Lazy 8 Studios' steam-punk designed, tile sliding, 3D puzzle game Cogs was an Indie Games Challenge Grand Prize Winner in the Professional Category, netting our PlayNerd $100,000, in addition to awards for Art Direction and Gameplay. Almost every major digital distributor wanted a piece of Cogs: it's available for Steam, Direct2Drive, and GamersGate. Cogs has seen a lot of action across many platforms, as well: PC, iPhone, iPad and netbook.
Lazy 8 recently announced Cogs's spread of world domination includes Mac, Linux, and Android ports. What all this equates to is an extremely successful game. Developers don't spend their resources porting over something that hasn't proven itself. Behind every successful game is an extremely talented developer.
In the following interview, Lazy 8's Rob Jagnow proves to be anything but a cog in the machine, as he shares intimate details about himself with a creative flare that clearly explains Cogs's success. Oh, and his Ph.D. at MIT probably doesn't hurt, either.
What was your initial reaction to being accepted as a PlayNerd Centerfold model?
Finally, there's someone out there who appreciates me for my body. I'm sick of everyone just being like, "Oh, you're so smart." Come on! It's not like I'm just some brain in a jar. I have a body, too.
What about your job excites you?
I make stuff! Maybe that sounds a little simplistic, but that's really exciting to me. I love the technical aspects of software development, but to really feel fulfilled, I need to be able to espress myself creatively. For me, game development is the perfect blend of tech and creativity. It takes a long time to create a polished game like Cogs, but when you're done, you have something that allows others to step into a virtual world that is a piece of you.
What games have gotten you the most worked up?
I really respect a game that can get you emotionally invested in the fate of the character within a few minutes, or even a few seconds. I think there are very few games that do this well. I really admire Daniel Benmergui for his ability to do that with his low-fi games like Today I Die or I Wish I Were the Moon.
What's the secret behind your presentable package?
I have a private coach. That's not exactly true... I have a dog. She's a beautiful white husky that my boyfriend and I rescued a couple years ago and she demands that she gets a jog or long hike at least 6 days a week. Add in 90 minutes at the gym 3 or 4 times a week, a high-protein diet that minimizes saturated fats and high-fructose corn syrup, and that's my health plan in a nutshell.
Do you have any toys you enjoy(ed) playing with?
Like most of the nerd crowd, most of my "toys" are played with through a computer screen. Back in the real world, when I'm not in front of my computer, I'm playing with dog toys. Well... it's not really me playing with the dog toys... my dog is playing with the dog toy while I'm on the other end of it. She doesn't fetch, so there's a lot of tug-of-war in this household.
Add one to the Kama Sutra book: If sex were done Cogs-style, how would it happen?
I'm sure there's steampunk fan-fiction. It would probably go something like this:
Kensington ran his hands along the polished brass. It felt cold now, but he was confident that when he fired up his new machine and steam filled its veins, it would reach a warm 98.6 degrees. He thought about that word -- machine.This isn't a machine. In many ways, he felt that the steel and brass work of art that stood before him was more human than him. It was designed to his own specifications and built with his own hands. Every surface was buffed smooth until it reflected his handsome face and black hair.
Quick & Dirty Q&A:
Do you have a filthy mouth when you play?
Not very often. But when I'm playing a FPS, I move my whole body side to side. I'm sure it's hilarious to watch.
How do you hold your joystick?
What is this, 1982? I feel like joysticks are a relic of the old arcade. I push buttons.
What's the biggest joystick you've played with?
I'm sure that would be back in the old arcade days.There's just something exhilarating about playing with a joystick in public.
What's the biggest group you've played in?
I'm a gaming monogamist. Maybe I'm just old-school, but I don't do much network play. If I'm playing multiplayer, chances are it's with my boyfriend.
What's the longest time you've played alone nonstop? together?
My partner isn't much of a gamer, so I end up doing a lot of gaming alone. He's playing through Final Fantasy XIII right now. It's packed with cut scenes, so sometimes I'll just watch. Is that wrong?
[Thanks to Rob from Lazy 8 Studios for participating. Grab a free demo of Cogsand try it for yourself. Rob assures us no NES controllers were harmed during his photo shoot. For those counting, that's TWO controllers which wound up in our PlayNerds' collective mouths without any solicitation.]