Hi! So you may wonder, first of all, why eight questions, and not ten? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that. Second, you should know, if you don’t already, that this week marks the launch of Bejeweled 3 on Nintendo DS, and on Xbox 360 and PS3 at retail stores, and Mr. Guillory, the subject of this brief Q&A, was the producer on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. So now I’ve already spoiled the answer to the first question. Great. Finally, I wish you all a very happy Friday. See all you Blog Ride regulars again on Monday!
Jeff: Just to start with the very basics, tell us what your role here at PopCap is and how long you’ve been here, and how long have you been working on Bejeweled?
Michael: I’ve been at PopCap for half of a decade now (yeesh, that went by fast!). I was the Associate Producer on the PC/MAC version of Bejeweled 3 and most recently the producer on the Bejeweled 3 XBLA, Xbox 360 retail, and PS3 retail versions.
Jeff: Have you had dreams/nightmares about jewels falling from the sky?
Michael: Yeah, I find myself making matches of 3+ everywhere I go. Fallen leaves, traffic signs, birds on a wire, you name it, I match it. It’s primal pattern recognition. Mostly my dreams are free of jewels though. Mostly.
Jeff: Let’s say you didn’t work at PopCap. I’m not implying that you won’t be. This is just hypothetical. What game franchise would you love to be working on?
Michael: Hmm, I’m going to say Final Fantasy, specifically XIV. The game is ridiculously beautiful and has been evolving after a messy initial release. It’s got a ways to go, but if I wasn’t working at PopCap, I’d like to be part of that continuing evolution.
Jeff: I don’t get why it takes so long to move the game from PC/Mac to console. Don’t you just press the “port” button on some machine? What specifically, are the biggest challenges in doing adaptations like this? Is it just about the controller, or are there other big issues?
Michael: The “port button” is sort of like… replicators on Star Trek. Maybe someday we’ll be able to say “Earl Grey tea… hot” (or rather “Bejeweled, new platform, perfect.”) and have it handed to us a few moments later, but until then, porting involves a surprising amount of work. For example, in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, we wanted game menus to be on a single plane (like PvZ), because that’s easy to negotiate with controllers. Unfortunately, several of the PC menus were not designed with this in mind, so we redid a number of them (including the Main Menu — the tree is gone, replaced by the ring). In addition to this, and controllers, and adapting the game to different screen sizes, each platform has its own way of handling things under the hood. So, long story, long: there is a lot of work involved. But PopCap has been working to streamline the process, and I think you’ll find more and more simultaneous launches going forward than we’ve done in the past.
Jeff: A) Modern Warfare, b) Skyrim, c) Skyward Sword d) None of the above because I only play EA games.
Michael: I’ve been enjoying Skyrim quite a bit. I’ve also been playing a lot of The Sims Social lately, so I’ve got my EA base covered. Can you send me some Love so I can complete a doorframe?
Jeff: Do you think we’ll ever see a 3-D Bejeweled? Have you guys ever talked about it? Note that I don’t really care because I hate 3-D. But do you think it’s possible?
Michael: A 3-D Bejeweled is something that gets brought up a lot, and some day we may look at it in depth as things develop. But your eyes are safe. For now.
Jeff: Go-to junk/snack food while knee-deep in game production stress.
Michael: Tim’s Salt and Vinegar potato chips. They detonate in your mouth like salty, vinegar depth charges. Mmmm.
Jeff: I assume you’re going to take a vacation now that this game is finally out the door. Will you play Bejeweled 3 on this vacation?
Michael: I will. Diamond Mine, especially. I <3 Diamond Mine.