If you hang around the quickpost/c-blog section of the site, there's a pretty good chance that you'll come across one of, Destructoid user, Donley Time's blogs about his game Boss 101. A lot of developers tend to spam their games in the c-blogs, but Donley Time felt different. Call it a hunch.
I decided to do a quick Q & A with Mr. Tim Donley and get to know the man behind the avatar…
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you..... Mistah Tim Donley!!!
[Round of applause]
DM: Obligatory First Question: Just who the f@%k is Donley Time?
Donley: HA! Good question, at the moment the Donley Time Foundation (Donley Time as shortened) is the group working on Boss 101. There are three of us: myself (Tim Donley), Joshua Allen (lead programmer) and Manon Dreijer (artist and animator extraordinaire). This really is a team effort, and everyone is working their tails off to make Boss 101 the very best game it can be.
Donley Time has been posting here at Destructoid for well over a year now! What brought you to Destructoid? What's kept you here all of this time?
It’s pretty simple. We came to Destructoid since it looked to have a crew and fans who might appreciate Boss 101 for what it is - a fun game. We’ve been doing Boss 101 dev blogs for nearly three years, and we are always on the lookout for sites that have the vibe of the Boss 101 player.
As for the staying part, I think it comes down to the people at this site. We tend to get the best feedback from Destructoid.
You've been in the video game industry for over TWENTY years! You've worked on Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2, Redneck Rampage (Oh lord, this takes me back...), Darksiders 1 & 2, and quite a few others as well. You've got a really impressive resume! What led you to leave the big leagues and strike out on your own? Was it something that you had been planning for a while, or was it more of a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision?
Yeah, I started WAY back! Nearly thirty years ago... Some of the earliest stuff was for Interplay/Black Isle as you mentioned. I have had a great time and met so many talented people and worked on so many amazing teams. For me that is the draw of games – working with excited and talented people. If I had to put my finger on the reason for Boss 101, it would be just that – our team. After being in big corporate games for so long, I wanted to get back into the small team space.
What I'm talking about is the spirit of the small team. You can get this ANYWHERE, but it’s easier with small teams. Specifically, there is much more direct communication and idea sharing. There is also a nice atmosphere of camaraderie. Next to Boss 101, one of my all-time favorite development teams was with Planescape: Torment. We were small there too, and it was a fun and crazy dev cycle to finish. With Boss 101 I was hoping to get back to that, and I feel we did! Personally, I think you HAVE to have an extraordinary team to create an extraordinary product.
Speaking of Torment... People REALLY like that game! A lot of folks still consider it to be one of the greatest RPGs of all time! My roommate, for example, is totally obsessed with it!
At what point in the development cycle did you guys realize that you had made something special? Why did you end up parting ways with Black Isle/Interplay?
When did we know we had something special? I think from the start there was a sense we were working on something special, at least among the team. We had support from the company, but you need to understand that Planescape was just one of many projects at Black Isle. There were much bigger things in develoment. Things like Fallout 2, a sequel to Stonekeep, and others... Planescape was important, sure, but it wasn't like we were the premiere game gunning around the offices.
For the team, however, this was everything. We worked constantly on Torment, and a lot of us put in overtime/weekends to make sure things were nice. I think there was also a sense that we enjoyed each other’s company, and we were having fun. That, more than anything else, was probably one of the contributing factors to the game’s success. We liked the job and each other!
I left Black Isle to pursue other goals of mine. I started a small company, with another group of really great people, and then moved through quite a few other companies in the intervening years. I still loved the experience at Black Isle, and the people were fantastic. I know and keep in touch with many of them to this day. Most of them moved onto Obsidian Entertainment and are making their own magic there.
This is the second game of yours that characters Max and S.T.E.V.E. appear in. What inspired them? What made you want to explore these characters further?
Boss 101, the Steam release, will surprisingly be the THIRD game with these guys! The first was the Boss 101 web game, the second was the Cosmic Clicks web game, and then there's the new Boss 101 game on Steam.
Mostly, these characters came about because of my desire to create a fun duo who go adventuring. I enjoy buddy shows and movies. Max and S.T.E.V.E. are a classic duo, who not only enjoy being around each other, but have each other’s backs at all times. For the most part, what you see is what you get with these two.
I also wanted to make a universe they could explore and the player would enjoy learning about. There’s a whole lot of backstory in the Boss 101 universe. While I don’t think it’s important to have every little detail spelled out to the viewer, I do think it helps to have an underlying sense of why things are the way they are in the universe. We have all that, and it has really made creating content a lot easier.
