was the first game you ever created?
been designing and making games since I was a kid, and that was a long
time ago. Back then there
were no computers available to the average Joe, and certainly not to
the average kid, so everything was paper or mechanical.
I guess my first real game was an electrical football machine,
where throwing concealed switches selected plays & defenses, and
visible switches were used to set formations. My school friends used
to borrow the thing and play for hours.
Did you have a passion
for video games or was this just a career that you enjoyed?
I have been excited by video games since the moment they came into existence.
I once drove all the way from LA to Barstow in order to play
Computer Space, for example.
That excitement eventually turned into a career I have thoroughly
enjoyed. Or, to be more precise, to use an analogy I learned while writing
MacArthur � as the wildcat said to the polecat after mistakenly
mating with it, I�ve enjoyed as much of it as I could stand.
did you first start working at LucasArts? What was the experience like?
The company was then called Lucasfilm Games.
I was invited to join up, because management wanted to do a follow
up adventure to The Last Crusade, but no one then employed wanted
to tackle the project. Some
of the folks there knew me and knew I was working on some computer games,
so they thought, give me a try. In
those days the company was small. Eight years later I had more members on my team building The
Infernal Machine than were in the entire organization back then.
Have there ever
been any Indy game storylines that were considered but never went into
development? If so, what kinds of stories were considered and can you tell
us about them?
yes, several. The first
one I�m aware of was what I was originally hired to design and build.
I�ve forgotten the actual title, but Chris Columbus had written
a screenplay for a 4th Jones movie, and it had been rejected.
Management thought it might work as a game, but I thought it
was substandard. I guess
everyone else did too, but I was the only real screenwriter in the company,
and when I turned up my nose everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
The narrative took Indy to Africa and had him pursuing Chinese
later, when I was starting what turned out to become The Infernal
Machine, I wanted to do a game based on a story that George and
Steve were rumored to have concocted.
The next movie wasn�t happening, so I was hopeful.
Instead, I was told, �don�t go there,� because the story might
still become the basis of a movie.
Aside from mentioning that the subject was science fiction and
the setting was America in the 1950�s, I can�t talk about it.
Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was
your first Indiana Jones game, how did that project come about?
on from above... I was brought into Lucasfilm Games specifically to
design & build a Jones game, following on the success of The
Last Crusade. The story
I was handed, in the form of a Chris Columbus screenplay, had already
been rejected for a Jones movie, and it didn�t seem very interesting
as a game either. So Noah
Falstein (who worked with me on the initial design) and I, desperate
to come up with an alternative, hurried over to the Skywalker Ranch
research library and started leafing through some cheap Mysteries-of-the-Pasttype
books. And when we cracked
the pages of the Time-Life volume, we found ourselves staring at a diagram
of Atlantis laid out in three concentric circles.
The shapes just looked like a game, and we seized upon
the idea. Soon thereafter
I learned about a precious metal alloy invented by the Atlanteans --
orichalcum -- and that provided the basis for competition with the Nazis.
you describe the kind of work you did during the production of Indiana
Jones and the Fate of Atlantis?
was a jack-of-all-trades. I
fleshed out the design even as production got underway, wrote a screenplay,
oversaw the art and SCUMM-coding teams, and even did a little art plus
a lot of the coding myself.
George Lucas have any direct involvement in the production of Fate
he didn�t. He�s pretty much always been an avuncular presence at the
game company. A steadfast
supporter, but always in the background.
Was there any
research done for the game? That
is, was there research on both the subject of Atlantis and the character
of Indiana Jones?
research was extensive, but as mentioned above, it consisted largely
of reading through crazy books by strange authors who were true believers
in the reality of Atlantis and thought they knew where to find it.
Some placed it in the Americas, some off Spain, and others near
the volcanic island of Santorini in the Mediterranean.
Out of it all came the plot-driving notion of inventing a mythical
book written by Plato that pinpoints the city�s whereabouts
The most important parts of the story
-- I made them up. We all
have more fun that way.
to research on Jones... well, I watched the movies again and again,
and I read the Lucasfilm �bible� that annotated important dates and
times in Indy�s fictional life.
Injecting Jones into a game requires extending his abilities
and tendencies into the world of interactivity, but it�s crucial to
stay true to what everyone already knows about him.
there any major production problems that you were faced with during
the creation Indiana Jones Fate of Atlantis?
were two of note. First,
Noah Falstein and I set up three paths (wits, team, and fists) to take
the player through the game on his or her own terms, depending on preference
for lonely puzzle-solving, companionable cooperation, or bare-knuckled
action. This attractive
feature took immense amounts of labor to implement, even after we limited
the idea to the first two-thirds of the game.
It added about six months to the production schedule and earned
me a lot of scowls from management along the way.
Fate was conceived during a carefree era when production was
pretty free form and resources were brought on as needed without much
ado. It was completed two
years later when the company had experienced the first of many regime
changes and was counting every penny.
