Igor Krutov: Hi, Mateusz. Please introduce yourself and tell a little about what you do.

Mateusz Skutnik: My name is Mateusz Skutnik, I’m the creator of Submachine, Daymare Town, Covert Front and so on. I also create comic books, most known series are Revolutions and Blaki.

Igor Krutov: What did you do before the moment you’ve become a full-time indie? Did you work as a programmer or an artist somewhere?

Mateusz Skutnik: I was a flash animator at a learning software company. I guess I was an artist.

Igor Krutov: Did you first game have a commercial success? It is the game called “the Morphs”, isn’t it?

Mateusz Skutnik: No. The Morphs is one of my comic book series. As for the first game – of course it was not a commercial success, because it was not meant to be. Anyone who goes into this business and expects his or hers first game to be a commercial success is in it for the wrong reasons.


Bart Bonte interview

– What first sparked your interest in making your own games? 

There came a moment when my computer skills grew sufficient enough to comprehend the  then-emerging game building software for noobs and not-really-programmers, meaning – me. The year was 2001 and the software was ‘the Games Factory’. Though it had it’s limitations, I was able to create my first platformers using my own graphics (strangely enough – it was graphics from my comic book “the Morfs” which resemble Daymare Town. So even back then I was kinda going in the right direction). Of course things got a bit more advanced once I was introduced to the Macromedia Flash software. That was in 2003. Still hooked on platform games I discovered website which was a hub for escape games, unfortunately it’s no longer active. After playing some of those games I thought: “Wait. I can do this better”. And I created Submachine. The rest is history.


Jay is Games interview


There are a lot of game developers out there, but few have achieved the cult following and widespread popularity of Mateusz Skutnik. From the post-apocalyptic tale of The Fog Fall to the simple yet oh-so-stylish puzzling of his charming 10 Gnomes games, Mateusz has taken players around the world on memorable point-and-click adventures, to say nothing of his smash-hit ten year series of Submachine games. It’s hard to believe he gets any time off at all… just one month after the first Submachine game, he released Submachine Remix, which dramatically expanded upon the original. Since 2005, he’s made or been involved in the creation of a staggering amount of free online games, to the point where it isn’t officially the New Year until he’s released a new installment of his Where Is… ? series to ring it in. Just lately, he’s agreed to work on a very special project for us, an escape game just for JayisGames, but then, he’s always working on something special, from comics to tutorials, to special HD versions of the games people love. What’s your favourite Mateusz Skutnik game? What was the first one you ever played? Do you like them whimsical… or just a little freaky? What’s your favourite thing about them… what makes, for you, a Mateusz game, a Mateusz game?


A big focus of your games is usually story and setting. Is there any sort of story genre that you haven’t tried yet but have always wanted to?


Not really. I’m not looking at genres while writing a story. Often when I write… I don’t know what will come out of it. The readers and players determine whether that thing that I did is cute or disturbingly fascinating. That concerns mostly graphics, but story as well. Long story short, I don’t know in what genres I operate. I don’t know what genres I’m missing here.


Few people actually think about or understand the time, effort, and talent that goes into creating the games they play online for free. What is the process like in creating the average point-and-click adventure you make?


60% is thinking, imagining, writing, going through the game in my head. Another 30% is drawing everything. 5% is programming and the last 5% is all other stuff, like engine integration, implementing sound effects, music, debugging, beta-testing, releasing…


Submachine recently released its ninth installment… and has been going on for nine years to boot! Has the series changed direction or vision significantly since you first began, or have you always had a specific storyline in mind?


No, of course not. When first one came out I didn’t even have a plan for a sequel. But the overwhelming popularity of this game dictated that it turned into series which is now closing to a ten-year run. I have a not-so-clear vision of the entire plot, but creating each installment is shaping the game to its final state. And with that, the overall story as well. I had a rather clear idea about how the series will end by the time Submachine 5 was released, but how we’d get there… I had no clue. Now, after Submachine 9 we know.


Out of all the different settings and storylines you’ve worked with and created over the years, is there any one in particular that you find the hardest to work with, or the easiest? Something that just “comes to you”, while another you might find yourself really puzzling over how to proceed with it?


For me there’s no such thing as a setting that’s hard to work with. I don’t struggle with my games, I let them flow, my games are like a river, they take the easiest path to the sea. It’s about floating alongside that river. It’s kind of hard to explain, but that work that I do while creating games isn’t really “a work”… it’s more like drawing my comic books. If I don’t feel good while creating… I just don’t do it.


