From Dust Interview With Eric Chahi

By Darryl Kaye on March 24, 2011, 8:30PM EDT

From Dust is a rather interesting proposition. It's a PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade God game where you control the world around your little peons.

We had the chance to catch up with the creative mind behind the game, Eric Chahi, to talk about how he came up with the idea behind it, and why he decided on the platforms he did.

GamingUnion.net: What was the inspiration behind the game? There's just so much you can do.

Eric Chahi: The main inspiration for me, is real life. Experiences in special places, like volcanoes, which have a big impact on the environment. Active volcanoes are always changing, always moving. I visited volcanoes and I saw real activity with like, the lava flow and it starts to freeze and become rock. It was amazing for me to discover such places, especially as each volcano is different. To imagine, that this rock [which has frozen] was lava just a few hours ago, it creates a strong contrast to the desert. Here, it's been in creation for millions of years. So for me, the main inspiration was landscape and life itself.

GamingUnion.net: Was it hard to put that inspiration into levels that felt different from each other?

Eric Chahi: Each level has its own personality, its own dynamism. There are different species of animals, behaviour and power, so not really.

GamingUnion.net: What was behind the decision to put it as a downloadable title, as opposed to a full retail. Surely you would have been able to do a lot more with the physics, for example?

Eric Chahi: Regarding the physics, the terrain physics, we really push it at the level of what it would have been for a triple A game. It has been optimised as much as it could be on today's hardware. But regarding your question, why XBLA and PSN? It's about creative freedom. If it goes to retail, it could be triple A, but there's much more pressure regarding the content and the marketing aspects. We preferred to make something more humble and simple.

GamingUnion.net: So making a smaller game gave you more creative freedom?

Eric Chahi: Yes yes, definitely.

GamingUnion.net: Do you plan on taking this further, have you got ideas for future titles?

Eric Chahi: Yes, I would like to, but right now there is no plan for a sequel or DLC. Ubisoft have invested in this game, and I think they want to see what the reception will be first. So we can't really say anything yet.

GamingUnion.net: At GamesCom, you were teasing a few of the modes, have you got anything concrete to announce yet?

Eric Chahi: It's true, there is multiple modes, but I can't tell. I promised not to say anything about the other modes.

GamingUnion.net: I do remember you saying that the game can effectively sustain itself though, is that still the case?

Eric Chahi: Oh yes, it's true. The landscape will evolve and, for example, the volcano will get bigger and bigger. Maybe it will reach the first village, or maybe it will close the limit between the village the sea. Or maybe you could even make your own lake. There is a lot of exploration to do with the simulation, which is what I really love. There is a challenge-side, but beyond this, you can continue to play and discover new things.

GamingUnion.net: When you see people testing the game, do you find that people always solve the game in different ways?

Eric Chahi: Yes, yes, and it's always fun for me. I mean, right now some people are playing and I love to see people play. Sometimes they find the same kind of solution, but it's never exactly the same way. Sometimes it's completely different. They might find the most challenging way, like trying to totally change a river completely. And of course, you can replay a place, or a map, to try and do it in a different way.

GamingUnion.net: Is it possible to get a game over?

Eric Chahi: If you have less than five people, you have game over. But if you create a village, your numbers grow and they will reproduce and create new tribesman. It's important to have at least one village.

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