Haben wir schon wieder Dienstag? Gut, denn es ist Zeit für den ersten Teil des Interviews mit Danilo Dias. Erfahrt mehr über die brasilianische Spieleszene und über mangelnde Sorgfalt bei der Austrahlung jugendgefährdender Animationsfilme im Vorabendprogramm. Vorhang auf für Danilo Dias!
My name is Danilo Dias, 25 years old and I’m an architect. I’m part of a small indie developers group called “Joymasher”. The Joymasher team has 3 core members, Thais Weiller, Marco Galvão and myself. Pedro has its own indie studio named Arcaica.
When did you first get into contact with games?
When I was kid, 3 years old. My first system was an Atari 2600 (as a matter of fact, it was my father’s Atari). But I remember that the system that I really started to pick games by myself was the NES, at the age of 4.
What game marks the start for you?
The first game that I really finished lots of times was Super Mario Bros for NES.
Why was it a special game (was it special?)
Well, Super Mario Bros was the first game that I finished, and the first game that make me wanted to play more and more games.
What games fascinated you the most when you started gaming?
The action games! Like Ninja Gaiden, Contra, Castlevania and Vice. When I was a kid, I was addicted to action movies, like Rambo, Predator, American Ninja, Die Hard, Mad Max and lots more, so playing action games was twice the fun than other genres.
How did (video)gaming back then feel like to you?
Video Games felt more fun and more challenging. I also had the habit to unite the gang (you know my friends that also played games) in order to solve some problems, like beat Metroid or try to finish Ninja Gaiden. There was no internet for us during that time, so games felt more magic, something that was really hard to master and a lot more fun.
How important was gaming to you and when/how did you realize that gaming is more than just wasting time and that eventually you would go on making your own game(s)?
Since I was a kid, gaming was a very important part of my life, so making my own games was a dream. However at some point of my life I gave up making games. After all, in Brazil it is really hard to become a game designer and the brazilian gaming industry is not very big. Also, most companies in Brazil don’t think that a game designer is an important profession. (I’m beying serious, lots of brazilian game studios don’t have or don’t think that a game designer is an important member of a game develop team) Eventually, I didn’t care about making games for a living, I was just interested in making games for people to have fun with them.
How big was gaming in Brazil in the early nineties?
As far as I remember, gaming in Brazil was more like kids/teenager stuff. It was not so popular like nowadays. There were lots of game magazines, with strategy guides and stuff. Lots of brazilian NES clones, made by brazilian companies. My first NES was actually a NES clone called Turbo Game, made by brazilian company called CCE.
Was there an arcade scene back then? If so, was it big?
I don’t really know if was big however I lived in a small town, and even there, there was a big arcade bar, with lots of arcade classics like, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Metal Slug and Double Dragon. Every bar had a Street Fighter II arcade machine, that was awesome. It’s a shame that nowadays arcades are almost dead here in Brazil.
Did homecomputers like the Atari ST or the Amiga 500 have a scene?
Hum, computers were very expensive in Brazil, I didn’t had one until 1996, so maybe I’m not the best guy to answer this question. But I know that MSX were very popular in Brazil, I had a friend whose father had a MSX2 and I’ve played a lot of Metal Gear in his house.
Did any european developers (heroes and legends to us!) like Psygnosis, CORE Design, Team 17, Bitmap Brothers or Factor 5 have any impact on you or the brazilian scene?
Yes! Turrican, Super Turrican, Colony Wars, Tomb Raider and lot more were very popular games here in Brazil. My personal favorite is the Turrican series.
Was the brazilian gaming community/you aware of imports and foreign games/game systems like the PC Engine?
Just a few people knew about these game systems, I just learned about the PC Engine in 1998.
Did the great 8bit and 16bit console wars rage in Brazil as well? If so, which side (if any) did you pick? And which side would eventually win?
