First off tell me about yourself and about Glass Bottom Games?
Glass Bottom Games is the studio I founded back when LEGO Universe shuttered, which is about 8 years ago now. I’d been working in games for 6 years prior to that, and I was a senior graphics programmer. Now I’m do everything person. I can even art!
What attracted you to designing/making games and has that answer changed over the years?
Initially, I wanted to make games because of Ultima 7 (and Richard Garriot). The game was important to me, and I wanted to make a “that”. As games got bigger, I thought hey, I wanna be part of a big AAA game. So I went, and I made LEGO Universe, and it was fun! In the process, though, I realized that the sort of studio that made Ultima 7 wasn’t the sort of studio that made LEGO Universe or CoD or whatever. Where I am now is more where Garriot was when he was making the games I loved as a kid, so, in a sense I’m where I wanted to be when I grew up. I just took a long loop to get there.
What are some of your favourite games, and are their any indie games in particular which you really enjoy?
I’m not someone that holds up a childhood favorite as my eternal flame, I’m more about what I’m playing now. Ultima 6 and 7 will always be important to me, and a bunch of other games like Kyrandia or Albion or Quest For Glory, but I’m more about what I’m playing now. Most recently, that would be Outer Wilds. I cursed at the game a TON in beating it, but dear god, it’s masterwork. Maybe one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s a game design yeet on a level with Stephen’s Sausage Roll, in terms of narrow-niche games that nail a narrow focus with utter perfection.
What are some of the pros and cons of being an indie game developer?
Pros, you get to work on what you want. Cons, you… get to work on what you want. It’s very self-driven, and when something doesn’t work out, you kinda only have yourself, or (sometimes) unknowable market conditions you can’t possibly predict, to blame.
How many games have you developed, which was your favourite and does public opinion reflect that?
I don’t really play favorites with my games either, heh. Of my currently released games, Hot Tin Roof is probably the best realized, and public reaction more or less reflects that. Including in-development games, SkateBIRD is my strongest work, and again, public reaction is reflecting that. So either my sense is very in tune with public’s sense, or more likely, I gauge my game’s worth based on player response, so the two are the same thing.
Okay, if you had to describe Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora in a tweet length pitch, what would you say?
It’s LA Noire meets Metroid with an inspector gadget gun.
The game has a distinct noir feel to it, are you a fan of the genre and if so what are some of your favourite works of noir?
I am indeed a fan of the genre. Topmost favorite is probably Grim Fandango (the game). In terms of film, everything from Drive to Asphalt Jungle, to Lucky Number Slevin.
What sources, if any did you draw inspiration from for the game?
See above list 😉 It was pretty much that with a 3D side-scrolling platformer spin, because I really liked the idea of a 3D world you did side-scrolling platforming to navigate.
What was the hardest aspect of the game to implement and why?
The 3D side-scrolling tech. Getting that to let you navigate a complex world was not easy, and our implementation was pretty threadbare even then.
Now that the game has been out for a few years is there anything you’d change and why?
I’d ditch the factory or at least make it half as long. The ending of the game kind of drags too, so I’d either tighten up the final clue sweep or at least add better hinting for where to go. A fast-travel system would help a lot of that too.
I understand that the game was at least partially Kickstarted, How did that go for you? Would you recommend that route and can you give any tips for a successful Kickstarter campaign?
Yep, it was Kickstarted, and so is our current game. The main thing is just community building. Have you built, or do you have access to, a community of people who actively want to see you / your games succeed? If so, your KS can do well. If not, you have work to do. Without that core group of fans/followers, you’ll struggle to push a Kickstarter harder enough for it to have any chance of wider reception.
Which character was the most enjoyable to write for?
Franky. Franky is still a voice that lives in my head. Her cheesy hard-boiled dialog was the sort that chewed up the scenery, it was great.
Who was your favourite background/side character and why?
Franky, without a question. I liked her riches-to-rags angle. A cat with a conscience, who had it all and was thrown out in the street – and then she built up her own home and friends and family from nothing, again.
Lastly, which character from the game would you spend the day with if you could and why?
Franky. I like cats. Pretty sure most of the other characters in the game would shoot me if I tried to pet them. Only reason Franky wouldn’t is she wasn’t allowed a gun. Well, until the good ending. So I guess I want to spend the day with pre-endgame Franky.
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