An Interview with William Pugh
William Pugh chatted with Honest Dragon about a game called The Stanley Parable they both seem to more or less like.
HONESTDRAGON: The Stanley Parable is certainly a unique game. How did you and your team come about creating such a concept?
WILLIAM: The core principle we held for design and coming up with ideas was: 'If we don't understand how to design it, that means it's interesting." The notion of having a narrator narrate your actions before you make them was really interesting, but we had no idea how it would actually look! I don't really have a 3 step method for coming up with interesting ideas, but it's nice to have a way to realise when you've found one!
HONESTDRAGON: The Stanley Parable reminds me of those old choice adventure books where once you get to a point in the book you have two choices to make to continue on. Were you influenced by that narrative formula for the game?
WILLIAM: Not really - we were aware that these things existed, and I'm sure we've both read one or two in our lives, but when designing the game I always tried to keep in the forefront of my mind that we were designing an experience that at it's heart involves the player and keeps the player engaged. I feel like Choose your own Adventure books were at their core about players trying to optimise their path through a story - whereas Stanley is (atleast for me) more about how multiple playthroughs intersect and how you grow to learn more about this place and the people in it through multiple journeys though the same space.
HONESTDRAGON: Whether you (as Stanley) are antagonizing the Narrator or being his best friend, I found it hilarious when the Narrator would have dialogue directed at Stanley. Was any of the writing for the Narrator improvised?
WILLIAM: As far as I can remember pretty much all the dialogue in the game was word for word what we put in the script - I'm sure there might've been a phrasing here or there that changed, but Kevan Brighting gives such a good performance and delivery that I'd say it's forgivable to think there's a few bits that were improvisations!
HONESTDRAGON: Was the Narrator always supposed to be an antagonist or was it always left up to circumstances the player created via their choices?
WILLIAM: That's just like your opinion man!
HONESTDRAGON: Out of the many endings for the game, I think I managed to get nine. Were there any endings cut before the game was finished?
WILLIAM: Two endings were merged to form the current 'red door' ending. One was primarily concerned with the staircase and the notion of throwing yourself off it multiple times (in a different light than how it plays out in the current game) - and the other was nicknamed the 'zending' and is detailed in the museum!
HONESTDRAGON: What was your favorite part of the development of The Stanley Parable?
WILLIAM: Probably the last 4 to 5 months of development, things changed so quickly then, and we had a pretty much complete product for most of that time - making the Demo was really fun and just the speed thing iterated and got added was really brilliant. Though it was bloody hard work, I'll still look back on those months as what game development should be all about!
HONESTDRAGON: Do you think we may see a sequel or spiritual successor to this game?
WILLIAM: Probably not! Certainly not a sequel.
HONESTDRAGON: Since you're not working on a sequel for The Stanley Parable, what kind of projects will the team be working on in the future?
WILLIAM: At the moment the two halves of Stanley Parable (me, William Pugh, and my partner on Stanley, Davey Wreden) are working on leading separate projects. I won't speak too much for Davey, but he's currently working with a guy and they're based out of Austin.
As for me, I'm working on a really exciting project that I'm not quite ready to announce yet. I can tell you about my wonderful core team! There's Dominik Johann (@zerstoerer) who just stared in Super Game Jam and has pretty hair. We've also got Grant Kirkhope of Banjo Kazooie fame working closely together with us to develop an insane-o brain-o cool musical experience. And I've been working with a friend called Sean O'Dowd who's a super cool code dude that I met at GDC this year. I snuck him into the IGF awards and now he's repaying me by doing whatever insane shit I tell him to do!! They're all incredibly involved in the development of this weird vision and I love working with them all. People should be subtly excited about what we're cooking up, and we can't wait to share this stuff with people!!
HONESTDRAGON: Being in the indie scene, what does it mean to you to have your game be so well received by the video game community?
WILLIAM: I'm not entirely sure! I'm immensely grateful for the opportunity it gives me to connect with people - but I've never been a particular fan of any kind of cliques or scenes, so there have been some aspects of The Stanley Parable's reception that have left me slightly less than content. I'm a young person and throwing about phrases about "What this means to me!" feels insincere to me, as I don't feel like I yet have the context to ascribe meaning to this seemingly random event of my life!
Day 18 | Galactic Cafe