Routine from Lunar Software is a game I’m keeping a close
eye on. The reason it has me so excited is that for once a developer has the
sense to NOT make a game that caters for the masses. Routine will be extremely difficult and
challenging, in fact, it will probably not be to your liking. I caught up with Lunar Software's Lead Artist and Designer, Aaron Foster for a chat about Routine and gaming.
What is it about the
medium of video games that convinced you to make a career out of it?
“It's been my life since I was a kid, I have moved house
about 15 times when I was young, living in not the best of places, but games
stayed constant! I would get engrossed and lost in their worlds, it was amazing,
still to this date it keeps me sane! And with work I feel that it takes up so much time of your
life, I would hate to do something I don't enjoy or love, putting games and
work together seemed so natural to me.”
Routine is one of the
first 10 games that received the “Greenlit” from Steam. Talk us through your
journey with the Steam Greenlight process
“There wasn't much of one to be honest; we didn't even see
it go live! I think it was roughly 12 hours after it launched we thought we
should get it on there as we desperately want in on Steam. The rest of it was
out of our hands, but it was a great experience and got us a lot of press
coverage and best of all GOT US ON STEAM!”
Video games have
potentially replaced traditional play. More and more kids would rather play a
video game than do some physical activity.
How do you think this is changing or shaping this generation?
"Hard for me to answer this, my childhood was playing games.
I mean of course I went out to places but where I was living wasn't really great
for that, so I guess the highlight and best time of my childhood was those long
nights in trying to complete games like Doom and Blood! So yea, I think it's a hard subject and I'm probably not the
best person to ask, but I will say one thing, I do really think that games are
extremely inspiring on a creative level, and I think that can be very useful to
the right person.”
In your opinion, what
role does the Indie genre play in the video games industry?
“I think they are great in terms of innovation for the most
point! But like any "scene" or collective or whatever you want to
call it, there seems to be a massive trend in doing the same thing over and
over, like copying the success of Braid that so many puzzle platformers attempt
to do, or the usual Twin Stick shooters/Zombie game.
So what I would say is that it's not about the
"Indie" scene it’s honestly more down to a few individuals that really
push and innovate in the games industry in general. Some are Indie some are
not, but there will only ever be a few greats that really make a difference in
Routine reminds me of
the loneliness in Doom, the horror of Aliens and the dread of Slender.
What is the
experience that you aim to deliver to gamers with Routine?
“I would love for gamers to love or hate it; if the game is
just "ok" then to me I would feel like I failed. The game will not be
for everyone! It really won't be, but I am really hoping that a few people will
really, really enjoy the experience.”
You highlight the
cost of failure in Routine by means of the “perma death” penalty. The
difficulty of the game is also increased by the absence of a heads up display
(HUD) and health packs. Why did you choose to take this direction with Routine?
“With Routine we really want players to question the actions
they make, and I feel with consequences as high as this, they may just do that.
I think there should be value on all actions you make or don't in some cases."
I included two questions from two Indie developers for Aaron.
Anna Marsh from Lady Shotgun Games: “To what extent does the joy of working on your own projects
make up for a lack of income? Have you set yourselves a limit where you think
OK, when this happens, when we can't pay rent/eat/whatever, we'll all go get
question! Honestly I try to make sure I am in a situation where money isn't an
issue, so at least working on the game isn't as stressful. Right now I have a
part time job teaching at a university and of course I don't have that much
money to do anything other than eat cheap food and pay rent, but at the end of
the day I am making my own game! :) No other job could give me the joy I get
from doing that!”
Pete Bottomley from White Paper Games: “After working in an AAA team and also in
some smaller side projects, how do you find the role of project lead? What have
you learnt and how important is communication in a small, fast iterating team?
Also, what would you do differently when starting your next project?”
“Communication is HUGELLY important! We go on Google+ daily
and screenshare from our computers to make it feel a bit more like a studio. Ideally
we would love to live in the same place as it would really speed up our
workflow and also to just make sure morale is high and people are happy working
on the project. We also play games together and it's great for keeping the team
in synch as we take breaks at the same time.
Project Lead is tons of fun and tons of work as I need to
wear so many hats, but honestly everyone on the team does, I just try to make
sure we are all on track! I think on our next project we will organise a bit
more with potential dates for competitions and keep on track with those as they
help immensely in terms of PR and giving the team something to work towards.
Oh and lastly I want to try and make sure we can all work
together in the same place, as it really does help getting things done faster
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