Indie Developers Showcase 2010
Indie Developer Showcase, Day Five: Meat Boy

Jordan Deam | 29 Jan 2010 21:00
Indie Developers Showcase 2010 - RSS 2.0

imageWelcome to the fifth and final day of The Escapist's Indie Developer Showcase, a week-long celebration of the individuals and small teams who are making a big impact on the games industry. Each day we've featured a new developer and new games to play; to see the full list of developers, click here. Thanks for reading, and if you liked any of the games featured this week, don't forget to support the developers!

There's something remarkable about Edmund McMillen's games. Maybe it's the fact that you can look at one of them and instantly know it's his, despite the fact that their subject matter ranges from puking (Spewer) to conception (Coil), or from extended dick jokes (The C Word) to imagination as an escape from childhood isolation (Aether). Or perhaps it's how he seamlessly blends traditional platforming gameplay with completely new mechanics (Gish, Time Fcuk). Either way, he's established himself as one of the most thoughtful, provocative designers in gaming.

McMillen's next major project is Super Meat Boy, an ultra-challenging old-school platformer for WiiWare and PC. It won't be ready for public consumption for another few months, but in the meantime you can play the marginally less super Flash prototype at Newgrounds. We spoke with McMillen about the ongoing development of SMB, censorship, and the lessons he's learned as an indie developer.

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The Escapist: You're nearing the end of development on Super Meat Boy. What's the experience been like so far?

Edmund McMillen: Technically we have a few months of development left, because I raised the number of levels from 200 to 350. I felt it would add a lot to the game, so we had to push it back a little to add the extra content.

Developing for console has been somewhat strange. The biggest difference is that when you're doing a console title and showing it to the press, the game basically needs to appear finished, so there's a large amount of polish that goes in early on and that's not at all how you usually do things when doing an indie PC title. But I've gotten used to it and can actually see the positive aspect of doing things that way.

TE: Do your games generally start out with a character and develop from there, or do you have the mechanics in mind before you begin working on the art?

EM: It depends on the game. With the original Meat Boy prototype, the basic gameplay was already in, and I designed the character around what we had. Many other games I've done have been based around the characters design first, like Gish.

TE: How did you come up with the idea of adding other indie game protagonists (like Braid's Tim, Bit.Trip's Commander Video, Messhof's Flywrench, etc.) as unlockable characters in SMB?

EM: The goal was to try to give back to the community that made us and also kind of bring some lesser known indies into the spotlight of the mainstream. SMB is a big homage to videogame independence as well as the heyday of 2D gaming. I just thought it would be awesome to feature characters from games I love!

TE: Do you favor any one portal over another when choosing where to host your flash games? It seems like you're more active at Newgrounds - what about that community appeals to you as a creator?

EM: I stick with Newgrounds because they give you the most freedom. The site is also run by a very good game designer (Tom Fulp) who respects and understands the videogame design process. I've also been a fan of Newgrounds from way back when I started doing interactive Flash and games back in 2000. It's a very open and creative community that doesn't have a stick up its ass about content.

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