GoD Factory: Wingmen is dead-set on bringing Space Sim combat back to the masses. It's an arcade multiplayer dogfight, eight players screaming through the wild black yonder in customised fighters, battling to destroy enormous carriers in an airless Danger Zone. With over a thousand customisation and upgrade options, not to mention eyecatching art direction, extensive lore and Oculus Rift support, it's an ambitious project, and Nine Dots Studio have been working their fingers to the bone in order to deliver on their promises.
In our hands-on preview, I described GoD: Factory Wingmen as an "exciting new take on the genre."
However, Nine Dots Studio's first Kickstarter campaign failed to reach its target over the summer, and they've now returned to the crowd-funding arena with a beefy free prototype and new features. Keen to know more about GoD Factory: Wingmen and its Kickstarter plans -- and why they feel that it deserves your money -- I sat down for a chat with Nine Dots CEO Guillaume Boucher-Vidal for the scoop. Be sure to download the entirely free playable prototype!
Dealspwn: Thanks for talking to us! First things first: could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey there! My name is Guillaume Boucher-Vidal. I'm the founder and CEO of Nine Dots. When I'm not taking care of administrative duties and public relations, I do game design.
Dealspwn: As I understand it, GoD Factory: Wingmen is part of an expanded GoD Factory universe. Could you introduce us to the setting?
Boucher-Vidal: GoD Factory is a universe in which there are 6 known sentient species. They are the humans, the guantris, the Chorions, the Ar, the Cantruscan and the Magniscients. II always found that the alien species in science fiction were extremely unimaginative. They're always humans with scales, humans with blue skin, humans with pointy ears, humans with fur, etc. In our universe, all species are radically different, none but the humans are humanoid. It's not only physical either, as these differences affect them culturally.
Click here to read more...
Saints Row IV is set to be big, bonkers and silly beyond words, which is fine by us. We've fired the black hole cannon. We've grilled Volition's design director. To get the final world on the next guilty pleasure, we sat down with Associate Producer Kate Nelson at a recent preview event to discuss Volition's overall vision for Saints Row IV, how it evolved from a DLC pack and whether it can please fans left disappointed by Saints Row: The Third.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Kate. I've just played through Saints Row IV's introduction, which lampoons practically every military shooter ever made. Would it be fair to say that you feel games are taking themselves too seriously these days?
Kate Nelson (Volition): [laughs] There's room for all types of genres or directions, I think. In a lot of ways, I would like to see some less serious games, but for now Saints Row has a really good place. We're in a really good spot, because we do like to inject humour into our games!
Dealspwn: There's certainly plenty of laughs. So, we've come from the crack house to the oval office. And we have superpowers now. Was this escalation just natural progression for you guys?
Kate Nelson: We wanted to make sure to keep the momentum that we had in [Saints Row: The Third]. For a while we were thinking, “oh my gosh, how are we going to possibly top where we left off in Saints Row: The Third because of the over-the-top nature that it had and because you're a celebrity?” To use your words, the natural progression for us was, “okay, you're the President of the United States.” You'd think that would be the most interesting part of where Saints Row IV went, but we were like, “no! Alien abductions! No, wait, simulated world!”
We started pushing ourselves because we really liked the mechanics that superpowers brought, we really liked the gameplay we were getting there. It's so fun, and it did fit the universe, but we had to make sure that it's within an environment that still made sense logically. Like an alien abduction simulation.Click here to read more...
PayDay 2 is looking utterly ridiculous ahead of its August release; a madcap crime spree boasting randomised missions and rampant cooperative shenanigans that never play out the same way. Having enjoyed a lengthy hands-on preview with the latest production build, I was keen to explore just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Luckily Andreas Hallpenninger, an Overkill Software QA agent, was on hand for a chat about dynamic missions, DLC and customisation.
Note that Hallpenninger was unable to comprehensively address a handful of questions due to his Quality Assurance role, but I referred them onto Overkill Software developers who replied promptly via email. These instances have been clearly highlighted.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Andreas. First things first, what were the major lessons that you took away from the original PayDay that informed the sequel?
