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Road To The IGF: Hello Games Talks  Joe Danger

Road To The IGF: Hello Games Talks Joe Danger Exclusive

February 16, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

February 16, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Indie, Exclusive

[In the latest Road to the IGF interview with 2010 Independent Games Festival finalists, Gamasutra speaks with Hello Games' Sean Murray, Dave Ream, Grant Duncan and Ryan Doyle about capturing the joy of motorcycle toys in Joe Danger, their Seumas McNally Grand Prize-nominated contender.]

Hello Games, a UK-based independent developer founded by veterans of AAA racing titles, is bringing its first game to digital platforms -- Joe Danger, an Evel Knievel-inspired racer that aims to catch the spirit of childhood toys.

Here, Hello's Sean Murray, Dave Ream, Grant Duncan and Ryan Doyle get together to discuss the Seumas McNally Grand Prize-nominated Joe Danger, how real play with a toybox helped firm up the concept, and where they hope the project is headed next.

What is your background in making games?

Sean: I guess we've all worked for bigger companies like Electronic Arts, Criterion and Sumo for a couple of years. I worked on Burnout and Black, amongst others.

David: We've all been making games since we were kids, though. The first game I ever made was called Little Yellow Car goes Beep.

Grant: I was an artist on a bunch of Sega games, and I worked on Warhammer. First game I made was a Doom mod called Space Cows From Beyond The Milky Way. I was very young.

Ryan: My first game was called "Tech Demo v0.8".

What development tools did you use?

Sean: Us three coders mainly spend our days in Visual Studio.

Ryan: We've got lots of tools and editors we've made ourselves, we use them quite a lot.

Grant: I'm mainly Photoshop and Maya. Sometimes they make me open xml files in Notepad, but I sob until it stops.

How long did you work on the game?

Sean: It's been about eighteen months since it all started, probably longer than that now.

David: We've lost all track of time. We've been working on Joe Danger for so long our keyboards are covered in dust and cobwebs.

Ryan: Dave's keyboard is covered in dust and cobwebs.

Where did the idea come from, and what influenced the style?

Sean: We kind of had too many ideas to begin with, too many directions we wanted to go in. Then Grant brought this box of toys in from his parents attic, and we started playing about these toys -- one in particular, actually.

Ryan: That dildo?

Grant: It was an old Evil Knievel stunt cycle.

David: Next question...

From what I can see, you've really recreated the joy of playing with toy motorcycles and race tracks. What considerations did you build into the design to bring this sense right up to the forefront?

Sean: We wanted something that was fun to play with. Like when we were firing that stunt cycle out of windows and down halls, it was just fun. So many games are based on avoiding failure rather than seeking reward. We wanted to make something different. Something charming, rewarding and just fun.

Grant: As a child playing with toys, they're never frustrating.

Ryan: Apart from Optimus Prime. He never did what I told him. Always talking back.

With the level editor that allows people to put their own tracks together, can you see the potential for releasing more building blocks via digital download updates once it launches? Would you like to have users able to share tracks among themselves?

Sean: We'd love users to be able to share their levels, absolutely. It's rock-hard to implement, but we're working on that.

Ryan: Sean doesn't understand how it's done.

David: I've been telling everyone how to do it for ages.

If you could start the project over again, what would you do differently?

Sean: Have enough money to finish the game?

Grant: Have enough money to not have to finish the game?

David: Have enough money to never have to finish anything.

Were there any elements that you experimented with that just flat out didn't work with your vision?

David: Jelly!

Ryan: Jelly was too awesome for its own good.

Grant: Can we put Jelly back in?

Sean: No.

Have you played any of the other IGF finalists or recent indie titles? Any games you particularly enjoyed?

Grant: We're played them all really, anything that's been released.

Ryan: They are all disappointingly good. I want to play Vessel. Rocketbirds was ace, loved the Flash version of Closure.

Sean: I loved every minute of Super Meat Boy. They say it's coming for WiiWare, but it's not, it's right there on NewGrounds.

David: Miegakure looks awesome, it twists my brain. Trauma seems really interesting, and Limbo looks lovely. Have we left anyone out? VVVVVV is brilliant.

What do you think of the current state of the indie scene?

David: The focus on guitar is too strong. Folk has been sidelined in recent years.

Sean: We're probably a bit removed from the main scene here in the UK, but for me indie games have never been more broad or interesting. I'm excited to meet some of the other devs at GDC.

Ryan: I'm afraid of the indie scene. I hear they come for you in the night.

Grant: I had a friend once. That happened to him.

[Previous 'Road To The IGF' interview subjects have included Enviro-Bear 2000 developer Justin Smith, Rocketbirds: Revolution's co-creators Sian Yue Tan and Teck Lee Tan, Vessel co-creator John Krajewski, Trauma creator Krystian Majewski, Super Meat Boy co-creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, Sidhe's Mario Wynands, who worked on Shatter, Daniel Benmergui, creator of Today I Die, Klei Entertainment's Jamie Cheng, executive producer on Shank, Star Guard creator Loren Schmidt, and Miegakure developer Marc Ten Bosch.]

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