He was wearing a bright red plastic fireman’s hat and soliciting the Indie Alley traffic like their very gaming salvation depended on it. As I approached the booth for my scheduled interview I surreptitiously surveyed their reactions and those of the people already playing, confirming that it wasn’t just me - Fire Hose Games Fire Chief Eitan Glinert has infectious enthusiasm. It isn’t limited to Eitan - high spirits are a matter of company culture at Fire Hose, so much so that I’ve often wondered if their games run on an engine of good cheer, no distillation required.
That first impression was made over Slam Bolt Scrappers, the debut title from the happenstance biotech guy turned developer. Part brawler, part builder, layered with multiplayer and a dash of Smash Bros. and Tetris it was like playing a gamified version of the Eitan’s mind - you’re never quite sure you’re keeping up with his train of thought. I liked it, Adam liked it, and during a subsequent GDC we could be found kicking back in the PlayStation room playing SBS rounds while Eitan hopped up and down, alternately joining in and chatting.
The game launched on PS3…and the PS Store was hacked, taken offline for two precious months while Fire Hose watched their heavily buzzed title languish, inaccessible to so many. There were layoffs, and it was hard to see the visible hurt this caused the Fire Chief. So much passion, so much work. This is indie, and this was heartbreak.
I felt tangible relief when I heard about their next title - a Tower Defense game, to boot! Then at PAX again, the Fire Hose staff was there in all their Gatorade-fueled fervor, watching keenly as adults and children alike queued to try the most ambitious of BBQ defense sims available, Go Home Dinosaurs. Available on iOS (and Steam), this became one of the first titles I was able to play as a new mom, when my iPad became my gaming lifeline. Fire Hose and Go Home Dinosaurs were there for me at my most gaming vulnerable, cheerily filling a void with T-Rexes marching mercilessly toward my steaks.
Where do you go from the cookout? Let’s Quip! is a title spawned from that strange dark place that the best ideas - the best comedy - is forged, tempered and quenched. Fire Hose PR guy, Sean Baptiste, exudes the same wild exuberance I’ve long associated with the company. He’s a man that had multiple brain surgeries and seized them as the opportunity to pursue a life-long fascination, and so explored the world of stand-up comedy as a means to test and train his mind. His passion for comedy writing and stand-up comedy grew, and Let’s Quip! has gone from nascent idea to a development build that Baptiste has seen actually make people better, funnier writers. If that isn’t making the world a better place through games, I quit.
I used to think I was kind of funny. Maybe I still do, but now that I’ve played Let’s Quip!, I know a little better than to ever venture onstage during an improvisational comedy session as anything other than the object of ridicule. At least not until I’ve played more Let’s Quip! A bite-sized “debate simulator”, it pits witty writers, comedians and the best of our new world of 140 characters or less against one another in matches - matches that people vote on. With thousands of words in the bank, random ones are selected - of my matches the one that sticks is Madmen vs. TARDIS - and you design your winningest, brief, argument in favor of your word. Magical crowdsourcing happens with players voting for you or your opponent and I experience the not unfamiliar sensation of defeat. Public defeat. My favorite kind.
Fortunately indies like Fire Hose have, by nature or necessity, a supernatural immunity to real defeat, to the crippling fear of failure. Undeterred by obstacles, from hacks that stymy profits to brain surgery that frustrates recall, their spirit couples with a voracious appetite for their work: games. There have been consoles and frustration, PC and iOS, but now Fire Hose’s gaming proselytism can no longer be confined to one studio. While developing their own title, Let’s Quip!, they launched their Accelerator Program and began working with Chris Chung on his first-person destructive cat sim - Catlateral Damage (now with a successfully funded Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com... ). Unlike the standard publishing model, with the incubator FHG is designed to help developers make their games a reality while still keeping the budget realistic - while safeguarding against the same heartbreak they experienced with Slam Bolt Scrappers. Because for Fire Hose Games, you don’t just develop and learn, you improve - and you bring everybody with you.
Day 6 | Fire Hose Games