Most of the Submachine games have a very distinctive approach to puzzle solving and exploration. What’s most challenging about coming up with puzzles that fit their environment and are often something the player needs to experiment with to understand, without going overboard to the point where the design gets too obscure?


I always had a fixed answer to that question, which is… I don’t know. But the more I think about it, the more I know there’s more to it. I think that’s because I, myself, am an average gamer. I probably wouldn’t be able to solve a Submachine game if it wasn’t me who made it. So I’m just pushing the puzzle design right out of my reach, and that’s that golden spot, not too hard, not too simple, just average enough.


Have you ever thought about creating a game in something other than flash, such as Unity or HTML5?


I have, and we did. We, as in Pastel Games. But that didn’t go so well for us. However, I’ll probably be moving away from flash-based games starting from 2015, I’m thinking about creating a game that I’d be able to put on Steam. But that’s distant future, right now I have a series to finish. I can’t abandon my players who’ve been waiting almost 10 years for the resolution in Submachine series (What, pressure? No, no pressure at all…).


Finally, you have a lot of different multipart games you’ve been working on over the years. Do you have anything new you’re thinking about starting, or are you planning to focus on the stories and games you’ve already got going?


No, no new series for now. I’m saving that for something completely different, big and bold and sparkling new that I’d be able to put on Steam and earn a pot of gold. Meanwhile wrapping up the flash-based part of my life, I’m creating HD remakes of my best games, which are available in my store.



8bit-ninja interview



8bit-ninja:  Could you please introduce yourself an how you got into gamedesign?

Mateusz Skutnik: My name is Mateusz Skutnik, I’m a games architect and graphic novelist. I got into gamedesign around 2002, when I got my hands on the Games factory software. From that I transitioned to more open and user friendly environment of Macromedia Flash.

8bit-ninja:  the “covert front”, “submachine” and especially the “daymare” series feature a great athmosphere and visual style. Could you describe the process of developing the plot and creating the art for your games?

Mateusz Skutnik: the process itself doesn’t have much to do with the atmosphere and style. Those come from my background of being a comic book artist. The process consists of just transferring the story to the medium, whether it be comic book panels or game levels. What I’m trying to say is – I’m a self-learner and I have no idea about a proper process of creating anything. I just create stuff as I go.But everything begins with a story in my head. Then it’s just a matter of telling.

8bit-ninja:  You do not only work on games but also on comic books. what are the biggest differences between working on graphic novels and on videogames?

Mateusz Skutnik: The obvious thing would be interactivity. The comic book is a straight up storytelling, it’s mien, I tell it, you listen and read and that’s it. In games – the story gets a bit watered down in the gameplay, I give clues, the player has to tell the story himself. The trick is to give him just enough clues for the story to be understandable.

8bit-ninja:  Your adventure games with their surreal enviroment and abstract mechanical devices remind me of the myst-series. What (other?) games inspire your work?

Mateusz Skutnik: Mostly other flash games – Crimson Room, Mystery of Time and Space, works of Nanahiro, games from Amanita Design, 100 Rooms. All were brilliant, innovative, artistic. I fell in love with the format of a small flash game.

8bit-ninja:  Point’n click style games seem to work pretty good on IOS devices like the iPad. Have you concidered porting your games (maybe as a compilation?) to an app since those devices do not support flash?

Mateusz Skutnik: We did that 4 years ago. the fact that you don’t even know about it explains how big of a success that was. The thing is – I don’t agree that point and click games work well on iOS devices. PNC is about exploring, searching, finding hotspots on the screen – all done with the mouse pointer. If you remove the mouse from the equation – PNC games tend to be just a confusing mess of not knowing what to do.

8bit-ninja:  The current daymare game – daymare cat – also includes great music from “cat and the menagerie” both in game and as an incentive for completing it. How did this collaboration happen?

Mateusz Skutnik: Cat reached out to me and suggested creating a game together. It was just that simple. Once I listened to her music I knew more or less what I wanted to do. Separate tracks, building a song throughout the game – that was a good idea for a small exploratory game.

8bit-ninja:  Even though you are probably still busy working on Daymere Town 4 do you have any plans on upcoming projects? Will we see more coming out of the daymare and submachine universe or do you want to “slip in a little side project”?

Mateusz Skutnik: After Daymare Town 4 I’ll make another 10 Gnomes game. After that it’s time for Submachine 9 and possibly Where is 2014? game. I’m set till the end of the year. I don’t have plans for 2014 just yet. I’ll surely create the last, 10th Submachine, but after that – all bets are off. Change is good.



[german translation]

8bit-ninja: Stell dich doch bitte einmal vor und wie es dich in die Spieleentwicklung verschlagen hat.

