I managed to meet up with the creators of an upcoming FPS Creator game, Leviathan Crossfire, which is looking quite promising.
1.) Mind telling us a bit about yourselves?
Dominik Höke: Yeah sure... my name is Dominik Höke, I'm 25 years old, I am currently working as an apprentice in the games industry. I formerly tried to work at a radio station, but that didn't turn out so well... so... after all, now I'm working hard to get into the games industry. And in my spare time, I'm developing an indie game, yeah!
Thomas Meyer: We met a few years ago and soon recognized our common interest in video games. After many discussions about game and movie qualities, Dominik told me that he was about to create an indie video game. I was working on an indie movie at that time. We decided to join our capacities, and so we started the common development of Leviathan Crossfire.
2.) Please tell our community about your latest game, Leviathan Crossfire.
Dominik: Leviathan Crossfire is a science fiction first person shooter game. The story is set in a distant future universe with two human factions fighting each other to death: The Rakans and the Nuvebians.
This war has been going on for centuries, but the war is about to turn right now because the Rakan Empire has secretly constructed a massive spaceship with a powerful weapon. The Nuvebians have to stop the Rakans before they can engage their home planet.
So it's pretty much a classic science fiction scenario: You've got the great evil empire and the small rebel force that has to stop the empire and its plans. This is story of the game and where the gameplay begins.
Tom: The reason we are developing such a classic sci-fi shooter is: Nowadays, the most common settings of TV series, movies and computer games are zombies, post-apocalyptic settings and fantasy. It appeared to us that those categories are quite saturated at the moment so we decided to make a sci-fi game. All known outer-space-shooters (Quake, Unreal, System Shock 2, etc.) are a bit aged, so someone has to keep up the pulse. :)
Dominik: By the way, I have to state that Leviathan Crossfire is not finished yet at all. All we have released so far is a small one level alpha demo: Leviathan Crossfire: Revelation. It's just a small tech preview. We have launched this demo in order to learn from it and we actually did learn a lot from it. We are now continuing the development. Yeah, so it's not like the game is already finished and we are presenting a small finished indie game, but all we do currently have is an alpha demo. You should keep that in mind.
3.) There is a lot of samey FPS games out there, let alone all the FPS Creator games. How do you plan to differentiate?
Dominik: That's a good question. I think Leviathan Crossfire more or less does the job on its own. We are creating all of the content from scratch. We are not using any textures or models that have been used a hundred times already. We are really breaking FPSC down to the bare engine. This is something unique for FPS Creator.
But I have to say that we are not focusing too much on differentiating from other shooter games at the moment. We are focusing on creating our game. We are developing Leviathan Crossfire in quite an open way: We allow ourselves to be very creative in the development process itself. We do have a design document, but it is not so strict that we'd already know what Leviathan Crossfire is going to be in the end. We do have quite a wide range of creativity we put into the live development.
We are watching the game evolve ourselves. Whenever we got a milestone finished, we are surprised how it turns out. So this is, maybe, a source of differentiation.
4.) What is your response to all the developers that say a game NEEDS multiplayer?
Dominik: I don't know if a game needs multiplayer but I agree that multiplayer is definitely a big plus, especially for FPS games. I would love to see a multiplayer mode for Leviathan Crossfire as well, but I have to say we will either create a stable cool multiplayer mode that feels awesome or we will completely leave it out.
I remember Aquanox here: That was an amazing single-player experience, but let's be honest - the multiplayer mode was bullshit. :)
So yeah, we are currently focusing on single-player only. We do have plans for Leviathan Crossfire to get a multiplayer mode later in the development process, but we currently don't have multiplayer on the radar.
5.) How was working with FPS Creator? Any general tips to help beginners when it comes to that software?
Dominik: Working with FPS Creator is great. The more you understand how it works, the more you can make out if it. FPS Creator is not the same thing as it was back in its early versions: We are currently working on FPSC version 1.19 - LC Revelation was created on v.1.18 by the way, and these versions are pretty stable and powerful if you know what you're doing.
FPS Creator really pretends as if anyone could make a unique game with it, and that's actually not true. I believe that, if you really want to create something unique with it, you have to break FPS Creator down to the engine, I mentioned it already, I know - and create your stuff on your own. If you want to do that, you have to understand the weak points of the software, and it has its weak points, that's clear. I don't want to hide that.
So once you understand the software, you really can create something outstanding with it. FPS Creator then really allows you to create your game in a very fast, very effective way... I'm really happy with it.
Maybe one general tip I can give is: Learn to understand the structures of FPS Creator. Don't just be happy with the editor and clicking a few stock models into a quickly drawn level, but make something out of it!
