHARACTER.) MY FAVORITE MONSTER ARE LUCRETO'S "HENCHMEN" (THOSE GUYS THAT COME ALONG AND TRY TO TAKE AWAY A MASK PIECE.) I THINK THEY HAVE MORE CHARACTER AND INTERACTION WITH CONNOR THAN THE OTHER MONSTERS. MY FAVORITE WORLD IS THE "FROZEN REACHES." I THINK THE FROZEN REACHES IS A BEAUTIFUL WORLD AND HAS A LOT OF ATMOSPHERE; I ACTUALLY FEEL 'COLD' WHEN PLAYING IT!
Lars:How different has MASK been designing, compared to your previous games - did you program your mind to think in 3D? And did any of the movie experience you had by making Phantas, help in terms of the many defined camera angles uses in Mask?
Roberta: KQ: MASK WAS VERY DIFFERENT IN DESIGNING (WHICH PROBABLY EXPLAINS THE REASON I DID THREE DESIGNS ON IT). IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME (AND THE REST OF THE TEAM!) IN RETHINKING OUR MINDS TO 3D. WHEN YOU HAVE WORKED ON MANY 2D GAMES, AND KIND OF HAD YOUR FORMULA SET, IT'S DIFFICULT TO COMPLETELY RETHINK EVERYTHING TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DIMENSION. IT'S NOT JUST A MATTER OF DOING A 2D GAME...BUT IN 3D. THERE IS MUCH MORE INVOLVED, AND A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAY OF EXPERIENCING THE GAME. WITH 2D, YOU'RE ONLY WORRIED ABOUT CREATING YOUR VARIOUS BACKGROUND PICTURES, BUT WITH 3D, THAT WHOLE WORLD REALLY EXISTS! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS JUST 'PICTURES.' EVERYTHING EXISTS, AND THE PLAYER CAN COMPLETELY EXPLORE IT. THAT CREATES A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPLOIT AS A GAME DESIGNER...BUT IT ALSO CREATES A LOT OF COMPLEXITIES.
At the end of the credits in MASK, there's a team photo, but you're not in there... Connor is - is he there instead of you -as you? And would you say that you and Connor are somehow alike?
Roberta: ACTUALLY, I WAS KIND OF MAD THAT THEY DID THAT PHOTO WITHOUT ME. (I NEVER DID HAVE AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION AS TO WHY.) I SUPPOSE THAT IT WAS TAKEN WHILE I WAS ON VACATION IN AUGUST, AND THEY NEEDED IT RIGHT AWAY AND I WASN'T THERE. ALSO, MY PICTURE WAS ON THE BACK OF THE BOX, AND, I SUPPOSE THE TEAM FELT THAT THEY DESERVED THEIR PICTURE SOMEWHERE, TOO.
Noah:In KQ5, what ever becomes of Manannan? I know that King Graham bags him, but does he just remain in the bag to die, does he escape, or what is his fate? This was left ambiguous, and I was just wondering what your interpretation was.
Roberta: MY INTERPRETATION AT THE TIME WAS THAT HE COULD COME BACK AT ANY TIME. YOU NEVER KNOW....