Mateusz Skutnik: Mein Name ist Mateusz Skutnik, ich bin Spielearchitekt und Schöpfer von Comicromanen. Mit dem Spieledesign habe ich etwa 2002 angefangen, als ich das Programm the games factory in die Finger bekam, von dem ich auf die offenere und benutzerfreunlichere Entwicklungsumgebung von Macromedia Flashgewechselt bin.

8bit-ninja: Deine Spieleserien wie covert frontsubmachine und besondersdaymare zeichnen sich durch eine besondere Atmosphäre und visuellen Stil aus. Kannst du beschreiben, wie du bei der Entwicklung der Handlung und der Erstellung der Grafiken vorgehst?

Mateusz Skutnik: Der Prozess selber hat wenig mit der Atmosphäre und dem Stil zu tun als vielmehr meinem Hintergrund als Comicbuchkünstler. Das Vorgehen besteht eigentlich nur darin, die Geschichte auf das jeweilige Medium zu übertragen, seien es die Panels eines Comics oder die Level eines Spiels. Was ich damit sagen will ist, dass ich Autodidakt bin und keine Ahnung habe, wie man “richtig” bei der Erschaffung von Irgendetwas vorgeht. Bei mir entsteht vieles einfach während der Arbeit. Aber alles beginnt mit einer Geschichte in meinem Kopf. Von da an muss diese nur noch erzählt werden.

8bit-ninja: Was deine Arbeit an Comicbüchern betrifft: Worin besteht denn der größte Unterschied zur Entwicklung von Videospielen?

Mateusz Skutnik: Offensichtlich wäre da wohl die Interaktivität. Ein grafischer Roman ist eine gradlinige Geschichte, es ist meine, ich erzähle sie, du hörst zu und liest, und das war’s. In Spielen wird die Geschichte etwas durch die Spielmechanik verwässert. Ich gebe Hinweise, aber der Spieler muss die Geschichte selber erzählen. Der Tick ist, gerade genug Hinweise zu geben damit die Geschichte verständlich bleibt.

8bit-ninja: Deine Adventures erinnern mich mit ihren surrealen Umgebungen und abstrakten mechanischen Geräten an die Myth-Serie. Welche (anderen?) Spiele haben dich noch inspiriert?

Mateusz Skutnik: Hauptsächlich andere Flash-Spiele – Crimson RoomMystery of Time and Space, die Arbeiten von Nanahiro, Spiel von Amanita Design, 100 Rooms. Die waren allesamt brillant, innovativ und künstlerisch wertvoll. Ich liebe das Format der kleinen Flash-Spiele.

8bit-ninja: Point’n’Click Spiele scheinen ziemlich geeignet für IOS Geräte wie iPad geeignet zu sein. Hast du in Anbetracht dessen, dass diese Geräte kein Flash unterstützen, schon mal an eine Portierung deiner Spiele als App gedacht?

Mateusz Skutnik: Das haben wir bereits vor 4 Jahren gemacht [Anmerkung 8bit-ninja: Zu meiner Verteidigung, ich hatte im Vorfeld recherchiert und nichts gefunden]. Die Tatsache, dass du davon nichts weißt, zeigt, wie erfolgreich das war. Übrigens stimme ich dir nicht darin zu, dass Point’n’Clicks gut auf diesen Geräten funktionieren. Das Genre lebt vom Erforschen, Absuchen, davon die Hotspots auf dem Schirm zu entdecken. Das alles geschieht mit dem Mauszeiger. Wenn du die Maus aus der Gleichung entfernst tendieren diese Spiele dazu, ein verwirrendes Durcheinander zu sein, ohne dass man eine Ahnung hat, was man machen muss.

8bit-ninja: Der aktuelle Teil der daymare-Reihe, daymare cat, enthält sowohl innerhalb des Spiels als auch als Belohnung am Schluss großartige Musik von cat and the menagerie. Wie kam es zu dieser Zusammenarbeit?

Mateusz Skutnik: Cat ist an mich herangetreten und hat mir vorgeschlagen zusammen ein Spiel zu machen. So einfach war das. Nachdem ich ihre Musik gehört habe wusste ich mehr oder weniger, was ich machen wollte: getrennte Tonspuren, die im Spiel zu einem Song zusammengebaut werden. Das war eine gute Idee für ein kleines Spiel, in dem es ums Erforschen geht.

8bit-ninja: Momentan bist du wahrscheinlich stark mit deiner Arbeit an Daymare Town 4 beschäftigt, aber hast du schon Pläne für deine nächsten Projekte? Werden wir mehr aus dem Daymere und Submachine- Universum sehen oder würdest du gerne ein kleines Nebenprojekt einschieben?

