Conducted by Adam Ames
TPG had the privilege to work with Andrew Spinks, creator of the fantastical indie hit, Terraria. In this e-mail interview, Andrew talks about how he started in the business, the difficulty in creating Terraria, life as an indie developer, family support and more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Terraria.
I am the lead developer and creator of Terraria.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
It’s been my lifelong dream to build my own video game. In fact, I’ve been teaching myself programming languages since I was a child. Then a couple of years ago, I decided to test my skill at a fan game. That was pretty successful, so I knew it was time to go for it with my own original concept!
Where did the idea for Terraria come from?
Terraria is a mix of all my favorite games that I’ve played from my childhood all the way up to the present. Minecraft was a big inspiration along with Zelda and a little freeware game called Liero.
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Terraria?
The main success of the game is that people love playing it as much as I do. The fact that I’m also getting as much exposure from gaming magazines and websites is also very exciting. As far as failures go, this is our first time so there has been some set backs. I think of myself as more of a programmer than a people person, so there has definitely been a learning curve when it comes to business matters. But I think of these more as speed bumps rather than failures.
In its current form, how close is Terraria to your initial vision?
I’ve been working on the game since January, and the initial concept has never changed. There are still ideas that I’ve had for the game that I’d like to incorporate, but I’ve also come up with new ideas. The game is still evolving, and the best is yet to come!
Some indie devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Terraria and if you faced a similar challenge.
I have definitely had the same problem! It’s a fun one though, but I’m happy with what we’ve come up with balancing-wise.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Terraria would run on the various PC system configurations?
I have been using XNA to code the game, and it’s doing well in that regard. The only downside there is to it is that it requires a DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
Dealing with the outside world and doing business deals to get the game out there are definitely tough when all I want to do is work on the game. Luckily I have a good team in place that help out a lot in those areas.
How did you create funding for the development of Terraria and did you receive emotional support from your family and friends during this time?
I funded Terraria from some websites I had created in the past few years. There wasn’t a lot of overhead, so I was okay there. My wife has been with me through all my hair-brained schemes! I definitely couldn’t do any of this without her. Of course other extended family and friends have been very excited for me.
Tell us about the process of submitting Terraria to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
For the most part, the distributors have come to us to get Terraria on their platform, so we haven’t encountered any resistance.
How much pull do you have when setting sale and regular pricing through digital distribution channels? Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
It was pretty easy settling on a price. It’s easy to see what’s out there, and we really just want everyone to have a chance to play the game.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Terraria.
Old school games like Secret of Mana and Legend of Zelda are some inspiration to the design of the game. While I do most of the landscape/level design I do have a devoted graphics artist on my team that’s done some great work!
Are there any plans to create a trial or demo for Terraria?
Not right now. Terraria is very fairly priced and has been on sale more than once and probably will be again. People know it’s a fun game not to mention all the LP’s out there.
How important is it to get instant feedback about Terraria from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
It is very important to have a supportive community. This helps mainly to track down bugs in the game after patches so that we can fix them quickly and move on with production.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Terraria professionally?
We place a lot of value on reviews. Of course most of them have been very positive, so it’s easy to say that. Mostly it proves to us that we have done a good job and reiterates what we already hear daily from our community. -End
We would like to thank Andrew once again for allowing us to see get a glimpse of one of the best up-and-coming indie developers. You can pick up Terraria via Steam.
You know you have been digging Terraria came since it came out. Give Andrew some love by leaving a comment!