Johann Sebastian Joust interview with Douglas Wilson
[Continued] Page 2
DS: There seems to be a lot of emphasis on motion gaming among Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo in terms of actually creating hardware such as the Kinect, yet developers have kind of hit a wall and don't really focus much on creating meaningful experiences around these peripherals all that often. When you first heard about the Wii, and later on the Kinect and Move, did you immediately think, "OK, I have to do something with this technology"?
DW: Back when the Wii came out, I had no idea that I might one day get interested in making my own motion control games. But actually, perhaps I should have known. I used to be a fanatic Dance Dance Revolution player back around 2001. Man, I loved that game! I don't think about it so consciously when designing my own physical games, but I do often wonder if all the hours I spent playing DDR ended up influencing my current design interests.
By the time the Move came out, I knew immediately that it was a very interesting piece of technology. That controller is so underrated! The most radical thing about the Move controller is its LED light. Essentially, each player carries around with them a giant pixel. It's almost as if the players are carrying around some kind of distributed screen. That's especially great for no-screen games like J.S. Joust.
DS: Lately it seems that the indie scene is a bit divided on whether Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network provide the better experience for developers, but one thing remains largely unanimous: PC is the top platform for indie companies. What are your thoughts on XBLA and PSN? Hell, what are your thoughts on WiiWare? Would you care to release future titles for any of these digital download platforms?
DW: My concern with XBLA is that it seems out of reach for indies like me. As far as I understand it, to get your game on XBLA you're required to have a publisher (be it Microsoft themselves or some other company). See this illuminating blog post on the issue by 2D Boy's Ron Carmel. On PSN, by contrast, you can "publish" your game yourself (well, assuming Sony signs off on your game). That's a big advantage.
In general, I wish that console platforms were more open and easier to develop for. The idea of Xbox Live Indie Games had a lot of promise, but it's been a disappointment for many of us in the indie community. Among other problems, XBLIG has very little visibility on the platform, and Microsoft has failed to support that channel much. What a shame!
Problems notwithstanding, I am a big fan of console games, and so I'm still interested in developing for those platforms.
DS: What separates Steam from the home console download services? What would Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have to do to provide a much more inviting gateway for indie devs like Steam has?
DW: One key advantage of Steam is that you don't need a special dev kit to make games for their platform. Not only are dev kits expensive, but it takes a lot of effort and time to learn how to use them. It's not easy getting your game on Steam, but it's certainly easier than getting your game on a console.
DS: Any games, indie or mainstream, you currently want to play or can't wait to get your hands on?
DW: Argh, I'm so behind! There are so, so many rad games that I still need to play.
Out of the stuff I have been able to play recently, I'm a huge fan of Proteus, by Ed Key and David Kanaga. I've also been very impressed by Richard Hofmeier's "retail simulation game" Cart Life. And I've been addicted to Ramiro Corbetta's Hokra, an elegant 2v2 minimalistic sports game.
Oh, and I've been beta-testing FRACT. Man is that game looking and sounding awesome!
DS: Lastly, your games are known for being more physical and non-traditional than what most people would consider the traditional video game. Any plans or desire to release a more traditional game (platformer, puzzler, etc.)? Or is that something you're not planning on exploring anytime soon?
DW: Yeah! As I mentioned before, I'm working on an action-adventure game called Mutazione. I grew up playing adventure games and JRPGs, and so despite my interest in physical motion-control games, I'm also a big fan of traditional games, especially story-rich games. I think the indie community has (to some extent) been ignoring traditional storytelling in games. And writing too. So I'm eager to help fill those gaps — or at least try!
I would like to personally thank Douglas Wilson for taking the time to answer my questions. I consider him a good buddy of GameZone, and I hope he feels the same way about us. We'll be watching out for more info on Johann Sebastian Joust, as well as Mutazione! You can follow Douglas on Twitter @doougle.
For a bunch of nonsensical gibberish, follow @thesanchezdavid on Twitter.