Mateusz Skutnik: Nach Daymare Town 4 werde ich ein weiteres 10 Gnomes Spiel machen. Danach wird es Zeit Submachine 9 und eventuell ein where is 2014 Spiel. Bis Ende des Jahres bin ich also bereits fest verplant. Für 2014 habe ich noch keine Pläne. Sicherlich werde ich das zehnte und letzte submachine-Spiel machen, aber danach – alles ist möglich. Veränderung ist gut.

8bit-ninja: Vielen Dank für das Interview.



Daymare Cat, GMB interview

So I am in the middle of a very interesting collaboration with Cat Janhke ( I promise I don’t sing) and as a result I had the distinct pleasure to talk to both Cat Jankhe and Mateusz Skutnik about another very interesting collaboration, Seriously.

The whole thing started as a twitter exchange (living in the future is very interesting) and became a new escape adventure starring Cat with her music as part of the treasure to be found throughout the game. Suddenly the whole thing became a brand new online point and click video game from multi award-winnipeg independent game designer Mateusz Skutnik.

The music that Cat provided for the game is a song from her brand new musical project called, “Cat and The Menagerie”. When a player completes the game they are given a link to a private download page where they can download the game’s theme song : “Better”.

I asked them both a few questions about the creative process..


Q: Cat, your songs have such strong storytelling elements in them, so the typical assumption is that as a writer you are influenced by books, but have you ever found inspiration for music in a game?

A: While I LOVE reading and I ADORE playing games, I think that my work as a film composer has actually had more of an effect on the storytelling elements within my songs. Several years ago I was invited for the first time to enhance the movement within a short film and that’s when I really began to practice using music to evoke emotion, instead of just carry a voice.

I give a lot of credit to the directors I work with who continually challenge me to match their vision; they coax me to provide what the audience needs to be in touch with what they are seeing; they give me new vocabulary in this musical language that we all speak.

I am grateful for what I have learned and I hope to continue learning and practicing as I experiment with my music in different media.

Q: Cat, describe what it’s like to go from a fan to a collaborator, to a character in a game, and then move “yourself” around to solve a puzzle…

This has been in the works for some time and for most of the process I just thought, “This is way too good to be true.”

From the beginning Mateusz was exceptionally approachable and encouraging. I think my very first contact with him was a twitter message saying that I’d like to bake him a banana bread to thank him for his amazing games. He responded with “Nom nom” and I was over the moon.

Despite the fact that I am a writer by trade, I’m finding it very difficult to put into words exactly what it means to collaborate with one of my idols, to know that he has spent time in his own world thinking about me and my music…

I’ll tell you what I told Mateusz after I played through the game for the first time:

“As soon as I heard that wind blowing in the background I thought, “Holy crap! That’s me in the Daymare universe!” The ending almost had me in tears (and I do not get emotional easily). I recognize those characters… I recognize those symbols… I recognize that creamy yellow landscape…

This is unbelievable. Your game justifies for me all the hard work and struggling I have faced as a musician. That’s a very valuable gift to me and I am so very grateful.”


From Cat:

On May 7, 2011, after receiving several emails from me in which I absolutely gushed over his work, Mateusz sent me a message that included the following:

And pls stop with the “huge fan” already ;)

That will help in future dialogue :D

Just thought that was an interesting tidbit. I love this man. :)



Q: Mateusz, your game relies on memory and logic, but also on storytelling elements. Strange sub-plots in the images and items seem to emerge. Can you talk about the process for creating these situations?

A: That’s thanks to my comic book background. You see, I’m a comic book artist first – the game designer second. It’s only reasonable that this game developing business is just another outlet for the storytelling. Moreover, since this is the interactive experience, I can just hint a story, and the player does the rest. The game can be what you want it to be. I just need to point it in the right direction. To quote the classic: I can only show you the door.

Q: Mateusz, In comicbookland where I’m from, a major conceit of the medium is that people buy and read some books just for the art. That sometimes, the part that connects with people is the hardest to quantify. That’s what keeps me coming back to your games. I don’t have time to puzzle out everything, but I don’t feel the need to either, that’s not how I’m wired. That said, I could walk Daymare Cat through the tunnels for a half hour and just marvel at your keen eye for composition and world building. How much of being an artist informs your work in making games?

A: The only way to stay relevant and current is to do everything your way. That’s the only way that proved to be relevant in games as well.

I’m not an artist, I kind of resent that title, first of all because the way people work in comic book land. You need to be a heavy duty worker to finish a book, not an artist, working on a flame of passion. It’s a craft, not artistry. Same goes for the games.

