Painkiller - Interview with Adrian Chmielarz (engl.)
Hello, would you please introduce yourself and tell us, what you are/were doing at Painkiller?
Adrian Chmielarz, co-owner and game designer at People Can Fly.
Could you please tell us in a few sentences, what kind of game Painkiller is and what it is about?
Painkiller is a horror shooter with focus on action (read: killing and blowing stuff up - a lot). It tells a story of a guy hired by Heaven to stop forces of Hell invading the Purgatory. Sounds pretentious, but in reality it is not that bad.
How long did it last until Painkiller was done and what did the average working-day look like?
In total I think it took a little over 3 years to have Painkiller PC ready. Luckily, there is no such thing as "average" day when working on an exciting project (and obviously I treat Painkiller as such). There is always something new to do, and there are times when there is a little less work and times when Saturday and Sunday are full working days. I remember when we were delivering the gold master, the whole team hasn't sleep for 2 nights in a row ...
What do you think is so special about games, like yours where you just have action, that people like to play them instead of perhaps more mind-challening games?
Sometimes you read a book to try to find the meaning of life, sometimes you read a book to have a couple of laughs ... Action games are slightly more popular than "mind-bogglers" simply because they are entertainment in a pure form, easy on the brain. There's nothing wrong with that, after all people usually seek escape from their everyday problems, they want to just "let go" and catch a breath from the mundane world. Action games call to their primal instincts like fear or satisfaction form the kill, and you don't need to be a math genius to enjoy that.
What would you say, what are the three striking reasons to play/buy Painkiller?
1. That hard to explain magic, when you just play the game and feel it's right. It's a sum of all things, from gameplay design to production values - and that sum make the hours pass by like minutes. Some call it involving gameplay, some call it good game, others can't explain but they know they had a great time.
2. State of the art visuals. Many times Painkiller has been named as one of the most beautiful (if such term applies to zombies and cementaries) games ever. Of course I am biased, but I completely agree, Painkiller is graphically stunning.
3. Interactive world like never before. We have put Havok - the physics engine - to the max. And then some. We have even managed to raise the eyebrows of Havok's original creators - when they saw some crazy things we've done with their baby.
Your game is using the Havoc-Engine. Do you think that this Engine has changed the games-world or do you think it wouldn't make any difference if it would not exist?
It makes all the difference in the world. After you go Havok, there is no turning back. Try to play Painkiller, then go back to any previous shooter without physics - you will feel like watching your DVD on 5" black-and-white TV. The immersion is extremely important factor in games, and having a "real" world (in which when you shoot a chair with your rocket launcher, the chair explodes in thousand wooden shards) is one of the ways to assure that.
Graphically your game looks quite amazing, would you say graphics are a very important part of the game or do you think, that it is more important to have a thrilling gameplay?
Do we really have to sacrifice one for another? Here at People Can Fly our motto is that every single element has to be top quality, be it a sound effect or gameplay design. We don't compromise.
Your game is quite comparable to Serious Sam. Do you like it to be compared with Serious Sam or do you think that your game is completely different?
Quite frankly I don't. I love SS, I played both parts and had a great time, but comparing SS to PK is like comparing Star Wars to Pitch Black, just because both movies are action s-f. But the problem lies in the fact that there are not that many action-oriented shooters on the market, and when people come across something like Painkiller, they feel a need to compare it to something. In my opinion Painkiller is much closer to original Doom than it is to Serious Sam.
Would you say, that Painkiller or other shoot-as-much-as-you-can-games are some kind of glorifaction of violence or do you think these games are harmless? How old should one be to play the game?
Please remember that in Painkiller you don't kill people, but creatures of darkness. It's not the same kind of game when, for example, you are a hired assasin to kill the enemys wife. BUT this way or another, if we all agree that TV advertisements work and people buy stuff because they saw the ad on TV, then we have to agree that you can have an impact on somebodys life with any kind of art, be it a book or a violent videogame. Without starting five pages long monologue let me just say that I think you need to be at least 16 to play games like Painkiller.
Some people say, that First-Person-Shooter do have some effect on the psyche. What do you think about this?
If you are a normal person, playing FPS can only do good things for you (relieve of the stress or improve your eye-hand coordination skills). However, if you're one psychotic fuck, then it might be an excuse to bring fantasy to the real life. But then it's not the game which is to blame, it's you. It's only up to you if you use the knife to slice the bread - or to slice the throat.
What are your five favorite games (except Painkiller :))?
1. Silent Hill 2 - because it's art, not "just" a game.
2. Fatal Frame - because it's good story and scary like hell.
3. Monkey Island series - never played a funnier adventure.
4. Quakeworld - somewhat a thing of the past, but I spent many years fragging.
5. Final Fantasy series - now that's what I call great fantasy ...
Did you have some games or movies that influenced you developing Painkiller?
I am always trying to suck in as much from other media as possible. Even bad games teach you something (namely: how not to make games). There was no single base influence, but Doom, Serious Sam, Evil Dead, Braindead, asian horrors and many more played a great role when designing Painkiller.
How did you get into job? What would you say are the requirements for it?
I always wanted to make games, because I always believed I had something to propose to the world. My first game was all me: I did the coding, art and sounds. It was all crap, but, as you can see, it didn't stop me - Nowadays you really need to understand what exactly is it that you can do best: do you love to sketch the characters or design levels? You need to specialize and then, of course, you need to find the company who'll hire you. Luckily, everyone can hone their skills at home first - you can play with modtools for other games if you want to be a level designer, you can use public domain graphic software if you want to be an artist etc.
What are your next projects and how is work going on?
We do have a pretty good idea of what our next project will be, but that's as much as I can say. Meanwhile we're very busy with Painkiller Explansion Pack and Painkiller Xbox.
Thank you for answering all the questions.