6.) What got you started liking video games? What are you playing now?
Tom: One of the first milestones in my personal gaming history was the game Flashback - Quest for identity, developed by Delphine Software in the early 90s. I started tracked the progress of video games and was often astonished by the games industry which surpassed itself about every two years.
It began with sprites, flat levels, no-look-up-or-down, keyboard based player control. Over the years, games went over to allow keyboard-mouse combination (or gamepad for the console users) controls, high poly models, anti-aliasing, high performance, 3D effects and so on. Sound and music used in video games are really brilliant nowadays: It's a great benefit that composers are using orchestral music in first person shooters. Right now, having watched E3, I'm looking forward to playing Watchdogs by Ubisoft.
Dominik: Ugh, what got me started? Ehm... that was Cosmos Cosmic Adventure by Apogee. That was the first game I played, I really loved this one: I think I played it through a hundred times. What else did I play? I loved Hocus Pocus, also by Apogee. Jazz Jackrabbit by Epic Mega Games. Yeah, then I turned over to Unreal Tournament later on, then StarCraft... these two are games I really enjoyed for quite a long time.
I'm still playing StarCraft II, in addition to Modern Warfare and Battlefield. These are excellent games with an intense atmosphere.
7.) How is working on a team? Are there any interesting stories about development for you to share with us?
Tom: Working on a team is quite not as difficult as many developers say. Of course you have to stick to some rules, but if you have clear ambitions and if you respect each other, including respect for the ideas of other team members and for their comments about your ideas, you will be able to work most effectively as a team and you'll be able to make progress in no time.
Dominik: Yeah, I totally agree. For us, it is important that both team members are having fun during the development. We both can add in what we want to add in. And it is important that you can deal with criticism because you have to discuss whether certain media fits into the game or not. You'll come to a point where you'll say: I'd love to see that in the game, but if we took this idea and tried to realize it, it would need so much time and work that we wouldn't be able to manage it on a team of two, so you have to keep in mind what your team is capable of. I'm currently thinking of story development for example: We are inventing huge story elements with cerrtain camera movements and such stuff in mind. Then we have to discuss our ideas and we often find out: well, this doesn't work out so well.
So, yeah, it's fantastic for creativity, it's fantastic for developing media commonly: You can work really fast and effectively, but you have to be able to deal with criticism.
8.) Do you have any tips for wannabe game devs?
Dominik: As I stated, Leviathan Crossfire: Revelation is our very first alpha demo of a stand-alone game we are yet developing, so it's pretty early for us to give game development tips. What I can say is: game development is so incredibly complex that you will need a lot of patience and love in order to learn how to handle certain development steps.
For the absolute beginners, if I had to, I would break it down to: a) Just fucking do it. Really. Don't just think about it, but start doing it, no matter what! b) Use the tools you can work with. c) Always be critical about yourself and your work, don't treat it like your baby d) Learn, learn, learn. Never stop learning.
Tom: In the words of Hannibal Smith: "I love when a plan comes together." You must have a plan. An example: In my view, you should not start developing a Stargate game just by designing the P90 submachine gun. You have to think about the several worlds the player can visit, the characters the players will meet, and, of course, the story your four-man-team will experience.
Dominik: Oh yeah, one more point of advice here: Do not start with a Stargate game, just don't do it. :)
9.) What do you think of the sudden leap to the spotlight of indie games?
Tom: Since the programs for creating video games have become more user-friendly, it's easier to create your own game. A few years ago, many people already started creating their own music, writing books and so on. But now, video games have become a greater part in our lives, and we are able spend our creativity on creating them ourselves, not just playing them. And this is wonderful. There are so many great ideas out there, countless play-worthy stories! And now there is a way to bring these ideas to live and show them to other people.
Dominik: I personally haven't thought about that topic too much, to be honest. I think it's great that hobby developers can present their games to the public more easily, find players for their games. But I do not prefer indie games over AAA titles or the other way round just because they are indie or AAA - I play the games that are fun. So I agree with Tom about the fact that it's great that indie devs get more attention since they are a really good addition to the AAA game.
Thanks for your time guys! Good luck!
Official Site: Levcrossfire.bplaced.net
FPS Creator: Thegamecreators.com
IndieDB Page: Indiedb.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nathan. He prefers his last name not to be known. He's probably a high-class superspy, but we don't mind. He is the editor of Indiegraph. He's our point man for interviews, and occasionally he takes a blowtorch to a game to see whether it measures up to his standards. He runs Gamesbydesign, an IndieGraph affliate site dedicated to game design articles.