Ingmar: There is a lot of talk about virtual reality and augmented reality in the industry right now. What’s your take on these subjects?
Josef: I guarantee you that VR and AR, especially, are gonna be a part of our lives. I think it’s a bit too early now because I have the Oculus Rift, and the resolution is still too low, there’s too much equipment, and it’s too heavy. But in five years when it’s wireless and stable, I see it as a major, huge part of our lives. I know that some people say that VR is just a gimmick, but there are so many places for it: in school, education, at doctors’, whatever. Sure, the Wii was a gimmick, but not this. AR, it’s like, put some glasses on, play a game, find your map or whatever, it’s crazy to believe that’s a gimmick if you ask me. But it’s definitely too early because I played some VR games, and after a while you get a little tired. But wait five years until they figure out all of this stuff.
Ingmar: So I guess this is also something that you’d like to tackle as a developer once the technology is ready?
Josef: Definitely! I have some VR ideas. I think it’s limited from a hardware perspective right now, but it’ll be much better!
Ingmar: What current and/or recent games have impressed you when it comes to interactive storytelling?
Josef's team is responsible for every part of its ambitious but modestly-budgeted title, including motion capture
Josef: What Remains of Edith Finch I really liked. I thought that it was a great evolution of what you call the walking simulator genre today. I think Dear Esther was one of the first, and I really enjoyed that, mostly because of the environments, and it felt unique and fresh. I wasn’t really too fond of Gone Home, but I liked Firewatch a lot. It felt like another step forward for walking simulators, but for me, What Remains of Edith Finch took it a step even further. They made a walking simulator with a lot of gameplay mechanics, a lot of different stuff to experience, and I love how they didn’t use the HUD [head-up display]. I’m a fan of Ninja Theory, and I’m looking forward now to playing Hellblade, and I hope that it does something different. I mean, I like all types of games. I’m currently playing Ghost Recon with my friends online, and I think it’s fun, but it’s not something that I would play alone. You know, it’s not like I only like a typical game; I like everything!
Ingmar: Actually, I just started playing Hellblade last night, and happen to be a big fan of Ninja Theory as well. Their Devil May Cry reboot must have been one of the games that I spent the most time with ever.
Josef: Yes, I loved it, I loved it! I thought it was awesome! I liked the story, I liked the gameplay, I’m really a fan of their work!
Ingmar: We have talked about recent games that left an impression on you. What about movies and TV?
Josef: To be honest with you, I don’t watch as much as before. I don’t know. I mean, I watch some series on TV. That animated series Rick and Morty, I watch a lot of South Park, I love MMA/UFC, and I look forward to the McGregor / Mayweather fight. Then I have my girlfriend to hang out with, you know, so I don’t have a lot of time. At times I watch movies at the cinema. I have seen Dunkirk, and I really liked that movie, but I thought it was a movie more for the intellectual brain than for the heart. For me, Saving Private Ryan I feel more in my heart. I’m more of a heart kind of person. I want to feel a movie more than be impressed by it. Dunkirk is very impressive from a technical aspect, and from a storytelling aspect, but you don’t feel it in your heart. I’m more of a James Cameron fan than a Christopher Nolan fan. I still think that he’s an amazing director, but you know…
What more have I seen…? I Iiked Narcos, the series about Pablo Escobar, and Breaking Bad, obviously, but that was a long time ago. I’m gonna watch Baby Driver tonight, and I think that it’s probably a good movie, but it’s rare that you see good stuff right now. That’s what I’m saying: in movies it’s rare to see something that really sticks out, but in games, the opportunity to make creative, unique stuff is so vast. That’s why I’m sometimes surprised that I don’t see more unique games today. We see some, but not as much as I would hope.
Ingmar: Netflix has started offering interactive content for kids that has kind of a choose-your-own-adventure approach. The company has also stated that “the technology is there for producers to apply it more widely.” Several other official statements sound like this experiment could eventually also lead to interactive content for older audiences. What do you think about this?
Josef: Great! Let me try it out. I mean everything that makes people creative I love, everything that’s evolving, and everything that’s fresh and unique. I’m open to seeing what people come up with. It sounds awesome; interactivity is the future if you ask me.
Ingmar: You have talked about all the potential you see in interactive storytelling, and you founded Hazelight not too long ago. It doesn’t seem like you’re planning to leave this path anytime soon. What does that mean for potential movie projects in the future?
Josef: I have not quit making movies, and I really want to make another movie, but I just need to find the time. Sometime at the beginning of a project or in a period of a project where I can get away for two or three months for the shooting, but it’s hard because I’m so hands-on in my games. Hopefully I’ll be able to make another movie soon!
Ingmar: Once you find time for a new movie, do you think it’s likely you’ll do the next one outside of Sweden?
Josef: Yeah, that could happen. I mean, if you’re asking me about Hollywood, I have a lot of friends there. If you know how it works there, it’s a very, very chaotic industry. You have a lot of really talented people, but also a lot of talkers. When I go there to make a movie, it’s gonna be on my terms, that’s for sure!
Ingmar: Thanks a lot for your time Josef. It’s been a great pleasure speaking to you, and I hope to talk again when your next game is in production!
Josef: Definitely, man – it’s coming! It’s been great talking to you, too. Have a good one!