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[Interview] James Silva, Creator of ‘The Dishwasher’

Posted under Interviews by Christian Martin on Thursday, April 16th, 2009 -

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The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a dark 2D action-platformer in which you play an undead samurai dishwasher who must slash his way through hordes of evil cyborgs, naturally. The game was created using XNA Game Studio and was the winner of Microsoft’s Dream-Build-Play contest, which netted its creator, James Silva, a nice cash prize along with a Xbox Live Arcade publishing contract.

Silva, an ex-dishwasher himself, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us now that his schedule has cleared up a bit.

GD: How did you first start making games? What kind of game design experience did you have before working on The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai? How difficult is it to break into the videogame industry?

JS: I started making games in BASIC when I was 12 or so.  It was my way of circumventing the ‘no Nintendo on weekdays’ rule my parents imposed.

When I started working on The Dishwasher, I had been making pretty awful games with Visual Basic for PC for a few years, just as a hobby.  I also went to school for Computer Science.

I have no idea how difficult it is to break into the videogame industry; the success of The Dishwasher was, I think, a combination of a skill, experience, perfect timing and divine intervention.  Sound easy enough?

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GD: It’s been a couple weeks since your game’s release and the reception seems positive. Have you gotten any word on the number of trial downloads or purchases there have been yet?

JS: If I have (which may or may not be possible), I’ve got to keep mum.  You can sort of get a feel for the numbers by the Dish Challenge leaderboard; it’s pushing 30,000 about now.


GD: How challenging was the application/development process for Xbox Live Arcade?

JS: I can’t talk about a lot of specifics, but overall the process was pretty cool.  I used this special version of XNA called Extensions For Arcade that allowed me to bridge the gap between XNA and XBLA (Achievements, Leaderboards, etc.); this led to some funny issues, but we tackled them all in time.  The certification process always catches some flak for being so super-strict, but we didn’t have any major trouble there.


GD: How did you come up with the idea for The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai?

JS: I was working as a dishwasher at this little Italian café and I ended up, through soggy frustration and Bruce Lee inspiration, convincing myself that a game about a dishwasher becoming a hurricane of death unleashed on armies of bad guys was a game that had to be made.

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GD: What are your biggest creative influences?

JS: Artistically and stylistically, I think The Dishwasher reflects a bit of Tim Burton, The Crow, Versus, and Edward Gorey.  The gameplay makes a few shoutouts to the likes of Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden.


GD: What was the creation process like all by yourself? Tons of late nights with coffee and Hot Pockets?


JS:
Pretty much, just swap Hot Pockets for ramen.

The work took on a weird pace—I was either working full-tilt-every-waking-hour to fix bugs or just sitting around while they tested the latest build.  So, during the sitting around breaks, I worked on some Community Games.


GD: Was there anything that you wanted to put into Dishwasher but couldn’t, for one reason or another?

JS:
PDLC would be nice, but that’s one of the limitations of XNA 2.0 based games.  XNA 3.1 based XBLA games will have that functionality.

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GD: What are your plans for the future? Will you be recruiting to expand Ska Studios? Is there a Dishwasher 2 in the works?

JS:
I’m keeping pretty mum, but I do think it would be a shame if the Dishwasher’s universe weren’t revisited.


GD: And finally, what kind of zombie is James Silva? A dead samurai, perhaps?

JS:
I always saw myself as more of a haunted car.  Or a vampire kitten.  Maybe I should be able to swap forms?

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