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Road To The IGF:  Toribash 's Hampus Soderstrom

Road To The IGF: Toribash's Hampus Soderstrom

January 8, 2007 | By Alistair Wallis

January 8, 2007 | By Alistair Wallis
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Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, which profiles and interviews Independent Games Festival 2007 entrants, today’s interview is with Hampus Soderstrom of NABI Software, developer of turn-based online fighting game Toribash.

Singapore-based Soderstrom developed the game full-time over and eight month period, and is quick to add that the game will continue to be improved upon for some time. Unlike regular fighting games, Toribash puts an emphasis on “tactics rather than reaction” by using a turn-based system where players are given a certain time period to select which joints on the body to “extend, contract, hold, or be loose”.

Combatants lose by either gaining more points at the end of the match or – more likely – by touching “the ground with something other than their feet or their hands”. The catch is that this can include, for example, a leg that has been punched off by an opponent, or even a dismembered head. This combination of strategy and violence has earned the game an extensive and loyal community that has even gone to the extent of setting up a wiki for the game.

Toribash has received uniformly positive reviews, and has been announced as a finalist for the Design Innovation Award in this year’s IGF.

We spoke to Soderstrom about the game, its entry into the IGF, and its impressive community.

What is your background in the games industry?

None, really. I worked a couple of years as an IT-consultant, doing mostly Unix related programming.

When was NABI Software formed, and what previous titles have you released?

It was formed this year, and Toribash is its first title.

What inspired Toribash, and why did you decide to make it?

The game concept intrigued me, and I wanted something challenging to build.

How have you felt about the reaction to the game so far?

Very well. I never anticipated how the community would grow.

Do you think people are forgiving of the game's tough learning curve?

Both yes and no. This is a very hard game to master and I have no intention of changing that. If you want an easy "match three" type of game you know where to find it.

How important did you feel it was to be able to play the game online?

Very important. Toribash without multiplayer is like eating chicken and rice without the chicken.

What were your expectations from your game, and do you feel the end product lives up to those expectations?

I have high expectations on all projects I do, some turn out better than others. This one has turned out really well.

What do you think the most interesting thing about your game is?

The fact that you can grab your opponents head, have that same arm ripped off at the shoulder and yet still win the match by beating him to death with it still firmly clinging to his head.

How long did development take?

We are still developing the game. Behind the first official release was around 8 months of development time.

What was the development process like?

Release early and release often. Any feature that doesn't add to the game makes it worse.

What do you think of the state of independent development, and how do you think independent games fit into the industry?

Good. Eventually today’s independent games will be mainstream and something new and dirty will be underground starting the cycle over again.

Have you checked out any of the other IGF games?

Not as many as I'd like to.

Which ones are you particularly impressed with, and why?

Golf? because it looks fresh.

Which recent indie games do you admire, and which recent mainstream titles do you admire, and why?

I played Defcon, which I had a good time with. I haven't played any recent mainstream games this year that I really enjoyed.

Do you have any messages for your fellow contestants or fans of the IGF?

I hope I get a chance to see you at the IGF.

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