The man behind Limbo gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: Dino Patti

[Develop’s archive of FAQ interviewees can be found here]

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dino Patti, and I’m the CEO of Playdead. We created the game Limbo.

What are you working on right now?
All I can say now is that we are working on a new game.

What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
Professionally? Well, I’m not really proud of this, but it was a project where I learned a lot, and learned a lot about myself, and it was called Ganglands. It was a PC only worldwide release. I am originally a programmer, so that’s what I did on that project, and that was the start for me; my earliest background.

The studio was called different things. I think it went bankrupt at some point or changed its name, but when I was there it was MediaMobsters. It gave me a chance to be involved with different parts of the production, and I worked on gameplay and programming, so I new a lot about what was happening across the team. It taught me about management and what I liked about making games and game direction. It wasn’t my type of game, but I did learn a lot.

What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
I think it was on a Texas Instruments [TI-99/4A] computer, and it was called Moon Lander or something like that. In fact, it was Moon Patrol. Maybe I even played a text adventure before then on the same computer, but Moon Patrol was the first game that made a big impression on me.

I thought it was so incredible; it had two levels. I thought at the time that that was incredible.

What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
From all the games? That’s a horrible question. The one that gave me the best experience? Maybe the first Portal. That would be it if I can only pick one. It really got to me.

I like the puzzles, I like the technical aspects, and I like the way it bends your mind. Also the story element was surprising, and it was so funny and engaging. The twist was a real twist. You really couldn’t see it coming, and it really got me. Perhaps maybe it’s too short to be my favourite, but I love it.

What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?

You can find good things in a lot of industries, but what I really like about games in particular, and where I work now, is the number of creative people. It is a lot of fun. Perhaps it’s because I only hire people better than myself at what I do.

I really enjoy having discussions with intelligent people, and playing video games with them. Still, sometimes it is very tough in this industry.

What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
All the ‘goldrushers’. People that go into spaces like mobile and free-to-play and so on. Some of those games are great, and there’s good companies, and I don’t hate them at all. But there are always advocates of going in one direction, and people that just follow them.

I’ve seen it a lot of times, even with Limbo. In the middle of production everyone was advocating the DS, and saying it was crazy cheap to develop for. They were saying we should go for that. Then, a year-and-a-half later that market was crowded.

With those spaces, if you’re the first one there that’s great, but seeing those who just follow the goldrush as so many of the big companies do; I hate that. With Limbo we concentrated on making sure it was a great game, and then considered distribution.

What hobbies, collections or interests do you have that are completely unrelated to video games?
I kind of hate talking about this, but all my life is about my company, and also about my family and my daughter. I also love photography, and I have this crazy, huge DSLR. I often bring it with me to industry events, because otherwise I spend all my time using it outside. I also like wakeboarding.

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