Old CAN be new again which is immediately evident when looking at the indie game qrth-phyl from studio hermitgames. This uniquely-named title was chosen to lead off the Indie Games Uprising III event and it’s certainly made a splash among the press sites covering this event. Matt James, the creative force behind qrth-phyl, was able to answer a few questions for us regarding where the inspiration for this arcade reimagination comes from.
Hello Matt. Thanks for agreeing to talk to us today. Can you tell us a bit about hermitgames and your role within the studio?
Hello. I started releasing stuff as hermitgames in 2002 ish, as a label for just my own stuff, that I was solely in control of. If I’ve made something I want to release to the public I’ll do it through hermitgames.
You have an interesting backlog of games you’ve created. One of the things I noticed is that unlike a lot of the other XBLIG developers taking part in the Uprising, your history seems to be very PC-centric. Is there a particular reason you’ve always targeted PC, and why go to XBLIG now?
I’ve not really actively chosen to concentrate on PC. It’s only recently there have been options to distribute on xbox or iPhone or whatever without signing to a publisher. My previous game Leave Home was on XBLIG before PC.
I stand corrected! What do you feel are the strengths of each platform, and do you have a preferred platform to develop for?
Mostly I want something with easy distribution, getting stuff ready for public release is a right pain so anything that makes it easier to give a game out to people and it work is good. That and lack of interference from the platform owner, or anyone else, is what I want.
Let’s jump back for a minute to the game we just mentioned, Leave Home which I recently had a chance to play. For a lot of indie developers, the side-scroller SHMUP seems to be a go-to genre for learning the ropes of development. However, you took something commonplace and made it unique. Leave Home rewards or punishes players depending on how well they’re doing. Stages not only scroll, they also rotate. It’s also an intentionally short game. What are some of the elements – design or otherwise – that you’re most proud of in Leave Home?
I’m pleased to have finished it. It ended up feeling how I wanted it to feel which is good.
What have you been able to take from your time and experience developing Leave Home that has helped you with qrth-phyl?
Loads of the algorithmic generation stuff was useful. qrth-phyl takes some of that a step further by mutating the generation algorithms themselves.
Let’s dig into qrth-phyl. In your words, tell us what this game is all about.
It’s an arcade game. It’s about BLOCKADE, the 1976 first snake/maze style game. It’s about what gets left behind. It’s about spacial navigation. It’s about old computers. It’s about progression. It’s a videogame.
Why BLOCKADE though? Was there something appealing about taking a classic game and putting a big twist on it?
Initially with the prototype I did in 2004 I didn’t even know about Blockade. I was just fiddling with the challenge of making a 3D snake type thing. It wasn’t until 2010 ish that I discovered the Blockade and Lane Hauck story and thought I could bring that and my prototype together.
What do you find to be the most interesting or enjoyable aspect of the game?
Feel/Atmosphere. The really difficult small 3d levels where it feels like everything is going off and you’re just surviving.
What’s been the most difficult part of development for you?
Just getting stuff finished for release, all the little edge polishing. Also it was quite tricky doing both PC and XBLIG versions for release at the same time.
Well, qrth-phyl is already garnering some positive attention. It was named one of the finalists for this year’s Dream.Build.Play competition. Are you surprised, excited, or some other response?
I try not to look at the response. I want it to do OK, mostly so I can make another game.
What’s next for hermitgames?
I have like 3 things on the go that might release next. A 2D arcade style game, a 3D game built from some of the same code as qrth-phyl and a slower PC type release. Depends which ones I lose interest in.
For our readers who are curious about qrth-phyl, can you give us a pitch on why they should try it?
It’ll do your head in.
For more information on hermitgames and the studio’s catalog of titles, be sure to check out their official site.
© 2012 – 2013, The Indie Mine. All rights reserved.