It’s been a busy time here. So I was supposed to go to the Lake District last week, but a late-scheduled train strike derailed my plans. That might be a blessing in disguise, because this might be one of the most productive times the website has ever had. I’ve spent most of last week talking to developers and trying out their games, and it’s an incredibly exciting time.
I do miss the mountains and lakes, though.
Today I bring an interview with games industry veteran Han Zhiyu, the solo developer of the Chaos Galaxy series. They’re an odd mix of grand strategy and turn-based games, almost as if Stellaris and Fire Emblem had a baby. They’re pretty cool games, though I’ve yet to experience them in depth. I’ll be sure to change that!
The Steam Store page of Chaos Galaxy 2. In the meantime, enjoy the interview!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?
Hi! I am Han Zhiyu, the developer of Chaos Galaxy series of indie games. I completed all the works about program, art and design alone.
What does being a game designer actually mean?
In my opinion, if a designer can’t use programs and art to achieve his design, he will never reach the highest state.
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 have spent ten years as a designer producing MMORPG and F2P mobile games in large companies. I think F2P is not a real game, but a software that sets many traps to induce you to spend money. It has a skin looks like a game but just a disguise. When they focus on inducing you to spend money, they will certainly earn much more than normal games.
Tell us about your current project.
I am working on Chaos Galaxy 2. It is a retro grand strategy game. You can imagine it as a combination of ROTK, Super Robot War and Advanced War.
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?
As an indie game developer, you should do your work well, serve a small group of players, and maintain interaction with them. Then you will naturally get long-term favour and loyalty. Don’t try to serve all players. Indie games can never satisfy everyone. Once you try to mislead the players, let those who do not like your game type to buy your game. They will definitely give you a bad review.
What advice would you give budding developers into taking the plunge into game design?
Don’t follow the current trend, make your favorite game. Only when you are making a game type that you really love, can you exert your best ability to learn and work, and overcome the boredom and frustration in the development process.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?
When a new game is a few months before and after the release, I will be too busy to experience other games. But as long as this busy time has passed, I will experience the latest PC games and console games. My favorite game type is the grand strategy game. In my long game experience, I have played at least hundreds of games of this type.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Ten years of working experience in MMORPG and F2P mobile games has made me very tired of F2P games. I want to make my favorite game and share it with those players who also like it. I will never make a game I don’t like only for business purposes.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The art part. A large number of art resources need to be produced in the game, and drawing them takes up almost 60% of the whole development process. Therefore, it is inevitably boring.
What was your favorite thing about game development? Is there anything you find difficult or challenging in dealing with the struggles?
The game design stage in the first two or three months is the most interesting. I need to conceive the whole world and the characters, and design all kinds of interesting playing rules. Of course, when making some fantastic functions, writing code sometimes tortures me for a long time.
What lessons have you learned from your first game?
My first indie game was Chaos Sector released in 2018. It gave me confidence. I found that I can complete this game by myself and release it successfully. And there are thousands of players willing to buy it. My family also agreed with me to continue making indie games for this reason.
What are your future project(s)?
Chaos Galaxy series has a huge story background, under which I will create many grand strategy games and SRPGs to enrich the world.
If you couldn’t be an game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?
I was a writer 15 years ago, and I published two historical novels. In recent years, I have become one of the main translators of Warhammer 40000 novels in China. I translated the Dark Imperium trilogy, Visions of Heresy and First and Only. However, I think games can better express my stroy than novels.
What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?
Maybe the Total War: Warhammer 40000?