I know I state this a lot but I figure I may as well put it here so it can be easily referenced. I'll do this in Q&A format because there's a lot of subjects to tackle.
Who do you want to be known as when you and your company becomes more prominent? What do you want the CCC to stand for?
I have always aspired to make fun, original wacky games that players will look at and think 'WHOA, THIS IS FUCKING NEW AND EPIC AND AWESOME, SO MUCH FUN!'. My goal since I basically started was to be renowned for designing good fun games that don't choke on their own wind for too long.
Recently I've also said I will not cater to the masses, I want to make the game that I and my company want to make, I will not be making it grey and brown just because that's an easy palette to point at and say 'IS REALISTIC'.
So while I don't work to please everyone, since hat's impossible, I work to please those who can see the beauty and charm in more balls to the wall fun or a game with an absorbing atmosphere.
I will do things my way, and if my way just so turns out to be the best way, then awesome!
You clearly have inspirations from different things, what are some of the large inspirational pools that you draw from?
Well, it depends on what you are talking about specifically, but I'll answer each as it goes.
For artistic direction, this is secondplace to more important things like gameplay and atmosphere, however, artistic direction does speak a lot for the atmosphere. I've based it on a variety of styles, my own sort of cartoon drawings I did as a youth which were based off for the majority, characters in Disney Motion Pictures and cartoons of which I still watch, Invader ZIM, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd n' Eddy, the Baskervilles, Jackie Chan Adventures and a couple others, these pool themselves into the cartoony way I draw which in itself is still very much an unusual style, it doesn't have any defined outlines so color matching can become quite a challenge, but it's one of the challenges I really enjoy. Though the outlineless heavily-shaded style is only a recent style I've developed more for my own ease rather than as a chosen artistic choice.
Exile was very much an exercise in how to further define that as a style. It can actually look stunning when done correctly.
For gameplay, most of my inspiration comes from the Ratchet and Clank franchise, along with older games that are legitimately fun like Rocket Knight, DooM95 and Duke Nukem 3D.
I get ideas for several of my events from various games I play, usually ones where-in crazy shit happens, Saints Row, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and indie games like IJI and Risk of Rain / Terraria have always been a way to think of bosses and other mechanics.
If you fought Menagerie's Optional Boss you can see the inspiration from the final battle in IJI.
Atmosphere inspiration, a lot of it is given by oddworld, which is an incredibly atmospheric game that just immerses you, but then there's also games like Wizards & Warriors which while still old, have a very eerie atmosphere about them that just sucks you in. Diablo II (especially the Kurast area) are very heavy in their atmospheric appeal, there's also games with a more bright and happy atmosphere like Glitch and Lollipop Chainsaw which just make you feel like you are lucky to be playing in this world.
That's as far as I'll cover for inspiration.
You typically belittle people who try to adapt gaming as an artform, why?
That's very different from what I do. Psychonauts is an amazing game and it certainly is something that was revered and reviled as very 'arty'. It allowed me to get past it's few gameplay flaws because I was invested in the universe I had to explore.
What I do not support is developers who don't TRY with gameplay and let art excuse it. I've come to call it the "Daikatana Effect". Bastion proves that you can be indie and produce a good artistic game that is very solid in gameplay.
So, philosophy time, what do you beleive makes the best game?
It all comes down to refining it in the end. You can't DOO everything. That's the brillance of games, so what you do is decide on an element, and then stick with that.
Exile: You're starting a new life, and trying to remain free while you're at it.
Hellcat: You just wanna go home.
Intelligence: Gassy malevolent beings threaten existence, so you gotta deal with them somehow!
Menagerie: I fucked up on this one. It lost it's solo focus very fast and was the biggest mess I've ever done story-wise, but whatever! Since it was in production for such a long time, I began intermingling multiple elements that shouldn't have been in the focus at all.
It was the Bioshock Infinite of my lot, I tried to do too much at once.
Once you know an Element you want to stick with, then you go forward and make sure it remains the solo focus. Menagerie's original solo focus was: Saving your world from an alien invasion. However Zardari made that very much a 'nope'.
Basically, I can't say that you should make a game fun and fuck everything else, because there are some games that get further with their atmosphere or storytelling than their gameplay, and this is okay.
You also need to set the standard, I have a ridiculously high standard for releases now. Someone was confused as to whether Exile was REALLY a demo because it is so polished and feature complete for what is there.
That's all there really is to it, refine and polish.
So what do you consider from a technological standpoint, your most 'solid game'?
I'd have to say Exile, Menagerie did have some advanced eventing within but it was solid only so long as players kept reading dialogue. It also was far too masturbatory on it's vocabulary and writing. (to the point that it was driving people who had enjoyed my past works away)
Both Intelligence and Hellcat did much better in the spotlight than Exile, but they had a much larger palpable audience. Their gameplay was not solid. Hellcat's started chugging if you didn't have a decent PC and Intelligence had several issues, these were more at fault of the Engine than my capabilities, but you can see why Exile stands out as the most solid.
I think that so far, it is the best game I've made all around.
It's got a solid art style, atmospheric immersion and doesn't strangle players with words. They are told only what they need to know at the time. The only time gameplay is heavily interupted is after a stages end, which is ideal because when you get to the end of a stage you expect there's going to be an intermission.
The beginning and end of stage 4 gives me feels that I literally, feel. Reverberations from the characters development, which has never happened in a game I've made before. You want Lyza to escape and you feel great and triumphant when she does. I've never felt so emotionally attached to a character I've invented. This is likely helped along by the games several artistic still shots and the superb writing.
It's something I am very proud of.
That will do. Stay tuned for more Philosophies.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The CCC Design Philosophy
To my superiors, I am Robert, to my inferiors... I am Mr. Clark, but to my friends, I am Biz. An almost anarchist who began his grassroots in game design with tabletop games written in MS Word, Modules in Neverwinter Nights, Projects in RPG maker, but now finally, I am moving onto Unity. Feared by many, respected by more. I'm a pretty okay guy, and my story to non-profit aimed success has just been make what I want to make. And make something of it. So I have done just that.