Saturday, May 14, 2016

GJG Blog Interview #6: Derrick Canfield - High Tale Studios

Having mentioned the fact that I quickly became a fan of one particular game that debuted on the Ouya, Acorn Assault, I figured that it was only fitting that I interview a member of the development team that created Acorn Assault. Derrick Canfield, Co-Founder and Developer of the talented High Tale Studios, was kind enough to answer my questions on High Tale Studios, Acorn Assault, and what could be in store for the game dev team in the future. I'd like to thank Derrick for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview! 

Link to High Tale Studios:
High Tale Studios Facebook Page:
High Tale Studios Twitter Page:

Steven Vitte:
1) What are High Tale Studios' main components in game development? What do you guys value when making a game?

Derrick Canfield: Local multiplayer is something we feel very strongly about, especially because we see more and more games removing things such as split screen gaming. We grew up on games like Goldeneye and Mario Kart where friendships were made and then destroyed all in one multiplayer session. Everything that we work on going forward is being looked at in how we can bring that type of gaming back into the modern world.

2) What are some of the favorite games you've played in the past that inspire you to develop games?

The game that originally made me want to be a game developer was Duke Nukem 3D. I spent a ton of hours with the development tools that came with the game as a kid. As far as recent games, I am quite eclectic in what I play from big triple-a games to casual indie titles. The game that helped inspire Acorn Assault: Rodent Revolution was Triple Town.

3) What inspired you to make Acorn Assault and Acorn Assault: Rodent Revolution? What was it about squirrels that helped you come up with the theme of the games?

We came up with the game’s mechanics by looking at games we enjoyed such as Triple Town, Hearthstone and Might & Magic Heroes 7. The core mechanics of the game were pretty much solidified before we had a theme to go with the game. We knew we wanted something unique for the setting and when our concept artist Tony pitched the idea to us, we knew we had to make a game about squirrels in powdered wigs waging war with one another.

4) How has Acorn Assault been received by gamers and critics? What are your thoughts on this feedback?

I have to say I am pretty pleased with the reviews and feedback we have received for the game which has been very positive. Right now we have twenty-two positive versus three negative reviews on steam. That is not to say there are no gripes people have with the game, but do know that we read all reviews on the game in order to make Acorn Assault: Rodent Revolution better and to improve our future titles.

5) Are there plans to expand on Acorn Assault in the future?

We have ideas for additional content for the game such as a new campaign, new characters and cards, but since we are a small team we have to be careful about how we spend our time. If we see our fan base grow and want to have more content for the game, we will definitely release more content for the title. So please tweet at us, message us on facebook, or yell at us in the street and let us know that you want more content!

Having said that, don’t expect our cast of squirrels to go away. We have plans to explore the characters more in future titles to come.

6) Aside from a strategy battle game like Acorn Assault, what are other game genres that you'd like to tackle in the future?

Our first title was ZomNomNom which is a zombie shooter where the main character is inexplicably stuck in one place on screen as she blasts away zombies, and with the Acorn Assault games, the squirrels get planted in place and do not move. So I think it’s safe to say that we want to work on an action game where the character can actually move! A first or third person action game would be something we would be very excited to work on.

7) Any chance that we'll get Acorn Assault: Rodent Revolution for the Sony PS4? I own a PS4 and not an Xbox One, but I would love to get this game!

Again, this is where our fans come into play. It’s something we would love to do, but our time is limited. Anyone who wants to see squirrel skirmishes on their Playstation should let us know.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ouya: Months Later

Remember when I said that I wouldn't be discussing any more Ouya games? Well, considering that I don't have much to discuss these days in the gaming world (partly because my time is limited), I figured that I'd make an exception to that rule and discuss Ouya games at least one more time here on the Gaming Journalist Gazette.

I got around to actually playing on the Ouya microconsole after going on a hiatus from it, and I did manage to find a few interesting games that I wanted to play. Busted is a game that will kinda remind you of racing/pursuit games like Crazy Taxi or even Grand Theft Auto, but of course it's toned down for the sake of being a demo. The object of Busted is to collect the most money while staying mobile. That in itself may sound easy, but the catch is that you don't have any control as to how fast your getaway care is going. Therefore you can only steer left and right, and all you can do is hope that your car doesn't strike any other car. You have to keep moving or else the cops will catch you. The longer you stay moving on the road, the higher score you will obtain.

Bloo Kid 2 is probably an indie project that you have already heard of, but if not, I'll get to the meat and potatoes of it. If you liked the old school 2D side-scrolling "Collect-athon" style video games back in the day, then I think you will get a kick out of Bloo Kid 2, for the most part. It provides a simple setup that would remind anyone of the old Super Mario Bros. games, encouraging you to collect as many items (mainly stars but also a random balloon at the end of each level) as possible to get a better overall score. The controls of this game are great and easy to memorize. There are jumps and Double Jumps to perform and there are plenty of platforming challenges that are worth getting into and just having fun with.

No Plumbing Required was recently released on the Ouya and the Forge TV microconsole (a device I refuse to get for the reasons why the Ouya ended up fizzling out), and it turns out that this game was very interesting. It had a unique pay mechanic where it was a cross between the original Super Mario Bros. arcade game and the special stage of Sonic the Hedgehog 1 where you had to do some rotating pinball action. If you leaned your character towards one side of the stage here in No Plumbing Required, gravity would shift toward that side. Lean too far toward one side and it becomes very difficult to straighten out the stage.

Amazed is a step above games like Tetris in the sense that you are controlling 2 "laser balls" and you are guiding them through separate mazes, one maze on the left and the other on the right. You are controlling these 2 balls at the same time, which means that if even one ball goes off one grid, you have to start over for both. There are also red walls that will block the progression of the balls, which can help in adjusting the coordination of both as you guide them to green squares. The green squares are the goals you need to reach in order to solve a puzzle. Amazed is a very creative and thought-provoking gameplay experience.