From Juggernauts to Humans: A Look at Realism in Gaming

By Carlin Au

New games like Serious Sam 3 and Red Orchestra 2 really show how games have evolved in the past two decades. Back in the 90s, you had a gun – you point it at things and they disappear. As technology grew, details like real-world bullet trajectories, and environmental destruction have emerged. It’s no surprise that as technology grows, people will grow too, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s talk about how games have gotten more realistic.

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The Witcher 2 Interview With John Mamais

Conducted By Adam Ames

TGP is proud to offer an interview with the great folks at CDProjeckt RED, developers of the RPG sensation, The Witcher 2.  You will read about their views on PC development, DRM, piracy, modding, the lack of a demo and much more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of The Witcher 2.

John Mamais, Executive Producer and Head of Production at CPDR. I manage the team and make sure we execute on the vision on time and in budget.

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From CompuServe To Steam – Avadon: The Black Fortress Interview

Conducted by Adam Ames

TPG was given the great opportunity to interview Jeff Vogel founder of Spiderweb Software and developer of the smash RPG hit, Avadon: The Black Fortress.  Jeff also speaks on DRM, piracy, digital distribution, lack of PC demos, life as an indie dev and much more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Avadon: The Black Fortress.

I am founder and president of Spiderweb Software, a 3-person company based in Seattle and founded in 1994. We’ve spend all these years making the best Indie, old-school RPGs we can for Windows, Mac, and iPad.

I am the main programmer and designer for Spiderweb. Others handle the art and business stuff. I figure out the game part.

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Marble Popping Maddness: Luxor: 5th Passage Interview

Conducted by Adam Ames

Josh Spigener from MumboJumbo and Lead Producer on the great title, LUXOR 5th Passage, gives us detailed look into the life of a PC games developer.  Josh also talks about DRM, piracy, how Luxor came to be and much more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Luxor: 5th Passage.

I began my career in video games in the QA department of MumboJumbo as a tester for the games we develop and publish for the PC, Mac, Nintendo platforms, and iOS. Starting at the entry-level of game development exposed me to a sample of all aspects of game development. Since LUXOR is our flagship title, I’ve done my share of testing and logged countless hours playing it. As the position became available for a producer for the new LUXOR, I brought lots of experience playing LUXOR, along with some ideas on updating the franchise and bringing something new.

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TPG Command Performance: Serious Sam 3

– By Mike Bezek

For a while now, something has been missing from my life; I have been plagued with a distinct hollow feeling. I have been longing to gun down headless, yet screaming undead kamikazes, and know my S key isn’t satisfied with me as a lover due to so much neglect. All I wish for is to rectify this distressful situation. Thankfully, for people like me, Serious Sam 3: BFE is here to fill this void and reintroduce us all to one of the progenitors of large scale run-and-gun goodness.

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Celestial Mechanica: Not Without Its Merits

By: George Weidman

Celestial Mechanica is a game that is endearingly “cool.”  The game’s graceful style and enchanting spirit softens the blows of its more tangible setbacks, but above all else, Celestial Mechanica is brimming with the kind of passionate, unrestrained authorship that makes indie games great even when they’re rough around the edges.

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Tobe’s Vertical Adventure: A Lesson in Charm

-By Mike Bezek

Lately, I had found myself begrudgingly coming to terms with the fact that I may not be introduced to memorable and compelling characters that require little or no dialogue to burn make a lasting effect.  Video game icons like Mario, Sonic, and even the Gunstar Heroes, are almost completely silent protagonists; however, their image lives with us and remains ageless due to their simplistic and functional games.   Tobe’s Vertical Adventure offers a pair of characters that casually adhere to these standards, and come very close to offering the same charm and panache that their forefathers graced upon our childhood.

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PC Multiplatform Dungeon Crawling Goodness: Cardinal Quest Interview

The newly released indie title, Cardinal Quest, is an impressive take on the 1980s arcade style dungeon games.  In this e-mail interview, TPG talks to the creator of Cardinal Quest, Ido Yehieli.  Ido also speaks on DRM, digital distribution, PC gaming journalism and much more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Cardinal Quest.

My name is Ido Yehieli and I am a 28 years old game developer living
in Vienna, Austria. I’ve been working as a professional programmer
since I was 18.  At the beginning of March, I quit my job as game
developer at Mipumi Games to pursue making indie-games as a full-time job.

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The British Martians Are Coming!: Jamestown Developer Interview

TruePCGaming caught up with the fine gentlemen from Final Form Games to discuss their smash hit, Jamestown.  They also talk about the origins of Jamestown, how they got their start in the PC gaming business, Valve and more.

