Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Interview With Developer: HeroInteractive

I've had the chance to interview the brilliant HeroInteractive here's the interview:

Q: Well for the first question, What got you started into making flash games?

A: Hmm...well I always wanted to make games, period, back in the day I was a huge lego kid and fairly creative, so I knew I wanted to make something when I grew up. So by the time I had made a massive RPG on my TI-83 calculator, I knew that games were it then. I went to Michigan State I expected that I'd go through the computer science program there that I signed up for and then maybe try somehow to get a job programming games it was pretty fuzzy well, long story short, I started hearing about another program there through Digital Media and Technology (DMAT), the telecommunication department. So I decided to look into that, they have a whole game design specialization now, so I thought to myself, "Hell, I'm already getting one degree, why not get one in telecom as well?" So I did doing both programs really helped me to get on the ball. Computer science gave me the chops, but the game program gave me some contacts and some experience with a little program called Flash. That's the long story.

Q: Very cool, Now how long have you been doing Flash for?

A: Before I started Hero Interactive, for 2 years in school I was writing custom Accounting software for another company. I had become the lead programmer on the several hundred thousand dollar project, and last August 1st is when I left that company to start making games. Switching from my new full time job with it's security writing accounting software, to making games. As for making games. Not as long as people might think. I actually first started making games using Lingo in Director- Shockwave games, that was maybe only 4 years ago I made a few flash games in school. But Hero Interactive has only been around since last August, a year now, and has only been making games for non-clients since March, but you could argue being that I made flash games roughly 8 hours a day or more, every day for a year now, that I've gotten a few years worth of experience.

Q: Very true, I've played some of your games and I have to admit they are really good. As far as inspiration and ideas, where do you get them from?

A: It varies, I play a LOT of flash games and I've done many a game design workshop, after many failed games that I made through school. I've learned what works, and what doesn't. Everyone asks where I got the idea for LightSprites. I was admittedly on vacation down in the Dominican Republic during that, but for most games, I usually start by abstracting the game design. I seperate out the art and theme from the gameplay and imagine what the game would be like if all of the art were just circles on a white background, would that be fun? If so, THEN i decide what to do from there. I usually like to keep it simple if people want more, more I can make.

Q: And thats what your planning on doing with the Bubble Tank Series, is it not?

A: Yeah exactly I started out with a simple game, and seen the reaction. People want more, so we're making more. One of the problems too, is that all of these games cost money to make especially for me, not only do I need to feed myself, but I have an intern to pay as well. So I need to be careful on how much money I put into a game if people react really well, then I know it's worth the investment to put more into it

Q: Now as far as interns go, how many people do you have working with you right now, just the one?

A: Yup, it's just me and my good friend Eric. I also had a subcontractor helping me with some PHP work a while back. For client work I can see us, as some of our game investments mature, taking more people on.

Q: With your ability in making and creating games, I have no doubt you'll grow even more. Do you plan on staying in Michigan if you do manage to grow really big?

A: Yeah, I'm really excited about the growth remember, all the games you've seen have been developed since March that's about 5 months for 5 games and we've been developing client work throughout this whole time, as well which has been an even bigger project. As far as staying in Michigan, that's dependant on if my soon-to-be wife can find a job here, we're getting married in October.

Q: Congrats, how does she feel about your games, as far as playing them goes?

A: Well, she varies I always test them with her because we like to reach out to a broad audience, but sometimes the games I make just are not for her kind of demographic. She loves bubble tanks but she hates triangles I'm always torn, because she'll get really frustrated very quickly. How easy do I make them? Easy enough for her? Then I usually get a large audience of teenagers who play games all the time who get bored very quickly, but she's a good indicator as to if I made a game harder than all hell, she'll let me know

Q: Thats awesome, now for Bubble Tanks Two is there anything that you want to elaborate on as opposed to the diffrence in the original bubble Tanks?