During the middle of it all I suddenly found myself squeezed
for the animation and coding I desperately needed to finish.
What started out as fun ended up as a grueling experience.
start to finish, how long did it take to create Fate of Atlantis?
about 2 years. I began
designing and writing in the spring of 1990, and we published in 1992.
Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is
considered by a lot of fans to be the greatest Indiana Jones game in
history. What do you attribute
to the success of Fate of Atlantis?
don�t have a real good answer.
I like it because it�s dense, has a variety of game play mechanics,
and tells a pretty good tall tale.
it ever been considered to remake Fate of Atlantis and make it
a 3D game in the style of Emperor�s Tomb?
Would you want to do something like that?
thanks. Enough is enough.
in the early 90�s, LucasArts was working on a sequel to Fate of Atlantis
called Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix.
What can you tell us about the project and why it was dropped?
had a hand in this one as a story consultant.
It was my idea to find some artifact that would allow post-war
Nazis hiding in Bolivia to resurrect Der Fuehrer from his ashes.
Everyone got excited and started building the game.
Fifteen months into production the company showed some of it
at ECTS, the European trade show.
There they were told that selling a game depicting post-war Nazi
revival, no matter how negatively would be illegal in Germany.
We should have known. Without
sales there, one of our most important overseas territories, LucasArts
couldn�t hope to recoup their investment, so the game was canceled.
Joe Pinney, the project leader, was crushed.
Eventually, a toned-down version of the story was published by
Dark Horse Comics.
what can you tell us about the so-called canceled Indy game called,
Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny?
sure, but my guess is, this is the game Aric Wilmunder, a fellow who
was working on Iron Phoenix, wanted to do. It almost happened with a small studio in Canada, but we couldn�t
perfect the internal supervision / external work model at the time,
and it fell apart.
Jones and his Desktop Adventures is
a pure gem when it comes to Indy gaming.
When did the idea of Desktop Adventures first arise?
like storytelling, and I also like classical, rhythmic, replayable games,
like Stratego or chess. It
occurred to me that I might be able to split story and game elements
into small chunks and find ways of algorithmically assembling them into
replayable action adventures.
So I did. I built a working prototype on a Mac in HyperCard,
using the scripting language called HyperTalk.
The prototype story had nothing to do with Jones.
It took place in a post-apocalyptic future where only an elite
few know how to repair and maintain the few vital machines that preserve
some semblance of human civilization.
It was called, Tools of the Tinker�s Trade.
Could you tell
us about the production of the game?
Was the randomly created worlds an already established concept
or did you have to start from scratch?
hardly the first to figure out how to recombine game elements, but the
Desktop Adventure idea was the first to concentrate on replayable storylines.
And yup, I started from scratch (see above).
sales people couldn�t figure out how to sell the idea, even though Solitaire
and Hearts and their ilk were already popular on PC desktops.
So eventually I was forced to drop the Tinker�s Trade concept
and reach for marketplace security in the form of Dr. Jones.
It didn�t really work -- the game generated negative reviews
(from people who expected cutting edge graphics and sound from Lucas,
not desktop toys) and barely sold.
I much prefer the second version of the game, Yoda Stories.
We improved the engine quite a bit to make predicting outcomes
a little less trivial, and not only that, it sold really well.
Too bad we didn�t make some more of these things.
Jones and the Infernal Machine was
revolutionary in that it was the first game to put Indiana Jones in
a full 3D world. How did
this project first come about?
not a fan of first person shooters, but I certainly admired the 3D worlds
that were being created for them as 3D got going.
It has always seemed to me that Jones is by nature an action
kind of guy, and I wanted to exploit that characteristic by turning
him loose in a 3D environment, whip, gun, fists, exotic locales, and
inspired the move from 2D to 3D when Infernal Machine was made?
Was it ever considered to do Infernal Machine as a 2D
game like Fate of Atlantis?
was never considered for The Infernal Machine.
3D was in the air, it was becoming popular; we all saw it as
the natural evolution of our biz. I wanted Jones to take part in the new era.
The premise of the game was, �Jones action in 3D.�
Once I got the company to commit to that, then I thought up the
It would seem
as though putting Indiana Jones in a 3D game environment and still making
it a true Indiana Jones adventure would be difficult.
Was this ever an issue?
true; and The Infernal Machine isn�t a �true adventure,� which
is not my favorite kind of game, to play or build, anyway.
It�s an action-adventure, a popular genre on consoles,
but not as common on PCs. Changing
the game genre was never an issue � in fact, doing so was crucial; no
one wanted to do another puzzly adventure game like Fate of Atlantis.
We had combat, we had stunts, and we also had puzzles. The puzzles seemed like an extension of exploration to most,
though, simply how you would normally interact with a world of mysterious
archeological ruins and magical artifacts.
was your reason for bringing back Sophia Hapgood in Indiana Jones
and the Infernal Machine?
think she was an alluring, exciting, tricky character, very much Indy�s
match in spirit and resourcefulness.
