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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Interview with Lost Decade Games

I interviewed Matt Hackett and Geoff Blair of Lost Decade Games, the team behind Onslaught! Arena.

1/ How long did it take Onslaught! Arena from initial concept to completed game?

We started working on Onslaught! Arena for Boing Boing's Games Inspired by Music Contest [1] in June of 2010. It launched along with the Chrome Web Store in December [2] which puts us right at about 6 months. However we were working fulltime jobs at the time, and only developing the game part-time.
2/ What's the process of getting a game into the Chrome Store like?

Launching a game on the Chrome Web Store is just as easy as it is on Pokki -- for each, you need only to zip up your game, include a manifest file and upload it to their servers. With both platforms, you're essentially just writing web apps, so web developers will be in familiar territory. What we're really excited about is all the new features coming into this space, such as Pokki's high score leaderboards.
3/ Apart from obviously Gauntlet, what games particularly shaped your memories and game design ideas?

We have fond memories of playing Smash TV in arcades while growing up and that influenced our game design. However, The Legend of Zelda was probably the biggest inspiration! Players we talked to would sometimes refer to a wizard in Onslaught! Arena as a "Wizzrobe," which is a character that exists in the Zelda universe [3]. As huge fans of these classic games, we are thrilled and humbled by the comparisons.
4/ Gauntlet 2 had the greatest voice samples of all time.  Explain this without resorting to saying "Blue Warrior is about to die!" or "Red Valkyrie needs food, BADLY"

So many of our first experiences with certain games came from the loud, boisterous arcades of the 80s. These places were PACKED with amazing games and designed to be noisy and to draw your attention. Games like Gauntlet are fast-paced and have tons of visuals on the screen, and can be a bit overwhelming when coupled with distracting surroundings. These voice samples were important because they would reach out of the chaos and grab the player to remind them that they were in danger!

Games can be the most intense (and fun!) when you're riding the line between life and death. These voice samples were extremely memorable because they were usually associated with really good times among friends.
5/ Will there ever be an IT monster in one of your games?

We hope so! Some of our favorite game villains include Ganon, Kefka, Dark Sol, and a number of other completely obscure baddies. Someday we'd love to revisit Onslaught! and spend more time developing really distinctive characters, including memorable monsters and evil-doers.
6/ What are you currently working on?

Right now we're wrapping up Lunch Bug, a strategic puzzle game built in HTML5. Look for it soon on Pokki and Facebook, followed closely by releases on iOS and Android.

After that we're going into pre-production on a project we're calling Super Lava Sword, which is a side-scrolling action game inspired by classics like Golden Axe and Altered Beast.
7/ What do you think have been the most important developments in relation to the rise of independent game making?

Distribution, distribution, distribution! Not all that long ago, indies were passing around their games on 3.5" floppy discs at computer conferences. These days our options for distribution are worlds better.

This is a really young industry we're in, and with the rise of "social," we're currently in a period of huge growth. Platforms like Pokki really help with getting games to as many users as possible, wrapped up in a great desktop experience.
8/ The question we all want to know the answer to... you created Onslaught! Arena - are you actually any good at it?!

We're pretty good (we've put some tutorial videos together on beating the harder bosses [4]) but we've met players much better than us! Before the Chrome Web Store launch, Google had an internal high score contest for Onslaught! Arena. One of their engineers scored higher than we thought possible! We met with some of the highest scorers and picked their brains about how they played the game. It was a really interesting chat.

Earlier today we were placing bets on who woud get the high score on the new Pokki leaderboards!

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