Andreas Hallpenninger (Overkill QA): First of all, we wanted to add stealth. People wanted to be able to stealth through missions, or at least they want options. In PayDay: The Heist, when you entered the bank, you put on your mask and your only option was to kill the bank manager, take his keycard and just wait for SWAT to arrive. Now you have the option to approach in different ways. We don't want to force players into any one style, it's entirely up to you.
Also, in PayDay: The Heist, money didn't matter at all. You robbed a bank, you got your money but you couldn't spend it on anything! So we wanted to make it more of an RPG robbery game, that's why we added the inventory system where you can customise your masks, customise your weapons and all that. The economy system was a key new addition.Click here to read more...
Konami has released a short video interview with Metal Gear Solid 5 art director Yoji Shinkawa, who talks about the sequel's darker tone and his favourite characters from the series. Well worth a quick watch for series fans, though new details are at a premium.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain wowed at E3, though we haven't got a firm release date or window yet. It's slated for PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One, presumably next year.Click here to read more...
Saints Row IV plans to go big on absolutely everything, and make its predecessors feel tame in comparison. But after the guided demonstration came to an end, we just had to know more about the super-powered sandbox.
Luckily, Saints Row Design Director Scott Phillips was on hand and eager to discuss his forthcoming fun factory. Over the course of fifteen minutes, I learned about the new abilities, presidential pursuits, multiplayer, upgrades, the new virtual city, and what it was like to be stuck in the middle of THQ's bankruptcy. If you're keen to find out more about Saints Row IV, you need look no further.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Scott. We'll get to the juicy new Saints Row IV details in a minute, but beforehand, I was wondering what it was like to be on the inside of THQ's collapse. Was it a scary time for you guys?
Scott Phillips (Volition): It was definitely weird, absolutely. It was scary to find out right before Christmas that your company was going bankrupt, but in the end we knew that Volition is a strong studio with a strong franchise, so we were pretty confident that we would survive no matter what the outcome. In the end, we knew THQ had been in trouble for several years. The month when Saints Row: The Third came out, THQ lost $100 million dollars on uDraw, and they never recovered from that. They were struggling to try and keep the studios going.
Jason Rubin came in over a year later and really tried to turn things around. I think he had a good plan, but the bankruptcy didn't work out for him.
Click here to read more...
Haemimont Games CEO Gabriel Dobrev is a hard man to find. Tracking him down to a secret speakeasy operating underneath Central London (no, really), I presented the doorman with my password (Tony "Two Gun" Tucci sent me) and eventually came face to face with the kingpin behind Omerta: City Of Gangsters.
Having gotten hands on with the prohibition-era blend of city simulation and cut-throat strategy, it was time to interrogate the big cheese. Be sure to mug up on our Omerta: City Of Gangsters preview first, capiche?
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Gabriel. First things first: why 1920s America? Haemimont have been all about ancient history and tropical islands thus far...
Gabriel Dobrev (Haemimont): As a child, I was really interested in gangster stuff and read a lot of books about it. I had absolutely no idea that there would be some point where I would be working on a setting like this. When the idea came up, both me and the entire team just liked it, because there was so much potential to do so many things that people know about that era that we can use. So it was instantly liked.
We had several different ideas to pick from, like we could do 'this' or "this' or 'this,' but [Omerta] stood in front of everything else.
Click here to read more...
As you'll no doubt have seen from our big fat Oculus Rift Hands-On Preview, we got to sit down, test out the VR headset, and have a chat with Oculus founder and Rift creator Palmer Luckey, alongside Oculus' VP of Product Nate Mitchell. Here's the interview in full:
Matt Gardner (Dealspwn): So first of all, why the “Rift”? I'm just going to put this out there...that's a badass name!
Palmer Luckey: Well I was just trying to come up with something cool, you know? And I really wanted the name to reflect the idea of breaking into another reality. I just came up with it sitting at a 'Stop' light in my car, and I was just like 'The Rift...' that sounds pretty cool. So I posted it up online when I got home, and said 'Guys, we're making a headset, and it's going to be called The Rift!' and the rest was history.