Yes, that was a big deal around here, and it was very interesting. I also think that the old console war was much better than today, after all, thanks to this we had much more different and quality games than today. Nowadays console war seems just who has most exclusives and not who has better games.
Oh, I almost lost my track here. During the old console war, I think that I picked both, Sega and Nintendo sides during the 8 bit consoles. I had a NES clone and a Sega Master System. I liked them both. When the time came and I had to choose one 16 bit console (they were very expensive) I chose a Super Nintendo because I loved Contra 3, Super Castlevania 4, Megaman X and Demon’s Crest. I had a friend who had a Sega Genesis (Mega Drive here in Brazil). So, I was able to play lots of Genesis titles like Shinobi, Chakan (I loved this one) and Sonic.
Were companies like TecToy a big deal in Brazil or are their releases considered bad / fake?
Tec Toy was almost like a Sega expansion for us brazilians hahaha. They had a great impact on our video game culture. When I was a kid I didn’t even knew that “Monica no Castelo do Dragão” was a Wonder Boy hack. I think that people really liked the old Tec Toy hacks.
What is the state of the gaming community in Brazil today?
Today, brazilian gamers are much like american or european gamers. Brazil is a country with lots of poor people, however there are lots of people who can actually buy a modern console system, so they’re pretty much like the rest of the world. Love Call of Duty, Halo and stuff.
Did the Windows or DOS PC ever play any part in all of this?
As I said before, computers were expensive, however at the mid 90s they started to become more affordable to brazilian players. I can say that I’ve played LOTS of old PC/DOS games during 1996 and 1997 because my pc was actually very, very slow and I was unable to play modern games. Today I think that the number of PC gamers have increased a lot here in Brazil, however it is still not so popular as console games.
If you had to describe the defining design choices that made early 90ies games look/sound/play/feel like what would you say were the most important aspects? What makes an oldschool game?
I like to think that an oldschool game is not only defined by its graphics and sound. For me the most important aspect is its gameplay and game design. There are lots of games out there that use pixelated graphics and chiptune sounds however, they play like modern games. There are games like Bionic Commando Rearmed that have polygonal graphics with lots of shader effects and even ragdoll, however it plays exactly like an old school game.
Do you think that these aspects got lost over time and modern games lost their ways?
Yes, I like to say that lots of the good aspects of old school gaming are fading away. Games today seems to always push you through levels like if there is some king of spring in your characters back. Everything seems scripted, and turning into some kind of Hollywood movie. Just a few modern games offer a real challenge, or maybe, make you feel that you really accomplished something. I’m not saying that all modern games suck, no but I think, that lots of modern games are just you sitting, watching and thinking that you’re actually playing them, however you’re just sitting there watching some kind of CG movie.
Do you enjoy modern gaming? Do you enjoy it as much as oldschool gaming?
Well, different from Pedro I do enjoy some of the modern games, like The Witcher, The Witcher 2, Deus Ex series, Ninja Gaiden Black (not Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3, they suck hard…), Demon’s Souls and some of the Metal Gear Solid games. I’m also like some of those 2.5D remakes like Bionic Commando Rearmed.
Are there any developments in gaming that you wished would have happened when you grew up while gaming (for example studies say there are a considerable amount of female gamers out there today)?
HAHAHAHAHAH I like this question! Dude, it would be awesome if when I was younger there were as much girls playing video games like today. However, I was able to find one who love videogames and love to make them too, Thaís Weiller is my wife and she works with me and Marco Galvão. She even made a metroid-like mini-game called MRC-6454. Another good aspect of the modern times is how easy is to make your own game and share it with people that may like it.
As a developer that produced a great tribute to the “golden age of gaming”, what is your take on nostalgia? Are we just being nostalgic for liking the games we grew up with or do they have merit/offer unique experiences even today?
There are lots of people that say that retro-gaming is all about nostalgia and those games were bad. This is not right. I do feel nostalgia, I like to remember the good times of when I was a kid, however this isn’t everything. Oldschool games are like old movies, just because they’re old doesn’t mean that they’re obsolete.
