Jérôme Morin-Drouin

Jérôme Morin-Drouin is the guy behind The Incredible Company, creators of Alcazar and Manifold. Both games are amazing, so you should check’em out. And now Jérôme answers our questions!

Jérôme by Aldeguer!

Jérôme by Aldeguer!

1. How long have you been making games?

I made several tabletop game prototypes since high school. Some of them work quite well, but none of them is published yet. I started experimenting with solo puzzles about 3 years ago, and Alcazar is my first video game, which I started developing last year.

2. Where do you find ideas for your games? Tell us something about your creative process.

I’m not actively looking for ideas. They just seem to pop into my head all the time. It’s not always a good thing. Idea n+1 is always more exciting than idea n, and I find it very hard to continue working on an idea when so many new ones have arrived.

Last year, I started writing down one new idea every day. Not only games: it can be anything. I write one idea per page, with text and pictures. When the new idea is on paper, I can stop thinking about it and focus on what I was previously working on.

So it’s a good tool for me. Not only to find new ideas, but also to organize them and stay focused.

3. Alcazar is a sudoku without numbers. Where did its idea come from? (Also, the game is already available both as a book and an Android app. Are you planning to release it on iOS?)

When I tried Sudoku, I liked the theory behind it, but as a player, I was bored. Looking for small numbers in a grid felt more like filling my tax report than playing a game. So I started thinking about a pencil-and-paper puzzle that would be like Sudoku, but faster, more visual and more intuitive. It’s often a starting point for me: a game is popular but I don’t like it, so I want to make my own version of it.

Years after, I started experimenting with different puzzles about tracing lines, but my concepts were all too easy or complicated. During a cycling trip in Andalusia, I visited the amazing Mezquita in Cordoba. It’s mainly a large room with few obstacles, which made me wonder: how can enter, see everything, and exit, without seeing the same thing twice. That was it. A few weeks later, I had the exact blend of simplicity and depth that I was looking for.

About iOS: that’s what I’m currently working on. I’m new to all of this, so it takes a bit longer than expected, but it should be ready very soon.

4. There seems to be a growing Alcazar community both making and sharing new puzzles. Which one of these puzzles made by the community do you like the most? Why?

It’s a very small community, and I only shared two puzzles that I didn’t do myself yet. The first one is here. To prove that the solution is unique, you just need a couple of simple and unusual ideas. That’s what I like about Alcazar: it rewards creative shortcuts.

This is the second one. Basically, I like it because it’s difficult. But I don’t have real favorite. My favorite Alcazar is simply the next one, and that’s the beauty of it.

5. You seem to enjoy creating puzzles. Do you also like solving them? Which puzzle games are your favourites and why?

I’m still looking for a puzzle to fall in love with. When I play a game, it’s important for me to feel like I’m following my own path. In most of puzzles, the path leading to the solution already exists, and the player just has to find it.

6. Manifold combines origami with Rubik’s Cube resulting in something new and clever. Do you like mashing up game mechanics? What are your favourite mashup games?

With Manifold, I wanted to turn a non-game (origami) into a game. Using colors and squares (instead of numbers or pictures for example) simplified the game by linking it to something people know: the Rubik’s cube. For me, mashing up is just a way to integrate an external element into a game. It’s a design tool.

Two mashup games that I like are Nimble Quest and Super Puzzle Platformer.

7. If you have to choose three and only three game developers to follow their work closely, which ones would you choose and why?

Oh. I don’t have a good answer to that. Actually, I’m fairly new to the world of video games. Can you ask me that question again in a couple of years?

8. Are you a heavy gamer? What games are you playing now?

No, I’m not a heavy gamer. I spend too much time in front of a screen: work, communication, news… So I prefer tabletop games. For example: Seven Wonders, The Resistance and Animal upon Animal (it’s for kids… but it’s great). However, at different points in my life, I did have unhealthy addiction to the game Civilization.

9. One last random question. If you could turn any building in the world into a person to watch a movie with… which building would it be and what movie would you watch together? Why?

On a date? I’d choose the Alhambra (in Granada), because it’s incredibly beautiful, complex and colorful. For the movie, let’s see. Humans like movies about fictional humans with extraordinary lives, so buildings probably like movies about fictional buildings with extraordinary lives… The Grand Budapest Hotel would be a good choice, I think.

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