Indie Developers Showcase

Indie Developers Showcase
Indie Developers Showcase, Day 10: Multiwinia

Jordan Deam | 30 Jan 2009 15:00
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Click screenshot to download demo.
Click screenshot to download demo.

If you could go back five years and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

We used to be really bad at considering the experience of new players in our games. Darwinia especially had a very bad demo. We just bundled up the third level of the game; we didn't include any serious tutorial or walkthrough and we barely included a working help system. And we were expecting players to understand the concept of the totally abstract computer world, understand that they had to summon some units to get started and then successfully draw a gesture with their mouse to summon those units. All without help! I think we held a very arrogant opinion that gamers would just catch up with us somehow. But in reality that first Darwinia demo turned a lot of people off the game. Since then, usability has been a huge influence on our decisions, and we've always considered the demo to be an extremely important part of a game - it's people's first experience after all. With Multiwinia especially, we spent months getting the game interface just right, and the help and feedback systems just right. So my advice to my younger self would be to understand the consequences of bad usability, and therefore to consider usability as one of the most important parts of game design."

How do you know when a game is finished?

"Often you just run out of time! What tends to happen is a line is drawn in the sand, and a release date is decided. You then work like crazy to sort all the remaining issues in the remaining time. In reality you never get everything into the game that you wanted. We normally keep working on our games after launch, and all of our games have a couple of major patches - which usually include new gameplay, new features etc. So in that sense, our games are never finished - they are simply released!"

What games did you enjoy playing in 2008?

"The last quarter of 2008 was insane for new games. We had an incredible run of amazing games, one after another - I had trouble fitting everything in! I loved Left 4 Dead and still play that regularly on the hardest mode - I think it's the most satisfying and enjoyable co-op game of the year. I had an incredible time in Fallout 3, and the size and scope of that world just blew me away. It was also a great year of indie games, with Braid and World of Goo both showing the quality and polish and creativity that you can now expect from indie titles. And finally, perhaps slightly disappointingly, I'm still in love with World of Warcraft, and my Death Knight is now my favorite character. It's quite amazing looking at the difference in quality between the original content, the outland Burning Crusade content and the newest Death Knight starting zones from Lich King. (I haven't made it as far as Northrend yet, sadly). Blizzard are getting better and better at making WoW content, and I personally think I'll be playing this game for most of 2009 as well."

What inspires you outside of gaming?

"Movies are the biggest source of inspiration for me, and that's always been the case since I was very young. I've always loved movies and try to get to the cinema as often as I can, and I've got quite a serious DVD collection at home now. Many of our best game ideas are inspired my movies - some more obviously than others!"

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