An Interview with Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert

Pictures from Meepletown

Pictures from Meepletown

Over at Meepletown, Derek Thompson has posted a great interview with Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert, the designers of the highly anticipated upcoming release Elysium. They get into quite a few interesting tidbits about the design process for Elysium and their expectations for the game, but they also talk about their history with games, their partnership with each other, how it feels to be a published designer, and, of course, their favorite gaming moments.

You’ve both written a lot about games, and as I understand it, have co-designed with others and belong to a larger consortium of designers in the UK. What’s your particular partnership like?

Matt: I don’t know how Brett would describe our partnership, but I think we work well together because we have different but complementary skills that are useful at different points of the design process. I usually have too many ideas, and so I’m constantly throwing them at Brett to see if any of them sound like they could work. I’m usually making the first prototype just to get it to the table and see whether the idea is worth following. Brett has a really great editorial mind (I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this!), so he’s very good at taking in that first prototype and sorting it out into something sensible, and figuring out what we should keep and what isn’t working. I think we also work well together because our co-designed games tend to take parts of each of our own distinctive design ‘personalities’, and fuse them together into something unique that neither of us could have done by ourselves.

Brett: I am in no way offended by Matt’s description of me as someone with an ‘editorial mind’! Games need both order and chaos; systems and surprises. Creativity is not, as someone observed, merely the finding of a thing, it is also the making something out of it after it is found. Matt and I instinctively come at the same problem on different vectors, and that’s enormously powerful, generating new insight and often shortcutting what might otherwise be a long process of iteration, discovery and (potentially) failure. And the quicker you can find out what you have (or don’t have!) the better. Elysium is a great example of something that neither of us could have created on our own — and indeed, something that neither of us could have *expected* to create. It’s exciting to investigate ideas together and suddenly realise you’ve ended up someplace totally new.

Check out the full interview here.