However if imprinting yourself onto the work you do is considered “artistic” – then that’s what I do. And by “yourself” I don’t mean your soul, thoughts or being, nothing that fancy – shmancy. By “yourself” I mean – the state in which you already embraced what you can do and the way you do it – and from that point on you’re fearless in doing just that. That’s the reason I don’t sketch all that much (besides quick composition sketches) and I don’t erase pencil from my works. I leave the whole process on. Same goes for the games.

For me both of those storytelling procedures are almost the same.

author: G M B Chomichuk

interview for Brooke


Would you recommend entering the art field for professional work?

That’s not something anyone can recommend. You’d have to feel it yourself, not be lured by someone else.

you can’t choose this field of career. it chooses you.

Would you recommend going to school for art?

Not necessarily. I didn’t attend an art school. Hence they didn’t shape me using their own definition of what an artist is.

being an artist is very personal and schooling can damage that. Not always, but there’s a risk.

Did you complete any schooling?

I graduated from a university, I’m an architect.

Did you always know you wanted to become an artist?

No. even when I already was I always hated that term. I didnt want to be an artist. I always considered myself a craftsman. But as years went by it turns out I actually am an artist, however admitting to that is cringing.

Can you name any artist/artists past or present who has influenced you directly, or whom you admire? 

Hugo Pratt, Wada Che Nanahiro, Amanita design, Regis Loisel, Enki Bilal, Nicolas de Crecy  and many many more.

How did you get to be where you are now?

Don’t understand the question. Hard work and commitment I guess?

How did you aspire to become an artist?

I didn’t. Aspiring to be an artist is the first step to NOT becoming one.

What helped you realize this career would be best for you?

I didn’t realize that. I still don’t know what would be the best career for me. That’s the whole point.

How should an artist approach developing a style that is commercially appealing?

No idea. I guess try to do something that will please everybody. Which is like the opposite of being an artist.

Tell me about your style. Do you find that to be ‘commercial’?

Have you seen my style? it’s so far removed from being commercial that I can’t even see the path in this dark daymare forest that would lead me to a commercial highway.

How has your style progressed, and how have you improved?

Uhmm…. How it progressed?  By repetition. You wouldn’t believe what years of training can do for an ungifted person, which is what I consider myself to be.

Do you mostly do digital art or traditional art, why?

There’s just an artificial separation between these two. I do my comic books the traditional way, because there’s no way to get watercolour to look remotely real using digital tools. And I do my games the way of the digital, because there’s no way to do that fast enough the traditional way. Both sides of that coin complement each other, I’m glad I found two separate outlets to cultivate both.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination?

1. imagination.

2. photos, but only when I need something concrete to look realistic enough.

3. from life? No, that’s for the proper artists.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your piece, or the way it is executed?

The subject is the most important thing in all form of storytelling, whether that be games or comic books in my case. The execution is just fancy clothes.

EXP Podcast #209: The Great Escape

Lately I was interviewed about the submachine series. Here are the results:


interview for Casual Girl Gamer

Mateusz Skutnik is a rarity: a gifted artist who is also a skilled coder. He is responsible for some of the most beautiful casual games on the web.

There are two types of artist. The first sort can spend an age on a work of art, painstakingly, bit by tiny bit, building it up until, finally, often years later, they deem it ready for public consumption. And then there are those rare individuals who are blessed with such an abundance of talent that they can turn around wonderful artworks in the time it takes some of us to read a book.

In the casual gaming world, Mateusz Skutnik is undoubtedly one of the latter. Over the past few years, his output of games has been nothing short of phenomenal. Eight games in his hugely popular Submachine point-and-click series, no less then 12 Ten-Gnomes games (quirky takes on the hidden object genre), two editions of the much-acclaimed Daymare Town series, three Covert Front games, and that’s before we even get on to some of his lesser known works, including my personal favourites, the Squirrel games, of which there were more than 25 at last count.

And we are not talking low production value games here. His games are notable for their brilliant artwork, gripping storylines and imaginative reinventions of existing genres. Mateusz is that rare specimen, a gifted artist who also has the wherewithal to write computer programs and market his creations. Until relatively recently, he created the majority of his games single-handedly, doing all the graphics and programming himself. With growing recognition of his work, Mateusz quit his regular job a year ago to focus on his gaming business. He now runs a small game studio – Pastel Games – with Karol Konwerski.

Your output of new games over the past few years has been nothing short of phenomenal. And you do all the graphics as well as the programming. Do you ever sleep?

