Recently I got another chance to talk to Nathan Fouts, ex-Insomniac developer and creator/developer of the stellar Xbox Live Community Games title Weapon of Choice. The last time we spoke, the New Xbox Experience (and Community Games) had yet to launch. This time, we focused on things surrounding post-launch. Fouts and I touched on visual comparisons, large monsters with big teats, hotdogs, and his score for his game based on our review scale.
Hit the break for the full interview.
What's with that monster with teats?
That’s the ‘environmental spectacle’ for the first level. I wanted to really catch the player’s attention and having grown up around dairy cows, it seemed like engorged, alien teats was an obvious choice.
I blended together influences of some old and some more contemporary games for a refreshing, ‘boss gazpacho’. Obviously Contra and Treasure games have great boss fights but the constant hanging, climbing, and running on top of huge creatures from Shadow of the Colossus probably influenced the broad design the most.
I'm really digging the approach to the characters and having to choose whom to save. I can also understand how that would be a sore point for a lot of players. Did you think there would be any frustration from the character selection and loss?
Thanks! Glad you enjoy it. The player only has to choose which downed Operative to rescue mid-level during that game session. Once you restart the game, all your rescued Operatives return. I think making the painful decision of which Operative to rescue is mitigated by the fact that players can permanently gain new Operatives once they successfully carry them out of the level, increasing their playable lives count.
I hope they just get to enjoy themselves for a while, shooting weird aliens in glorious 2D. I love shooting really weird aliens and wish there were more 'absolutely bonkers' creatures in games.
Pretend you are tasked with reviewing your title. What score would you give it according to our reviews scale? What are the strong and weak points?
I’m not a reviewer for a reason. I am a rabid, insatiable, biased monster when it comes to certain genres, especially 2D shoot’em ups and run ‘n’ gun games. My keel is wholly uneven, but if I tried to right my reviewing ship, I’d put Weapon of Choice at about a 7 or an 8.
If Weapon of Choice were a hotdog (complete with bun and dressed to your tastes) how big would it be? How quickly could you eat it?
Weapon of Choice would probably be more like a mini-dog-medley on a Millefiori serving tray. There are several different wieners and buns with all sorts of condiments and flavors, which you can take your time to savor. It even includes a delicious ice cream dessert if you happen to go off the beaten path.
If Resistance: Fall of Man and Weapon of Choice got in a fight, who would win?
Seeing how I worked on Resistance, I obviously know it’s weakness—it can’t stand bright, varied colors—and I’d whisper this to WoC which in turn would flash the 'ole ROYGBIV. After Resistance was blindly lashing out with Menials and Leapers, [WoC] would strike quickly with a Vengeance Missile to finish it off.
Additionally, Microsoft has assured everyone, and I do believe them, that we will know information about number of copies sold of our games, but right now that’s gnawing at my spine.
Make games, make money
What are the "kinks" for a developer with a game already published on Xbox Live Marketplace? Why hasn't Microsoft released sales data to you? Were they supposed to?
Some developers have an issue with the four minute timed trial. There’s no consensus yet as to how to improve it but most are leaning towards wanting players to have more time with their game.
Recently, you were in the news because you hate videogames, especially Community Games. What do you have to say for yourself?
Hate videogames? More like love videogames so much I’m crazy enough to want to pay more for them!
I’d like to 'Palin' that answer by telling you about our new art calendar ready in time for 2009! It’s filled to the brim with newly designed art of a dozen, disgusting aliens from Weapon of Choice. It’s the perfect holiday gift for friends that enjoy staring at alien guts and glistening eyeballs.
Are you able to approach Sony with Weapon of Choice and get it on PSN?
While there is a faction devoted to making C# work on the PS3, I think there’s only a very, remote chance of porting Weapon of Choice.
Did you know ‘materiel’ is a word? I’m pretty sure I would just think its ‘material’ misspelled, but maybe I just need to study up on my military terminology.
[Editor's Note: After the interview was concluded, Microsoft did shoot out a list of the best selling Community Games. It doesn’t contain the amount of units sold, but it looks as though that information is coming soon. Over the next two nights the “My Business” section on the XNA development website (where creators will be able to check payments) is undergoing maintenance.]