Podcast Interview with the one and only, Tyrone Henrie! Read Below, or click the link and listen to it!!! I think my man has a good radio voice ;) The link: http://www.indiegamepod.com/?p=2367
Show Notes: Interviewer: I’m here at the Game Developers Conference Online in Austin, Texas, and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?
Tyrone: Hi, I’m Tyrone Henrie. I worked on Catapult for Hire.
Interviewer: And what’s Catapult for Hire about?
Tyrone: It’s basically a contemporary take on medieval society. So, it’s kind of quirky and stupid, but it’s like the medieval economy has collapsed and you’re a knight, and so you can’t make money being a knight. And so, he’s got this catapult and he goes around doing free lance catapult work for people to make money in a down economy.
Interviewer: So, this was submitted to a contest which is how I found out about you. Can you talk about that?
Tyrone: Yeah. It was the Indiepub, the independent developer pub contest. I’ve heard about it before. It’s my first attempt at contests. And so, I just had a date on my calendar and worked towards it and hit it, and now I’m here. So, it’s crazy.
Interviewer: What was the date?
Tyrone: It was the end of August, I believe. Either that, or the end of July. It was pretty recent. I don’t even remember.
Interviewer; So, you have this idea. Let’s talk about the development. How did you come up with it? Did you come up with the story line first? Did you come up with the mechanic first? How did you come up with it?
Tyrone: It was kind of both. I wanted to do a catapult game, and there were a lot of catapult games out there. I figured throwing stuff and hitting stuff would only go so far. It’ll get kind of boring. So, I was thinking about a story that I can see a reason to have cooler, different game play.
So, I was like, ah, a free lance catapultist. That would be kind of cool. He’s hired to do whatever people want to hire a catapultist for. It was kind of both. I wanted a game play reason and a story element that worked with it.
Interviewer: So, since he’s a free lance catapult artist, whatever you want to call it, do you just have mini story lines for each of the different things that he needs to do, or how does that work?
Tyrone: Kind of. There’s an overarching story and, again, it’s based on what’s going on today with the down economy. There’s these evil kings that got all the gold and ran off with all the money, right? So, there’s mini story lines in that there’s clients that are return customers. They’ll come back and you have the villagers that their village is overrun with pesky rabbits.
So, you’re chucking them out of the village. Later, they’re being attacked by brigands, and you have to protect the village. There’s an inventor that invents stuff, and he wants you to throw it into the atmosphere to try and test parachutes and stuff. So, you get really unique payloads from him. And so, yeah, there’s mini story lines and there’s customers that have their own stories.
And then, the overarching story that you actually figure out that these kings are in outer space and causing all kinds of trouble in outer space that’s really just out there and crazy.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about the technology behind the game. What did you use to develop it, and what were some of the challenges?
Tyrone: I used Unity. That’s probably the main reason I’m in game development right now. I was just a Web developer by day and studying 3D animation by night. I was kind of this jack of all trades, master of none. Once I figured out I could actually make games in Unity, I was like, holy crap, I can do it all in game development. So, I was really stoked to do that.
So, Unity is what I’m using, and I would highly recommend anybody that’s just starting out, never having done game development, it’s pretty easy to hop into.
Interviewer: Was it difficult to get started then? You said you did 3D animation and Web development because your game is 3D, it seems.
Tyrone: Hard in that I’ve never made a game before, yeah, definitely. There’s a lot of support out there, like different forums and stuff you can hop onto to get support. There’s tons of tutorials to get started. The main thing that was hard for me is just figuring out all the different math involved to do what you want to do.
And so, there’s, again, you can figure that out as you go, just hop on the forums, ask a question and everybody’s totally helpful and help you figure anything out.
Interviewer: You said you did Web development before. Why do a 3D game? Why not just make a Web game because you see these Web games on the social network games proliferating? What inspired you to do the 3D?
Tyrone: For me, actually a 3D game seems easier. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I’ve been doing 3D animation, and I understand the 3D space better. I don’t know why, but a 2D game seems harder for me, and I totally admire the guys that do the 2D games. I’m like, wow, that’s amazing. How do you even do that? And Unity is naturally 3D, so I guess that’s one of the main reasons is it doesn’t do 2D too well.
