Me: Tell me a bit about what you guys are up to?
Birchy: We are currently developing Terror Firma. It's a zombie first-person-shooter set on a UK military base. We are aware that there are currently a huge amount of zombie based games on the market, but we are trying to create one that will stand out from the crowd. Terror Firma is my personal dream game, we want to take all the things we've seen and enjoyed in other zombie games then amalgamate them into one entertaining package. This does mean, however, that we must avoid making these elements feel 'watered-down'.
Alex: As Birchy has said, we are currently working on a horror shooter. I really like games that excite the senses and evoke emotions, which is what we are trying to do here.
Me: What's your take on being a Game Developer?
Birchy: There are numerous benefits to being an indie game developer. Not having to answer to anyone and setting your own deadlines can certainly be liberating. The downside to having this freedom is the nagging thought that time not spent working on your project just pushes the release date further back. I would say that ultimately, the greatest thing about creating indie games is having the freedom to work true to your vision.
Alex: I used to think game development was like a mysterious dark art. I remember playing games when I was a kid and I would marvel at how it worked. Now I know that there's so much more to it than the player sees. You have to be very opened minded when creating games and be aware of the limitations of yourself and your computer.
Me: You guys are Indie Devs. Good or bad, you're essentially going against other Indie Devs and trying to put your game out against AAA companies. What do you do for an 'Edge'? How do you get yourself recognized?
Alex: I think that game companies that have more money behind them ultimately have a bigger reach. Although some indie games have gained recognition through their individuality and interesting concepts. This is what we are hoping will propel our game into the market. Story and design is everything.
Birchy: Creating a game is only half the battle. Developers will also need to think cleverly about advertising and getting their product seen. Indie game developers notoriously run on small budgets, therefore finding something of a 'hook' to grab attention is vital. AAA games will always have the upper-hand when it comes to being seen due to the shear volume of cash and PR personnel. I guess at the end of the day, if you have issues getting noticed, you could just keep trying. You can move your own deadline, a game has no sell by date.
Birchy: Indie games are fast becoming household names thanks to social media helping to spread the word. The smaller indie developers often gain recognition through innovative game design and storytelling, this is something that gamers will always desire, especially when we're seeing so many 'copy & paste' sequels currently.
Alex: I still think there may be severe limitations present with console development.
Me: Besides Terror Firma, what would you like to make?
Alex: I would like to make a Sci-Fi game with a similar aesthetic feel to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.
Birchy: I'm with Alex on that, Blade Runner was a beautiful looking film and the score that Vangelis composed was truly remarkable.
Me: I know a lot of external sources and media have pretty strong opinions about Violence in Video Games, but, being inside the Indie Scene, do you have your own take on the matter?
Birchy: I don't have a problem with violence in video games. Sometimes it's intrinsic to the story. Sometimes you may just want to drop a piano onto someone's head to see what happens. It's human nature. I understand that the media revel in the fact that whenever someone young commits a violent crime, often they own video games that depict violence. I think most of us are clever enough to see that there was probably an underlying psychological issue with the perpetrator. I do feel that parents should follow the age restrictions that the games have been given.
Alex: This is a tricky subject. I personally think age ratings are there to protect young minds. Violence is ok, but if it's completely unnecessary violence, then no.
Me: Indie has grown and really come along way from it's early roots. Almost becoming its own mainstream, you could say. Do you think Indie has a staying power?
Birchy: The indie game industry has the capability to continue indefinitely. As with AAA titles, indie games are another form of art. Players can be shown beautiful visuals, hear emotive music, find themselves involved in intriguing story-lines and experience things that may bring back or create fond memories. As long as people appreciate art, stories and music, they will enjoy indie games.
Me: Pop quiz, hot shots! What IP or Franchise would you have liked to work on?
Alex: It would have to be the HALO series; I love what they have done and the stories they have created.
Birchy: I would have loved to have been involved in the development of Minecraft. Not due to its success, but because I find the game to be so full of possibilities. It's inspired many 'clones' and the vast amount of mods that are available just goes to show that it has really sparked people's imagination.
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