Interview with Mathbrush

heartless zombie requested an interview with Mathbrush, so I’m here to oblige!

Q:Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I’m a postdoc in mathematics; I got my PhD about 3 years ago. My family lives in Utah, and I’m really interested in reading old books and learning pieces of other languages.

Q: When did you first start programming IF, and what was that experience like?

A: I started just a couple of months ago. I talked about it a bit in my postmortem; basically, my first ‘game’ turned out to be terrible, and so I tried a lot harder the second time. It was really fun to learn a new programming language, but sometimes I regressed into C-style programming by having a lot of this kind of stuff:

ImInsideNow is a number that varies. ImInsideNow is usually 0. . . . if player is in heart: now ImInsideNow is 1;

Q:How would you describe your creative process?

A: It’s really mechanic-driven. I made the ‘3-d engine’ first, and then the puzzles came after that, and then the story. I’m a sucker for a love story (husband-wife, parent-child, whatever), so I ended up putting one in of sorts. But a lot of it was just driven by beta testers. They would point out weaknesses in the story and gameplay, and I would try to fill them. So half of the game is due to them.

Q:How did your experience with playing and reviewing so many of IFDB’s offerings influence Ether?

A: I can’t tell you how many great games lie in obscurity because they are long, hard, full of hidden content, or don’t have a walkthrough. I’m thinking about Chancellor, Finding Martin, Building, etc. I wanted to make sure that my game was open in its blurb, easily finishable, friendly to newcomers to parsers, and with a complete walkthrough, as well as having features like GOTO and no permanent death. I think I may have gone a bit too far in this direction, but I would rather have it played by many and be mediocre than played by 5 and incredible.

Q: What’s your favorite easter egg in Ether?

A: Hugo Labrande tried “cut tentacles” in a transcript, so I implemented it.

You decide you can’t do it, and you end up naming each tentacles, including Hugo the brave.

I haven’t seen anyone do it in the transcripts yet.

Q:What advice do you have for future IF Comp participants?

Don’t stress too much about where you place. Andrew Schultz gave me incredibly good advice: you can consider yourself a success if you enjoyed every game that placed above you. This helped me destress a lot.

Also, give yourself a ton of time for beta testing.

Q:Finally, what’s next for you?

I have a couple of ideas; my most recent idea is to have a murder mystery that’s a parser game, and at the end, when you reveal “what really happened”, it turns into a CYOA game via an extension (because ‘what actually happened’ should be more exposition than exploration, and CYOA is great for that).


Oh man, I hadn’t noticed what’s inside the spoiler tag! That’s awesome, thanks! [emote]:D[/emote]

I hadn’t either! I was so tickled when I saw that in my inbox.