Indie Corner Episode 25: Dinos, Castles and Aliens
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This was supposed to go up on the 28th November but I’ve had some delays recently, apologies for that!
Halloween is well and truly upon us, and I’ve eaten far too much chocolate yet again. I’m not even sorry about that. I have an interview with Matthew Hamilton from Labrador Studios to share with you all today. Their game Live By the Sword: Tactics launched last week, and you can check the game out right now!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?
I am the Co-Founder of Labrador Studios. For LBTS: Tactics I am the Creative Director, Designer, Producer, Writer and Social Media Manager.
What does being a game designer actually mean?
It means coming up with a fun game and then working with the other disciplines to make it a reality.
There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years about micro transactions in gaming. Not so much an opinion, but why do games tend to cut out content to sell later as DLC and lootboxes? Is it to do with development costs? Or is it time related?
I can’t really comment on why other studios do what they do. I imagine they feel it’s the best way to make money for their current project.
Tell us about your current project.
Live by the Sword: Tactics started as a board game I designed back in early 2018. Eventually it was refined, and development started in 2019. I wanted a TRPG you could sit down and play and not need to worry about any sort of major time commitment. You pick it up, play a few games and you’re good. We don’t have experience levels or equipment. Players change how classes function by choosing from a pool of abilities or traits to take into a battle. I also wanted it to be multiplayer so you could fight off against your friends either sitting next to you or online.
As anyone who creates anything, we must all deal with criticism from consumers. How do you go about it particularly in the prolific and viral standard of gaming today?
Some people aren’t going to like what you make. It’s just a fact of life. Focus on those who love what you do and not those who don’t. I feel it’s better to make those people happier by improving the experience they already enjoy than dedicating resources and effort trying to change people’s minds. Because through the process of building more for your fans, you may just happen to sway some initial critics.
What advice would you give new developers taking the plunge into game design?
Get a few high-quality notebooks and keep lots of notes. Also make sure you have a comfortable bed, so you get a good nights sleep. Trying to design or make decisions while tired is a no go.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?
I still play World of Warcraft with my friends, we’ve played on and off for 17 years. Jackbox is fun as well for party nights. I usually do a run of FFIX or FFX each year when I get the chance. I also just got done playing on a Final Fantasy XI private server which was a blast. Other than that my backlog is unending, hoping to find time to work through it one day.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I enjoy making things and all that comes with it. I’ve always loved games so being able to make games was a combination of my two passions.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Production, easily. Managing timelines and schedules and all the fun stuff that comes with it.
What was your favorite thing about game development? Is there anything you find difficult or challenging in dealing with the struggles?
My favorite thing was getting to come up with classes in the game, environments, the story and world. Those I don’t consider to be work, just because of how much I love doing things like that.
A challenging aspect that I didn’t foresee was UI and wording around mechanics. Properly wording a mechanic or how a UI should look was much more difficult than I expected.
What lessons have you learned from your first game?
Communication is key and don’t be afraid to tell people something isn’t as good as it should be. Plus try not to have really long meetings.
What are your future project(s)?
We have a few projects in store but for the foreseeable future we’ll be supporting Live by the Sword: Tactics with content updates, the first of which will be late November / Early December.
If you couldn’t be a game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?
Maybe a vet, I wouldn’t mind working with animals.
Finally, what is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?
It would be a mini-mmo rpg. Something you could play with like 20 people on a server. Maybe even less. Basically, taking the traditional fantasy story setting and keeping it small scale so the player actually has an impact instead of wandering by 1000 other chosen ones on your way to deliver milk.