How did you get started in PC gaming development?

MIKE: After a childhood of dabbling with several game mod projects, I studied 3D animation in college, and got a job working on the America’s Army FPS in Monterey, CA shortly after graduation.  My career eventually shifted over to level design work, overall game design, and production.

TIM: Mike and I are brothers, so we worked together on the same childhood mods and game projects.  I ended up pursuing music composition and computer science in college, always looking for ways to direct my studies toward game development.  I followed Mike to America’s Army, and then moved on to Planet Moon Studios in San Francisco where I worked as a central technology, lead, and gameplay programmer.

HAL: I took the traditional route of religion degree –> hospital chaplain –> video game developer, with a stopover in educational technology. Before founding Final Form Games with Tim and Mike, I was working on the Learning Team at educational game/hardware company Leapfrog in Emeryville, CA.

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Tobe’s Vertical Adventure Developer Interview

Click the images for a full size version.

Raymond Teo agreed to take part in an e-mail interview for us about his new indie hit, Tobe’s Vertical Adventure.  Raymond also talks about piracy, DRM, life as an indie dev, Valve, digital distribution and more.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Tobe’s Vertical Adventure.

I am Raymond Teo of Secret Base, and an indie developer from Singapore. I guess you can say I play the role of producer for Tobe’s Vertical Adventure, but being indie means you have to be involved in as many aspect as you can, which means I was also the artist and game designer.

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Revenge of the Titans Interview

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The fellas from Puppy Games, developers of the great title, Revenge of the Titans, offers their view on the current trends of PC gaming, indie development, DRM, piracy and much more.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Revenge of the Titans.

Hi, my name is actually Caspian Prince, genuinely. I’m one half of Puppygames (or Puppy Games, nobody seems to be able to agree). I take care of the business side of things, do nearly all the coding, and half of the design, and most of the sound production. I’m the noisy one. The other half is Chaz Willets, who takes care of anything graphical, including our website, videos, promotional graphics, etc. and  of course, he does the other half of the game design. He’s the quiet, shy, retiring one.

Revenge was evolved over a period of about 3 years or so, without any particular direction other than whatever I felt was fun. Chaz concentrates on all the pernickety implementation details such as GUI and animation and effects, whereas I tend to make the broad-brush decisions about core gameplay and mechanics.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

Almost by accident – I was designing some realtime television graphics software when I thought I’d have a quick go at experimenting with games (a bit of a childhood ambition). Of course my art skills are about as good as my understanding of quantum string theory. Fortunately about the same time as I got interested in it, Chaz resurfaced about 5 years incognito. We’ve known each other since we were 12 and drifted off on the seas of chance as we went to universities. When I bumped into him again he’d acquired a load of tech skills to complement his already fantastic artistic abilities.

Then we slogged away for 10 years making games nobody liked.

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Swords and Soldiers Developer Interview

Jasper Koning from Ronimo Games allowed us a moment of his time to answer some interview questions via e-mail about the smash indie hit, Swords and Soldiers.  You will get his views on the PC gaming industry, life as an indie developer, DRM, piracy and much more.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Swords and Soldiers.

My name is Jasper Koning, and I’m one of the two game designers at Ronimo Games. During the development of Swords & Soldiers, I worked on the Aztec campaign. I also made the AI’s for the skirmish mode, and for the survival challenge.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

Our first well-known project, De Blob, was a PC game by request of our contractor.  We were still students, but the school had this cool program where it would acquire external partners for assignments. In this case, it was the Dutch city of Utrecht, they wanted a game to promote a large city renovation project.

Later, when we released Swords & Soldiers for WiiWare as Ronimo, it just made sense to do a PC version. We already had a PC build internally for development purposes, and we were already building a cool multiplayer mode with the help of SOE for the PSN version. It just needed Steam integration and broader hardware and software support to make it ready for release.

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Interview With Aztaka Creator Jonathan Mercier

Jonathan Mercier took time out of his day to speak about the development of the great game, Aztaka.  He also give his opinion on DRM, life as an indie dev, piracy, digital distribution and much more.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Aztaka.

I’m the founder of Citeremis inc. I produced and programmed Aztaka.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

I started in the demoscene around 1995. It wasn’t that much popular here in Canada so the natural extension was the game industry. I had my first “game” company around the age of 19. It didn’t last long and the game I was working on ends up being a good personal project. This project helps me get my first job in the game industry.

