Non Breaking Space Show № 76: Sean Vanaman — Making of Firewatch

Sean Vanaman

Today’s Non Breaking Space Show guest is Sean Vanaman. Sean is a video game designer, writer, and podcast host. He was the co-project leader and lead writer of The Walking Dead,and Puzzle Agent 2. He also wrote the third episode of Tales of Monkey Island, and was the designer of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, and the writer of the third episode, Muzzled. He is one of the regular hosts of the Idle Thumbs podcast. 

Sean co-founded the new video game company, Campos Santo, and their first game, Firewatch, is an emotional first person adventure game that centers around the character, Henry, a man whose love life is in free fall. He takes a job as fire lookout in the Shoshone National Forest as a way to isolate himself and numb him from his problems. His only contact with the outside world is through a walkie talkie to his supervisor, Deliah, another lookout on a tower many, many miles away. Within the lush, stytlized, and expansive forest they unravel mysteries that could endanger their very lives.

Topics discussed with Sean Vanaman:

  • 3:50 → How should the game be labeled and promoted to potential customers?
  • 5:00 → We decided to market the game like a movie, to promote the story and the world
  • 5:40 → The benefits of being a genre-less game?
  • 9:00 → What is it like as a creator to sit down with people who are playing your game?
  • 10:20 → Working as a team lessens self-consciousness regarding project.
  • 11:40 → What was launch week like?
  • 14:00 → How was the game’s setting was influenced by the Shoshone National Forest?
  • 17:01 → Feeling of loneliness and isolation in Firewatch.
  • 21:05 → Visiting real lookout towers.
  • 22:30 → Visiting locations in England vs. the U.S.
  • 23:10 → About Olly Moss’ artwork and posters
  • 26:30 → About the game development process
  • 29:20 → What comes next after Firewatch?
  • 30:15 → Building a video game development company.
  • 32:00 → Casting voices for the video game character
  • 34:00 → Casting the wrong person for episode 1 of The Walking Dead
  • 37:35 → The man voice actor auditions
  • 43:30 → What did you wish you knew before leaving another company to work for an game-making independent studio?
  • 51:00 → About that “all text” game intro
  • 53:30 → Why some of the marketing is different from what is seen in the game.
  • 56:45 → The possibility of making more games similar to Firewatch,
  • 1:02:01 → About the podcast and podcasting network, Idle Thumbs: How does it fit into the schedule? How does it keep the creative fires going?
  • 1:05:02 → What are you excited about now?

Nothing Compares 2 U and that’s why the Non Break­ing Space Show is still free of charge along with show notes and resources: Non Break­ing Space Show № 76: Sean Vanaman — Making of Firewatch

About Christopher Schmitt

The Internet's Christopher Schmitt is an award winning designer, author, and speaker and one of the people behind the web conference team, Environments for Humans. He hosts the Non Breaking Space Show and curates the weekly UX Design Newsletter.

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