We want to show off the cool people who help make 729 the great company it is. We are more than just a bunch of employees – we are interesting, innovative, and talented people who need a little recognition! This time Developer Leandro joins us to discuss his role here at 729 and graphic adventure games.
Tell us more!
In your own words what do you do here at 729?
I started working in 729 many moons ago (as many moons as they fit in 8 years), purely as a .NET developer. In these years I learned several other technologies, and worked on many different projects, ranging from a Ruby API to a realistic floor rendering system involving C++ and OpenGL (I have really good memories of that one).
So, what do I do at 729? I solve problems! Regardless of the technology, I do my best to try to understand the problem and provide an efficient solution for the client. And the best part is that most of the time, I have fun doing it.
On your About Us page section you mention that you are working on your own graphic adventure engine. Could you talk a little about that, what it is, and maybe how it works?
I am working on the second iteration of a graphic adventure engine (think Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, King’s Quest). I don’t have characters, a storyline, or even a set of puzzles I would like to see on the game, not yet at least, but I enjoy the theory behind these games.
The first iteration of Graden (Graphic Adventure Engine) was meant for 3D adventure games. It used Lua to manage the scripting, OpenGL to handle the graphics, and C++ to join everything together. At some point, my University studies took most of my time, and it was abandoned.
This second iteration is meant for 2D games. It uses Squirrel to manage the scripting, and SDL to handle graphics. Once again, C++ at the core.
The idea is quite simple. A room is defined, containing walkable areas, along with objects, actors, sources of light, and some guideline structures. Then a script is written, to define the actions (for instance, use “key” on “keyhole”), and the events as reactions for the defined actions.
I honestly do not know if I will ever use it on an actual game, but seeing the player react to the actions, knowing there are multiple threads running, waiting to react to the player’s actions, or taking care of different functions you wrote defining the behaviour of the actors on the scene, is an amazing feeling.
You also said you enjoy the outdoors, do you have any other outdoor hobbies besides running?
Before moving to Colorado, I used to live in Rochelle, IL. Rochelle is a little town in the Midwest, two hours away from Chicago. There is a bike path there, called Three Sisters. I no longer have my bike with me, but I used to bike on that path every single day. The sweet smell of corn on a summer’s night, when the sun still allows you to see the path, is something I will never forget.
I also enjoy walking. If you can get there in under an hour, I’d rather walk.
Where is your favorite place to get outside?
I live a few blocks away from the best park in my area. Prospect Hill Cemetery (opened in 1858) was converted into a Cheesman Park in early 1900. I love going there for a run during the summer or warm days (sadly I cannot run when it is cold). There are amazing places here in Colorado, but Cheesman Park is definitely one of my favorites.
You said you collect factory sealed graphic adventure games. How big is your collection?
The collection has a little more than 200 titles, all factory sealed, for IBM PC. It includes classic sagas like Monkey Island, King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, Gabriel Knight, among others. Some games are really rare and hard to find, like the Signature edition of Grim Fandango (only given to LucasArts staff and some other close people), the first edition of Manial Mansion, or the Triangular version of Day of The Tentacle.
Nowadays, you are normally offered a digital version of a game, or a regular DVD case with a small manual. Back in the 80s and 90s, you were getting a whole experience. Cloth maps, metal coins, tiny statues, cards, and whatever the developers thought would complete the experience of the game. Good times!
I enjoy collecting them and it feels like redemption for so many years of piracy during my childhood.
Which is your favorite of your graphic adventure games in your collection and why?
The multimedia edition of Gabriel Knight. A weirdly shaped box, amazing art, a great game. And of course, Tim Curry’s voice as Gabriel Knight. Who doesn’t love the voice of Pennywise, every child’s favorite clown?
The game takes place in New Orleans. Last year I was able to visit New Orleans, and some of the landmarks you visit on the game. It was a fun experience.
Are there any that you want but don’t have yet?
There is one particular game I want, even though it technically shouldn’t be a part of the collection since it was not released for IBM PC. The first graphic adventure released by LucasFilms, based on the movie Labyrinth. I think it would be a great addition, but it is really hard to find factory sealed.
What book are you reading right now?
A couple of months ago I watched a documentary on the Russian Revolution. This made me want to read Dr. Shivago again. I read it around ten years ago, so it really feels like reading it for the first time.
After this one, I already promised my brother I will read the second part of “Pillars of The Earth”. “World Without End” came out a few years ago, but I have been pushing it since I like the feeling of knowing I have it there to be read (I know, it does not make sense).
What is your favorite book of all time?
This one is hard. I loved Ken’s Follet “Pillars of the Earth”. But there are others I really liked as well. Stephen King’s “IT” and “The Godfather” are excellent too.
What is your favorite thing to eat?
Coming from Argentina, I have to say meat. Grilled meat using wood and actual coals. I also love empanadas. I could eat an infinite amount of them. Yum.
Do you enjoy cooking? What is your favorite thing to cook?
I do, especially if it is for some else. I will put my heart on it if it is for someone I love (not literally, of course, no one wants to eat that). I am not saying it will taste good, but I will definitely do my best.
I am not sure I have a favorite thing to cook but do I enjoy cooking empanadas (well, and eating them as I said before). Normally I would cut the meat myself instead of getting ground beef, I think it is worth the effort.
Why do you like working for 729?
Who said I do? Kidding. I really do like working for 729. Over the years, 729 managed to gather a team of really nice people, most of them I consider my friends. The projects are usually fun, with a few exceptions over the years (I am looking at you Magento 2), and the management is really flexible on many aspects of the job.
Is there anything else you want the world to know?
No, I will not bother the rest of the world. I will let them draw out their own conclusions.
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