By Quentin H. / March 19th, 2019
OR: You’re heavily involved in the Discord and looking at Steam comments and on Twitter. You’re involved in the community and you obviously respond to them. How do you balance including things in [Tangledeep] that fans want versus what you want, even if they are sometimes opposite of each other?
AV: That’s a good question because even though Tangledeep is not as popular as a game like World of Warcraft, which has people always asking for different content there [or] any big MMO or any massive game of its kind. Tangledeep is comparatively smaller, but there absolutely are players who want different things. There are people who think the game is too hard, people who think it is too easy and they want different features and things to address their needs. And so what I try to do is primarily listen to what it is that’s prompting the feedback to begin with, but not necessarily take to heart the exact suggestion of how to fix it.
So if somebody says ‘Well’ – This is an example of something that actually happened- They felt that there were so many skills in the game from the different jobs, [that] they had trouble accessing all of those skills, and they felt like the character was too homogeneous because they had access to every skill. This was some more hardcore players that had gotten very far into the game [and] had spent fifty hours on one character. And so, rather than taking their feedback and adding more hotbars to the game, which is what those players were asking for, I was thinking ‘Well, let’s take an opposite approach and make it so you can only use skills that are on your two hotbars.’ You get sixteen skills that you have access to at any one time, and that’s your build. And if you want to change your build, you have to go back to town. And my thought was: “That should help address the issue of feeling like you have to organize and have access to a hundred different things, and help you feel more unique because you have to pick a build, and you have to get equipment and playstyles that revolve around those sixteen skills.”
And that was actually a pretty popular change. I think even the people that were asking for more hotbars ultimately seemed to appreciate that. So that’s the general process: listen to complaints or suggestions carefully, but then think of ‘Is what they’re asking for- is that what they really want, is that actually going to solve their problem, or maybe I can think of a different way to solve the problem that will actually make it even better.’
“Well, I would say that probably the single most important piece of advice is to try to create using the knowledge that you have and take it step-by-step without worrying so much about doing it exactly the right way.“
OR: Tangledeep is a strictly digital game. Are there any plans of making a physical version available either through major retailers or through Strictly Limited Games or Limited Run Games or another such company?
AV: Actually, as of right now, I’m talking to a few different possible partners for doing a limited run release of the game. Because that’s something people have asked for, I do think sales so far would make it worthwhile. In other words, to have a physical release. So there are no concrete plans yet- contracts have not been signed. But I think there’s at least a decent chance that that will happen.
OR: I have to ask because of our [reader] base: If it does happen, any chance you’ll send it out for the PlayStation Vita as well?
AV: *laughs* You know, I was actively looking into Vita. I personally love my Vita, just like I love my PSP. Still use them today. In fact, that’s how I played the latest Shiren: The Wanderer game, Shiren V. But it was very disappointing to see Sony dropping their support for [the Vita]. So, I’d say the plans are in question as to whether that’ll happen or not. Maybe we’ll be lucky and they’ll release a Vita 2, and we’ll take a look at that.
OR: Would you consider releasing Tangledeep digitally for the Vita?
AV: I think, within dropping support, I’m really interested in seeing if they’ll announce a successor to [the Vita]. Because, I would hate to be in a position, like some people were- for example with the Wii U and the Switch, where there were developers working on a Wii U title and then the Switch came out, and Switch is more popular- so now that they’ve made this announcement, I’m interested in seeing if they are going to follow this up with a new handheld. And I would be very interested in releasing for that.
If they’re not replacing it with something else, I guess it remains to be seen.
OR: Moving on: OceansAndrew was showing off your next game that has been in development last night on Twitch. And the early feature work looks gorgeous. Can you tell us anything about this game?
AV: Sure. It doesn’t have a name yet, but we’ve been planning it, actually, for over six months now. It’s actually been largely his initiative to lay out the story and the design for the game. He’s not a programmer, but he’s been working on those elements of it, as well as artwork. So while I was working on the development of expansion and the Switch port, he’s been working on those elements of the new game.
