Experimental Game Dev Interviews
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  • Podcast Interview: Aquaria Developer and 2007 IGF Grand Prize Winner

    Posted on January 29th, 2008 IndieGamePod No comments

    Alec, from Bit Blot games and TIGSource Forums, talks about the journey from starting out as an eight-year old kid indie…all the way up to developing the 2007 IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize Winner game…Aquaria

    You can download the podcast here…
    http://www.indiegamepod.com/podcasts/aquaria-podcast.mp3

    or listen to it here…
    http://www.indiegamepod.com/dewplayer.swf?mp3=http://www.indiegamepod.com/podcasts/aquaria-podcast.mp3

    Here is a short video of Aquaria…
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G40cXjcz-9c]

    Show notes:
    0:00-5:00
    Introduction, from Bit Blot Games
    Talks about playing games as a kid
    Got a programming book and worked on small games
    Biggest game worked on was an RPG that would get restarted every few years
    Got into indie scene as a kid. Then did some work for small indie studios
    Not-so-great feeling when certain games got cancelled
    Worked on a casual game with someone else
    Worked on a game with girlfriend…an underwater adventure and eventually would be a precursor to Aquaria

    5:00 – 10:00
    Finished the game and wanted to see how to sell the game. But was not too interested in the marketing aspect.
    Was on Big Fish Games.
    Feels that marketing flows from a quality game
    Started a freeware team in high school
    Team management experience in high school.
    Vision to start own company and do games
    Didn’t feel inspired by the quick 2-month game finished
    Sat down and came up with changes in development/quality process for future games
    Came out with a prototype that was the seed for Aquaria

    10:00 – 15:00
    Continued working on it after meeting up with a new partner, Derek
    Met partner after doing music for a parody game that Derek was working on…
    Worked on Aquaria
    Had to revise game 3-4 times … and iterated to get it done
    Game was inspired by Action RPG genre
    The story was boring when replayed it…so had to redo story
    The importance of story to gameplay
    The value of story in games…being able to enhance the experience
    Graphics changed through the iterations

    15:00 – 20:00
    Music changed during iterations; had a composer. Then wrote some music by himself…then changed that to be more unique.

    Sent to other game developers to get feedback during play-testing phase

    Food system added in a later iteration.

    The IGF Submission was the one with pure gameplay.

    20:00 – 25:00
    After played it, felt a little empty.
    So added more characters and items.
    Cooking system towards the end
    Support/side system that gives you power-ups
    Pressure of being told to release early
    Knew that if released game early, it would be terrible
    Last 10% takes longer than 90% of the game
    Pressure to get stuff ready was challenging, had to submit to IGF in December 2006…and had to debug some major issues
    Had a lot of interest, so making a great game…it was enough marketing to make a game a success

    25:00 – 30:00
    May do advertising in the future for the game, not sure
    Wants to make a special boxed version of the game…as a collector’s item
    Wants to make a soundtrack CD later on
    Have a mac version that is going to come out soon
    Subtle hints about the next game
    Talks about doing a game that can hit a broader audience
    Not necessarily a casual game, but something that is accessible to most folks

    30:00 – 35:00
    Top 3 lessons from Aquaria
    Feels more confident now
    Feels more relaxed
    Feels better with partner….works well with Derek
    Thinking about sending prototypes to testers and other game designers more early in the game design process

    35:00 – 40:00
    How definition has changed from an 8 year old to IGF Grand Prize winner
    Since won IGF Grand Prize, more confident about abilities
    Indiegamer.com and Gamedev.net as references for indies
    forums.tigsource.com … enjoys the feedback section there

    40:00 – 45:00
    Community Projects at tigsource.com
    Game competitions at the site too
    Talking Online vs. going to GDC
    GDC was cool because met folks doing games as a living
    Skype every few weeks with various game developers
    Favorite Indie Games…
    Mr. Robot
    Chocolate Castle

    Some freeware stuff is nice

    45:00 – 50:00
    Where he sees the future of Indie game development going
    Top 3 lessons learned so far being an indie…
    1) Don’t give up
    2) Work Hard
    3) Have fun

    Take care,
    Action

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