News - Industry
Written by Jayce Diaz Wednesday, November 17 2010 12:50
Recently, we had the privilege to interview the Design Director of Big Sandwich Games, Tyler Sigman. Earlier this month, Big Sandwich released the incredibly fun PSN game Hoard, which released to positive scores all around (we gave it an 80/100).
Read on to find out info like DLC, cut material, a new game, and why you won't see this baby on Xbox Live.
Glitchy - Hoard was released on November 3rd. How has the initial feedback and reaction been?
Sigman - So far the majority of reviews have been very positive, with fans and critics alike appreciating the unique blend of arcade action and reverse RTS. HOARD is a game that really captures people when they play it, so right now our biggest challenge is just getting the word out so people know about it!
Also, the few areas that most critics have expressed concerns about (e.g. text size, multiplayer lobby persistence) are very fixable things that we are currently hard at work patching. So I'm excited to say the HOARD experience will continue to get even stronger over the next couple weeks as we tweak those items.
Glitchy - The overall concept of Hoard is a blast, and the multiplayer modes extend the life of the game dramatically. Were there any initial concepts or ideas for the game that got cut during Development? Speaking of which, how long was Hoard in development for?
Sigman - HOARD started full development basically on New Years' 2010. So we had a very rapid cycle! But prior to that, we had about 3 months of prototyping. And actually, the game even had some boardgame prototypes made circa 2002, so the idea has been milling around for quite some time.
Ideas that got cut—definitely! Finding the right mix of complexity is always a bit of a balancing game. Originally there were some more buildings planned, for example, that ended up on the cutting room floor. One was a mine—they'd be located in the mountains, and every once in a while would spit out a really valuable minerals cart that would ship off to a town. Another was the Coaching Inn. These would be located on some roads, and any cart that passed by them would gain additional value. So if you wanted to be maximize a take, you would wait for carts to pass the Coaching Inn before burning them down.
There are some other ideas which got cut but will be making their way into DLC—stay tuned!
Glitchy - What games inspired the development of Hoard?
Sigman - The main influences for HOARD were a combination of super satisfying quickplay addictive games and also deep strategy games both on and off the computer. Specific titles that really inspired me during the design are Geometry Wars, Settlers of Catan, sim games, and various RTS games as well. Although it might sound strange, Geometry Wars is the game I mention the most, because I found its gameplay, scope, presentation, and addictiveness to be inspiring. HOARD is designed to be played in 10-minute increments, so Geometry Wars is directly similar in that regard.
Glitchy - Are there any plans for a release on the Xbox 360, iOS, or Wii? What do you think of their online offerings?
Sigman - HOARD will be releasing on PSP, PC, and Mac (via Steam) over the next couple months. There are no plans for XBLA, iPad, or iPod at this time because we currently have console exclusivity with Sony, who have been fantastic to work with.
Glitchy - Any plans for DLC add-ons or expansions?
Sigman - Yes! We have a loads of ideas for DLC, and can confirm that we are already working on some packages. For DLC #1, you can count on at least one new mode, a bunch of new maps, at least 1 new building, a new powerup, and maybe more! Stay tuned to hoardgame.com for more details as we get closer.
Glitchy - Big Sandwich Games has been around for quite some time, and has worked on, or been part of numerous high-profile games (Army of Two: 40th Day and Bully, for example). What would you say is more rewarding personally; Working on smaller indie titles, or large scale games?
Sigman - Big and small games have their own sets of rewards. Ultimately, if you work on a game, it comes out, and is received well, then that's a huge boost regardless of the game's size. But I know many of us personally love these smaller games. Things happen really fast, the team sizes are small (which is great for camaraderie and minimizing bureaucracy), and everyone gets to make sure their voice is heard. When games have dev cycles longer than about a year, it can be tough to keep people motivated and energized. With a small game, things are so rapid that by the time you are sick of working on dragons/pirates/zombies/whatever it is, you are about ready to start something new!
I also think really large projects can suffer from "design by committee" syndrome unless a strong decision-making structure is in place from the beginning. Somebody has to be the game's vision-holder, whether you are talking a team of 10 or a team of 100.
That being said, if Big Sandwich gets the opportunity to work on something bigger, we'll consider it. But right now we're very happy doing HOARD-scope games!
Glitchy - Dream question time: If you could choose an existing franchise to work on next, what would you want to do and why?
Sigman - Hmmm, as a designer, I honestly love working on original IP because it feels less like borrowing someone else's car. And I have so many ideas floating around my head (who doesn't!?) that those are true my dream projects. BUT, in an effort not to cop-out of the question, I would *love* to work on a Star Control successor. Paul Reiche III was a real design inspiration for me, and I think Star Control II was a spectacular game that is ripe for updating. Another franchise I love is Crimson Skies—Jordan Weisman is another inspiring designer, and combining pulp fiction with early aviation (one of my loves) is something I wish I had been old enough to scoop before him, ha ha! Yes, I would be in heaven to work on either of those two franchises.
Glitchy - Any advice for the indie hopefuls out there trying to make a name for themselves?
Sigman - The tools and opportunities that exist today for indies are better than at any point in videogame development's short history. Nothing can stop you from throwing your hat into the ring except yourself. So stop dreaming, and do!
Some specific game design advice that I always try to pass on is that design is like weightlifting. You can only get better through repetitions. Thinking will only get you so far. It's much better to try an idea, see it fail, figure out how to fix it, rinse-repeat. I encounter lots of aspiring designers who have ideas but are nervous to try them out. In the words of a certain shoemaker—just do it.
Glitchy - Lastly, what can we look forward to next from big Sandwich Games?
Sigman - HOARD PSP, HOARD Steam, HOARD PS3 EU release, HOARD Japan release, HOARD DLC...lots of hoarding, ha ha!
On a non-HOARD-related front, we have already broken ground on our next game, which is a concept both hilarious and awesome, that we are excited to be doing. And thanks to interest from HOARD, we are speaking with some publishers about another new game as well, which is similarly super-cool. So—lots of stuff on the horizon, and we will be announcing more details as soon as we can!
Glitchy - Thanks for your time!