How important were (japanese) comics / (japanese) animation to you when you grew up? How did you come in contact with the more obvious inspirations like Fist of the North Star or M. D. Geist and what is the appeal of these shows/movies to you? Why did you pick these as inspiration opposed to, let’s say Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2?
Beside games and action movies, most part of my childhood was marked by japanese cartoons. I always liked the action ones, like M. D. Geist, Detonator Orgun, Zillion, Zeta Gundam and Macross (the original only, Macross7 and Macross Frontier suck hard in my opinion…)
I’d like to share a very interesting information. I don’t know if this is something unusual for you guys but here, in Brazil, the U.S. Manga Corps videos were aired in OPEN TV AT 19:00 PM UNCUT! So, imagine me, a kid in 1996/97 watching M. D. GEIST 1, M. D. GEIST: DEATHFORCE and GENOCYBER hahahaha. I don’t need to explain how freaking awesome I felt about those animes, after all it was very unusual to see a guy putting a knife into another guy’s head with a freaking grenade into it. (The most memorable scene in M. D. GEIST in my opinion.) Later, when I was older I had contact with Fist of the North Star and I found that freaking awesome. So, I felt that was pretty obvious that those characters and animes were the best choice to use as reference for a game that represents everything that I really loved in my childhood.
Was anime big in Brazil when you grew up? Do you feel it has changed over the years and is there any connection with the changes in modern gaming?
Has Japan lost it’s touch with the western audience in recent years and what is the state of anime in modern Brazil?
During my childhood lots of kids enjoyed animes and japanese live action shows like Kamen Rider Black (I love Kamen Rider Black!). Nowadays it is still very common, almost every kid likes animes, but, modern animes. I don’t like modern animes, because as most of the japanese games, I think that they lost the touch. I was talking with a friend last month about how old japanese games and animes were cool, because they were a mix of east and western cultures. If you take a look at those old japanese games and animes you’ll se that they’re like a japanese version of the old action movies. And that mix was something really cool. Nowadays, some of the japanese games are a little too girly for my taste. (Except Suda 51 or Shinji Mikami Games, those guys kick ass!). I still like some Nintendo games and as I said before, Demon’s and Dark Souls series, those are classic dark fantasy japanese style and I love it.
After all these years of gaming, what would you consider to the most inspiring and influential games you have played? What would be your favourites that you will always get back to even if we have that Xbox 1080 with unimaginable processing power? And are there any developers and/or gamemakers that inspired you particularly, what made them inspiring?
I think that the most inspiring games for me are the Ninja Gaiden and Contra series. I’ll never stop playing games like those. The most inspiring developers for me are Miyamoto, RUNMAL and Tokuro Fujiwara. I’m also a big fan of Locomalito and the guys from NG:DEV.TEAM.
Got any “warstories” for us that you are willing to share (e. g. won a gaming tournament, destroyed a bully in Street Fighter II, kissed a girl behind that Double Dragon cabinet)?
Hahaha cool example but I was not so popular with the ladies. One thing that I’ve remembered is that I accidentally unlocked the Smoke fight in Mortal Kombat 2 and I was like 8 years old. Lots of guys rushed to the cabinet that I was playing and “Kid! How the hell you did that!?”. It is a nice memory.
Das war Teil 1, morgen geht es dann etwas mehr ins Detail was die Entwicklung von ONIKEN betrifft.
Wenn Ihr die beiden jungen und aufstrebenden Entwickler unterstützen möchtet, auf Desura gibt es die Möglichkeit dazu (und eine Demo!). Desweiteren auch unbedingt den Oniken-Blog ansteuern für Neuigkeiten und die Leaderboards. Und wer Böcke auf weitere Spiele der beiden hat sollte sich auch mal auf Joymasher und Arcaica umschauen.