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Really Big Sky Interview

James and Alex from Boss Baddie had a few moments to spare with us and agreed to do an e-mail interview about their indie hit, Really Big Sky.  They speak on many topics including DRM, piracy, life an indie dev and how Really Big Sky came to be.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Really Big Sky.

James: I’m James, I run the show more or less! I love long walks in the forest, the smell of rain on dry ground and Coke Cola (still waiting on sponsorship).

Alex: I’m Alex (also known as MrPineapple) I basically serve here as resident musician, tester, idea-disliker and general underling.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

James: I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t drawing out imaginary NES games or playing with AMOS and The Shoot Em Up Construction Kit on the Amiga. Everything just gradually progressed to Klik n Play, some dabbling with Visual Basic and Flash.

Alex: I ‘met’ james on a forum about 10 years ago, back when i used to make amateurish games of my own. We somehow ended up working together. Best decision ever, I just stick to what I’m good at. See, I was really just a musician with ideas above my station!

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Koya Rift Interview With Zach Kehs

Zach Kehs from Sunny Katt took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his fantastic indie hit, Koya Rift.  In this e-mail interview, you will get his take on DRM, piracy, life as an indie dev and much more.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Koya Rift.

I’m Zach Kehs. I’m an 18 year old guy currently studying computer science at a university, and I’ve been developing Koya Rift single-handed for the past year and a half (with the exception of the music). I’m a big computer nerd and I’ve been interested in indie game development for a really, really long time.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

I was maybe 12, or 13. I really enjoyed video games, and all other sorts of creative media (books, movies, etc.). But video games were my favorite, and I wanted to look into how they were made. So I did some googling and made an effort to teach myself to learn how, and eventually I was successful. This method of learning took much longer than if someone else had taught me, but reflecting back I think that if you teach yourself you end up having a better grasp on the material.

3.  Where did the idea for Koya Rift come from?

I was brushing my teeth one morning. Currently I had been playing a lot of Borderlands – and I was fascinated by procedural generation. I was thinking of other games that had procedural content, such as Spelunky. And then my mind suddenly thought of a way that I could combine weapon generation and customization with generated environments in an alien-hunting sort of way, so I went and wrote everything down. The final game has changed a lot over the course of development, some areas for better, some for worse.

4.  What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Koya Rift?

A huge, HUGE failure I’ve experienced and learned about was marketing. I underestimated how important the marketing aspect of developing a for-sale game is. Unsurprisingly, it’s very important that people actually know about your game. Up front, this seems like common sense, but I owned a devlog, and I had a few people following me, but I didn’t realize that there was so much more I could be doing. When the game finally released sales were completely awful because the game is relatively unknown, and they’ve been awful since, despite me trying to promote it here and there.

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A Television Channel For Gamers

In terms of mainstream gaming and technology television programming, gamers have two choices: SpikeTV and G4.  Unfortunately, these do not even come close to what gamers want to see.  Gamers want to watch a program devoted to technology and gaming, not a T’n A show.  G4 and SpikeTV are a joke and always will be.  They have no gaming credibility whatsoever and the fact that have to resort to the “hot chick” way of network TV thinking shows their disconnect to the gaming world.

The old TechTV/ZDTV did not have to resort to that kind of nonsense because their shows were actually good.  I never missed an episode of The Screen Savers or Call For Help.  They offered content and had discussions about topics geeks/nerds/gamers cared about. While they did have girls on some shows (Megan Morrone, Catherine Schwartz and to a lesser extent, Morgan Webb) they did not need to jump and run around the set half naked showing their boobs.  This issue is only the tip of the iceberg.  Their award shows are a sham filled with the popular celebs who look like they have no idea what is going on and are told to just smile.

I know there are some quality tech/gaming shows aired via YouTube and a number of podcasts available on various websites, but it would be great to take all of the talent and put it into something like a television channel dedicated to gamers so they can get the maximum exposure they deserve.

After thinking more about what was wrong with this topic, I asked myself if a channel could be created in the same vein as TechTV had done in the late 90s.  Most of the people I talked to believe network executives working today would have nothing to do with what I had in mind.  There would be no bells and whistles or any fluff.  I would not try to be the all-in-one gamer channel where there was something for everyone.  The listing below is pretty close to what I believe gamers would like to see on television.

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ACE Team Interview (Zeno Clash)

Andres Bordeu, from ACE Team, the developers responsible for the critically acclaimed Zeno Clash, graciously agreed to be interviewed via e-mail.  You will get there take on DRM, piracy, DLC, life as an indie dev and much more. 

1.    Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Zeno Clash.

