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Claude Gross interviewed by Eric Claire and Matthias Heuermann in August 2002
Translation by Eric with additional questions from Jon Heywood, René Brooymans, Tina Barrett & Richard Lawther.

Matthias: "Regarding the people who tested The Unexpected & the Gates of the forgotten City, did they never get stuck, nor complained about the locusts and some of the more enigmatic levers?"The Unexpected & the Gates of the forgotten City

Claude: "No, nobody has complained. Well, I have received no complaint by email or on forums. Nevertheless, I received one or two requests for help for some difficult tasks, especially the passage with the sentry gun."

Matthias: "So no-one has complained about the locusts, eh? Then I see it as my duty to do so now: `The locusts were a bit overdone! They ruined parts of the gameplay for me!´ (end of complaint). Do you care wether people enjoy your levels? Would you -for instance- consider scrapping the mazes if it turns out that people generally hate them?"

Claude: "As for the locusts, it depends on the time you stay in front of the Dragon because it´s him who spills them. So you had to keep yourself in a safe place and not stay between his legs for too long. Of course, I accept all suggestions and criticism. I work taking them into account."

Matthias: "Oh, so it was this naughty dragon? Who would have thought?! Well, thank God that's cleared up then. What is -in your view- the worst mistake a level designer can make?"

Claude: "Stuck Lara in a place so she can't come back, for example if she has forgotten to pick up an essential object without being able to backtrack."

Eric: "The City of Gods 1: The Cave 1/2,The forgotten Passage and The Unexpected are parts of a whole story and yet they are quite different, especially in the setting. How do you explain this, what is the hidden storyline or the final scenario of this series?"

Claude: "Ok it is right that the setting and design change completely from a level to another, it depends on your point of view, but it is not easy to establish a scenario without cut scenes. I will resume here the scenario for the whole adventure: Lara has been called by a friend in an Indian temple. This guy has troubles with an organisation which has threatened him. The City of Gods 1:The Cave 1+2They wanted him to reveal all the secrets that him and his friends have kept secret about a forgotten town, the City of Gods as it was called by ancient wise men, and about a great power in the midst of this City. Lara had already heard a little from her friend about the existence of the City, but ignored until now that other persons could also know it. And here the story begins. The Lair (The Cave 1/2): So Lara has come to help her friend, but when she arrives in the magnificent temple she had known a little in the past, she saw that mercenaries without scruples have infested the temple and the only hope to see again her friend alive was to go quickly to the City of Gods knowing that a passage which has been kept secret from generations was here somewhere in the sanctuary. The forgotten Passage: So Lara has found the passage leading under the temple but ignores all the dangers and the traps inside. She does not even know the route to follow now. She has no choice except to find the way leading, according to the legend, to the depths of the ocean where is the gate of the town guarded by a mysterious creature. Only the fact of pronouncing the name of this creature would have make flee the most bold people. The Unexpected: Lara has found the way out of the forgotten passage and thought to go straight to the cave where the gate should be. But after the underwater depths, she finally finds some air and arrives before what looks like a broken ship. There is only a problem : the priests of the lair have arrived before her! The Gates to the forgotten City: So Lara has to infiltrate this underwater marine base her friends have built, but it seems that her friends have awaken the guardian. It means that the gate is not so far away now, but she must first escape from this hell!"

Matthias: "Do you have a favourite scenario? Or a direction where you seek perfection?"

Claude: "I think that the perfection depends on where you place it. I want to improve each time so that there are no faults left, but it is not easy for an amateur who works for the fun."

Eric: "You have said in one of your read-me files, that you get a lot of fun out of building levels because a lot of things can be experimented with using the Editor. What are your limits? Do you think there will be an end in levelbuilding?"

Claude: "For the moment I don´t think I will stop , because I get as much pleasure as ever out of creating my own levels. I am building now the sequel of the City of Gods and in fact I have found out that there are some limits of the Editor and this is what irritates me: I would like to always improve the details and go further but it is not always possible as the there is a limit one has to consider the available memory of the Editor."

Tina: "If an 'Angel of Darkness' level editor should surface, would you still use the original level editor?"

The City of Gods 2: The forgotten Passage

Claude: "I would finish the stuff I am currently busy with, but surely I would begin to build with the new editor."

Matthias: "Is there any particular part in another custom level where you couldn't help but think: I wish I had thought of that."

Claude: "Yes, it happened to me often with the textures and some design elements. I spend a lot of time on texturing/design, and I find some good ideas only when my level is finished."

Richard: "What is you favourite colour?"

Claude: "Green."

Matthias: "Well, thank you Richard for this intriguing question. Claude, your flat is on fire, what things do you take with you?"

Claude: "First my PC and then some clothes."

Tina: "If your PC were confiscated, would you change your life style, or simply fall into depression?"

Claude: "I would find the solution to get a new one."

Eric: "I think you are rather young, (don't ask me why) am I right ? What is your favourite video game?"

Claude: "I will not say how old I am, but you are not all wrong. My favourite game, aside from Tombraider of course, is The final fantasy series."

Matthias: "Why won't you tell how old you are?"

Jon: "And I would like to know just how supportive your parnter is as regards the amount of time you spend building levels?"

Claude: "Good questions. I will reply to both in one answer. I am younger than you two, 26 years old. I did not want to tell how old I am only because I did not want to be ridiculous, a guy playing video games when he is 26. It is obviously important to separate things. As for me, I work on the editor only at hours when I will not neglect my obligations and duties. It may be different for other people."

Matthias: "How many hours a week do you spend building?"

The Castle (Le Chateau)

Claude: "It depends on my job schedule and rendez-vous. Some weeks 20 hours and some weeks hardly 5."

René: "To build a good level it takes at least 6 to 8 weeks. How many hours have spent on your last level and do you think it is worth the trouble to spent all your free time to create a level that is played in an few hour by people you'll never meet?"

Claude: "I can´t remember all the hours I spent in building, a huge amount of time for sure,but I create levels firstly because I have pleasure, and I am pleased if other people playing them have the same pleasure."

Matthias: "As we don't get many levels from Switzerland I would like to know if you are in contact with other Level designers?"

Claude: "Unfortunately I do not know other persons working with the editor in Switzerland."

Matthias: "I would like to end this interview with the famous parting speach from Harry Lime (Orson Wells) as heard in the movie classic The Third Man: `In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - they produced Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce...? The cuckoo clock.´ Well, finally Switzerland has come up with something even more exiting. And I dearly urge you all to have a look at Claude´s first levels The Lost Treasure and The Castle (Le Chateau). They're great, but kinda overlooked because of all the stuff that followed."

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