Interview With Crayon Physics Creator Petri Purho

Petri Purho, creator of the smash indie game hit, Crayon Physics, has kindly granted me an e-mail interview discussing the development of Crayon Physics.  Petri also talks about piracy, DRM, life as an indie dev and much more.

Adam:

How did you get started in developing PC games?  Where did the idea for Crayon Physics come from?

Petri:

I’ve always been into programming, so when I was doing my CS studies I applied for an internship at Frozenbyte and got the position. After working there as a part-time programmer I started Kloonigames.  Kloonigames was and still is a website were I create a small prototype games that have been crunched together in a very small time frame.  Usually less than 7 days. One of the prototypes I made was Crayon Physics. A game in which you could only draw boxes in. But it was interesting and people were excited about it. So I decided to take it a bit further.

Adam:

What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Crayon Physics?
Petri:
I learned that it takes a lot more time to make a game than you will ever realize. Even if you take into account your realization that it’s going to take more time than planned.
Adam:

Walk us through how you came up with the art style for Crayon Physics.

I was making a prototype game called Daydreaming in the Oval Office.  The game had a title screen had crayon drawings and I was making that title screen in Photoshop when I realized that I could programatically render crayon drawings. And that would allow a game in which you draw and then I realized that if you were drawing physics objects it would be like drawing with a magic crayon. That’s were the whole thing came together.

Adam:

What is the toughest aspect of being an indie game developer?
Petri:

It’s like an RTS game. You need 3 resources. a) Money b) Time c) Motivation. And you have to fight to get all of those.

Adam:

Were there any struggles developing a game for the PC to make sure it runs on all systems and configurations?
Petri:

There are a bunch of small issues. Most of it graphics cards and drivers. The game requires a decent amount of texture memory and not all netbooks have that much.

Adam:

Tell us about your relationship with Valve.  How did making Crayon Physics Deluxe available via Steam come about?
Petri:

Steam people contacted me even before the game was out if I wanted to sell the game through Steam. I said yes.

Adam:

How much say do you have when setting regular and sale pricing with digital distributors?
Petri:

It depends on the distribution channel. But most of the are pretty open to having developers setup any price they see fit.


Adam:

How do you feel about the digital distribution platform as a whole?
Petri:

I like it, both as a consumer of games and as a developer of them.  Retail seems like it’s an unnecessary step for developers and consumers. I don’t want to go to a store to buy something that I can buy immediattely from the internet.

Adam:

Were there any plans to take Crayon Physics Deluxe to retail stores?
Petri:

There were talks about doing it, but it seems like a too much of work for very little gain.

Adam:
You released a PC demo of Crayon Physics Deluxe during a time where many PC game companies do not.  Why?
Petri:

I feel like everyone should release a demo of their game. Especially on a platform like PC which is open. If someone has doubts about your game and they’re not sure if they should invest in it or not, they can either try the demo or pirate the full game. Either way if someone wants to, they can try the game for free. Also I feel it’s better to give the consumer as much information as he needs to, when buying any product. And what better way to inform players how to the game plays than to give them a free demo.

Adam:

How important is it to get instant feedback about Crayon Physics Deluxe from users through forums and other social networking sites?

Petri:

It was really important in the development phase of things. Now I’m sorta well aware of the issues in the game, so mostly when I get feedback nowadays it’s things I’m already aware of.

Adam:

Do you take any stock from those who review Crayon Physics Deluxe professionally?
Petri:

I do. I did an extensive post-mortem of Crayon Physics Deluxe and thought about it long and hard on how to make the next game better.

Adam:

How do you feel about the Humble Indie Bundle and “Pay What You Want Pricing”?  Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
Petri:

I like PWYW. I actually experimented with it a year ago and sold Crayon Physics Deluxe for any price. It was a good experience and I learned a lot from it. I might do it again in the future.

Adam:

What is your stance on DRM and piracy in general?
Petri:

I feel DRM is useless. It should go away and die.

Piracy on the other hand is a bit more complicated topic to talk about. It’s not as clear cut. I’m in the unusual position of being both a gamer and developer so I see the piracy discussion from both points of views. I thought that releasing a game would change my views of piracy but it hasn’t.

Adam:

What are some of the games or genres you like to play?  Are you a fan of other indie developers?

Petri:

Derek Yu’s Spelunky. I’ve played that game for 2 years now and I still go back to it. He’s releasing the game on XBLA this year. That’s going to be insane. I tell you it’s going to become a classic game.

Currently I also play Minecraft, Space Funeral, Super Meat Boy, Fallout: New Vegas, Desktop Dungeons and Norrland.

Adam:

In 2010, you released Cut It, Count On Me, Men on the Flying Trapeze and Maze of Space.  Which one of these do you feel is your best game of 2010?  What do you have planned for 2011?
Petri:

I like Cut It and Men on the Flying Trapeze. I’m currently working on a RTS game as my main game. I don’t know if it will be released in 2011.

Adam:

Crayon Physics Deluxe won the grand prize at the 2008 Independent Games Festival.  How did that make you feel?
Petri:

It was pretty awesome. Even though I wanted World of Goo to win and I felt a bit sad that they didn’t get the grand prize. But they won 2 awards that year, so they were happy.


Adam:

For those people who are reading about you or Crayon Physics Deluxe for the first time, do you have anything you would like to say outside of what we have already discussed?
Petri:

Give it a try. Download the demo.

I would like to thank Petri again for taking the time to chat about Crayon Physics.  You can check out the demo on Steam or from the official site.

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