I am one of the co-founders of ACE Team and I work as Game Designer at the studio. Since ACE is a small independent studio my role in Zeno Clash encompassed a lot more than just game design –we all had to get involved in multiple areas of development. Asides from design tasks I created 3d characters, made environments, developed particle effects, worked on the sounds, did voice overs, etc. At the time we were working on Zeno Clash for the PC we were only 7 guys. I still get involved in most of those areas but not as directly as in those days.

2.  How did you get started in developing PC games?

My brothers and I have been interested in game development since we were kids. Carlos and Edmundo (also co-founders) spent hours with me drawing pixel art on our Macintosh Plus for the games we wanted to create. Eventually we started making mods and when we were developing larger projects we got approached by a scouting agency that was looking for games with commercial potential. That was the defining point where we decided to convert our hobby into a profession. After working for a couple of years at Wanako Games (currently Behavior’s Chilean branch) we decided to found our own studio with our other partner David Caloguerea.

3.  Where did the idea for Zeno Clash come from?

Zeno Clash was conceived from an abandoned project. After we were approached by the scouting agency we set ourselves to prepare a new project that we could pitch and turn into a commercial game. This project was named ‘Zenozoik’ and it was in some ways the spiritual predecessor of Zeno Clash. At the time we were just too inexperienced and ambitious so the project never really took off, even though we put nearly 2 years of working during the weekends and the afternoons while we dodged other responsibilities. It still was a great experience and it helped refine our game developer skills.  Continue reading

S.P.A.Z: Space Pirates and Zombies Interview

The boys from MinMax Games are hard at work supporting their breakthrough title, S.P.A.Z: Space Pirates and Zombies, but were able to break away to discuss SPAZ in an e-mail interview.  You will get their take on what it takes to be an indie dev, thoughts on DRM and piracy as well as how MiniMax got started.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of SPAZ.

Andrew: I have known that I wanted to make video games since I was ten years old.  Working toward that goal mostly involved spending way too much time in front of the computer playing whatever I could get my hands on, and some math.  I have been making games professionally for over ten years now, and it is definitely the only thing that I ever want to do.  Over the years, games have gotten more and more big budget but also more generic and it was getting very difficult to get that old feeling of wonder from when I was a kid.  The new indie games revolution is a real godsend.

Richard and I are both designers at heart and share that role equally and discuss pretty much everything at a high level, but we have enough trust that once discussed, we know that whoever is implementing something will do a good job and we don’t micromanage each other. We worked together for almost 5 years before starting MinMax and we probably have wifi connections into each other’s brain by now.  Outside the shared design responsibilities, my main role is coding and scripting.

Richard: I started my game development adventure by going to a video game design school for 2 years.  After that I landed myself a job at a big studio where I stayed for nearly 5 years working on mega projects.  After a while you want to work on something smaller that doesn’t require a dev team of over 100 people.  After I left, Andrew and I got together and formed MinMax Games.

We are both involved in the overall game design and there is quite a bit of overlap there in terms of day-to-day work.  Beyond common duties, I’m the art and sound guy for the game.

How did you get started in developing PC games?

Andrew: I have always identified myself as a PC gamer, although recently the line between PC and console games is becoming blurred.  I do believe that there is no substitute for a mouse and keyboard.  In my professional career, all of my work has been on console titles that were sometimes ported to the PC as an afterthought.  The console market seems bigger and there are no compatibility issues, so console development is a no-brainer for a lot of developers.  When we started work on SPAZ, our main goal was to make a game that we never saw anymore and really missed.  We bet that there were a lot of old school disenfranchised PC gamers like us out there and it seems that we were right.

Richard: SPAZ is my first PC exclusive game.  I had previously worked on big budget console games for a large company.  With envious eyes I’d been watching the growing indie community on the PC market and wanted to get involved.  When we started MinMax Games there was no doubt we were going to attempt a PC indie game.

Where did the idea for SPAZ come from?

SPAZ is a combination of concepts from a variety of games that we both loved and are rarely made anymore.  Star Control 2 has to be the core that everything was built off of.  We could not understand how the top down space action adventure genre could just die off, so we had to change that.

Diablo is also huge inspiration and we definitely needed loot and RPG style level ups.  Then we looked at Mechwarrior II.  All that customization, weapon variety, simulated physics, big explosions.  Finally, we looked at Master of Orion.  We needed that sense of exploration and research.

Designing SPAZ was a huge iterative process where we ended us throwing out more ideas than we used, but in the end it all came together and although SPAZ will feel familiar to any old school gamer; it also has a personality of its own.  Continue reading