Matt Gardner: What's the story behind the Rift? How did this project come about?
Palmer Luckey: I've been interested in head mounted displays and stereoscopic 3D displays for some time now, and I'd tried out tons and tons of head mounted displays. I actually have 43 unique units now, including doubles, and none of them are very good. [Laughs.] Well, what I mean by that is that none of them are lightweight or have a great field of view with good head tracking. So, being a tinkerer, I resolved to build my own head mounted display and build it the way I'd want it to be. It took a couple of years, but technology kept marching on and all of a sudden made it possible.
Matt Gardner: So can you sum up the Rift in a sentence? And what differentiates it from those other 43 headsets?
Palmer Luckey: It's an ultra-wide field of view, ultra-low latency, virtual reality headset.
So, most VR headsets have a pretty low field of view. They're like wearing a TV on your head: they're good for movies and TV maybe, but not really for immersing you into a game. The other big thing is that the Rift has really low tracker latency so when you move your head, the image moves in time with your head. It's not like you're moving your head and then the image follows. That's what a lot of other headsets with higher latency are doing: instead of feeling like you're in the game, it just feels like you're controlling the game with your head, and that's not nearly as immersive.Click here to read more...
Thirty seven legendary developers will be starring in an 'open documentary project' designed to explore the role of games designers as innovators and cultural icons. Critical Path will act as "a transmedia project exploring the art, philosophy, politics and psychology of video games," the first step being an online archive of interviews. Take a gander at the trailer above to check out some of the talent who've signed up, including John Carmack, Tim Schafer, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Will Wright and many others. Full interview cast after the break.Click here to read more...
We've long stopped trying to hide our excitement for Borderlands 2. Every time we preview it or interview key personnel, Gearbox's upcoming FPSRPG reveals new features, bigger guns and more insane characters. However, after getting to grips with a brand new build last week, we yearned to know more: how will the new persistent Badass Ranking system work? Will Borderlands 2 launch on Wii U? As much as anything, will we get a decent ending this time?!
So who better to ask than the co-founder of Gearbox, Chief Creative Officer and Borderlands 2 executive producer Brian Martel? Tracking him down in a pub close to the hands-on preview event, I proceeded to quiz him over a swift half.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): When the original Borderlands was in development, a number of pundits and analysts reckoned that you were entirely mad - that you were "sending it to die." As it turned out, you kicked their asses: critics and players loved Borderlands. So, how does it feel to be working on the sequel?
Brian Martel (Gearbox): It feels amazing. Look, this is something that we're extremely passionate about. We love this franchise: it's a great world to play around in. We're shooter people at our core and we really love Role-Playing games, so mixing the two has been really fun.
Click here to read more...
We first took note of Ravaged earlier this year, when footage of its post-apocalyptic vehicular combat got us very hot under the collar. Our studded Mad Max-esque leather collars, to be exact. 2Dawn Games have now released a new developer interview and teaser trailer for their upcoming multiplayer FPS, which is looking expansive and impressive even during this early beta stage. Check it out below.
Ravaged is set for a September 2012 launch on Steam.Click here to read more...
We're so ready for Ni No Kuni. The collaboration between Level-5 (Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven) and Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle) is the sort of unbelievable, almost impossible crossover that gamers fantasise about in the pub after a couple of pints and long week; a literal dream team ripped straight out of our most delirious reveries.
Having already in released in Japan to rave critical acclaim, Ni No Kuni is headed to Europe in January 2013, complete with British-localised voice acting and loads of extra content courtesy of Namco Bandai. Behind the closed doors of the Namco E3 booth, I sat down for a lengthy interview with International Brand Manager Dennis Lee to learn more about the past, present and future of this gorgeous anticipated PS3 exclusive.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): So, how did the Level-5/Ghibli collaboration originally come about?