Interviewer: While you were developing it, did you do play testing or user testing? How did that go, and what were some of the other challenges you faced while you were doing development?
Tyrone: Yeah. I did a lot of play testing, just posting again on the forums and asking people for feedback. People are totally awesome and giving…
Interviewer: When you say forums, are you talking about the Unity 3D forums?
Tyrone: There’s Unity, the TiGSource forums, the dev blogs there. Developers just post what they’re working on, and people give tons of feedback there, totally nice.
Interviewer: So, you have a dev blog on TigSource or something like that, and then other people would just come in and comment. How often were you updating your dev blog, and can you talk about some of the feedback and how it shaped your game?
Tyrone: Yeah, definitely. I would post every time I had a major revision, you know, something new. I would definitely address all the concerns that people had, and that’s helped shape the game. People eventually become your fans.
It’s weird to think that, and I’m not trying to be pretentious when I say that. Like, I’ve got fans but people like the game and they come back and give you feedback. And so, you want to please those people and make sure the people that originally liked it still like it. And so, yeah, you post pretty regularly, and people are always helpful in giving feedback on there.
Interviewer: What were some of the changes that you had to make, based on this feedback or any surprise design changes?
Tyrone: The main thing would have been the controls, I think. I’m still tweaking the controls. Getting that right is going to be the most important thing, making sure people can sit down and right away play and feel comfortable. I’m still working on that. Once I get that down and the core game play, I’ll be happy. But I think that was the main thing, yeah. It was the controls.
Interviewer: So, what’s next in store for the game? Are you going to release it? Is it just going to be a small project?
Tyrone: I definitely want to release it in one form or another. I’ll take whatever I can get, you know. If it’s on a Web portal, I’m happy. If it’s on Xbox ultimately, I’d love that, of course. I’m doing this competition right now with Indiepub. I’m a finalist on there. If I win, of course, I want to put it on everything and anything out there. Because it’s Unity, I think the main platforms I’m aiming for are PC, Mac, perhaps iPad and then Xbox PS3.
Interviewer: What suggestions would you have for other developers starting out wanting to do their own game? I mean, you picked up a whole different platform to an extent or new technology. Can you talk about working alone versus, say, maybe working in a team?
Tyrone: Yeah. I would love to work more on a team. I think it’s mainly just I don’t really know people. I’m getting out there and involved is the main thing.
Interviewer: And the people on your dev blog, those people give you… That is almost collaborating to an extent. You said feedback was motivating.
Tyrone: Yeah. It definitely is. I would just love to put it out there and ask for collaboration at some point. I think it’s just getting out there and getting to the point where you ask for help and collaboration, and people just don’t look at you funny, like, people actually want to work with you. The main thing is just be a nice person, be involved and make sure that when people ask for stuff you please them.
I’m not saying forget your core values, but stay true to what you want to do with the game but definitely listen to the feedback with open ears, you know.
Interviewer: Is there anything that you could have done or some things that you could have done to accelerate the development and any things that you could have done to speed it up or you wish you had known before you started?
Tyrone: Oh, I don’t know. Looking back, I’m not so sure. The main thing is the hard balance is I work to pay the bills during the day and then work on the game at night right now. The only way that I could accelerate that is move to an island and live super cheaply. I wish I could do that.
Interviewer: So, what’s remaining for the game to get it released?
Tyrone: I think it’s still super early. Like I said, it’s just getting that core game play down. Once I have that nailed down, I’m gonna add tons of levels and different game play modes and just get all the payloads in there because it’s going to be pretty fun once you get all the payloads and how they interact. So that people can invent their own fun, and that’s my goal with this is people, inventive game play.
Interviewer: Where can listeners find out more information about the game or follow your dev blog or give you feedback?
Tyrone: Yeah. The website is catapultforhire.com. All it does right now is redirect to my company website which is pixelmega.com. Kind of a silly name, but… Yeah, pixelmega.com. It’s got links to my Twitter and Facebook. And that’s probably the best place to get info.