A: Well yes, it's much sweeter, :-)
but to go into more detail first there is a massive increase in content. The second game will have 125 enemies total in the deluxe version compared to the first game's 14. With over 40 enemy weapons compared to the 1st's 5. You'll also see 51 different tank states down several upgrade paths. You can choose 8 total ending points each ending state is a pretty badass tank, very unique from the other ending tank states. We'll also see 2 new game modes arena mode, which allows you to pick which enemies you want to fight, what your tank state is, and then fight them on your own terms, and challenge mode. Challenge mode will have a list of challenges which we may update from time to time. You'll be able to select a challenge which you might have to beat in a certain time, or go until you die you won't be able to leave bubbles until you complete a bubble. Then you'll automatically be taken to the next bubble in the challenge. A challenge could be "Kill as many dead heads as possible in 30 seconds" to "Beat the 15 bubblefields of death." There will be high score boards and medals for each challenge which you can earn. We'll also have a bubble-o-pedia which allows you to view enemies you've encountered and defeated, and read up on them.Finally, the game engine is much better there will be unlimited bubblefields, no loading times. An upgrade meter, some kind of map/navigation system, and an alternate fire weapon that's the basics.

Q: I've heard you mention arena mode, is that going to be a multi player mode, and if not, are there any plans on having a multi player mode?

A: BT2 won't have multiplayer unfortunately, however, we are looking into 2 things first. We're looking into making an xbox live arcade version which can be played. Two people on the same machine and of course, another flash multi player version I expect within the year, we'll be jumping more and more into the multi player arena

Q: I can't wait, and is there a due date on BT2?

A: Well, it keeps getting pushed back right now. We're working a game that hasn't been announced yet called StormWinds. BT2 has been in development for awhile, I'm hoping late September.

Q: Awesome, as for StormWinds would you mind leaking some details as far as what to expect?

A: I was hoping you'd ask! Essentially, it's a game taking place in a kind of steampunk setting much different than our other games. Inspired by one of my favorite flash games, Bowmaster Prelude, the player will be fighting off a massive invasion of airships coming at your air fortress. Your fortress has slots for gun turrets these turrets are massive, and you can select them and control them. At first you'll only have only one place to put a turret, but you'll be able to construct more as you go. Each turret can be whatever type you want, as long as you've unlocked it, so you could have a flamethrower turret, or a flak turret, or a machine gun turret. Each turret has load times so you'll want to switch guns frequently, but because you can build two flak turrets for example, you've essentially doubled your flak turret fire rate. So it'll get interesting in between waves, you'll also be able to place floating mines, etc...

Q: Now how far into development is StormWinds?
A: A few weeks, I'd expect it out within 3 weeks I'm hoping. We can push games out pretty fast, the fastest was a game we made and completed in just one week from idea to release.

Q: Wow thats pretty insane. From a developers stand point, what would attract you to post your games on sites such as kongregate, and is there anything you would like to see to attract more developers?

A: Well, we want to get an audience and connect with our fans. I think Kongregate is a great site for making that connection between developers and their audience. I'd like to see a few things first, I'd like a PM system, second a page where we can post announcements, screenshots that kind of stuff to get people stoked. Even a system that allowed us to protect our games and have some people beta play it would be awesome, but it'd have to be a very secure system. I think in the future we're going to be seeing, not just on Kongregate, Two big things the first is that I think developers are going to start offering two versions of games. A standard full game like normal, but a pimped out version that's sold online. We're doing this with BT2, selling a Deluxe version for just $6. But I also think we're going to be seeing many more multiplayer games and level editors that players can use which will really push the community aspects further

Well thats it for now Thank you for your time, if readers have anymore questions they can contact you through your website right?

A: They sure can
and I'd definitly want to point out our new blog too, we'll be putting a lot of news up on there already we have a BT2 video a short one

Closing: I've viewed it and I must say its a sure see, Thanks again for your time.

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