So it’s basically a puzzle-RPG set in the world of Tangledeep, taking place sometime after the original game. And it combines elements of games like Puzzle Fighter and Tetris, because you’re matching things and clearing lines off a board, but at the same time- there’s going to be RPG style real time battles happening. So you’ll have a party starting with one character, but eventually [you’ll] get three characters. And based on how you play the puzzle game, that’s going to influence the kind of attacks that you do. And then, just like any great RPG, you’ll have equipment for your party, you’ll be able to unlock more powers and items that they can use to defeat the monsters. And there is definitely going to be more of a story in this game, because he’s had the time and also other writers in the project to flesh it out in advance, rather than with Tangledeep -as I’ve said- it was sort of the last priority after gameplay and art.
So, I think people that enjoyed the world of Tangledeep are going to like this. I’m pretty bad at puzzle games, but personally, I’m enjoying the gameplay of this because it does have these RPG elements and that sort of FINAL FANTASY ATB-style in there as well.
OR: What kind of puzzle elements are we talking about?
AV: Right now, it is probably closest to a game like Tetris, but not quite, because there are more piece types and you have almost like a ‘deck’ of pieces that you have access to, rather than having the same pieces every time. They are like a customizable ‘deck’ that you use of falling pieces. And then, you have influence over the elements of the pieces that you’re dropping- so if you clear lines using fire pieces, you’ll do fire attacks, which might be good against certain types of monsters. If you clear with ice lines, that might be something more defensive – it might clear status effects from your party. And then there are pieces on the board in other modes of the game that you might be able to break or unlock to collect resources that you can use to collect more items.
So it is an interesting combination of things, but I think, again, if you enjoy games with falling blocks, it will be fundamentally appealing for you.
OR: This is pretty different from Tangledeep, which is a rogue-like game. Why the sudden genre shift?
AV: Well, I think people have been asking about what would a Tangledeep 2 look like. This won’t be Tangledeep 2, this is a spinoff in the same world. I was looking for, as a programmer, something that would not be the same scope necessarily as Tangledeep was, which has hundreds of skills and items and monsters and all these complete systems and generators. So something with a more defined scope that is a bit more pick up and play, and perhaps something that appeals to a different sort of nostalgia.
I remember, for example, enjoying games like Tetris Attack and Puzzle Fighter and things like that, which were kind of in the same general era. And so after this game is when I would think about what a Tangledeep 2 would look like, but I want to do something just a bit smaller, sort of in between after a multi-year project.
OR: You made your own game with no programming experience. What do you have to say to people who want to set out to make their own game that may be in the same position you were two years ago? What can I learn from you?
AV: Boy. Well, I would say that probably the single most important piece of advice is to try to create using the knowledge that you have and take it step-by-step without worrying so much about doing it exactly the right way.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about ‘Am I developing this correctly? Am I using the best tools? Should I use Unity or Unreal or Game Maker?’ And once you’re using one of those things, ‘Am I using the right architecture, the right infrastructure? Is this code going to be translatable later? Is it going to be portable?’ Those questions are a lot less important than just getting into writing the code, creating the game, getting gameplay on the screen.
Because once you have that, it’s motivating. If you spend too much time planning and thinking of the very best way to do it and fretting too much about the tools that you’re using, it’s going to take away from not only your motivation, but your time. So I would recommend, if you’re coming from little to no experience, then pick up a book on something like the basics of object-oriented programming. That’ll cover languages like Java, C#, C++, very common things. And then you can apply that to Unity or Unreal or Game Maker. The same concepts will apply to any of those. And if, down the road, you’ve written some very simple code and it maybe didn’t do something the right way, you can change it later. Don’t worry too much about that. It’s more important to have fun with the creation process. Get a sprite on the screen, make it swing a sword, put a slime on the screen, make a little number appear above its head. Those are the things that are rewarding and will help push you into learning even more and getting deeper into those technical aspects of programming and development.
But if you start with technical stuff, it’s very easy to get discouraged.
OR: Alright, last question: Would you do it again?
AV: Yes. A hundred percent.
My only regret is that I may have pushed myself a little too far to launch the game when I did. I think if I gave myself just two more weeks, instead of launching on February 1, 2018, maybe if I did February 15, 2018, I probably could have saved myself a few days of misery.
OR: Thank you very much.
Are you excited for the upcoming puzzle game set in the Tangledeep universe? What would you want to see in a Tangledeep 2?
Let us know in the comments below!
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