It is always interesting trying to get into a developer’s head to see what they are thinking, and to see what they learned about game design and themselves from experience. Fluffy Rabbit (his username at The Game Creator forums), aka Keanen was willing to be my first guinea pig.
Tell me about yourself, Fluffy Rabbit.
My name is Keanen. I live in Oregon and spend a lot of my free time making computer games. I am essentially nobody.
What can be told to us about Dark Survival 2?
Dark Survival 2 is a first-person shooter game that I have been working on for about three years. It takes place in the near future, after a worldwide alien invasion. The player takes the role of John, a war veteran on a mission to save humanity. This is a continuing story from the first game, Dark Survival.
I am aiming to release the game next spring, but it could take longer if other things get in the way. If anybody wants to try out the demo, I will be providing a link at the end of the interview.
What lessons did you learn from the first game that transitioned into the second?
I am not going to take credit for the first game. Let’s just say that even though the same “developer” is responsible for both the first and the second, whoever made the first Dark Survival had just completed a high school “video game design” class and thought he knew more about game design than he did.
Overall, Dark Survival 2 aims to be as different from the first game as possible while still retaining what little appeal it had: atmosphere and story. Gamers’ expectations have changed a lot since 2009. People now expect not only a game that looks pretty, but also a game that is easy to “pick up and play” and has “replay value”. People’s idea of “fun” is a lot more lighthearted and in-the-moment. Maybe it has something to do with all of these simplistic smartphone games, I don’t know, but I can tell you one thing: If there is ever a Dark Survival 3, it will cater to whatever the newest trend is.
I guess what I learned from the first game was that a good idea does not always equal a good product.
Why did you choose to make your own engine over using a pre-built one?
Initially, I thought it would add more integrity to the project. I had hoped that I would be seeing indie games bragging that they were “powered by Dark Survival 2 engine technology”. Other than just being silly, the reason that didn’t happen was the same reason I had for sticking with my own engine: It takes more effort to learn how to do things differently than to persist in doing them your own way, and you get the same result. If I had made the game in Unity or FPS Creator, it would have come out as generic garbage because I would have been struggling to use tools that were designed to make any game, while what I really needed was a tool to make my game. The Dark Survival 2 engine is that tool. I would not recommend it for making a game like Halo. It can only make Dark Survival 2.
What inspired the game?
That’s a tough question. Dark Survival 2 is a sequel to the first game, and I know what inspired that. Dark Survival is a third-person shooter, and the controls are very similar to the Xbox game Lost Planet. The desert (shared in both games) represents the loneliness of the main character and serves to visually demonstrate the post-apocalyptic setting. Post-apocalyptic shooters are a lot of fun, more for the story than for the actual gameplay. Guns are boring and deserts are boring, but if you put them together you can have an exciting game. I only hope that the players are engaged and entertained.
You seem to be pretty good at little comedic moments and clever jokes in levels. What are some tips you can give other devs about that?
Thank you. To me, humour is more about style than comic relief. There is only a two letter difference between “funny” and “fun”. When I watch a “let’s play” of some indie game, I am more interested if I get a laugh out of it. It is possible to overdo the humour to the point of being unfunny, such as in the case of an indie platformer called Electronic Super Joy. I think that if developers take their games less seriously, the games come out more as parodies, and that helps to better capture the “X-factor”. In a way, Dark Survival 2 is a parody of the first-person shooter genre. It makes fun of itself in a dark and serious tone.
However, Dark Survival 2 was never meant to be funny. My personality shows through in my work. In different hands, anything that people find funny about the game would not be there. I was trying to make a really epic game to be taken seriously, but I guess it is coming out differently.
Your trailer is intriguing. What do you think led to that?
Which trailer? Regardless, all two or three of them are mysterious and show no gameplay whatsoever. I am probably better at film-making than game-making, and by showing flash instead of content, I force people to investigate further. Something is engaging when it makes people take time out of their day, and maybe if they are willing to watch the gameplay videos, they are also willing to download the demo and even purchase the full game when it comes out.
Any parting thoughts?
I make games when I have nothing better to do. Other “devs” work in much the same way. My only advice is to make a name for yourself by either doing more of what you do or finding something better to do. If you can’t find anything better to do, then keep doing what you’re doing until you get tired, hungry, or restless. Take a break and come back to it, then maybe take another break and have a sandwich, then go for a walk, then take a nap, and then if you still feel like it, go back to doing whatever it is you do. If what you do is make games, then stop, or don’t, it’s up to you.
You are probably better at giving advice than I am, so if you have any advice, send it to my alternate email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. The “CL” is for Craigslist, the best dating site in the world.
If you want to follow my game development career, you can visit:
http://nextgen.netai.net/– the site where I sell games
http://www.youtube.com/hatestew– my YouTube channel
http://darksurvival2engine.googlecode.com/– home of the Dark Survival 2 project
I hope that readers have learned something about me and about game development in general. I would like to thank Nathan for taking the time to interview me. That is all.
Interesting Articles From Other Sites
- How to Break Into the Game Industry Part 2: Art and Sound, or, how to make Subjectivity work for you. (blogs.vancouversun.com)
- How to Break Into the Game Industry Part 1: Or, How I Learned to Love Sleepless Nights and Caffeine. (blogs.vancouversun.com)