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How did you end up working with SSI? How was your relationship with them and did you have any difficulty pitching your game ideas to them? What influence did they have on the design and development of your games?
My initial game was rejected by a number of publishers; I can't remember how many but it was more than 10. I finally found a couple that were interested and SSI was the better of those two. They were experienced at publishing games from outside developers and knew how to work with the game designers.
These days it's normal for computer RPGs to take inspiration solely from other computer RPGs, but back in the mid-80s there weren't that many around to gain ideas from. How much were you inspired by older games such as Wizardry and Ultima, and how much were you inspired directly by tabletop RPGs such as D&D?
I had played Wizardy and Ultima. They convinced me that computers were ideal for RPG's. I also played D&D and another tabletop game called RuneQuest. The basic mechanics of combat and character development were inspired by RuneQuest.
What did you want to achieve from the creation of Phantasie? Were there things that you wanted to introduce to computer RPGs that hadn't even been approached by other games? What did you feel was missing from the genre or video games as a whole?
Wizardy 1 was limited to a single dungeon with very little interaction other than combat and mapping. Ultima 1 was limited to a single character. I wanted to make a richer environment with a wider variety of places to visit: dungeons, castles, fortresses, islands, and even mythological places. I also wanted a more detailed combat system with a variety of weapons and magic. I felt that being able to have Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, Gnomes and Pixies in your party in addition to the traditional Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings added a fun element as well. I also wanted more puzzles to solve by interacting with other characters and items.
Head to the RPG Codex article to read the whole interview.