Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project: Better Dolphin Interview with Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games!

We at Project: Better Dolphin have a very special post today! We scored our first interview, with Robert Boyd from Zeboyd Games! He answered our many questions about game development, and a few other things. If you don't already know him, look into Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII to get a little context into who our very first guest speaker is. Anyway, enjoy!

Q) What parts of designing your games did you most enjoy?
A) Favorite part of designing games is the very beginning when you're
still coming up with the big concepts and not too worried about
actually implementing them.

Q) What parts were the most frustrating or challenging?
A) Bugs. I hate it when I've programmed something that I think should
work and it doesn't and I have no clue what I did wrong and I end up
spending an entire day before I finally figure it out.

Q) Were there any visions you had for any game that ended up getting scrapped for whatever reason?
A) Definitely. For example, in Cthulhu Saves the World, the original plan
for the zombie-filled city was much grander, complete with puzzles,
and a before-and-after setup, but it ended up taking too much time to
create so we made things simpler.

Q) I know you aren't allowed to really talk about Rainslick 3, but how does working in an established franchise differ from your other works?
A) There's more of a need to coordinate things. With our past games, if I
had an idea, I'd talk to my partner and if he liked it and it was
within our means, we'd implement it. With Rainslick, things have to
also get approved by Penny Arcade. Although they are generally
responsive to our ideas, it still takes more time to get ideas
approved than it did before.

Q) What was the experience of becoming a game developer like?
A) There was nothing formal about the process. I decided that I wanted to
make games and then did. I only had a very minimal understanding of
programming but I have an analytic mind so I taught myself through
trial and error and the Internet.

Q) What are the most important things every game developer should know?
A) For Indie Game development, I'd say the most important thing is to
start small and work your way up. It's better to successfully finish a
bunch of smaller projects and improve your skills than it is to try to
do something that's beyond your capabilities and fail.

Q) What books, movies, and other forms of media inspire you the most?
A) Favorite authors - Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy),
Isaac Asimov (Foundation), and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn).
Favorite movies - The Fugitive, The Nightmare before Christmas, The
Girl Who Leapt through Time, and Princess Mononoke.
Favorite TV series - Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development, 30
Rock, The Simpsons.
Favorite music groups - Boa (UK), Genki Rockets, Matchbox 20, Foo
Fighters, Kiroro.

Q) What was it like using Cthulhu as a character? How was it similar/different from working with original characters?
A) Wasn't that different from our past games. Although Cthulhu is a
fictional character from someone else's work, the way we used him was
very different than the norm. If anything I looked more at Disgaea &
Okage: Shadow King for inspiration into his personality for our game.

Q) Your games are some of the most humorous I have played. How big of a part do you think humor should play in games, both indie and mainstream developed?
A) I think humor should definitely play a bigger role. If you look at TV
and movies, comedy is very common, but games that are primarily
comedies are almost unheard of in gaming. Many people felt Portal 2
was the best game of 2011 and I think the fact that it was a very
funny game played a big part in that.

Q) What video games have you most enjoyed or been impressed by? What games have disappointed you the most? Why?
A) Outside of turn-based RPGs, some of my favorite games of all time
include Civilization, Resident Evil 4, Dark Souls, and Pac-Man: CE
(and DX). Recent disappointments have included Skyward Sword, Deus Ex:
HR, and Dungeon Defenders.

Q) Are there any features that you think must be included in every game?
A) Difficulty options.

Q) What genres of gaming do you think have the most room to improve?
A) Shmups. They've stagnated for too long; I'd love to see a new innovate
take on the genre.

Q) Looking back on all your development, is there anything you would go about differently?
A) I probably would have slowly ramped up to Cthulhu Saves the World.
Cthulhu Saves the World was such a big jump over what we did in Breath
of Death VII that it ended up taking substantially longer than we
expected to make. If I had to do it again, I would have made a smaller
game between BoDVII and CSTW.

Q) What have been the most defining moments of your development career, both the pitfalls and the successes.
A) The biggest moment in my development career was when I decided to make
Breath of Death VII. Before that, I had done a couple of text-based
games that hadn't sold well. I applied for a job at one of my favorite
video game companies and after two interviews, they eventually decided
to go with someone else. I was discouraged and almost quit game
development entirely. Then I had the idea for Breath of Death VII and
despite the fact that it was much more ambitious than anything I had
done before, I decided to go for it. I talked Bill into teaming up
with me and everything else fell into place.

See more from Zeboyd Games at their site, zeboyd.com!


  1. Interesting interview! Some well thought out questions too! :)


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