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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Hamlet, or the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement

Justin McElroy

Being a giant, beloved video game site has its downsides. For example, we sometimes neglect to give independent developers our coverage love (or loverage, if you will) as we get caught up in AAA, AAAA or the rare quintuple-A titles. To remedy that, we're giving indies the chance to create their own loverage and sell you, the fans, on their studios and products. This week we talk with mif2000 (Deins Galanin) about how he turned the unlikeliest of IPs into a point-and-click PC adventure called Hamlet.

Joystiq: How did you or your company get started?

Deins Galanin: Before I became an independent developer, I spent five years working in a Russian game development company, where I helped develop a number of commercial games. (Some of them are very popular in Russia, but almost unknown in the west.) At a certain point, each developer faces a tough moral choice: either do what you're told to do, or do what you want to do. I chose the latter and became an independent developer.

Why did you want to make games?

I always wanted to make games and made them whenever I had a chance. You know, vodka, nesting dolls, and balalaikas aren't the only things Russia's famous for. Don't forget about Tetris. This fact has always been a great incentive for me to create truly original and memorable games with a twist. At the same time, I can't say I'm completely focused on games - I am very involved in other artistic activities as well.

"As Futurama's Bender would say: 'Let's face it, comedy's a dead art form. Tragedy, now that's funny.'"

Why be independent rather than try to work for someone else?

Being independent means doing what you want to do. Today, you can make games. Tomorrow, you can work on comic books or create animations. You have a complete freedom of choice. And you don't need to be at your office by 10 a.m. every day!

What's your game called, and what's it about?

My latest game is called Hamlet, or the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement. It's an adventure game full of humor and gags, crazy characters, and original ideas. We make fun both of Shakespeare's literature - gamers will be surprised to see the famous play and its characters from a new angle - and of the adventure genre on the whole. (Have you ever seen boss battles in adventure games?!)

Do you feel like you're making the game you always wanted to play?

Absolutely. These days, I only work on games I like playing myself. I believe that wasting time on things you dislike is really bad for your health.

How long did it take you to create?

It took us only eight months to create Hamlet. We were completely on our own, so I think it was pretty fast.

What are you proudest of about your game?

One thing I'm proud of is the unique puzzles you won't see in any other game-they are very hard and extremely simple at the same time. However, my greatest pride is the way we managed to adapt the Hamlet story to the game's setting. At first glance, you may think that all the game and the play have in common is the title, but if you take a closer look, you'll realize that the game has all of the key events of the famous tragedy, as well as its main characters-although they're transformed nearly to absurdity. (As Futurama's Bender would say: "Let's face it, comedy's a dead art form. Tragedy, now that's funny.")
What one thing would you tell someone to convince them to get your game?

I think that "a computer game based on Hamlet" sounds quite intriguing and unusual. The screenshots and trailers will do the rest to demonstrate what kind of atmosphere and ambiance players should expect to see in the game.

What's next?

I'm not sure yet. One thing's for sure, though -- it's going to be a lot of fun.

If you want to play the first hour of Hamlet before you decide to buy or not to buy, you can get a taste right here. If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email justin aat joystiq dawt com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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