Me: First off, why this Industry?
Adam: I like that I can justify playing games as “market research”. (ha ha) But really, what I love is crafting these whole little worlds for people to lose themselves in. You get to pull all these different disciplines together -- writing, art, game mechanics, sound and music -- and turn it into this whole cool experience.
Me: What got you into Gaming?
Adam: I can’t remember what came first, the Sega Megadrive or the shareware floppy disks you had to battle command line to get running. I was maybe 5 when I played my first game, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Gunstar Heroes. That masterpiece is the Holy Grail of gaming. I swear to god, Matt and I have beaten that thing a hundred times and it never gets old. We still play it! But lately I’ve been playing the hell out of Spelunky, a masterpiece of a different kind.
Me: So you became a Developer and started 2 Hit Studios. Has your goal been realized to the point that you had initial planned out?
Adam: The fact is it’s not just making games all day. You also have to run the business side of things. That means accounting, marketing, actively pursuing an audience. We were pretty naive in the first place, thinking “yeah if we just make this sweet game maybe we can make money and stuff!” (haha) Nope. All that business junk is super important but so far removed from our skillset that it’s been kind of a crash course to learn it all. We’ve still got a ways to go.
Me: Who inspires you the most?
Adam: Honestly? Anybody who quits their soul crushing desk job to follow their passion. Even if it tanks and leads them to ruin, they gave it a shot and that’s guts.
Me: How much of you do you put into your work?
Adam: Hopefully everything. We freelance Web Dev to pay the bills and it can get pretty lame playing the professional all the time, so our games are our space to cut loose and be ourselves. The result is this bizarre mix of just whatever we think is cool at the time. Writing the dialogue for Fatal Theory is the most fun I’ve had on a writing project, because the humor tows this line between half-way clever and all-the-way dumb, and I get to make every character as ridiculous as I want.
Adam: I still feel like the new kid on the block, the amateur who hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. A lot of newcomers seem to think “I’ve gone indie, what an accomplishment.” But thousands of people are doing it these days and it’s a subtly cliquey scene, if you want to make it to the inside track you really have to prove yourself.
The days when gaming mags dictated discoverability, and therefore, what sank or floated, are gone. This is the internet age baby! The individual curates the information they’re eyeballing based on their own tastes. It’s just a matter of getting your otherwise obscure game under the nose of the right people. This is where forums and Reddit boards and so on come in. If you’re able to gather a following before you release to a marketplace, then those followers will push you up the charts and out of the muddy depths.
My advice to up-and-comers is this: get on Twitter, get on Reddit, TIGsource, whatever. Don’t just make your game like we did, get your name out there too. Shove it in people’s faces so often they lie awake at night mumbling it to themselves over and over, unable to get it out of their head.
Me: Speaking of shoving games into peoples faces and mumbling, please, shove yours into mine. (mumble)
Adam: With pleasure! Fatal Theory is our little love letter to the fighting and beat ‘em up games we grew up on. Think the Scott Pilgrim game mashed with Guilty Gear aerial combat and characters inspired by No More Heroes. Matt wrote the game engine from scratch after we spent a weekend deconstructing our favorite fighting games and what made them feel awesome to play, and the result is fluid, responsive controls with lots of ways to string combos together. He did a damn fine job on the thing, honestly.
The game itself follows Nick Mayhem, a guy who hears about zombies roaming the streets and rushes out to see for himself, baseball bat in hand, looking for carnage. Pretty soon he realizes the zombies are pawns and he’s walked into an all-out invasion from Hell, and, with the help of a talking Chainsaw, sets about laying waste to the demonic army and saving his city from destruction. So yeah, in other words, it’s a heart-warming story about an issue I’m sure we can all relate to.
What you can expect is gritty comic-styled pixel art, dumb humor and hordes of enemies to mince with your latest wicked special.
Me: Closing in on your Release Date, do you feel like your ready to loose your work upon society?
Adam: Well, we’re still working on our first title, but I honestly don’t think it will ever feel finished. The problem is that, as a Dev, you know your product inside out, and though there’s stuff you cut corners on because you know players probably won’t notice, it niggles every time you play it. You learn so much on each project that by the end you always see what could have been done better, but at some point you just have let it lie or be doomed to revise for all eternity.
Me: Thanks for forcing me to look up, "niggle". (Ugh) while I do that, can you tell me your opinion on the Shelf Life of the Indie Scene.
Adam: Oh, it’s got, maybe, a couple more good years in it. The Next Gen seeing the worth in embracing us will keep us going a little while, but it’s probably also doomed the marketability of the word “Indie”. Because right now Indie stands for something. Indie is a revolution, a reaction against all those AAA studios pumping out the same titles over and over. It’s the little guy taking back gaming, the old David vs Goliath underdog story. The market for AAA games was driven by consoles pushing hardware in ways the little guys couldn’t keep up with, so it was a reaction against the console marketplace too.
But the thing is, if Goliath wants to kill David he doesn’t fight him in the battlefield, he invites him over to dinner. Befriends him. Kills the underdog narrative instead. And that’s essentially what they’ve done. Indie now will be as commonplace as anything. We’ll still make it big from time to time, but not with the same frenzied propulsion we have now, and it won’t mean the same thing. It won’t be a victory for the cause.
Me: That's an interesting concept, if a bit dire. I like to end my Interviews on a positive note. Tell me, if you could work on any project, what would it be?
Adam: Spelunky for PC. Just so I could be that guy in every meeting shouting, “No, dammit! I don’t care how hard it is, it NEEDS online co-op! MAKE IT HAPPEN!”
Me: Well, sir, the pleasure has been all on my side of the monitor. I'm glad we had this opportunity to chat and I look forward to doing it again soon.
Until next time. Cover it with Phudg!