Tags Posts tagged with "interview"


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1. Tell us briefly about your game, Desktop Dungeons.

The upcoming Desktop Dungeons is a puzzle-roguelike hybrid game designed to be played in quick, ten-minute sessions, based on the well-known Desktop Dungeons alpha that’s currently available as freeware. Players go on a single-screen dungeon crawl that’s randomly generated for every game session, using absolutely every resource at their disposal — up to and including dungeon exploration itself — to fight monsters, level up and eventually slay the dungeon boss in a system which has often been described as opening up the roguelike genre to a more casual audience.

For the new Unity-based version, established fans can look forward to a greatly expanded and more finely-balanced game system that includes far more dungeon and monster content, a sophisticated inventory system and the player’s own kingdom which they can build up over time using gold earned in successful dungeon runs. This kingdom in turn will provide extra ways for players to prepare for dungeons, special challenges and and a variety of quests which will entertain everyone from complete DD beginners to hardened veterans.

(left to right: Marc “Aequitas” Luck, Danny “dislekcia” Day and Rodain “Nandrew” Joubert)

2. Can you introduce your team? And what is your background in making games?

The team behind Desktop Dungeons goes by the name of QCF Design, a small indie studio based in South Africa. It consists of me, Danny “dislekcia” Day and Marc “aequitas” Luck, as well as the hired talents of various awesome freelancers.

As a company, QCF Design has been in business for several years making sponsored games, mostly for corporate types looking to advertise themselves on mobile devices. The occasional contract for web design jobs has also topped up the company coffers over time.

At the beginning of 2010, however, QCF invested its capital in an independent development project — Desktop Dungeons. This is the first independent commercial project that the company has embarked on, although it’s also worth mentioning that several other, non-commercial games have been made over the years such as our 48-hour Global Game Jam entries and a SHMUP-style roguelike space shooter called SpaceHack, which achieved a Top 20 position in the 2008 Microsoft DreamBuildPlay competition.

3. What development tools are you using for the new Desktop Dungeons?

Right now, we’re developing for the Unity editor using Visual Studio C# 2008. We haven’t reached the stage where we’re inserting sounds yet, and art is handled by an assortment of different programs. The QCF office is mostly PC-dominated, but we do have a Mac for porting purposes.

4. Why did you choose Unity for as your game engine of choice for Desktop Dungeons?

Unity is reasonably easy to use and it allows us to compile code for most platforms. From the start, we knew we wanted to get in at all sorts of markets, starting with PC/Mac and iPhone, then possibly following up with console and web versions. Unity helps us do all that with the least hassle possible.

5. Were there any unexpected challenges in developing Desktop Dungeons with Unity?

Aside from code hiccups and SVN technicalities (which fortunately I’ve never had to personally figure out!), probably the biggest difficulty in working with Unity has been the fact that we’re trying to build a procedurally-generated game in an environment which really begs developers to make more hand-crafted game experiences. This creates some funny issues here and there and makes a lot of Unity’s functionality a lot less useful for us, but we’ve found workarounds for everything by now and really wouldn’t want to use any other tool for this project.

6. Are you doing game development full-time?

Yeah, QCF Design has been a dedicated game development company for a couple of years now, and I’ve been on board with them for a while. Desktop Dungeons currently demands all of our worktime attention, though we try getting involved in side projects here and there just for fun.

7. How long have you been working on the game?

Technically, I suppose it’s been in active development since the first prototype was released in January 2010. So that would make the full dev cycle about a year so far.

8. Any advice for other indie game developers out there?

Making games is an art first and a career second — particularly if you’re indie. Avoid focusing too much on the idea of making development a “job”: many great testaments to the ingenuity and creativity of individuals started off as freeware projects, and many more of them will stay freeware for the forseeable future.

If you DO happen to be an earning member of the industry already, always remember that it’s not just a privilege: it’s a responsibility. Make enough money to eat, don’t let people screw you around, and always bear in mind that you’ve been given the opportunity to enhance and refine your work as a representative of a young, passionate and ever-growing community.

But paid or not, always work to your full potential — no more, no less. It’s the cheesiest thing ever, but the pride you take in what you do is the only real value of being an indie. Everything else kinda just happens.

Follow QCF Design and Rodain Joubert on their blog {link} and twitter {link}

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1. Tell us briefly about your game, Helsing’s Fire.

Helsing’s Fire is a casual puzzle game for iOS. In it, you control Dr. Helsing and his assistant Raffton as they battle against Dracula’s evil horde. It’s got a fairly novel mechanic of manipulating light and shadow by dragging a torch around the screen. This torch casts detailed shadows in the environment and as it illuminates the monsters, a magical tonic can be used to attack. There are different monsters and different tonics, so you have to be careful and clever with your light and tonic usage to clear each puzzle.

