Interview with Jim Tso
By Peter W. Lally
The Indy Experience.com is pleased to present an interview with the producer of Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Jim Tso conducted by Peter W. Lally several months prior to the release of thegame. Mr. Tso was kind enough to take time to answer a few questions of ours and to give us an inside look at the work that goes on behind the scenes at LucasArts.
In Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb we see once again that level bosses or monsters have been introduced such as the Giant Octopus and the Reanimated Corpse, these are a vast improvement on the level bosses we saw in Infernal Machine which sparked criticism from die hard Indy fans. Did this reaction by fans influence the choice for level bosses in Emperor’s Tomb or in anyway make you hesitate using bosses at all?
No, not at all. I think the key thing is that all of the level bosses in Emperor’s Tomb make sense within the context of the story. There’s a good story and reason for the bosses being there.
A lot of the fans over the years have commented on the magic that Fate of Atlantis created for them. In my opinion, Emperor’s Tomb seems to be captivating that nostalgia along with the fun that the films offered, it’s a tough act to follow but do you think the traditional fans as well as gamers will be wowed by the game in the magic it creates?
I sure hope so, but I think Emperor’s Tomb will attract a new generation of fans. Although the gameplay in Emperor’s Tomb is quite different from Fate of Atlantis, I think we’ve done a great job of making the game true to the Indy spirit. So, if by traditional fans you mean fans of Indiana Jones, then I’m confident Emperor’s Tomb will please that audience.
It always seems that it’s a long time in between Indy games the latest gap between games has been 4 years. Are there any plans for future games or are the Hat and the Whip going to be hung up until Indiana Jones 4?
Four years is definitely too long a gap between Indy games. That’s about all I can say for now :)
How big an Indiana Jones fan do you consider yourself, and from that standpoint what do you think the formula is for a good Indiana Jones game?
I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. Besides repeated viewings of the trilogy, I’ve read many of the additional novels and comic books. I’m not sure there’s any simple formula to making a good Indiana Jones game, or any other game for that matter. I think every game requires a lot of creativity and hard work. In the case where there’s a license involved, you also have to make sure that the game captures the spirit of the license.
For Emperor’s Tomb, we identified several elements from the Indy movies that we wanted to capture: fast-paced action; exotic locales; cool villains; deadly traps; variety of things to do (vehicles, traps, gunfights); and romance. The movies did an awesome job of blending those elements into a tight and fun package.
Now that Emperor’s Tomb is close to being finished, what have been the highlights for you over the whole project? And has the game met your initial expectations?
There are several highlights, the first of which is simply working with the dedicated and talented folks at The Collective and LucasArts. It’s definitely been a great collaboration between the two companies and I’m tremendously proud of the final product. I’d say the game has exceeded my initial expectations.
Earlier Indy games ( Last Crusade and Fate of Atlantis) contained that zany Lucasarts wit we see most prominently in the Monkey Island series. The wit is something that the Infernal Machine saw less of; will we see some comedy moments in the Emperor’s Tomb and be re-united with that Lucasarts humor?
Yes, there’s definitely an element of humor and wit in the game. We tried very hard to capture Indy’s dry wit and sense of humor in his dialog and the cinematics. I also think the gameplay provides many moments of humor, but in more slapstick manner. You’ll see what I mean the first time you grab a shovel in combat!
Why did you choose to place the time setting before all the movies?
It allowed us the most creative freedom when it came to designing the story and gameplay. Also, by setting the game before the movie, we could foreshadow moments from the movies that die-hard Indy fans would recognize.
Finally, do you know what your next project is going to be and beyond that would you like to lead Indy back to our computer screens in the future?
I have a couple of very exciting projects that I’m working on now but I’ll wait a little longer before divulging them. I would, of course, love to accompany Indy back onto computer screens in the future.
Special thanks to Mr. Jim Tso, LucasArts and Peter W. Lally for conducting this interview!