Dennis Lee (Namco Bandai): Strangely enough, when Level-5 was starting to work on their new project that ended up becoming Ni No Kuni, they had some early design documents and a little bit of direction about what they wanted the game to be. They felt like they really wanted to do something special for this project. So they reached out to Studio Ghibli, showed them all their early documentation and said "hey, we really want to do something with you guys." It ended up working out to where Studio Ghibli really liked the concept, and they had some extra resources, you know, it worked out perfectly. They talked about what they would do and Studio Ghibli ended up creating all of the animated cutscenes of the game. With them working on all of that stuff, there's also all of the feedback, the back and forth between them and Level-5. So, throughout a lot of the game, you'll see a lot of Studio Ghibli's mark as far as the quality control, the attention to detail and all the things that make Ni No Kuni really feel like a Studio Ghibli work.
Dealspwn: How involved were Ghibli in the storyline? It reminds us of Spirited Away.
Dennis Lee: The storyline was written fully by Level-5, but very similar to, you know, Spirited Away. When they wrote the story, they were looking at doing a project that felt very much like a Studio Ghibli work. Because Studio Ghibli was working on all of the animated cutscenes, again, a lot of their feedback and influence came through in the story for Ni No Kuni.Click here to read more...
Sleeping Dogs, the artist formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong, has suffered under a truly torturous development cycle; beset by a spiralling budget, deadline issues and Activision's surprise dumping of United Front Games. Now under new management, however, the project is shaping up nicely - and is set to be a John Woo fan's wet dream thanks to a focus on emulating the best bits of Hong Kong cinema. Yes, even that hospital shootout.
After Tom got his mitts on a playable preview build over at MCM, I sat down with UFG's Design Director Mike Skupa to discuss how Hong Kong cinema has influenced their upcoming title along with genuine research into Triads and undercover operations.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn):I'm sure you're tired of answering this question, but it needs to be said: how do we feel about Activision dropping True Crime: Hong Kong?
Mike Skupa: Well, I mean, it happened a long time ago so we're just really excited that we got an opportunity to make it. I think, all things considered, it made for a better game because we got more time to work on it, we got a lot of input and cooperation from Square and us ourselves were even able to take a bit of a step back, which you rarely get to do when you're working on a game. Take a look at it, see what worked well, see what didn't work well and just give it that polish, love and detail.
Dealspwn: So you actually made the hiatus work for you?
Mike Skupa: Yeah, that definitely helped.
Click here to read more...
Vessel is amazing. After many long years of painstaking development, Strange Loop Games delivered a sensational indie puzzler last month; a debut title that featured exquisite fluid modelling, cerebral solutions, lavish art design and over twelve hours of content. Naturally I was keen to sit down with these ex-Pandemic veterans to discuss Vessel's development history, upcoming console ports and the myriad trials faced by independent developers... as well as getting a first hand assessment about the state of the burgeoning indie scene today.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Hi there, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. First off, could you please introduce yourself to our readers and explain your role at Strange Loop Games?
John Krajewski (Strange Loop Games): My name is John Krajewski, I designed Vessel and programmed it along with my partner Martin Farren.
Dealspwn: Can you give us a short history of Strange Loop? How did you guys get together? Why 'go indie' in the first place?
Krajewski: Strange Loop consists of a close knit group of 4: me, Martin, and our artists Mark Filippelli and Milenko Tunjic. Despite being close knit we're actually very far spread apart, Martin and I are in Seattle and Milenko and Mark are in Australia. We all used to work together at Pandemic Studios in Brisbane, which is how we know each other.
Click here to read more...
Magiko Gaming is one of the leading lights of the Xbox Live Indie scene; topping their seminal PLATFORMANCE series with Bunker Buster and Who Is God? on both the Xbox 360, Windows 7 Phones and PC. This two man-team have logged over two dozen years of games industry experience, working on AAA games blockbusters like Test Drive Unlimited, Metroid Prime, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and (sadly) John Romero's Daikatana.
However, their current project is set to be their biggest undertaking to date: a procedurally-generated platform/shooter hybrid with huge guns, massive customisation and infinite potential. Platformines is shaping up to be brilliant, and I sat down with Magiko to learn more.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us. First things first, could you introduce yourselves and your role at Magiko?