2. Can you introduce your team? And what is your background in making games?

Helsing’s Fire was created by my wife Keiko and I. Ratloop itself includes a few more members and was established way back in 1998 in the US. We had some limited success at first with a PC game called “Gearhead Garage”, but eventually ended up going our separate ways until until a few years ago, when we regrouped to create a drawing game called “Mightier” for PC. Aside from Ratloop, Keiko and I have also worked at various larger game developers where bills were paid and experience was gained.

3. How did you come up with the concept for the game?

For Helsing’s Fire, there wasn’t really any “AH HAH!” moment when the concept materialized. I had been playing around with the iPhone SDK, making a few prototypes, and worked out a simple way to do the shadow casting. From there, I tried some different ways to use this in an interesting way before eventually settling on the current puzzle mechanics. This is actually similar to how “Mightier” came about. For that game, we started with the drawing tech, then spent a few weeks brainstorming ideas of how to turn it into an actual game. I guess I like when the parameters are established (the tech), and we just have to figure out a fun way to exploit it.

4. What development tools did you use?

We used the typical tools for an iOS game: Macs and XCode. Most of the art was created in Photoshop, and I wrote the music in GarageBand. Typically for our games, we write a bunch of custom tools from scratch (usually in C#), but because the iOS tools are so good, we didn’t need much of that for Helsing’s Fire. The only custom tool was a very simple level editor written in Cocoa.

5. Are you doing game development full-time?

Yup. Both Mightier and Helsing’s Fire were created as part-time projects while we worked day jobs as game developers. Those pesky day jobs are gone now, and at the moment we’re hard at work with the rest of the Ratloop Asia team on a Rocketbirds game for PSN.

6. How long did it take for you to develop the game?

It look a little longer than we expected, mainly because it was a part-time project. From the first line of code until the initial release was about 6 months. Since then, we’ve put in several months worth of work on updates and enhancements.

7. What are some the challenges that you face in developing games in Asia?

We haven’t run into too many issues so far. One thing that makes it a little tricky is the target market. Most of what we produce is designed for the western market, because that’s what we understand best. So it’s important to stay connected and aware of what’s going on in the US or Europe.

8. If you could start the project over again, what would you do differently?

Hmmm. Tough question. We’re usually pretty fast and loose with game development; Plan big, and cut a lot. As far as Helsing’s Fire goes, I think it turned out well, but a part of me wishes we could easily release it for other platforms. Developing with the iOS SDK made things really easy for Apple devices, but porting is non-trivial. In the future, I think we’ll try to stick to generic C++/OpenGL so that getting on the various mobile and PC platforms is easier.

9. Any advice for other indie game developers out there?

Ok, another tough question. Speaking for both Keiko and I, our time at large, established game developers really improved our ability to finish a game on time with a good amount of polish. We learned a lot about how to focus on the player, simplify the design, and test the hell out of it. I think the best way to get this experience as an indie is to start and finish games on a consistent schedule. It can be really tempting to add features and improve a game forever, but the real challenge is to say “It’s done” and ship it. With each game completed, you learn more and more about each step of the process and it becomes easier and faster to go from an idea to a finished product.

Follow Ratloop, Lucas and Keiko Pope on their website {link}

Seth: Magnight is a puzzle platformer that relies on the fundamentals of magnetism to win the game.

Cadrick: Magnight is a 2D physics-based puzzle solving platform game. Players need to utilize the power of magnetic effect to solve the puzzles. Basically it is all about “Attract” and “Repel” between 2 magnetic objects.

Umar: Magnight is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer game created by students and fresh graduates under the GameINC training program by MDEC. The game incorporates real-time simulated physics and also magnetism as its core gameplay. GameINC is an annual program whereby the brightest undergraduate students in Malaysia are handpicked into 14 weeks internship course to undergo full cycle game development process under the mentorship by industry experts and academicians.

2. Can you introduce your team?

Our team is made out of:

Seth Wong Ker Siung (Team Lead, Gameplay Programmer)
David Tan Xi Siang (Game Designer)
Cham Wei Chuan (Game Designer)
Umar Mochtar (Lead Artist)
Steven Gan (Artist)
Hiew Sau Fung (Artist)
Ting Kee Biew (Artist)
Ahmad Hamidullah Adb Rahman (Artist)
Cadrick Loh (Lead Programmer)
Edvinn Lai (Game Engine Programmer)
Kaori Wong (Game Engine Programmer)
Mohd Zaid Mohd Zin (Level Editor Programmer)
Wang Hsin Jo (Level Editor Programmer)
Yeong Hong Chun (Gameplay Programmer)
Ng Choon Hooi (Gameplay Programmer)
Aaron Chow (Gameplay Programmer).

