by Jason Whong
Ambrosia Times: I see London, I see France. I see... Andrew Campbell? Who are you?
Andrew Campbell: Chuck D. Andrew is just the name I go by when I program. I want to earn my place in the video game world, not have it given to me because of my rhyming skills.
AT: Wow. You're that ultra-cool guy that's working on the new game, Pop-Pop, aren't ya? How's that coming along?
AC: Ack! It's hard. All of the ifs and thens - they confuse me. The uncertainty, the consequences...
AT: You funny guy! I'm having a ton of fun playing that game, I might add. Meanwhile, tell me a bit about your history. Pop-Pop is your first effort with Ambrosia, but it's not your first game, right?
AC: No, certainly not. My first game was a guessing game I wrote on the BASIC cartridge for my Atari 2600. Not a lot of people saw that one. Next came Penultima, a text based dungeon crawl. That was followed by the absurdly named Penultima II, my attempt at writing Moria with graphics. Both of those were for the Amiga and had a very limited release. My first Mac game (and hopefully some people have heard of this one) was Battle-Girl.
AT: Ah, yes. I remember now. Battle-Girl. It was a really funky game. And, now that I think about it, I noticed a very Japanese look to the game, particularly in the fonts. Are you using similar influences in Pop-Pop?
AT: So are you into the whole anime scene? Can you recite each plot point of Maison Ikkoku episode 3 on demand... backwards?
AC: No, to both questions. I'm more influenced by Japanese design in a larger sense. I look at fashion, advertising, corporate visual identities, and typography. What I like about Japanese design is its clean look, and the way it can be both compact and highly expressive.
AT: How'd you pick the name "Ultra-United"? Come to think of it, how'd you think of the name "Pop-Pop"? That's what I call my grandfather.
AC: When the Okinawan advertising firm, Ultra, merged with Finnish heavy machinery conglomerate, United, Ultra-United seemed like the obvious choice. The strange thing is that they decided to go into video games.
Pops are the little characters in Pop-Pop. Since the game is a head-to-head battle between two pops it's called Pop-Pop. Also, 'pop' echoes in the sounds of water dropping and bubbles popping - which, if you've seen the game, happens a lot.
AT: So, getting on to the stuff that people really want to know - do you think you'd make a good President?
AC: Funny you should ask. I'm soon to announce a presidential campaign exploratory committee to begin raising money (watch the 4/1 edition of Crossfire on CNN). While I believe I have much to offer the country as a President, I think the most important work I could do for our great nation would be as its ultimate arbiter of its ultimate document. So, the center plank of my campaign platform is my plan to appoint myself as chief justice to the supreme court. I'll be a Taft for the 21st century.
AT: Do you use an electric razor, or an old-fashioned blade when you shave?
AC: I wax.
AT: Did you pierce any visible part of your body, like your ears or nose?
AC: No, but I've ruptured my eardrum two times. Most painful thing ever to happen to me... twice.
AT: What about tattoos? David Dunham has a whole bunch of cool ones.
AC: I have a double yellow line running down the center of my body from the tips of my toes to the back of my big bald head. In other words: do not cross.
AT: Do you dance?
AC: S-S-s-s A-A-a-a F-F-f-f E-E-e-e T-T-t-t Y-Y-y-y. You can dance if you want to, but leave your friends behind. Because your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, then they're no friends of mine.
AT: What's your highest score in Battle Girl?
AT: What's your favorite food?
AC: I don't have a favorite food, but I tend to patronize chefs who mix classic French preparation with American regional flavors.
AT: And what's your idea for the ultimate game? Or, would we need to sign another NDA to talk about that?
AC: The nature of games denies the possibility of an ultimate game. The intensity and immediacy of a great game locates it entirely in the Now. To maximally engage the player the game must take full advantage of its context, the zeitgeist. In the moment of its Glory, each game should strive to exhaust itself and the player. The intensity is too great to sustain and a game's only chance for life when it's Now becomes our past is to be well remembered.
p.s. Moria/Angband/ZAngband - after these, there need be no other.
AT: OK, I guess that's all the time we have today. Get back to work. And don't be surprised if ducks show up all over your house. :)