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Gun Monkeys interview!

May 282013

I recently did an interview for Press X to Win about Gun Monkeys. Some of the questions were REALLY HARD, and you should totally go and read it.

To spare of you looking with eyes at the Google Translate editions of interview, here my original replies is, in English.

Who need Gun Monkeys more — you or the world that surrounds you?

I think EVERYONE needs a little Gun Monkeys in their lives. The game (and its predecessor, Gibbage) harken back to a different time, where things were colourful and bold and bright, and playing games against your chums was quick and easy and fun. That’s the core concept that Gun Monkeys has been built around – short, sharp jabs of hi-octane fun.

Gun Monkeys is a thing only because you grew tired of your bigger project. But maybe it’s also the answer? Maybe creating those smaller and simpler games is in the end more meaningful and significant?

Hah, maybe. It’s certainly been a pleasant release to forget about The Swindle for a bit, and hopefully Gun Monkeys takes off nicely enough that it winds up eclipsing The Swindle. Who knows? Although they’re built using the same tech, they’re very different games…

Do you plan to turn Gun Monkeys into something like Quake? Something that operates with simple mechanics only to create endless possibilities for improvement? Would I be able to actually spend years in Gun Monkeys, practising over and over again, sharpening my skill?

Yes, that’s the idea. At its core it’s about running left and right and up and down ladders, but there are so many more fun ways to traverse the environment, thanks to a host of trendy moves like double jumping and wallgrabbing. Thanks to the randomly-generated nature of the environment, seasoned players you can hop, skip and jump about to a crazy degree. I’m hoping to put Gun monkeys through a Beta testing period where the core game can be neatly honed. If the game takes off and people are really digging it, there’s no reason why I can’t continue to support it with fresh new content.

When the player does something in Gun Monkeys, player’s enegry starts to diminish. What is the amount of tuning you put into this mechanic? Don’t you fear that it could ruin the game for somebody, making it too quick to grasp?

The mechanics are constantly in flux. There’s been an extended Alpha test, in which we’ve got things pretty tight. During the Beta there’s plenty of scope to continue to make sure the maths supporting everything is pitch-perfect for interesting battles. I think it’s essentially there, we’ll see…

Gun Monkeys is procedurally generated. Today we see something like a trend with procedural generation in indie — form Gun Monkeys to Sir, You Are Being Hunted to the new game Dusforce guys are doing. Do you think this trend will continue? How will it evolve?

It’s a really interesting way of making games. It doesn’t suit everything, I think the best way of making games for the vast majority is probably still hand-made by a level designer. There’s something about the endless possibilities thrown up by PG that I found attractive though – in a game of short matches such as Gun Monkeys, PG is a huge help because the vast number of level combinations means it should take quite while before it feels ‘samey’.

Could you describe some problems that you encounter while working on a procedurally generated game?

Hah, the main problem is the damned thing never procedurally-generates the thing I’m testing – so if I’m debugging mines, the level generator won’t spawn any. I could write some code around it, but it tends to be quicker to just spawn a new map!

One other horrible problem is creating maps it’s impossible to traverse. I’ve largely got around that because the monkeys are very able jumpers/ climbers, so it’s very rare there’s a part of the map you just can’t reach. It took a while to get to that point, though…

Don’t you fear that you’ll grow tired with Gun Monkeys and decide to work on something even smaller? And then again? Or is it a one-time affair?

Gun Monkeys is quite a small game, and it’s very nearly done.

I suppose that you have already rested from The Swindle. What is the main thing you are looking forward to return to in it?

The first thing I need to do is fix up all the bugs I’ve found in the engine by making Gun Monkeys! When you look at things from a different perspective, you can see what’s wrong! There are a few bits and bobs I’d like to tighten up, but the main thing I want to do is apply some of the visual design and polish I’ve learned from Gun Monkeys and really make sure The Swindle is singing.

So, about that world that surrounds you. Why does it need Dan Marshall?

Without me, this chair I’m sitting in would get VERY dusty.

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