Team Disaster Interview Part Two

Hello everyone, if you recall last week we did an interview with Team Disaster, the developers behind the indie game Captain Disaster In: Death Has A Million Stomping Boots. This is the other half of that long Interview where we discuss their thoughts on the industry, where it’s headed moving forward, their favorite developers, and comments made by President Trump regarding violent video games. Thank you for checking out the last part of this interview and I hope you are able to check out their game!


Team Disaster Interview Part One


Make sure to check The Loot Gaming and Team Disaster’s special offer:

Buy Captain Disaster in: Death Has A Million Stomping Boots 50% off here.

My Interview With Team Disaster Part 2

21) What are your thoughts on Early Access?

CD: Hmm… good question. I think it’s great for certain types of game – ones that are designed to develop over time, so early access gives developers feedback on what players actually want in the game (as well as free beta-testing of course!!) – but for games that are designed to come as one complete package, I can’t see how it would benefit the player. So for instance open-world MMORPGs it could absolutely be a good idea; a pointandclick adventure game, definitely not.

TBP: I’ve been fascinated to watch the game industry sell involvement in the process of making a game almost as much as the game itself. I expect this to continue to grow. It builds ownership and loyalty to a brand.

22) What are your thoughts on eSports?

CD: Well… I don’t know too much about them to be perfectly honest. If it’s just another ploy to get people gambling, then I’m against it. As a spectator event I don’t know if it can replicate the excitement and drama of real sport – I guess if you become invested in a particular player or team, it could well do. For players of course it could be a chance to play on a big stage in a way they never could in a real sport – in that sense I guess it’s simply a progression on what video games based on sports have been doing for years anyway.

TBP: The line between geek and jock has been blurred. Now geeks are the popular ones with all the fame, the cars, and the girls… wait. None of that’s true, is it?

Maybe I could start an eSports channel for roguelikes. Imagine the announcer: “He’s enabling auto-pickup again! Gutsy move! Wait… there’s another lower case “d” stumbling his way! Will he equip his ‘@’ with another backslash?! Baby, it’s on!”

Text adventures… “There’s a hush over the crowd as he prepares to type. What’s the next move? ‘> KILL TROLL’ Sha-bam! From way downtown! No one saw it coming!”

23) What are your thoughts on cloud based computing? Microsoft strongly believes that’s where the future is, do you agree?

CD: There are certainly applications where it can be extremely useful, with game development being an obvious example – many indie devs (such as ourselves) are based around the globe. On the other hand there would always be concerns about just how safe your data actually is. It’s not something I really know enough about yet to be able to give a reasoned viewpoint on.

TBP: I make cloud apps for a living. We developed our game using the cloud. It’s not only Microsoft that believes it’s the future.

24) How has the reaction to your game been? How do you deal with harsh criticisms? Does it ever become too much?

CD: To be honest the vast majority of reaction has been extremely positive. This is of course partly related to the audience – those who have actually bought and played the game are highly likely to be fans of old-school pointandclicks like ourselves. The reviews that have come from reviewers who clearly aren’t particular fans of the pointandclick genre / aren’t used to playing these sorts of games have tended to be positive but less effusive, with the criticisms being mostly those that can be levelled at pretty much all pointandclicks from the 90s and those who kept this style. There was only one review that left me feeling extremely disappointed, but even that wasn’t exactly negative about the game. Our average ratings based on player feedback (on AGS, Itch and GameJolt) have been 90% or above.

TBP: Our game was warmly received! The only criticism that makes me mildly sad is when people complain about the game’s art wholesale. Granted, it’s not fantastic, but my goal was to try and introduce some consistency, while retaining some of the assets drawn by CD that he loved. CD says he’s not an artist, but he loves making art for his games! I think he likes creating the art more than he will admit. I redrew the vast majority of the backgrounds, while retaining elements of CD’s original work. For instance, the original backgrounds in the Rubbish Dump were comprised of photos pasted together and smeared, much like the art in The Darkside of the Moon. I worked with CD (probably to his annoyance), insisting that we communicate the style guidelines to our other artists, and that we only accept assets that “fit” together. In any case, the criticism does not bother me too much. We know it’s not perfect. That was never the goal.

25) What is your platform of choice to game on? Why? What is the first major platform you would like to have your game available on?

CD: Almost exclusively PC, since I don’t have money, space or time for a console in addition. Although I have to admit to having found a few good games on my Android phone recently that I keep going back to.

TBP: I am more of a *nix user (Linux or Mac), but Windows is the platform of choice for the majority of gaming. I’ve worked on titles for the Xbox and Playstation, too. That’s certainly where the money is at. I’ve played CD on my Android and considered the changes needed to make it Mobile.

