Yesterday, Arstechnica posted an article about how people can’t make a living with the XBLIG service. Although the writer of the article asked me a number of questions, he only used a few tiny quotes in the article so I thought I’d post the entire interview here so people could see the full story:
Here at Zeboyd.com, we had a chance to talk to Chris Hughes about his upcoming platformer, Chris Unarmed.
1 – Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to get into game development?
I started my career in software development, and have already tinkered with projects at home. I have a strong passion for creativity. Normally that means starting something and losing interest in a couple of weeks once I’ve exhausted the initial creative phase and the hard work has began. This year I tried something different. I created a blog (http://chris2d.blogspot.com) where I set a resolution to build and publish a game to XBLIG this year, and I sent it to all my friends to keep my accountable. It worked.
2 – The platforming genre is highly competitive. What makes Chris Unarmed stand out from all the other platformers out there?
Indie games need to do at least 1 thing really well. They rarely compete with regular titles on scale or production values, so they need a hook. For Chris Unarmed, the level design is that hook. I know that sounds strange, but when people see the trailer they’ll appreciate what I mean. Some of the moves in this game haven’t been seen before, and that is what really sets Chris Unarmed apart. It makes you think. Not so much with traditional puzzle elements, but to work out how to manouvre Chris to reach his goal.
3 – I noticed that the game has a number of coins to collect as well as a timer that keeps track of your playing time. Are there any special rewards for collecting a lot of coins or beating the game under a certain time or are these just for gamers who want an extra challenge?
Hopefully players will enjoy the feel of the game, and they’ll play through more than once. These elements are really for those players. There are 5 different endings, based on the number of coins you collect, but they don’t affect the rest of the game. The timer was initially there just to gauge the length of the game (incidentally, it should take ~3 hours for most players the first time through), and it was going to be removed until one reviewer mentioned that he enjoyed racing against the clock. If nothing else, it should keep speed runners accountable. 😛
4 – Tell us about Chris Unarmed’s development? How long did Chris Unarmed take to make? How many people were involved? What were some of the hardest parts of making it?
The project was officially launched on 2 Jan this year, and is (pending peer review) a few days from launch now. I did everything except for the music, which was composed by a mate of mine Ryan. The technical aspects were pretty straightforward. True to form, the hardest part was staying motivated. I finished the engine in March, and then took 3 months off because the prospect of creating all the levels was so daunting. The two best things I did were to build an in-game editor and a command console. With these tools, I was able to jump from room to room in a flash, and make steady, incremental updates to rooms and test them instantly. Saved me a LOT of time!
5 – Now that Chris Unarmed is finished and soon to be released to XBox Live, what are your plans for the future?
Not quiting my day job just yet. 😛 It really depends how people respond to Chris Unarmed. There’s still a lot to explore in the platformer genre if people like my work. I’m still learning, and thankfully there’s a great XNA community to support anyone who is passionate about game development.
Expect a full review of Chris Unarmed after its official release on XBox Live Indie Games.