Cadrick: GameINC consists of 1 team lead, 2 games designer, 8 programmers and 5 artists. In the programming team, we have further separated into 2 sub-teams based on their roles. One team will be coding the engine part and another team will be handling the gameplay part. In short, we have 4 engine programmers and 4 gameplay programmers.

For engine programmers, they are basically doing the the base code of the engine and providing basic functions for gameplay programmers. Besides that, engine programmers are responsible in coding the physics engine. For gameplay programmers, they are mostly coding the gameplay mechanics.

Umar: We were a team of 5 artists, 2 designers, and 9 programmers. The team lead was Seth, the lead programmer was Cadrick, and the art lead was me, Umar. The artists that did the art for the game were Fung, Hamid, Biew and Steven Gan. The game designers were David and Cham. The programmers were divided into 2 groups: engine programmers and gameplay programmers. The engine programmers were Cadrick, Koori, Zaid and Wang while the gameplay programmers were John, Edvinn, Nancy, Aaron and Seth.

3. What is your background in making games?

Seth: I have been fond of games ever since my 1st ATARI back when I was 3 years old. Since hten I’ve always been fascinated by games and the joy they bring. Evidently, when I found out that APIIT – UCTI offeres a course in Games Development, I felt like this is the passion that I should pursue.

4. How did you come up with the concept for the game?

Cadrick: It all started with the concept of attract and repel. We’ve been through the stages of idea pitching and the mentors were filtering what we have came out with and finally they’ve decided to go with the attract and repel concept.

Umar: The concept for the game was a mixture of several ideas that was pitched to the mentors by the participants after weeks of discussions and pitching, and it was refined and altered numerous times before it was finalized. As for the art, we sort of went for Tim Burton’s Alice meets steampunk. We of course added different elements along the way as we didn’t want to constrain ourselves within that theme.

5. What development tools did you use?

Seth: The development tools that our team used are: Microsoft XNA, 3D Studio Max, Farseer Physics Engine 2.0, and a lot of head banging =.=”

Cadrick: We used Microsoft XNA Game Studio to develop our game. Besides that, we are using a 3rd party physics engine known as Farseer Physics for XNA. Farseer Physics for XNA is based on the Box3D physics engine.

Umar: We used Autodesk 3DS Max and Adobe Photoshop for the art, and Microsoft XNA as the game engine.

6. Are you currently doing game development full-time?

Seth: Currently I’m still studying for a Degree in Games Development in APIIT – UCTI. Graduating late 2011, but yea that’s the plan, although after graduation if a career path in games development proves to be elusive, I’ll go into other fields of IT for life support and continue developing games during my free time.

Cadrick: Yes we did do full-time game development but it was during our internship program.

7. How long did it take for you to develop the game?

Seth: The game took 3 months to construct. That was the time frame given to us.

Umar: It took us 14 weeks to develop the game, from brain-storming sessions to post-production.

8. What are some of the challenges that you face in developing games in the South-East Asian region?

Seth: I’ve yet to venture into society in this field, but if I had to say it I would say it is the fact that the community in this region is not known for its financial support for games. Local investors have yet to realize the potential in games development thus the growth of this industry locally is still not yet up to speed.

Cadrick: Honestly, I would say game development in the South-East Asian region is still very young and it is hard to find game developers out there. Whenever we have meetings (which are organzied by IGDA Malaysia), most probably we will be seeing the same faces again and again. Although it is a hard time for us but we still can see the growing of game development happening in the South-East Asian region. I believe in the future, we will see more improvement in game development and let’s hope to see more cool games which are originally developed by South-East Asian!

Umar: We didn’t face much challenges caused by our location when we were developing the game. We pretty much had all the things we needed to develop the game.

9. If you could start the project over again, what would you do differently?

Seth: If I could start over, I would focus on making the level editor more user-friendly, so that players can also have fun building their own custom levels. One of the key aspects of the game was to allow players to customize their own levels but at the end of the development phase, the mentors deemed the level editor too user-unfriendly and it was revoked from the release.

Umar: I’m really satisfied with how the game turned out and it’s very hard to say what I would do differently. I guess it would be that I wish we had pushed the art further, exploring other different themes, trying different techniques and mixing more elements while keeping everything consistent. But I’m pretty sure artists are rarely satisfied with their own work. :) .

10. Any advice for other indie game developers out there?

Seth: I don’t think I’m in a position to give any advice yet, fact is I’m still studying. But to anyone who has an interest or passion in making games, seek out opportunities such as GameINC and other similar programs. It provides valuable insight into how things work and to me it would ultimately prove as a valuable experience in the career path of a game developer.

Cadrick: Start prototyping whenever you have some ideas in mind. The more times you spend on your games, the better quality you will produce at the end of the game development stage!

Umar: Don’t let the fire die :)