How have you and your team managed to maintain momentum over the years? Have you teamed up with any publishers? Do you have day jobs, or are you working on Boss 101 full-time?
We are working on Boss 101 full-time and have been for about three years now. There are only three of us, and occasionally we have interventions like school or contract work on the side, but mostly we have been hammering away on Boss 101. That is our full-time gig, and we hope it shows in the effort.
It’s actually been easier than you might think to maintain the momentum on the project. I think (and this is Tim speaking) the secret is that we enjoy the project and each other. We are all putting in a top effort, and there is a lot of respect for new ideas and direction while we develop.
We are currently not teamed with any publishers. Although, we have spoken to a few really nice ones who are interested in publishing or translating Boss 101.
The real deal is that our work is all about the player. It’s not enough to sit in a room for years working on something. We put ourselves in your place and think about the things you might want to see. We think about the things we find enjoyable, and (as much as possible...) EVERYTHING THAT IS FUN GOES IN THE GAME!
I've gotta ask.... Who is the Firefly fan on the team? Have they seen The Expanse yet?!? They're very different shows, but they're both very dear to me.
I love Firefly! Why do you ask? HAHA! I enjoyed the whole Firefly series and the movie of course. Series was cut short WAY too soon. I also read all the Expanse books and saw the TV series. Both are fantastic, and a great look at near-future sci-fi.
I know you've been seeing other sites behind our back (I saw that lipstick on your collar Tim....), but it's still been really wonderful following all of your progress on Boss 101!! Your 22 part series on “How To Make A Game”, on your official site, is really f@%king cool as well! What led you to being so open about your craft? What are some of the biggest benefits and drawbacks to taking this approach?
As far as I am concerned there are ONLY benefits from sharing the development process. I want to see more people get into games. We need more dreamers and creators. Not everyone needs to make a Boss 101 style game, but they should make games if they have the passion for it.
Here’s the simple secret. It’s just hard work! THAT’S IT FOLKS! Like learning to play an instrument, you just got to put in the time and WANT to do it. Anyone can have a go at game making, and it’s easier than ever to enter the game making space. Do we need another zombie, horror, survival, outpost creating game? I dunno, but if you want to make one you should.
What I hope to encourage with our blog posts is to show it’s about PASSION and iteration. You gotta love it, and you gotta be willing to stay on it. Never give up and never give in. Just do a LITTLE every day, and it will happen.
When all is said and done, you have to give back to the community that made you – it’s only fair to the current and next generations coming up.
It's no secret that The Donley Time Foundation was formed with the intention of developing a means of travelling to the future/past. When your time machine is finally completed, what will be the very first thing that you do? Will you send me some postcards?!?
Yes, the Donley Time Foundation was formed to create a time machine.
I figured, since this probably wouldn’t happen in MY lifetime, I might as well be the guy that founds the company so SOMETIME in the far future (when they do build time machines) they can come back and pick me up. They haven’t yet, so I guess I still have some important things to do in this timeline.
I do expect to be able to notify everyone about my time travel (if the Foundation approves...), so expect postcards all around!
[F@%K YEAH POSTCARDS!]
After spending a few hours with the original Flash version of Boss 101, I can safely say that I'm completely on board for the full game! The hype is very real, Tim.
Any word on a release date? How much work still needs to be done? Why do you hate me so much, Tim? Why can't I have it right NOW?!?
The release is soon. We are aiming for the next few months! No exact date at the moment and that is only because we want to make sure the game is as polished and nice as we can make it. At this point, there is NO reason for us to rush anything out! We want it as fun, solid, and bug free as possible. We’re doing our best and, ideally, that translates directly to you getting a much better game!
Seriously Tim, It's been a real pleasure getting to know both you and Boss 101. Watching this thing grow over the past year in the c-blogs has been a wonderful experience! Like it or not, you're one of us now!!! Any parting words for the Destructoid Community?
I’d like to thank all the friends and fans we have on Destructoid! Everyone here has been positive and supportive of Boss 101, and we really appreciate it! We hope to continue the development blogs/updates until and THROUGH the game’s release. Beyond that, we will continue to be a member of the community and answer any questions/help anyone out that we can!
Mostly, my parting words are... go out and LIVE YOUR DREAMS! Don’t wait around! Be that game designer, artist, or next big thing in games! Be who you want to be, and don’t wait for anyone or anything. Start making mistakes, and you will start making progress.
[Well said Tim.....]