The following interview with Sam & Max Season One lead designer Dave Grossman was published on 1up.com just before Reality 2.0 was released in April of 2007. You can read the original here.
So "Reality 2.0" -- obviously there's the virtual reality connection, but are there any other meanings to this title?
There is the inevitable deep philosophical question: is it Sam & Max's world which is Reality 2.0? Or is it our own? I lie awake at night [thinking about it]. And the use of the version number is somewhat self-referential in the title of a game which is itself somewhat self-referential about games. There might also be sly puns on the words "realty," "royalty," "regality," and "renality," but we leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine what on Earth that might mean. I could go probably on all day, but you don't want me to.
What's this episode all about?
It's about the ways we look at ourselves through art -- a thought-provoking morality play about power, addiction, and responsibility. Ha! OK, actually, Sam & Max discover a massively multiplayer gaming experience with questionable ulterior social motives. True to character, they decide that the best thing to do is to break it...from inside, which is more fun. Everybody gets in on the action, and this episode has even more game-culture parody than usual...
Do you see the alternate reality setting as a nice way to combat criticisms of the locations in the episodes feeling a bit repetitive?
Only because we worked at it -- not because of anything inherent in it's being an alternate reality. We put a lot of effort into developing a whole parallel art style, one which is simultaneously cohesive and not cohesive (and you'll probably just have to play it for that statement to make sense), so the alternate reality does feel quite different from the other environments. But if we hadn't done that, things could easily have fallen into a trap of more sameness rather than less. Thank goodness we're paying attention.
Given the theme of mind control in the episodes so far, do you see this (Emotiv Systems) as the future of videogames?
Judging by the way things play out in the episodes so far, I would suspect the design team of thinking that our minds are targets for manipulation, rather than instruments of control. I can neither confirm nor deny this or my silicon masters will destroy me.
What are your thoughts on killing off characters in the Sam & Max world?
I'm somewhat disinclined to extinguish characters that I like, but I have no specific qualms about doing so if the story calls for it. Steve already killed Max off in the comics and then brought him back to life again, so there's established precedent. Who knows? Maybe we did somebody in already and you just didn't notice.
How ready are you for Season 1 to be done?
Working episodically, it's not quite the same as when you're making one giant game and everybody goes nuts the last six or 12 or 18 months and then collapses in a heap. There's more of a constant hum of subdued nuttiness. Still, we have been working on Sam & Max for about a year, and there are brochures for exotic island getaways sitting open on people's desks all over the office.