Make Sail : An Interview

New games thrive under certain conditions. This is one of those times. Creator Ziba Scott has been working on this game the last few years. Over that time he has created demos of his game at conferences all over the place to build hype. Now Make Sail a game where you can create your own boat and send it out to the ocean tests your limits of imagination and creativity. You can currently play it on Steam. 

 Make Sail 

Make Sail 

 

Who are you and what do you do? 

I'm Ziba. I used to be a kid in Michigan who played games and now I'm a grown up in Boston who makes games.

Since 2010 I've run a tiny game company I call Popcannibal. Design and code are my focus and I contract out art and music to people far more talented than I.

 Make Sail

Make Sail

What inspired Make Sail? 

Make Sail is a joint project with artist Luigi Guatieri. In 2015 we were in Culver City at the IndieCade Festival showing off our game of poetry, Elegy for a Dead World. It was a great show, but our "booth" was actually a tent in a parking lot with poor ventilation. We escaped for a bit to sit in the shade next to a large public water sculpture.

We talked about boats and peaceful isolation. I grew up taking weekend sailing trips with my grandfather, a retired mathematician. Luigi was raised around islands, both in Greece and New Zealand.

The project evolved tremendously over the last 3 years, but it has always been about communicating our perspectives and life experiences through this game. And fun. We've tried to make it fun.

 Make Sail

Make Sail

How did you go about creating the overall sound of the music? 

Clark Aboud is an amazing talent who produced Make Sail's soundtrack. (Go buy it!). I started by sending him some mood tracks I'd been developing using. Most of it from Life of Pi (a big inspiration). From there, Clark headed off in the direction of a more optimistic adventure.

The day he sent his first draft of his theme, Luigi and I were scared. It was SO good! Now we had to make the game live up to that!

 Make Sail

Make Sail

What made you want to create a game with a simple color palette? It's reminiscent of the game Firewatch in color design.

Luigi is not afraid of color. I don't know if I'd call it simple. It's bright, sometimes bold. Positive. That's the feeling we wanted to fill Make Sail with.

 Make Sail

Make Sail

Where do you hope to see the game go? 

On to every computer and console on earth? More realistically, we've got a great community of people on our discord (discord.gg/popcannibal). Who are dreaming up great ideas to fill the seas every day. I want to push Make Sail far enough to reach a lot of those dreams.

 Make Sail

Make Sail

How long have you been creating games? 

Professionally, 8 years. I got my masters degree in Serious Games at Michigan State University about that time and have been doing a mix of contract work and my own games since then.

 Make Sail

Make Sail

What are some games you've been inspired by along the way? 

Space Quest 4 was the big eye-opener for me. Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe fit a real universe on those floppy disks. A hilarious, wonder-filled adventure of a world. It was live theater on my computer. Little beings running around acting out a story without the boundaries of other mediums. I still play through all the Space Quest games every few years. 

 Make Sail

Make Sail

Fun Questions

If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you? 

  • 1.) A portal back to wherever I wanted.
  • 2.) My house
  • 3.) My wife (I'd choose her before the house, but she doesn't like camping)
  • 4.)  Utilities
  • 5.) A list of all the best things that will happen over the next 1,000 years.

If you could travel in space where would you go? 

I'd planet hop looking for life. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in an alien coffee shop. 

If you could run around and explore any virtual world where would you go? 

I make games that reflect myself and attempt to reconstruct parts of the world I want to talk about via games. 

So, oddly enough, when I got a Vive dev kit I spent a fair amount of time 3d scanning and hand modelling my home office. Then I spent some time sitting in my office in VR while in my office IRL. 

It's so weird. I can touch everything. It's really there. My couch is almost photo-realistic. But my body is gone.  My virtual and real door were open and I heard my wife walk by. I turned my head....but I couldn't see her.

Recreating my own room was an exercise in mindfulness. I measured doorknobs. I learned the location and outline of the wall moulding. I can now close my eyes and picture the exact fake cherry wood grain of my desk. It's a high-effort meditation, but one I won't forget.