Quick Q&A: There Aren't Enough Video Games

Quick Q&A: There Aren't Enough Video Games

Welcome to the second Kotaku Quick Q&A, this time with a small twist. Our interviewee answers four of my questions and then has one question for me and you.

On the hot seat today is Rami Ismail, who co-runs the indie studio Vlambeer. Popular critical hits such as Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing have made Ismail's young Dutch team one of the hottest crews in indie gaming. The studio's next release, the PC, Mac, Linux, PS3 and Vita-targeted shoot-em-up Luftrausers, is slated for later this month.

I recently posed four questions to Rami. He had answers:

1. Are there too many video games? Too few? Or the right amount?

Rami Ismail: Too few. We know games can place us in huge battles in history or in spaceships in the far-flung future. They can be twitchy arcade survival games and slow puzzle games. They can take us exploring unknown lands and help us experience the life and problems of others. Yet there's so much that hasn't been made yet, so much that games can probably do that nobody has made yet. Having more games made by more people from more perspectives would be great.

2. Would you ever want to play a Super Mario Bros. made by a studio other than Nintendo? If so, by who?

Ismail: That's a rough question. Would it still be a Mario game if it wasn't made by Nintendo? We all call Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 'Call of Duty' games, but are they really the same franchise? They don't feel like that to me. Or a Metal Gear game that isn't Hideo Kojima's last Metal Gear game? Can there be such a thing as a Super Mario Bros. by another studio?

3. You were robbed at E3 — had a backpack full of development hardware stolen. How did that affect you and Vlambeer?

Ismail: Luckily things turned out OK. We had good backups and we had just won the Apple Design Award, which came with some hardware. Everything has been replaced and we've gone back to work. It was just annoying.

Quick Q&A: There Aren't Enough Video Games

4. How will you know when you're done with Luftrausers?

Ismail: You never quite know when you're 'done' with a game, but you gets this creeping sense of completion that you need to give in to at some point. We like working on new things more than on things we've worked on for months, so for us it's really when we start to get bored of developing a project that we decide to wrap things up. That doesn't mean we got bored of the game — it just means we've achieved what we wanted to achieve and are ready to set our sights on something new. That's when you have to do some of the boring stuff: check thousands of lines for spelling mistakes, complete all the business forms, double-check for bugs, fix your interface flow — you struggle your way through that and then you release your game.


And that's not quite it from Rami. For these Quick Q&A's, we're going to ask our interviewees to turn things around and ask us — the writers of Kotaku and you the readers — a question. Here's Rami's question...

1. Which person is your favourite game developer or -designer?

Stephen Totilo: I'd like to think I know enough about game development to feel that labelling Shinji Mikami, Shigeru Miyamoto, Patrice Désilets, Sam & Dan Houser or Mark Pacini as a favourite developer fairly credits their achievements as an individual and doesn't disrespect the effort of the lieutenants and large teams around them. But I'm not sure. In lieu of that, I'd rush to the indies and say I'm a fan of Terry Cavanagh's work and Jenova Chen's, but I ultimately must go with the guy whose most recent game was wonderful and whose next, from what I've played, might be even better: Jonathan Blow.

Kotaku readers, would you like to also answer Rami's question?

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.


Comments

    Fumito Ueda (Team Ico), Miyamoto (Call of Duty), Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Okami) and Ken Rolston (primarily for Morrowind).

    Ueda definitely tops that list though. Shadow of the Colossus is the only game I consider to be a masterpiece. Half Life 2 is pretty fantastic, but Shadow of the Colossus achieves something that no other game has before (well, I mean, apart from ICO): the game design communicates a literary theme itself, and that theme is relevant to the story. Shadow of the Colossus' gameplay rewards you for being patient and accepting the fact that things don't always go your way; when your stamina is running out and you just need that one stab to take down a colossi, but you can't seem to manage it, the game, 9 times out of 10 punishes you for not taking the patient route and abandoning that stab so you can recover your stamina on a colossi's back (or whatever the colossi you are facing has in place of a back) by throwing you off and making you start again (this is just one example; the game is full of frustrations that you need to take a deep breath in order to overcome). Obviously, that is relevant to the story, as Wander has trouble accepting Mono's death, and in the end, his lack of patience and acceptance leads to his demise.

    ICO does the same thing. The game rewards you for caring about Yorda and punishes you for being careless with her.

    Now, it's easy for Ueda to do this because SotC and ICO are minimalist games, but you have to remember that this is pretty much a genius, but still infantile concept; more people need to expand on this idea, the idea of game design communicating a theme and having a story that reflects said theme, if this industry wants to create masterpieces, or it's "Citizen Kane."

    Last edited 06/08/13 4:24 pm

    I'd say Jon Blow is my most-looked-forward-to new dev/designer, but as far as long-time favorite, can't go past Sam Lake.

    Carmack and Romero. Despite all their individual flaws (and hell, their combined flaws too), when these two men were working together, they were unstoppable, and for good reason.

      totally agree Doom is one of my favourite games.

    "We all call Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ‘Call of Duty‘ games, but are they really the same franchise? They don’t feel like that to me." Ditto. The new versions of the franchise (COD4 to present) are shit, lazily done games, made to prey on stupid peoples money.

      I don't think that is the point he is making, I think he's making the point that Black Ops and Modern Warfare are made by two different companies and he's questioning whether or not they truly belong in the same franchise, or questioning whether or not they're the same game.

        I may have misinterpreted but my point still remains valid and true.

    Miyamoto for helping nurture they child gamer. Levine for the themes he helped introduce to the more mature gamer in me.

      He doesn't list any of my favourite game designers like Tom Sawyer or Sid Meier.

        Oh, how could I have forgotten Sid Meier? Wasted so much time on games like Civ 2. Should throw Will Wright in there as well.

    UNRELATED TO ACTUAL QUESTION ASKED OF ME, BUT PUTTING IN MY TWO CENTS:

    There are too few video games.

    There are too many for me to keep up with and play personally - my pile of shame is too tall to occupy the atmosphere, it needs to be stored underground, maybe the Mariana Trench.

    But.
    People still keep saying that they feel excluded from games, that they're not being targeted, that there aren't any characters they can identify with (I'm honestly surprised that's a requirement, given some of the absurd shit we play) etc, so clearly there need to be more games that target those people without then going and excluding or not targeting me instead.
    More for everyone!

    RESPONSE TO ACTUAL QUESTION ASKED OF ME:

    Uhm. I don' t know if I have a favourite. I mean, these are front-men for what are usually hundreds-strong teams, and the influence of design is difficult to extract from all of the other really awesome elements of a game.

    If you'd asked me ten years ago, I'd have been saying Garriott or Spector, but they pissed away all my goodwill on shitty games and even shittier comments/behaviour.

    As it is, I now lean toward Cliffy B out of the big personalities for the opinions he holds, and even then not all of them.

    Last edited 07/08/13 11:16 am

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