Umm, sure. It’s not like all those were made simultaneously. For example it took almost two years between Covert Front 2 and 4, and one-and-a-half years between Submachine 5 and 6. Besides, developing doesn’t take that long. To create a game from scratch I need about three months, so it leaves more than enough time to think all [the game] stories through, create a game and have a normal life afterwards.

Where do you get your inspiration for your games?

Everything and nothing. In 10 Gnomes it was the surrounding that I was setting the game in. Sometimes it takes just good sounds or ambients to spawn an idea, sometimes something I see in a movie or TV.

Your games are notable for their brilliant unique graphics. How did you become such a great illustrator?

Years of training. Twenty years of drawing comics, five years of learning how to program these things. There’s no way around it. Time is the answer.

Do you think games can be considered to be art?

10 Gnomes received a Storm of the Year Award in 2008 in the multimedia category. That’s an art award. Does that answer your question?

What are you working on at the moment?

Daymare Town 3 point and click game, and trying to get on track with a new Revolutions comic album, but that’s on a hold right now.

Which of your games are you most proud of?

Can’t judge. There’s no favourite, besides they’re all different and incomparable really.

Is it possible to make a good living out of developing casual games?

Yes. A year ago I quit my regular job and I’m still alive today. That proves the point.

You have recently moved into iPhone development. How does developing games for the iPhone differ from creating Flash games?

Teamwork, proper programmers, graphic and level designers, project managers. Kind of professional compared to one-man developing process.

Are their any game developers whose work you particularly admire?

All stuff made by Wada Nanahiro, Amanita Design and Ferry Halim.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to draw a full comic book next year. Concerning games – probably new Covert Front, Submachine and Daymare Town. The usual point and click trinity.

source: Tasha Granger

Building games – interview in Warsaw Business Journal

Online gaming is going through a renaissance, with hundreds of websites offering free games to while away the time. One company making waves in the sector is Pastel Games – a Polish game developer responsible for such hits as the Submachine series and the Squirrel Family games. speaks with company founders Mateusz Skutnik and Karol Konwerski about their their business model, the state of the industry and developing for the iPhone.

Roberto Galea: Since the flash games that you produce are free to play online, where does your income come from?

Mateusz Skutnik: The income comes from our sponsors. We sell games to online flash-game portals, such as Arcade Town, Spill Group, Armor Games and others. They pay us for ad space within the game, mostly logos and links redirecting to their portals.

Your flash games, including Submachine and the “room escape” series, have become immensely popular worldwide. What kind of reaction have you seen from the Polish gaming community?

MS: The gaming community in Poland reacted in much the same way as the rest of the world. They liked it. The developers did and so did the players. This is the kind of genre that suits everyone I guess. It’s something that you can’t really predict, but that is what’s most precious in this business.

How hard is it to break into the global gaming industry with so many artists competing for the spotlight?

MS: It’s harder than you’d think, because since every single game that you make is pure genius and fantastic for the creator, the only way to determine its value is to release it to the public and listen to what [players] have to say about it. Well, maybe not listen to their opinions, because the more people play, the more [their] comments become a white noise of polarized opinions ranging from love to hate. But the mere number of players says all that we need to know about a game. It is quite tricky, it took me about three years to find the specific genre that we’re good at and people love.

As an artist working in Poland, how does the country’s current social and political landscape fit into your work?

MS: Not much. Our creations are not locally based, they’re global, and keeping that in mind we don’t include social or political matters. We’re in no way dependent on the state of the country. All the work that we do goes straight abroad. We export our intellectual property mostly to Western Europe and US.

You also write games for the Apple iPhone. When it first came out, the iPhone took the world by storm as a fashion and technological breakthrough. Entrepreneurs are now realizing its business potential. How do you see the iPhone evolving as a tool in the coming months?

Karol Konwerski: Over the last year, the iPhone has become more of a handheld gaming console than just a multimedia gadget. Recently in the first time in history, the four-top selling applications at Apple’s App-store were games. Furthermore, something which is important for us, and on which we have based our business plan, is that the iPhone determines new trends for handheld gaming devices. The best proof of this is the new device from Sony – the Sony PSP Go. We can say that it’s more than just a temporary trend or fashion. What we are observing at the moment is just a natural progression of the whole gaming industry. That is why we haven’t had a problem finding an investor.

What management models do you practice at your company?

