I’m back with a new game dev interview! This one was unfortunately a bit delayed. I’ve just come through a horrific heatwave here in the UK; temps hit 37 celsius where I live. Might not sound too bad, but we don’t have AC, nor do we have any infrastructure really designed for this heat. It was pretty unpleasant, but besides mild heat exhaustion, I am managing okay.
The content might be a little thin for the coming week or so while I recover, but I have a game dev interview for you guys in the meantime. I recently reviewed an awesome RPG called Dread Delusion, a Lovecraftian horror built in the same design of old-school open-world games of the past. While it’s in Early Access, it’s already an impressive piece of kit; check out the early impressions review down below:
In the meantime, I was able to have a chat with the developer, James Wragg. Hope you guys enjoy it!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?
Hi! I’m James Wragg (AKA Lovely Hellplace) and I make nonsense roleplaying videogames with the “weirdness” slider whacked up to ‘unpalatable’.
What does being a game designer actually mean?
I think it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Gaming is a weird medium because it can contain such a vast array of different artistic styles; anywhere from Call of Duty, to obscure board games, to artistic walking simulators. So if you’re looking for a definition I’d cast the net wide; a game designer means you’re passionate about making interactive art.
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?
Well, when you move out of the indie space and start looking at bigger budget games, they ultimately exist as consumer products that aim to make money. I don’t really play many games with microtransactions, but you can’t blame the big companies for trying, right? They basically have a big red button that says “print a crap load of money”, and yeah, it turns out that they’re pushing that button hard.
Tell us about your current project.
Dread Delusion! It’s an open-world, retro 3D indie RPG in the vein of Morrowind. That’s quite a mouthful, huh?
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?
Being in Early Access, we get a wide range of feedback; but mostly I’d just say it’s incredibly useful to be able to hear what your audience is saying and respond / pivot to address those issues during development.
What advice would you give budding developers into taking the plunge into game design?
Start small! Make something small, weird and unique, and put it out there into the world. Then make more small, weird experiences. Don’t try and make GTA 6 on your own.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?
I play a lot of older stuff. Been playing the original Fallout games for the hundredth time, plus King’s Field on the PS1, and MGS3 on my PS2.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I just really love videogames, and I have a weird compulsion to imitate what I love. When I see cool art I get an insatiable urge to copy it and do something similar.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Knowing when to stop. It’s very easy to burn yourself out.
What was your favorite thing about game development? Is there anything you find difficult or challenging in dealing with the struggles?
Writing a weird bit of code, then seeing that it actually works. It’s a weird kind of magic, coding something into existence.
What lessons have you learned from your first game?
Well, my first game was The Night is Darkening and I learned a whole lot about making small, tasty experiences from that.
What are your future project(s)?
Wait and see! For now, just more Dread Delusion.
If you couldn’t be an game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?
I’d love to work in a tiny bookshop, where you only get a few customers every day. I’d just read and doodle. It’d be great.
What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?
Like Jorge Luis Borges 1:1 scale map, I’d get a team of millions to create a 1:1 scale simulation of the world, so you can sit in your underpants playing a VR simulation of someone sitting in their underpants playing a VR simulation of someone sitting in their underpants playing a VR simulation.