26) Kingdom Come Deliverance has had a polarizing response, do you think a rating of 7.6 is bad? (This is in reference to a review I did that caused a major rift with another reviewer)

CD: Er… I don’t know. I suppose as you gave Captain Disaster 7.7 they might be a bit miffed at being rated lower than us!! 😀

TBP: Opinions are like armpits: everyone has one, and they usually stink. I think that’s the correct way of looking at it, at least in my opinion.

27) Digital distribution vs Physical release and why?

CD: Much as I loved having the physical release in the past, digital distribution has all the advantages really. From the developer side it’s quick, easy and inexpensive, and updates / patches / bonuses are easy to issue (admittedly these are issued online even for physical releases). From the player side there’s no wait for something to be delivered, no possibility of damage in the post, etc. There’s probably a place for both as some people still prefer physical game releases – much as I will read an ebook but for me I love physical books – but I also have a small house without much space, so that’s another advantage for digital distribution.

TBP: There’s no going back, but I miss having a shelf of great boxes. Who didn’t like the box for Day of the Tentacle?

28) In your opinion, who is the best developer today? Of all time? Why?

CD: Ugh that’s a difficult question. Actually it’s a nigh on impossible question! However since I’ve since my 16-bit days been a fan of his games, I’d probably have to say Sid Meier. He’s got an impressive record of producing games that are totally immersive. (Yeah I know you were probably expecting me to say Ron Gilbert, Tim Schaffer or Dave Grossman weren’t you? Yes I love their games and the genre they specialised in, but for me Sid Meier’s games just have the special quality.)

TBP: I was told by people who worked with him that Sid Meier would program games in text in order to get the balance and flow that he wanted, and then he would hand it off to the rest of the team to fully develop. It’s a rumor. It may only be partly true, but I think the ideas of prototyping and clearly communicating your vision separate good developers from great developers.

29) What developer do you think is underrated? Who should people keep an eye on?

CD: That’s a difficult question to answer, mainly as those I know are really part of quite a small close-knit group of pointandclick developers, and also because I don’t really think I have a true sense of how much people outside this group and related fans of the genre rate developers! However I will tell you one thing – 2 games I’m really looking forward to from this group are Tardigrades by Anas Abdin (unfortunatley legal wrangles to be sorted out before we might see this) and Zniw Adventure by a couple of lovely Polish developers I know. Both of these games are true labours of love and have been in development for some years – I guess I have a particular affection for this kind of project because of my own experiences with Captain Disaster!

TBP: I’ve always wished that The Two Guys from Andromeda would have had a continuous career in the industry. I’ll buy Space Venture when it comes out.

30) Where did you come up with the title of your Game? What were some other potential titles?

CD: The original idea was to simply use the existing short stories but it soon became apparent that this would not work, so I had to come up with something completely new. For some reason I thought of a gigantic space insect (possibly inspired by the “space worm” in one of the episodes I wrote years ago) and as soon as I thought if an enormous millipede, the title just came to me. I don’t remember even once considering any alternative titles!

TBP: I wasn’t involved in the project at the beginning. I still remember getting the very rough outline of the design for the first time, and saying to myself, “Oh.. That’s the meaning of the title…”

31) President Trump is under the belief that violent media, specifically games, affects children. Do you agree? Why?

CD: I hate the fact that this discussion has become dichotomised to the point that it’s not really a discussion at all, simply seen people without any insight criticising games, and gamers defending them. The timing of what Mr Trump said seemed designed to deflect from other issues and I’m not going to discuss politics here, but I feel that it is something worth talking about. Gamers want to defend their media, and that’s perfectly natural – but most gamers would also agree that there have been games that cross the line. The recently released game based on being a school shooter is a good example of this.

It seems as though people are asking the wrong questions. “Do violent computer games turn peaceful citizens into mindless killers?” … well no, of course not. However, video games can affect our emotions – we’re gamers, we know this, we wouldn’t bother playing games if we didn’t! I tend also to look on this from the other side a little – not so much how a particular game – say one with very realistic and sadistic violence – would affect someone. I’d tend to be wondering why a person would be drawn to such a game – why do they want to see blood splattered all over the screen? Why do they want the option of torturing a helpless victim?

See now I’m doing it, using obvious extreme examples to try to make a point when it probably has little application to the general gamer. I guess it’s the extremes that get the news, and that then get people talking. It’s a complex issue, I just don’t think people immediately going on the offensive or defensive (which I have no empirical data for really, it’s just the general attitudes I’ve observed from a distance) is particularly helpful. (BTW I know your question was about children in particular, and yes they can be particularly vulnerable in this sense, but as adults we’d be fools to believe ourselves immune to outside influence.)

