Interview with Dave Gilbert (Emerald City Confidential)

Interview with Dave Gilbert

First off, tell me about yourself?
Hi! I’m Dave Gilbert, head of Wadjet Eye Games. I’m 42 years old, live in Brooklyn with my wife and kid, and have been a full-time indie dev since 2006.

What games do you remember most from your childhood, and do you feel they influence/influenced how you make games?
I had an Apple IIC as a child, and there wasn’t a lot that could play on that aside from text adventures. So I was very much an Infocom kid growing up! I would definitely say that they influenced the games I make now. Narrative was always Infocom’s focus and it is at the forefront of everything I do.

While we are talking about other games, what other indie developers do you like, and can you recommend any games from them?
You mean I can actually PLAY games? I had no idea! Joking aside, I’ve been enjoying “Republique” a lot. I also went through “Pathfinder: Kingmaker” recently and had a great time, although I am a bit biased since I am friends with a good portion of the voice cast.

How many games have you developed, and how long does it typically take from the idea to the final product?
As of now, we have developed and/or published 16 games under the Wadjet Eye label. As for how long it takes, it always varies. We’ve pushed out games in as little as four months to as long as three years!

Which of the games you’ve designed is your personal favourite, and is that reflected in the public reception of the game?
Unavowed is a game that I had always wanted to play, and the end result comes verrry close to matching the vision I had in my head. I had a great time with it, and the players seem to enjoy it as well.

Okay, so I reached out for this Interview because I enjoyed Emerald City Confidential, for my audience who may or may not have played the game can you tell us what it’s about? And how the story came to be?
Emerald City Confidential is a noir take on the world of Oz, where you play a detective named Petra who is looking for her missing brother. The story was inspired by Chris Bateman’s Discworld Noir, which was a lovely noirish take on the Discworld Universe. I always wanted to do something similar, so when I was handed the opportunity I decided to do the same with Oz.

For people who haven’t played the game, can you give them any tips for the best Emerald City Confidential experience?
I am afraid I don’t understand the question? You mean the best way to play the game? Sit back, turn off the lights, and immerse yourself I suppose!

So Emerald City Confidential is inspired by Frank Baum’s books, why did you pick that universe for the story?
I inhaled the Oz books as a child. I zipped through all 14 Baum books and when I was done I ordered copies of all the Ruth Plumley Thompson stories from the library. When I was learning how to program in BASIC, the first thing I did was write a little text adventure set in Oz. Being able to do it “for real” was literally a childhood dream come true.

Did you enjoy getting to play around with the established characters of Frank Baum’s books, and how much research did you do into his work before developing the game?
Yes! Although we had to be careful. The legalities of using the Oz characters is complicated. Everything from the books is public domain, but anything specific to the movies are not. For example, I could use Dorothy’s silver shoes from the books in the game just fine, but the ruby slippers from the movies was a no-no. So a lot of the research involved re-reading the books and forgetting about the movies as much as I could.

Another interesting legal issue was that while we were allowed to use the word “Oz” as much as we liked within the game itself, we couldn’t use it in the title! Hence why you have titles like “Wicked,” “Tin Man,” and now “Emerald City Confidential.”

Petra is a great character, but why did you decide to go with an original character rather than someone more familiar such as Dorothy?
Mostly to avoid the legal issues I described above, but also it freed me from having to adhere to any pre-existing ideas of what the character should be like.

Lastly, can we expect anything coming out in the near future/what are you working on right now?
We’ve got two games in the works right now! An RPG that we are calling “Nighthawks,” which is sort of like Sunless Sea meets Vampire Bloodlines, and “Technobabylon: Birthright” (a sequel to 2015’s “Technobabylon”).


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