And I didn�t think Indy would ever join up with a spy organization
unless invited by someone he knew, no matter how intriguing the mystery
that awaited. Of course
he had long since learned not to trust her, but he was always attracted.
Some fans of the
game would have preferred a more action based game rather than the platform
jumping and puzzle solving. Was
the puzzle aspect a new concept or was it something that had been done
never played an action game that didn�t include stunts and a few puzzles,
but we emphasized them, and partly because that�s what Jones does: he
gets his hands on ancient artifacts by means of his physical daring
and puzzle-solving skills.
do the supernatural elements in Fate of Atlantis and Infernal
Machine compare to the supernatural elements in the Indiana Jones
that different in nature, but in expression, a lot.
The Indy movies last, what, two hours?
In that brief space of time the fictional world goes from ordinary
to spooky, and then the lights come up and, whew, it�s over.
My Indy games were designed to take 15-20 hours to complete,
and that raises a fundamental story problem.
Delaying the arrival of supernatural elements until 15 hours
of game play have been accomplished is a surefire way to bore Jones
fans, so I elected to construct the story in rhythmic segments, each
going from ordinary to weird, and in the case of The Infernal Machine,
each culminating in an encounter with a supernatural boss monster.
heard that you were involved in the production of Indiana Jones and
the Emperor�s Tomb early on.
Can you tell us more about this and how you were involved?
involvement was limited to a brief story review, without much effect,
you ever considered doing another Indiana Jones game?
loved working on Jones games.
Jones doesn�t exist in his own universe, but right here in the
real world, at some historical remove.
And that means each adventure is a brand new story, a wonderful
opportunity to be creative. But my Jones period is over.
Would you ever like
to do an adaptation of the Indiana Jones trilogy as a 3D game series
and do you think it would work?
think the license is getting tired. And I think the best way to keep it alive is to be as original
as possible in the storytelling.
I don�t want to be involved with the trilogy.
If you had whatever
technology you needed at your fingertips, had unlimited funding, and
could do anything you wanted, what would be your dream Indiana Jones
game that management warned me away from, the mysterious �don�t go there�
you tell us about your new company, Finite Arts?
not really new. Finite
Arts was, for nearly twenty years, my �personal service company� in
Hollywood, my way of legally dodging taxes as a freelance screenwriter.
Now that I�ve left LucasArts, I�m reviving it for a freelance
whirl in game design and writing.
do you consider your all time favorite video game?
like asking a composer about his favorite chord -- I love many, many
games that I have played over the long years (and have often been irritated
beyond measure by the very same games). To pick one out of the crowd is tough. The first one that I
thought demonstrated creative charm was Rogue. It combined a vague narrative with minimalist x & y geometry
good enough to make me feel like I was exploring a world.
The title that encouraged me to actively pursue a career in games
was the original Castle Wolfenstein.
I thought it was fun, and it�s many little conceptual errors
flattered me into thinking I could do better.
The more you learn, though, the harder your heart becomes, and
in more recent times less stands out from the crowd, even though the
average game is of much higher quality today than when I got started.
I guess one of my favorites is the N64 Zelda action-adventure,
Ocarina of Time. My favorite plat former is a toss-up between
Tomb Raider II and Rayman 2.
For sense of humor, I vote for Vice City.
For sports, I�m an EA NHL Name-the-Year fan.
And don�t wince; I�m also partial to Spyro the Dragon.
From your point of view,
what do you see happening in the future of games?
lousy at predicting sunrise, let alone anything else.
There is no 4D, so an important revolution, the transition from
2D to 3D, has already been accomplished.
I look for more and more sophistication in visual expression
over the next few years until it will hardly be possible to differentiate
a game from a movie on our TV sets. The online phenomenon will continue to grow, but I believe
massive-multiplayer-online-games are lifestyles rather than entertainment,
and I think success will be confined to very few titles. On the other hand, I expect online contest games, in the mode
of Counterstrike, to proliferate with the next generation of
consoles. Longer term, I hope that natural language production
combined with expert systems will completely revolutionize how we interact
with computers themselves and the artificial characters inside computer
Do you have any advice
or tips to someone looking to get into the video game industry?
the movie business, the book trade, Broadway musicals, like any of the
so-called �arts� you care to name, the sad truth is, there�s no rational
way to get into the business of electronic games. It�s not like becoming a lawyer, where you go to school, pass
the bar, and voila, hold off the recruiters.
advice is: look at the ingredients of games -- design, art, programming,
production, marketing, sales, and so on; think what attracts you --
and then get good at it! Put
your ideas into action by building some games.
Learn Flash or Director, or pick up a level editor and start
cranking out mods.
you very much for your time Mr. Barwood!
It's a very nice site you have. Let's hope someone continues the Indy
gaming tradition with some punch and polish, so you guys will have some
more grist for your well-tuned mill. - Hal
conducted on: October 10th, 2004