When I first caught a glimpse of Autopret, a sandbox driving game, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the art style. It didn’t matter what was actually happening inside the game, I just knew I had to find out more about this beautifully crafted world from developer Sander van der Vegte.
The Indie Mine: What sparked the idea of Autopret?
Sander: I was busy trying out Unity a few years back. At the time I was messing about, trying to make a car. After I succeeded I wanted it to move around autonomously. Fast forward to a year ago, and I had a simple city with cars driving around on their own. It was great to play with, from a developer’s point of view. Then I realized that if I can translate that form of ‘play’ to something players can do, I’d have a great game. As for the edit functionality, designing an entire city takes a lot of time. A way to design your own city needed to be found, otherwise the scope of the project would be too big for a small team. The level editor was specifically made with no grid in mind. Full flexibility but with a super-easy interface. I prototyped this all, and named it Autopret.
The Indie Mine: The ability to affect the game by using words reminds me of Scribblenauts‘ free-form world manipulation. How deep are you planning to make this feature in Autopret? Can you give me a few examples of some cool ways to change the game world using this feature?
Sander: This is heavily based on Scribblenauts, yes. Their way of influencing the world is a great inspiration. The difference with Autopret is that you can point out which object you want to influence. This can become as deep as we want. You get the feeling that anything is possible, and that’s our goal, too. There are so many suggestions we have seen by play testing the game. Another huge source for inspiration and a great way to create what players want. Some cool examples: The trailer shows ‘brick’, ‘plank’, and ‘freeze’, which put together, combines into a solid ramp you can jump off. I personally like to type in ‘beam’, which creates a 2 by 4, drive on top of it, and then make the beam really big in one go. This action flings the car into the air.
The Indie Mine: The trailer shows off a world editing view too, allowing you to draw new areas onto the game space. What are you aiming for with this and how big can we expect a map to get? Will I be able to create a sprawling city for example?
Sander: You can create as many roads as you want. We haven’t really found the limit of map size yet. From a game design perspective, it might be better to limit the amount of roads you can make, but that’s something we still need to explore. If you want to create a sprawling city, you sure can. A new road can be magnetized in position and rotation, allowing you to create a grid structure similar to big cities. Place high-rise, and you’re done. The game will populate the city accordingly, making cities more traffic dense than villages.
The Indie Mine: What’s the deal with the other cars on the road? How does the AI understand what’s happening when all hell breaks loose and they start flying off into the horizons?
Sander: All cars have a mind of their own. At first, they start off easy going. However, for each collision they make or get, or if they need to wait for no good reason, their temper goes up. Eventually, they will start ignoring rules, and try to back out of a traffic jam. The result can be pretty hilarious. There’s a lot of tweaking involved to get this right. Even though a huge traffic jam can clear itself over time, it might not always be interesting to look at. There is a fine line between moving traffic, and stopped traffic, to give the player a fun environment.
The Indie Mine: How many people have been working on the game? How long has it been in development for?
Sander: We have been working with a team of five, for the past ten weeks. The Gamefonds and the Creative Industries Fund NL honored us with a stimulus fund to make this happen. Now that we can show how promising this game is, we need to use this momentum to find other ways to continue development.
The Indie Mine: When do you hope to release it, and on what platforms? What prices are we looking at?
Sander: Autopret is currently made for PC and Mac, but can be ported with relative ease to pretty much any other platform. We hope to be able to offer this game for free. With an endless amount of customization, we are looking for other ways to support this game. A basic version for free, for anyone to enjoy, and perhaps a paid version if you want a bit more objects or cars to play around with. These plans depend heavily on feedback, so we’d love to hear what people think of it.
You can find out more about Autopret and keep up to date with the games progress through their official website.
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