KK: To speak about management models, we have to separate flash-game development from iPhone games. In developing flash games we prefer to work with freelance graphic designers and programmers. As we have learned from practice, a team created specifically for a concrete project will be much more effective and creative [than a static team]. This is important for us – as well as for our clients and users – since you can tell exactly who was working on a specific game. That kind of “artistic touch,” let’s say, has distinguished our work from that of other flash-game developers. It is completely different when we talk about iPhone games. Developing games for Apple’s smartphone is much more complex than working on flash games. First of all, Apple’s device opened brand new possibilities for developers, [since] each game has to be totally unique but there are no solid programming grounds like in flash games. What we had to do was to create a developer engine. To do that we could not use freelancers. Right now we employ three full-time workers and three others for concrete tasks in two divisions – graphic design and programming.


Revolutionary Daymares of a Submachine – an interview

an interview by Igor Hardy.

In modern times great adventure games don’t come in big shiny cardboard boxes and on multiple CDs. In fact very often they are just one click away from you in your internet browser.

Among some of the best of those are the works of Mateusz Skutnik of Pastel Games. His episodic adventure games resume consists of such well known series as Submachine and Daymare Town.

These games despite simple interfaces offer complex, creative puzzles in visually fascinating hand-drawn game worlds full of eerie atmosphere and a kind of surreal beauty.

Besides being a game designer Mateusz Skutnik is a highly regarded Polish graphic novel author. He is especially well known for his series Revolutions – the fifth book is coming shortly. Concurrently, on June the 17th in Polish cinemas has premiered a CG 3D animated short “Kinematograph” by Oscar-nominee Tomasz Bagiński which was based on one of one of the stories from Revolutions.

We are grateful to Skutnik for answering a few questions about his works for us.


Igor Hardy: Could you briefly introduce the Pastel Games team, tell us how you work together, and who and in what way is responsible for which game series?

Mateusz Skutnik: Pastel team was started by me and Karol Konwerski. Concerning our point and click escape/puzzle games –  Karol writes scenarios for 3 different series – the Fog Fall, the Great Escapes and Covert Front. Submachine and Daymare Town are completely done by myself. Later we started inviting more graphic artists, mostly Polish comic book artists to join our team and draw for us. And so it goes – Maciej Palka draws the Fog Fall series and Kamil Kochanski draws the Great Escapes. Besides those two we also have Barbara Jarosik on board, who writes scenarios and draws her own games, two so far – the Escape Artist and Charger Escape. She works on her third game right now. As I said – all games go through me where I polish them, add more puzzles or logic to the game, and program using my pnc engine developed throughout last 4 years.

IH: The Submachine series seems to have become your biggest and most recognized adventure game creation. How do you look at it now, after new episodes have been appearing for several years, and how did you see the project in the beginning?

MS: At the beginning, the project was a one-game only experiment. Didn’t have a clue that it would gain such appreciation. So after the first one I was very pleased yet surprised by the responce, so the continuations followed. Right now series consists of 7 games with a lot of backstory included. With each game I reveal more and more. This series should go at least until Submachine 10. After that I dont know.

IH: How successful did you find the episodic format of releasing games in several concurrently running series? Do people complain a lot when they don’t get a new episode of their favorite series for a longer time?

MS: Well yes, they do. But that’s ok, that just means that they want that game badly. I’ve got only 3 series of my own – Submachine, Daymare Town and Covert Front – given one game yearly that gives me 4 months to develop each episode. That’s more than enough, I dont have to rush things, and people recognize that in my games. Everything in its own time. That’s why Covert Front 3 is taking so long right now. But once its done – it will be great, I promise.

IH: Your games receive a lot of feedback from players of your games and you have a devoted group of fans among them. What are the aspects of your games that you feel appeal to your audience the most?

MS: Every game is like a clock. Every piece has to fit perfectly in order to work. There are several aspects of each game taken into consideration, each one of the same value. Having said that, we are ready to create a good game. However – what is so appealing to the audience? atmosphere, logic, well thought puzzles, and most of all appreciate player’s intelligence. It looks like I manage to do that in my games. Luckily.

IH: Given your background in comics and architecture how do you approach drawing and animating the environments in which you set your games?

MS: Given that background, I draw games as I draw comic books. Without sketches, what comes out of a drawing – stays there, I hardly ever make changes to what I’ve already drawn. Techniques are very different, comic books are mostly watercolours, here we have vector graphics in flash.

IH: Why did you choose photos instead of drawings as backgrounds for the 10 gnomes series?

MS: I always wanted to create a photo-based game. You know – less drawing, less trouble :D . But there was always an issue of on-stage elements that change. Switches, lights, evers etc. How to make that believable. Simple idea of a gnome-findng game hit the jackpot for me, you just look around and try to find hidden objects. The combination was perfect.

