Digital Eel Interview
What follows is the transcript of a Sam Gibson interview with Digital Eel: Rich Carlson, Iikka Keranen and "Phosphorous". It took place on November 12th, 2003.
SG: Good day to you all. First off you had better introduce yourselves to the gallery.
RC: Well, that's Phosphorous and over there, that's Iikka.
Phos: Hello. I am Phosphorous.
IK: I'm a Finnish game designer and programmer. Lived in the US for the last 6 years working for various game companies.
SG: Okay, let's start off chronologically.
RC: But I'm chronologically-impaired. I have a sticker.
SG: Was there a particular game that you can attribute your involvement in the industry to? Or was it just a case of misspent youth?
Phos: Misspent youth.
IK: I played a lot of games on the C-64 and started writing my own when I got an Amiga in 1992. But I didn't get involved with the games industry until I made some levels for Doom and Quake that caught people's attention.
RC: If I had never played Quake I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I made some free levels and got lucky, somehow wrangling a job as a level designer. If I hadn't done that I would never have met Iikka and Bill, and Digital Eel wouldn't exist! D&D and Will Crowther's Adventure got me curious about story-driven games, interactive fiction and role-playing game systems. Titan, Ogre and the original Reach For The Stars computer game got me interested in war games. Then Doom and Quake came along and everything went wonky.
SG: Test Question 1: Which is better, Galaga or Galaxians?
IK: I don't know the difference, is this a trick question? "Galaga" sounds better, it sort of rolls off the tongue all nice-like.
RC: I find Galaga a little gluggy, although it does stand up to a straw. I prefer the clean fresh taste of a sparkling Galaxian on the rocks.
Phos: Don't like either.
SG: At what point did you decide to get creative and make up your own stuff?
IK: When I was about three I covered the bottom half of a sliding door in my parents' house with drawings.
RC: It's not like you have a choice if you're cut out for something or if you're extremely curious about it. You can't not do it and it starts early.
SG: How did you guys first meet up?
RC: Psychically. Didn't you know we're all natural ESPers?
Phos: Introduced by Harry Potter.
IK: I met Rich at ION Storm right when I first came to the US (in fact he persuaded me to take the job). Then all three of us worked at KnowWonder (Amaze) at the same time in 2001, although on different projects.
SG: When did you decide to group together and start developing games as your own independent company? And why did you decide to strike out on your own rather then be under the protective arms of a big-boy?
IK: Digital Eel isn't a company, we just make games together because it's fun!