Bidus: I'm Bidus, Magiko's programmer. My aim is to build a generic engine and features that can be reused from one of our games to another one. I am also involved in half of Magiko games designs. I love to test and tweak gameplay features while developing them. I have been working in the game industry for 13 years. I notably worked (as Tool programmer, then Tool lead programmer) for Need for Speed: Porsche, the V-Rally series, Alone in the dark 5 and Test Drive Unlimited.
Ludo: I'm Ludo Tex (@ludotex), I do the graphics, sound, music, small coding tasks, and the other half of design. I have been working in the entertainment industry for 18 years now on games like John Romero's Daikatana, Metroid Prime and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.
Click here to read more...
Four Rare developers shocked the gaming world earlier this year when they announced a brand new direction, a brand new studio and a brand new take on an ageing genre: the venerable space sim. Starfire Studios delivered a massive hit and critical success story last month with Fusion Genesis, and I recently sat down with director Phil Dunne to discuss the past, present and future of the fledgling venture.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us in what must be an incredibly stressful period. Could you introduce yourself as well as your role at Starfire - and background at Rare?
Phil Dunne (Starfire Studios): I'm Phil Dunne, I'm an artist and director at Starfire Studios. I worked at Rare for over 15 years working on a range of games from way back on the SNES right up to Xbox 360, including Donkey Kong Country 3 and Kameo.
Dealspwn: What compelled you to leave Rare and form an independent studio?
Dunne: I guess we were looking to work on projects that we wouldn't have had the chance to at Rare. We we're looking to try out some new ideas and maybe go back to a smaller team setup with a quicker turnaround time on projects. As digital distribution was really starting to take off, it seemed like a good time to start an independent studio. Even since Starfire was formed, the whole landscape of the games industry seems to be changing at a rapid pace and it feels like a very exciting time to be an Indie Studio.
Click here to read more...
Indie development is fast becoming one of the most important sources of innovation and inspiration within our industry, and a veritable font of excellent games for negligible prices. The Hearts Of Men was a perfect example of this phenomenon when it released on the Xbox Live Indie earlier this year, and after securing our Indie Game Of The Week accolade, COLTRAN Studios has been hard at work completing a remastered, extended and definitive version. Known as Throne Of Deceit, this new version will offer a massive amount of new content when it launches next week.
Studio director Jason Zielinski is a art department veteran of both Midway and Day 1 Studios with titles like Mortal Kombat, Stranghehold and F.E.A.R. 3 on his resume - one of an increasing number of experienced AAA developers who have decided to jump into the exciting Indie arena. Eager to discuss the new project... as well as learning why developers choose to to go from Triple-A to indie development... I sat down with with him for a chat.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Many thanks for talking to us. First of all, could you introduce yourselves to our readers - and tell us about your triple-A background?
Jason Zielinski (COLTRAN Studios): First off, thank you for this opportunity! It's always great to speak about all of our efforts and share with the community.My background started out at Midway Chicago, back in 2005 working on such titles as Stranglehold, Ballers, and the Mortal Kombat series to name a few titles, where I worked as a cinematic character artist. After Midway, I went to work at Day 1 Studios, another Chicago based studio, where I was an environmental and concept artist on "Fracture" and "F.E.A.R. 3", as well as many conceptual pitches for games like Tron and Batman. My next step actually went in 2 directions--I was laid off from Day 1 Studios, and it was here I knew COLTRAN was what I wanted to be doing, so as I started to build our (COLTRAN) team, I took the title of Lead Artist at Toy Studio, a social game company in Chicago. While there, I worked on Pet Rescue and Candy Dream for Facebook, and eventually found our way to the mobile market, with over 15 titles on the Nook Color. And, currently, I work as the Lead Artist for a new social startup in Chicago, laying the groundwork within the new studio for our first Facebook game.
Click here to read more...
Afterfall: InSanity exploded onto the gaming consciousness thanks to its exceptionally brave $1 pre-order strategy, but it's also shaping up to be a viciously scary and viscerally satisfying game in its own right. To find out what Intoxicate Studios has in store for us, we sat down with gameplay designer Miki Majka... who spilled the beans on how they plan to make us soil ourselves in abject terror later this month.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us. First things first: can you give us the 'elevator pitch?' What is Afterfall InSanity all about?