IH: Do the limitations of the Flash medium, especially the necessity to maintain small file sizes, produce any problems for you? Given opportunity would you be interested in giving your running series a rest for a while and focusing all efforts on creating a big budget, non-web browser-based game project with things like painting quality art, detailed animations, recorded speech for characters?

MS: Sure, given that the budget would allow me to toss everything else away and work on just that. But – flash games are not small, small file size is not a problem, right now we can make 10Mb games no problem, and these are long games.

IH: Could you tell us what it is your main interest in drawing, comic books and visual arts in general. Also, what happened that you started to create games at some point in your career?

MS: Don’t have main interest. Or maybe I do – delivering a story. Whether through graphic novels, games or movies – no difference. What happened that I started creating games? Nothing happened. I just started.

IH: What kind of atmosphere and experiences do you seek yourself in other people’s creations (games, art, fiction)?

MS: I don’t seek. I just embrace what’s coming. That regards to music, games and books. I’ve got my favorites, but can’t say they inspired me.

IH: Being a very prolific adventure game creator how do you cope with amount of new puzzles that need to be constantly invented?

MS: Don’t know. It’s not the puzzle that starts the design. Usually I create environment, and then add a puzzle that fits into that setting. It comes naturally I guess.

IH: How do you compare the experience of playing adventure games (and games of other genres as well) to the experience of creating one’s own?

MS: Incomparable. You can’t compare making and consuming. Both are fun and trigger different emotions – that’s for sure.

IH: Besides adventure games what other game genres does Pastel Games dabble in? Are there some special traits or design goals that connect all your company’s games regardless of the different genres they belong to?

MS: We just opened our brand new iPhone division – those games will be completely different from what we do best on the internet. Mostly action, platform and skill games. No, there is no pattern connecting all the games. They’re far too different from each other to try to introduce something like that. Take Submachine and Daymare Town for example. Impossible to connect.

IH: Speaking of  iPhone, what new opportunities and/or challenges does this popular platform provide? Does the iPhone audience differ in their expectations from the people who play your games on their internet browsers?

MS: That’s a completely different target group, different background and age. We will be trying to understand the differences and create games that appeal to that audience. Maybe we will succeed. That’s a biggest unknown right now for Pastel Games.

IH: Recently Pastel Games released a new adventure game The Scene of The Crime that gives the player more detective work like challenges than traditional puzzles. Does it take a different approach to create this kind of gameplay? Is it a beginning of a longer series?

MS: It’s a bit different approach mostly because the plot is non linear. There’s no given path in which you have to discover objects – like in all other pnc games – here you can find different items in different order and the story still has to make sense. that’s a bit more difficult to achieve than creating a regular point and click. About longer series – we’ll see. if this game creates a buzz, then maybe. But right now I’m not into creating new series, while my main game series suffer from lack of new episodes. I want to revive Covert Front, Submachine and Daymare Town and maybe then think about possible new series.

IH: Can you share of your plans for game releases in the next months, or at least give a few hints about what new surprises can we expect from Pastel Games?

MS: Covert Front in June or July, then Submachine 6 which should take around 3 months to finish, so around October, November, and then Daymare Town before the end of the year. That’s my plan for my games. What will pop up in the meantime from other Pastel Games creators is a big unknown for now.

IH: Let’s step out of the gaming topics for a brief moment… A short animated movie Kinematograph by Tomasz Bagiński based on a story from your Revolutions is just having its premiere. However, the style of the art in the movie is very different from your graphic novel. From a brief chat I was fortunate to have with Tomasz Bagiński recently I learned that he was given free hand with his vision and interpretation. How does it feel to have your own story reinvented for such a high-budget production that took many years to conceptualize and complete? Will the release of the movie help you to publish your graphic novels internationally?

MS: Honestly don’t know. Comic books are a tough item to sell and if anything would help – it’s that movie. About the reinventing – the story  isn’t reinvented – it’s an exact copy of the comic book scenario with additional minor changes, only the graphic side is changed. And for the better. Original comic graphics are more artistic than commercial, and the movie took more open approach to wide audience. The movie in its present form is acceptable for the mass viewer. If it resembled original comic characters it would be just eyebrow rising.

IH: What advice would you give to fans who inspired by your adventure games would like to create games of their own with similar strange, escapist worlds ?

MS: No advice. Anything I might say to someone who’s about to start creating games would be useless. On the practical side? nothing more that dozens of online tutorials have to offer. On the artistic side? Nothing to say. Everyone has to evaluate this on his own. It’s simple as that. You cannot be taught how to create a game. You have to feel it and learn it on your own.

IH: Thank you very much for the interview. We wish you best of luck with your future work and an expanding group of fans.

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