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Chronic Logic Interview
August 23, 2005 | Blake Buck

Inside Mac Games recently sat down with Alex Austin and Luke Hetherington, two members of Chronic Logic, known for the award-winning Gish, as well as several other popular independent Mac games. Austin is one of the company's lead designers and programmers, while Hetherington is the art director for their latest game, Golf?

The interview ranged across a variety of topics, from the history of Chronic Logic to thoughts on Apple's Intel switch, but to know more you shall have to read on.

IMG: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. I've been a fan of Chronic Logic for some time now, and it's a real privilege to interview you.

Austin: Thanks, I'm glad you like the games.

IMG: So let me start by asking you a little about the history of Chronic Logic. How did it come about? What decided you to make games?

Austin: Well I was always interested in making games, so I've been trying to program games for quite a while. Chronic Logic started out when my friend Ben and I both got laid off former jobs, so we decided to make a sequel to a freeware game I had made that was kind of popular, Pointifex. The original was called Bridge Builder, but it turned out another company had the trademark for that name.

IMG: Ah. So after Bridge Builder and Pointifex came Triptych, and later Gish. Now Gish is likely your most popular game to date, did you ever expect it to get so big? And what was it like to win awards at the Independent Games Festival (IGF)?

Austin: Well I wasn't sure how many people would get it; we made some decisions along the way that made the game harder to learn, but made the gameplay more interesting. I think that's a big part of the appeal though; it's a different experience from any other game. Winning the IGF was great. I didn't expect us to win the grand prize, but it's always fun just going and meeting the other indie developers.

IMG: Very true. So after a few patches for Gish, which has thrilled the fans, the wheels at Chronic Logic have begun to turn again with Golf? How would you describe Golf? yourself?

Austin: Yeah, I've been working on Golf? for quite a while, and doing some Gish patches along the way. I would describe Golf? as a first-person multiplayer golf game, and I'll let Luke describe the art style.

IMG:How would you describe the art style of Golf? What were your inspirations for it?

Hetherington: My guess would be really narrowly focused dadaism. My game influences would be Mr. Do!, Do! Run Run, and to a lesser extent—every other game. My art influences would be Mr. Do! and the duo who made N. I think graphics in games should almost always be made by the designer/programmer and N is proof of that. My other influence would be the default color scheme for the 3ds Max viewport.

IMG:What was it like working collaboratively with Chronic Logic? In what ways did you influence the game's design?

Hetherington:The atmosphere at the Chronic Logic office is somewhat depressing. I would assume this is the case in all small offices. You run out of stuff to talk about and most of the time you just don't have the energy to talk to anyone. Our two jokes ran into the ground six months ago.

Collaboration with them has been fruitful, though, but most of the collaboration really happens without actual discussions. Rarely do we actually discuss this game. Instead we just sort of talk in vague comparatives and we also spend a great deal of time talking about other peoples games. I think this game [Golf?] is a product of our situation: a game programmer who doesn't necessarily love the development process but does it because he enjoys playing games and a graphics person who doesn't necessarily like playing games, but likes craft and the idea of people enjoying games.


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