Miki Majka: Afterfall: InSanity is about a struggle against confinement. Albert Tokaj, the main protagonist, seeks a way to cure the confinement syndrome, an ailment that is haunting most of the dwellers of Shelter ‘Glory’, a place where many people have found refuge when the apocalypse struck. Accidental detonation of a powerful fusion bomb called Entropy triggered worldwide launches of nuclear weaponry and devastated the globe. Poles were in luck as their government had already started the Afterfall Project, a program that gave birth to the Shelters. But people who survived within are now haunted with the syndrome - they are restless, worried, depressed, feel their lives are pointless etc. - who would want that? So Tokaj, as he’s a psychiatrist and pharmacologist, tries to stop the syndrome. But things are gonna get out of hand pretty soon...
Click here to continue reading our in-depth Afterfall: InSanity interview...
Our earlier heartbreaking interview with MStar Games' Mike Bergenstjerna righteously slammed the state of the Xbox Live Indie marketplace; stating that Microsoft have "utterly failed" to provide independent developers with enough support to succeed. However, George Clingerman, a Microsoft MVP, has spoken out to defend the service and candidly admit their failings... as well a number of solutions that could help the channel move forward.
Mr. Clingerman isn't a faceless corporate goon with a party line and a gag order. He's a pillar of the Xbox Live Indie community - and an independent developer in his own right who experiences the XBLIG front line every single day.
I'm not going to dilute or adulterate this with any commentary of my own. It's too important. Here is the statement he sent us in its entirety, and I'd urge you to give it the attention it deserves.
George Clingerman: Every few months the Xbox LIVE Indie Games community sees posts circulate that are talking about how Xbox LIVE Indie Games is dead or dying or how Microsoft is running them into the ground or abandoning them. Around that time you'll also get a flurry of defenders making their own posts and comments explaining how wrong those thoughts are and proceeding to point out why. So rainbows and kittens or death and darkness, which is it for Xbox LIVE Indie Games? Like most of life, reality lives somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Let's take a look at the three key points just about every Xbox LIVE Indie Games is dead post/comment mention.
When you add those three points together you get a post title about how Xbox LIVE Indie Games is a failure and that it has a very uncertain future. How could you blame someone that seems like a pretty bleak outlook!
Now let's take a look at the key points just about every response to an "Xbox LIVE Indie Games is gasping it's last breath" post gets:
(We also read a lot of "Shut up and quit whining. Go develop on some other platform!" type comments, but I filtered those out since they're not really making much of a point)
If you're a sharp reader you might be thinking to yourself, "hey, what gives?" since a few of those points are in direct contradiction to one another and most are at least partly contradictory. Which group then is right? The answer believe it or not is that BOTH are right. I don't mean that in the let’s all hold hands and let's all get along sort of way. I mean that in actuality both groups are correct.Click here to continue reading this candid and remarkable statement...
The Xbox Live Indie scene is one of the Xbox 360's most impressive unique selling points, but there's no doubt that it's only fulfilling a fraction of its potential. I recently sat down with Mike "Dr Mistry" Bergenstjerna, the veteran game designer behind MStar Games and winner of our Xbox Live Indie Game Of The Year award to discuss the state of the service... which turns out to be sadly lacking. In fact, the good Doctor believes that Microsoft - and the marketplace itself - has "totally, utterly failed." It's a truly heartbreaking interview, and one that contains many lessons for Microsoft to learn.
Jonathan Lester: Thanks for talking to us, Mike - and congratulations for last year's awards! Your current title, YoYoYo, is now on hold due to poor sales - so what are your current plans?
Mike Bergenstjerna: I’ve started to take more of a back seat in the XBLIG community over the last few weeks to be honest, and I’m starting to focus on moving over to another platform. That’s mostly because of what DJArcas was talking about in your earlier interview– MS’ basic philosophy seems to be diametrically opposed to commercial success! Sure it’s a nice idea to let anyone write games, but ultimately that philosophy has failed because it doesn’t take account of the laziness, incompetence, opportunism and cynicism of fly-by-night developers.
