Downtown Video Game

Video games and such

Interview: James Silva, Creator of The Dishwasher

The Dishwasher was originally an XNA game for Microsoft’s “Dream, Build, Play” competition and became one of the winners. How did it make the jump over to a full fledged Xbox Live Arcade game?

It was a neat, sometimes baffling, sometimes frustrating process.  Unlike 99% of XBLA titles, the game is powered by XNA, so to bridge the gap and add in all of the XBLA functionality, they gave me this library called Extensions for Arcade so that I could implement things like Leaderboards and Achievements.  We had to get a bit creative about implementing localization and making sure the right legal warnings pop up in the right territory.  And a lot of the tools for XBLA development were very command-line-eriffic (like for themes), so I had to nerd out a bit.  All in all, it was a lot of work and a lot of fun, which doesn’t really make it work, does it?

Now that The Dishwasher has been officially released on XBLA, how has the attention been for you so far?

The reception on The Dishwasher has been amazing!  People have been thanking me for making the game, and I want to tell them that that’s not how it should work; I’m supposed to be the one thanking them for buying it!

How was it working with Microsoft? Were they very obtrusive? Did they add or taking away anything from the game?

XBLA games have a very specific list of requirements about menu systems, behaviors, and bugs (or lack thereof).  Nothing on that list conflicted with my vision for the game, and overall Microsoft was just great to work with.  Right from the get-go, they were very clear that it was still my vision; they’d be there to make recommendations, but The Dishwasher was still my baby.

That said, they did recommend I put in the Practice Room.

What was the length of the development cycle like from concept to completion?

From concept it was about 5 years–I had the idea while working as a dishwasher and going to community college.

The whole XNA project took just over two years, from the first line of code to passing certification.

The games story is told through a scrolling comic strip, how did you decide to go with that style?

While I’ve never really been a collector, I’ve always had a thing for the concept of the graphic novel.  I used to draw comics when I was a little kid.  I’ve never been particularly good at it, but then again, I guess when you make a decent game, people can forgive less-than-brilliant comics.

The Dishwasher definitely has some dark humor to it. Where did you get the idea for the Dishwasher characters and the game in general?

There are a lot of influences and a lot of archetypes.  In terms of thematic influences, here’s a nod at The Crow, Tim Burton, Versus, The Matrix, and Edward Gorey.  It’s delicious macabre exuberance!

Was The Dishwasher the first game you’ve made or do you have a bunch of games saved on a hard drive somewhere?

I’ve got 2 games on Community Games: ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse and ZP2K9.

Do you have plans to support The Dishwasher in the future? Are you working on any other games?

I’m pipelining!  I don’t have any concrete release plans set out, but I’m still playing with XNA, and I’ve got no less than 3 projects that need finishing right now.

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April 8, 2009 - Posted by | Feature

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