The violence depicted in some modern games compared to, for instance, Space Invaders or even Super Mario Bros is worlds apart. Obviously games can have many positive influences too, it’s all a matter of being discerning.

TBP: I was working for a AAA studio when Joe Liebermann was out to stop violent games. He was a mild-mannered Democrat senator from Connecticut – which is the 180 degree opposite of President Trump. This was just before the rating system was imposed in the US. We condemned a scene in Twisted Metal Black where a priest murdered a baby at a baptismal font. We protested the game, because we thought that the game industry should police itself. Those days are over, but I still think game designers should police themselves. In our game, we almost (quite accidentally) included a puzzle that could have been construed as “slipping a roofie to a girl in a bar.” The original idea was innocent enough – give a robot water that will cause it malfunction. But the “it” was a “she” and the “water” was a “tatined drink from a bar…” While coding the puzzle, I sounded the alarm to CD. After a moment of embarrassment, we wrote a new puzzle. Common sense and decency should always be used when designing games.

32) In your opinion, where is the industry headed? Where do you see the future of gaming as a whole?

CD: I still can’t make up my mind as to whether virtual reality is going to become a huge influence, or fade away as an interesting concept but with little widespread adoption. Handheld gaming seems likely to become more and more important as people can simply play games on their phones anytime wherever they are, rather than have to have dedicated time and space for gaming. On a similar theme I struggle to see augmented reality titles ever being more than a novelty, but you never know…

In terms or indie developers, it seems like it’s only going to get tougher to actually get to the stage of being able to make a living from it – developing partially ad-supported mobile games seems to be the best bet for that, for most people.

TBP: The industry has surprised me over the years. There was a time when technology fueled the content. One of the reasons the Classic 3D Adventure died its first death was that consumer-grade 3D GPU’s became available. I don’t think VR headsets have had the same effect. Mobile devices have only increased the number of casual gamers. If anything, there is a place for almost every genre of game. Without the right marketing and distribution, almost any game can have a measure of success.

33) Are there any other games you have developed? Are they available? What are they?

CD: Yes, lots – mostly free, though I have lent my voice to a couple of commercial games by Screen7 (The Cat Lady and Tales). I’ve been involved in some way in about 50 games now, but most of the ones I’ve directly created or lead the creation of can be found on my profile.

TBP: I worked on three commercial AAA titles, many prototypes and designs that never materialized, and I worked with the source code for several other titles. More recently, in the hobby/indie world, I worked on a few games with Crystal Shard and I starting painting backgrounds for Infamous Quests. However, when life became too busy, I dropped all other projects so that I could keep my commitment to CD.

34) You did an excellent job creating a Point and Click adventure, are there any other genres your interested in exploring?

CD: Ugh too many! I’ve become interested in minimalist strategy games (since I don’t have the time or patience for all-encompassing beasts like the later Civilisation games), and in fact am developing one right now! I also like retro arcade games – have made a couple of those – and have always wanted to make a text-based (or at least, graphic-lite) RPG in the style (approximately) of A Bard’s Tale. I would REALLY like to create a completely non-violent RPG that still had an epic storyline, detailed character creation etc… I have a few ideas but not sure if any of them would be translatable into what I really want to make. I’m interested in making one-switch games and audiogames for gamers with disabilities will be able to enjoy playing.

TBP: I have worked on many other genres: platformers (2D and 3D), 3D action games, RTS, fishing games, classic arcade games, text adventures, rouge-likes, RPGs, and more. I think I’d like making a FPS with a solid story. That’s one genre where creating the assets is a bit out of my league.

35) Ambitions and hopes for the future? What’s next?

CD: The dream is still to one day be able to earn a living making games, but I’ve got to be honest, it’s feeling more and more like a pipe dream. I will still continue to make games and help others to do so, but just as a hobby.

TBP: I like making games. I take breaks, but I always come back.

36) Where can people find you? Where can they purchase your game?

CD: My next commercial project is The Rat Pack  which experience tells me no to give too definite a release date for!

I often lurk on Twitter and the AGS board.

If anyone really wants to, they can support my Patreon campaign.

TBP: They can find me in a quiet corner of the local robo-bar, sipping on a cool caster oil, listening to the latest robo-music hits.

37) Anything else you would like to say?

CD: Since this interview was muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch longer than I had originally expected, I have nothing further to say!! 😀

TBP: No.

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