Over the next few weeks, Gamasutra will be presenting a regular 'Road To The IGF' feature, profiling and interviewing each of the finalists in the 2006 Independent Games Festival main competition. Today's interview is with Joe Bourrie & Patrick Hackett, co-creators of the 2006 IGF Innovation In Game Design finalist game Rumble Box.
The official description for this free to download student title, which was also entered in the Student Showcase competition, but actually made the finals of the overall IGF Competition thanks to its innovative concept, explains:
Box is a fast paced 3D action beat-em-up with a unique premise: all of
the characters are made of simple objects which stay around in the
level even after the character is defeated. The game takes place inside
a giant box, and the ultimate goal of the game is to pile up enough
defeated enemies to get out of the box."
Bourrie and Hackett chatted to Gamasutra regarding the circumstances behind the game's creation, some of the inspiration for the title, and how valuable it and similar games were to helping them land jobs in the industry:
GS: Tell us a bit about your background in the game industry, when your developer was founded, your location, your previously developed games?
JB/PH: We both recently graduated from the DigiPen Institute of Technology, where we made Rumble Box as our senior project, and are now working at Rainbow Studios in Phoenix.
GS: Tell us a little about your game - genre, how long it took to make, what it was inspired by, why you wanted to make it?
JB/PH: Rumble Box is an action mayhem game inspired by beat-em-up classics such as Streets of Rage and arcade hits such as Robotron and Bomberman. It was developed over the course of fourteen months as our senior project. The idea was to challenge the notion that enemies in video games should disappear when defeated, and the game grew out of that.
GS: What was the smartest thing you did to speed development of your title, and the dumbest thing you (collectively!) did which hindered development?
JB/PH: We were a team of only two people, so we focused on core systems that would get a lot of gameplay without the overhead of creating too much content. The biggest thing that hindered development was the fact that our animation tools weren't fully developed, which made it take longer to make all of the animations.
GS: What do you think of the state of independent development? Improving? Changing for the worse or the better?
JB/PH: The indie scene has definitely been improving lately. The internet has really come into it's own as a distribution model, allowing smaller teams to get their game noticed. Now that Microsoft is starting to open consoles up to indie developers, we expect we will see some amazing things coming from the indie scene in the next few years.
GS: What do you think of the concept of indie games on consoles such as the Xbox 360 (for digital download) or on digital distribution services like Steam? Is that a better distribution method than physical CDs or downloads via a website/portal?
JB/PH: With consoles becoming the dominant gaming devices, indies could easily be left in the dust if all they could develop for are PCs. XBox Live Arcade is giving indies the chance to compete with the major titles again. It is definitely a better distribution method for indie developers, because the publishing costs are much lower than manufacturing CDs and packaging.
GS: Have you checked out any of the other IGF games? Which ones are you particularly impressed with, and why?
JB/PH: We were very impressed by Professor Fizzwizzle because we are fans of the genre, and both Darwinia and Wildlife Tycoon are very well presented, polished games.
GS: What recent indie games do you admire, and what recent mainstream console/PC games do you admire, and why?
JB/PH: The Falling Sand Game has definitely eaten a lot of our time, and Cloud is a really amazing experience. Really, though, the only thing we live for any more is Guitar Hero.
GS: Do you have any messages for your fellow contestants or fans of the IGF?
JB: Having a good game is only the first step. To have a truly successful game, people need to play it. The internet and forums are a wonderful promotion tool, and we also found that giving out demos at GDC we not only generated hype, but were offered jobs because of it.
PH: To our competitors: the winner is buying drinks.