In this new series of articles from team Dejobaan on Indie development, we interview Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games in a piece we are calling "Half a Million Seconds with and Indie Developer". Alex tells us about his Studio's work on WiiWare games and why other Indies should get in on the action!
Before we jump in, just a reminder. If you played AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! -- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity and loved it, please vote for us for Indie Game of the Year: Moddb.com
In slow-mo blow-by-blow action here's Alex....
LEO JAITLEY OF DEJOBAAN: Please introduce yourself! What's your background as a game developer? Why did you go indie and what did you friends and family say when you said you were "going indie"?
ALEX: My name is Alex Neuse, and I'm the designer/CEO at Gaijin Games. I've been in the industry for over a decade and initially got into it for my deep deep love of the medium. I ultimately decided to "go indie" because I was sick of workin' for The Man. I was sick of people other than myself holding the creative control on every project I worked on. I had creative game ideas, and by gum I was going to show the world! I found two other like-minded dudes, and away we soared into creative freedom! Friends and family have been (and continue to be) very supportive. It could be because now I don't complain about work as much, but I like to think it's because they believe in me. ;)
LEO JAITLEY: What's your favorite 6502-based computer?
ALEX: Dude. If you have to ask, you clearly don't know me as well as I thought you might! 2600, holmes! In all honesty, though, this is a tough question, as the NES also had the chip (I think). But seeing as how the 2600 was so influential in my life, I have to go with the 2600. Mind you, I play my NES a buttload more than I play my 2600.
LEO JAITLEY: WiiWare - something every Indie should get into?
ALEX: WiiWare is interesting. It's a great platform for original, off-the-wall game ideas that are of a smaller scale. I think this is what Nintendo wanted when they launched the service as well. The download limitations and system constraints make certain that developers think outside of the box. I would love to see more indies supporting the service, because I think it could become a great home for small, innovative games. However, I would honestly recommend that indies try to go multi-platform. This is something that we're toying with at the moment, because there just aren't enough WiiWare consumers to justify WiiWare exclusivity--at least not yet (CONNECT YOUR WIIS TO THE INTERNETZ, FOLKS!)
LEO JAITLEY: Tell us about your workspace - are you a "work from home while watching Oprah" kinda dev, a "get out of bed and trudge through the snow to the office" kind, or something else?
ALEX: All of us at Gaijin Games are snow-trudging-office-goers. Having a place to go to focus 100% on work has been huge for us. There are just too many distractions at home. And if we were at home, our constant "off-gassing" might irritate those around us. Having an office is a great benefit. It's dedicated workspace. It's a meeting place for business cohorts/partners. It's a legitimizing thing as well. Banks and other business partners just love seeing "Suite 29-204" on your address.
LEO JAITLEY: You wake up on a Wednesday morning. Congratulations -- you have a full day's work ahead of you! What do you get done in the first hour? (Okay, go on and tell us about the subsequent 10 hours.)
ALEX: The first hour is usually eaten up by doing businessy things. I catch up on emails, interviews, friend requests, and blog comment moderation. After that, we get down to the fun stuff. The other dudes usually roll in about an hour after I do, and we start by talking about our loved ones and how awesome they are as we finish off our morning coffee. Post coffee-time, we get our Scrum on. Our morning scrum consists of the usual scrumlike behavior. What happened, what's happening, what's not happening... After that, on the best days, we'll have a few more post-scrum conversations about how to make things more awesome, and then we'll all plug in and work in COMPLETE SILENCE. We are very strict.
But actually, we do spend a lot of time in quietude, working on our own disciplinary tasks. Often, we'll ask each other to play something or try something new out. Oh, and we belch constantly. After a good 8 - 10 hours of that, we hit the road and walk, bike, or drive home to get more good stories about our loved ones for coffee the next day. We try to work very hard during the day to minimize crunch and general overtime/slackagawea.
LEO JAITLEY: Would you classify yourself as more of an artist or a tech wiz? Master of biz? Maybe you do it all, tell us about it Jack...
ALEX: I would classify myself as a dreamer. I don't think I'm a wiz at anything that can't be preceded by a good old fashioned "what if..." I'm a decent/good designer. Decent/poor artist and poor/embarrassing tech guy. My business acumen is ever growing, and I think I do ok on that front. Being that there are only 3 of us, we all wear multiple hats, and help out any way we can.
LEO JAITLEY: Dejobaan has a few favorite moments in our studio's history -- care to share one of yours?
ALEX: One of our favorite moments was when we deciphered a very challenging puzzle presented at a GDC lecture using nothing more than unbridled video game knowledge and were awarded with the Tomb Raider game of our choice by Tim Longo over at Crystal Dynamics. Oh wait. That hasn't happened yet.
LEO JAITLEY: Tell us about a game that inspired you to MAKE games.
ALEX: Rez. It's a game that you know about. If by chance you don't, then color me very VERY disappointed. Rez has so much depth which is only discovered once you really start thinking about the game and pondering its meaning. Now, of course, you don't have to get into the depth of the game to enjoy it--it works on a completely brainless level as well. But there is so much going on in the "heart" of that game that it has been (and continues to be) one of my biggest inspirations. I may have beaten that game more than 100 times. Oh. Oh yes. I play Rez.
LEO JAITLEY: Is there a question you wish we had just asked you (and what's the answer?)?
ALEX: I wish you had asked me to do a speed Q/A live, while wearing a toga and being suspended above a tank of Thai iced tea and if I didn't get through all the questions, then I would be dropped into the iced tea and pointed and laughed at by Japanese omelet chefs who would then serve me warm omelets once I was backstage. If I had answered the questions right, the stagehands would tip the iced tea onto you, and the chefs would point and laugh at you instead. I would still get the omelets backstage though.