Interviewing Eitan Glinert, Fire Hose Games’ Fire Chief, isn’t really about asking questions so much as it is staying out of the way of his train of thought. He’s just cool like that.
In part two of our interview at PAX he talks to me about their upcoming tower defense title Go Home Dinosaurs!, game plagiarism, dynamic wave generation, calls Zynga evil bastards - plus hot dogs, forties and homeless people.
Cat: What about leveling up towers?
EG: Well, we had that in an earlier version, and I suspect that’s out. I don’t know... I’m still on the fence. We don’t know yet, I’m guessing it’s out, 30% chance of being in the game. We had an early version that did exactly that and people liked it, but it’s really hard as a designer. You show something to people and they say they like it and you have to figure out , “OK, but do you like it more than this? Or would you like it more if we did something else?”, and I’ll tell you that between the two responses, and how people played, I’m kind of on the side that this is probably better without. We just got rid of upgrading altogether, no upgrading, and I think that might be better for this. If we just stick upgrading with the card trading, with the tech tree stuff, that might be a lot more fun.
Cat: There were definitely moments playing where I though, “Should I be upgrading something?”
EG: I think that this game feels better without it, and it’s a really standard thing in tower defense but that doesn’t mean it has to be there. I think that in this case it’s probably stronger without it. Don’t hold me to that, maybe in six months I’ll send you a build that’ll actually have it there, but I don’t think it’ll make it into the final build of the game.
You know what’s neat, we have dynamic wave generation in this game, where the waves aren’t set. There’s an algorithm running that’s guessing how well you’re doing, and giving you dinosaurs that will match your level. That’s why you can have these different skill levels playing the same thing and it works for them. That’s gonna be in the game and we’re gonna have a lot of fun with that because it makes the game really challenging sometimes - we’ve seen five year olds that can play this and hardcore gamers and they have roughly the same difficulty, which is really nice. That took us awhile to figure out. It’s cool, too, because it makes it fast for us to throw in levels without having to worry about balancing waves - we do have to check, of course, but it gets us 80% there!
Cat: Will you have enough testers, are you going to be bringing in homeless people from the streets of Boston to test the massive multiplayer out on?
EG: Homeless people aren’t the problem, they’re always trying to break into our office and steal our hot dogs and forties. We should probably not advertise that we have those.
Cat: Mouse controls?
EG: We’re trying to get this cross-platform, and, I think I mentioned to you, iPad we want to hit up -
Cat: - So iOS?
EG: iOS definitely, Android we think we want to do, too, and then console.
Cat: Can be pretty hard to make money on the Android, can’t it?
EG: Piracy is rampant, it’s a real mess. With iPhone it’s the early adopters with money to burn so they don’t mind spending money, but with Android it’s, “I want my free thing, if it’s not free I’m not buying it.” The biggest thing beyond that is that on the iPhone, buying an app is so easy and straightforward. You want to buy something on the Android you have to go hit your head against the wall.
I mean, something we’re actually very worried about is plagiarism. So we’re showing this off here, are we going to be screwed in three months when somebody else comes out with this? The iPhone and stuff like that, it’s all plagiarism, people just steal stuff all the time. The thing is, we have to take that risk, we can’t afford to be quiet about it because death by obscurity is much easier than death by plagiarism.
So, people see this, and we’re doing a lot of new stuff that has not been done before, that’s why we’re trying to keep a lot of our cards close to our chest. We’re showing off a lot of the core gameplay stuff, but even some of the multiplayer stuff - we have some stuff that’s half working that we could show and have it be really impressive, but I’m just too nervous about that.
Cat: So without showing it off here, is there anything that makes it really different that you could just talk about...
EG: Well, the multiplayer stuff, stuff like with the cards. Zynga is a bunch of evil bastards, right? But the truth of the matter is that they do a couple things that are smart and do make games better, and so we’re trying to lift elements of that and basically bring it so it’s not this tower defense that’s “Play level” and that’s it, where we could do more interesting, I’m calling it “metagame” stuff that could be a lot of fun and let friends play together - stuff that just doesn’t happen in tower defense. There’s a formula and everyone sticks to it, and we’re trying to go above and beyond that.
The other thing that I hope will be harder to copy, is the dinosaurs are awesome, cute, you know-
Cat: -and they turn into bacon-
EG: -and the T-Rexes explode into steak and the Pterodactyls, of course, explode into feathers.
Cat: If it was like PixelJunk Monsters you’d have to run around and collect the meat!
EG: And the steak thing brings up interesting ethical questions about what’s on the BBQ and how did it get there?
How, indeed. While we ponder the provenance of that beef, big thanks to Eitan and the rest of the team at Fire Hose Games!
For more reading, our Preview of the game: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...