it has been awhile! I recently gave my first public interview about Fara & The Eye of Darkness’ development! I sat down and talked to Jonathan Holmes of Destructoid, on his podcast, Sup Holmes. We discussed my early days as a developer, INK, and Fara. I thought that it would be great to collect my thoughts about the interview, respond to a few follow-up questions, and clarify a few details.
For those of you who may not care about my personal beliefs and/or the politics involved with this industry, please feel free to skip the italic text that follows.
[DISCLAIMER: Politics, Pronouns, and Opinion]
During the interview I spoke about several industry members incorrectly. To a lot of people in our industry, proper use of preferred pronouns is extremely important. On more than one occasion I referred to a person as ‘he/his’ in place of ‘they/their’ (which they would have preferred). This person has not contacted me, nor complained, but I do feel that it is important in case they do read/watch at a later date.
As a lot of you may already know, being entirely politically correct is not a mission of mine. However, it IS very important that everyone who has worked, is working, and will work with me feels like they have my utmost respect. In this case, I simply misspoke. Prior to game development I hadn’t been put in a position where I needed to think about these things. Due to this, I have to consciously be aware of potential mistakes that I might make because it isn’t a practice that I have ingrained into myself subconsciously (yet). This being my first interview of its kind (nervous as hell), I slipped up. This is my apology for that. It may or may not pertain to you, directly.
On top of that, I do continue to receive comments in regards to the diversity in Fara’s cast of characters. I get questions about the strong presence of female characters as well as questions about the lack/avoidance of death in a game that appears to focus on action/fighting. All I can really say is that Fara & The Eye of Darkness is being developed with no agenda(s) in mind. The team has differing backgrounds and beliefs just like the characters that we have begun to create. Features like mood, personality, palette, and proportions determine the physical appearance of our characters, not a black/white list of man versus woman. In fact, there are no human characters within Fara’s world and the sex of most creatures is purposefully left ambiguous, so a tallied list would be left up to your opinion/imagination, anyway.
For those of you who would prefer the details and move straight to the interview, you can find the video HERE.
I joked a lot about an early project of mine called, Frog Sord. Will it ever see the light of day? Yes, but not how you may expect/want. I will likely create something using the vision of the final product that I had in mind. However, it won’t include any of the assets or content that you can currently find online.
Somewhere in the middle our chat, I briefly spoke about my experience with college and how my college experience(s) relate to game development. I want to be more clear about where school is/isn’t necessary for people interested in this industry.
For starters, do your research. I do not suggest going to any of the technical schools that promote “game” degrees. As an easy rule of thumb, if they have a commercial, you are NOT interested. Diploma mills exist and they want your money more than they want you to become successful.
The biggest exception to that rule is DigiPen. DP is absolutely your best bet if you are interested in getting a job in the AAA games industry. They are on top of the current tech, they force you to actually develop games, and you hardly waste any time on superfluous subjects (language, history, filler, unrelated electives, etc).
University can be a good option for independent developers, but it typically is not. Universities tend to teach broad subjects and create well-rounded individuals for an industry that honestly prefers people to have a focused specialization (rendering, shaders, physics, audio, gameplay, etc). If you attend a traditional school it is likely that you will have to do a lot of outside study to keep the pace with the other people looking at introductory jobs (for programmers, most schools don’t even teach C++).
For most aspiring indies, I’d recommend a solid dose of internet and a few helpings of determination. Find a mentor, lurk on forums, and ASK QUESTIONS. There is no secret sauce. You just need to continue expanding your tool belt. Start early and be curious. I can go into more detail, but I’d prefer to do it on a case-by-case basis (email me).
Creating Without Playing
I also told Jon that I don’t play games very much these days. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge gamer, at all. I played more games when I was in school and slowly and I’ve played less and less. I’d say that these days I’m lucky if I play an hour a week. It’s quite often less than that. Recently I have been playing a game or two of Nuclear Throne each week.
I much prefer creating games to playing them! I think that a lot of developers enjoy making games because they see problems in the games that are available to them. We see things that we don’t like and we hope to create things that will ease that feeling for others. I like to get inspiration from other medias and areas outside of games. I feel that if everyone is pulling from the same source material (current games), then we will all push the same games as output, as well. Designers like Miyamoto didn’t have prior games to look at and instead brought outdoor adventures and creativity to the table. The best games come from people who do other things. I suggest that every developer get a hobby that is completely offline.
This also applies to my statement that INK is a game that didn’t need to be made. It is not that I am pessimistic and like to look down upon my own work. It is because INK brought nothing new to the table. INK is a collaboration of other peoples’ ideas, not something fresh that came to me away from the screen. There are games within the genre that are better in every aspect, thus making INK more of the same. It is more content, more fun, and more game, but it is all more of the same.
To Be Continued..?
Have any more questions for me? Want to argue about my beliefs mentioned in the disclaimer? Want to see more interviews from me? Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email! I’m an open book.
For the time being, here is a look at some of the merchandise that will be available at the GDC 2016 Spaceboy Games booth!