Gamedev Interview: Trainwiz

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Gamedev Interview: Trainwiz

So, we’ve had a bit of a dry spell on here! That’s intentional. I recently had toe surgery and while that doesn’t affect my ability to write (I do not write or type with my feet), the pain has made it difficult to concentrate on much else! However, I’ve been working on several reviews during my downtime. Don’t forget interviews!

This particular interview is pretty special. One of the biggest modders in recent years has worked on his solo game for a long time, and just last week it launched on Steam and That game is Underspace, a love child of the brilliant Freelancer game. Think an open-world space sim that feeds my cosmic horror fantasies! Trainwiz has been around for a long time, and it is fantastic to see his first commercial project. I was lucky enough to get an interview with him, so grab some snacks and enjoy!

Let’s start off with an introduction! Please tell me who you are, and what do you do?

The name’s Kevin Brock, though most people know me as Trainwiz. I’m a modder, game developer, and unrestricted train entity. Here at Pastaspace Interactive however, I’m the lead developer on Underspace.

What game/studio are you currently involved with?

A few honestly. Bethesda Game Studios, Camlann Games, and of course my own company, Pastaspace Interactive. As I said, we’re working right now on Underspace, which just entered Early Access a few days ago.

The past couple of years have been rather challenging, especially in the gaming industry. What advice would you give those who wish to enter the industry?

There’s a billion avenues to get into game development, but the biggest piece of advice I can give is: Build up your own base. I made my career through making mods for games like Skyrim and Morrowind, and it’s the avenue I tell people is one of the best ways there is.

If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favourite ones to play?

Me and my brother recently got through Elden Ring and that was a lot of
fun, we’ll be awaiting the DLC for that with anticipation. Beyond that I was playing Dread Delusion, which is a recent indie RPG that’s right up my alley for a certain level of esoteric weirdness.

I have fond memories of your mods, especially the Wheels of Lull. How did the knowledge gained through modding transfer into creating your own game?

The biggest thing you learn through modding a game is workflow. What works, what doesn’t work, what tools help, what shortcuts help. How to manage a project, how to keep on top of that management. Really, the only difference between modding and game development is that with modding, most of the groundwork has been laid for you.

What was the hardest part of your transition from mod development?

Starting from scratch and having to code or work on my own toolsets. In some ways, it’s also the best part of it though. In mod development, you’re at the mercy of the game’s limitations. With game development, your biggest limitation is your own ability.

What lessons have you learned during your time in the gaming industry?

That QA work is hell and a team for that is something you want more than anything.

If you couldn’t be a game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?

Some sort of tour guide. That or a food historian.

What were your greatest challenges during the development of Underspace?

Managing scope. With the sheer size of the game after a while trying to make changes or manage it can be insane. We had to come up with a lot of custom tools to edit things and managing file sizes.

What are your plans for Underspace for 2024?

We have a LOT of plans. Multiplayer being the chief among them, but also implementing the remaining content, adding new features, and polishing the game up. There’s a lot of stuff coming. A LOT.

What games were your greatest inspirations in designing Underspace? I will guess that Freelancer is one major inspiration?

Freelancer obviously, but I’m a big fan of Morrowind for obvious reasons. It was taking that, Freelancer, and a tiny bit of Subnautica and mixing it all together until it was kind of a slurry, and that’s what became of Underspace.

What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?

Morrowind but with trains.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Read. Build model trains. Take far too many photos of my cats. I like my cats.

Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?

Tea. Coffee’s just too much. I start to vibrate if I drink coffee.

You can travel anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?

Does time travel count? Am I invincible? If so, I want to travel forward in time and see an iron star. Those seem neat.

Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?

Death from Discworld, DC Death, and Death from the second Hellboy movie. I don’t think I’m legally allowed to say anything beyond that.

Finally, what superpower would you most like?

Teleportation of myself and objects with no restrictions. It would make life a lot easier.

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TheThousandScarAuthor/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games. |

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