The system just doesn’t work on XBLIG and we’re now at the point where devs are saying “I can’t be done with all this crap just to make $250 for 4 months work”. I used to get angry about this, but frankly now I’m passed caring.
Jonathan Lester: So what projects do you have in the pipeline?
Mike Bergenstjerna: I’ve got one more game which will be “XBLIG only” which is a bit of a button-masher but after that it’ll be PC first, XBLIG if I can justify the time to add 360 controls. I’ve already got Space Pirates running on Windows, along with Xenocide and Blazin’ Balls XE so I’m kind of letting things simmer until the new IndieCity.Com system is up and running. DBP is a waste of time, the main channel is a waste of time, trying to get support from MS is a waste of time. It’s hard enough banging code together as it is, without worrying about all the junk and keeping an eye on other community members to make sure your new game isn’t upsetting anyone. Everyone who reviewed Xenocide said it was a real advance on the classic Space Invaders but we’ve sold less than $200-worth of game. That’s not just nonsense, that’s bank-breaking.
Jonathan Lester: We rated Xenocide, for the record. So what are the major problems with the service that Microsoft should be sorting out?
Mike Bergenstjerna: We’ve been over this ground in the community time after time after time for years (just like with all the other problems!) and got nowhere. For me it’s all about MS a) not thinking the basic idea behind the channel through b) not allocating enough resource to channel management c) being unwilling to see the relationship between devs and the channel as a business relationship and d) being unable or unwilling to address any of our concerns.
If I had a friend who treated me and the other devs the way MS treat us, I’d have told them to shove off in pretty short order. Their size makes them feel like they’re either too big to fail or that the failure/atrophy of XBLIG is too small a deal to impact on their reputation but that’s really stupid. If you’ve got the option of releasing Wintel games, XBLIG, iPhone or Android then the attitude of Microsoft becomes an important factor in your considerations. This is seen most keenly with Wintel-based titles because XNA works very nicely on the PC, meaning that the only difference between XBLIG and XNA-based Windows games is the release channel.Click here for a shocking indictment of Microsoft's treatment of Indie developers...
Following on from the first part of our controversial FortressCraft interview, we sat back down with ProjectorGames lead DJArcas to discuss the development process, Microsoft's lack of support and the myriad pitfalls of following the Indie calling.
Jonathan Lester: Welcome back. As we reported earlier, you're developing FortressCraft on an incredibly intensive timeframe. What's it like to develop a whole game in a matter of weeks? What extra challenges does it entail?
DJArcas: To be honest, this is how I'm used to working. I have to rely very heavily on doing things right the first time, you know, bar the lighting. I've written custom movement systems and animations before so I know where the pitfalls are. If someone was approaching it fresh, they'd likely do the wrong thing. Some of the stuff I'm doing is beginning to push the Xbox 360 to its limits! Last night I ran out of RAM and had to optimise for its horrible 512 MB.
Jonathan: Has the increased publicity put you under any extra pressure? Were you ever expecting such a media storm?
DJArcas: When I started developing FortessCraft, I wanted people to know about it. But I expected ten people to talk to me and I was expecting that level of community involvement. You know, just twenty people on twitter! At this point I have 1179 twitter followers. I have 2500 youtube subscribers. It scares me. I recently put up a video and I was the seventh person to watch it!
This scares the shit out of me! If it crashes, if it fails... that scares me too. I don't like fame, I like obscurity, as only a couple of people will hate my game. FortressCraft has been posted on some really big channels, which is brilliant... but scary. As far as I'm aware, FortressCraft is the most anticipated Xbox Indie game of all time. Even I MAED A GAM3 came out of nowhere. No pressure!
Jonathan: Do you think that your publicity will actually help raise awareness of the Indie scene in general?
DJArcas: Actually, I sometimes lie awake at night and wonder if my game will be the death of the indie scene. If this flops, if FortressCraft fails, we've had so much publicity. I couldn't buy this publicity. My forums spin over, my inbox overflows with emails. If this fails, who's going to bother starting from scratch?Click here to see what Microsoft - and us journalists - should be doing to help Indie development...