Ten Questions With… The Team (Golden Gear Games)
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Golden Gear Games recently caused some tremors in the strategy genre with their release of Fate Tectonics. The game combined some very interesting genres, but somehow managed to pull everything together in a very unique and addictive package. To find out more about what went into the creation of the game we got in touch with the hard working team.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
Alex: Golden Gear Games is a 5-year-old Toronto based game development studio that does a mix of game development for ourselves and for clients. Most notably we provided the programming for the controversial Pipe Trouble iOS/Android game and the engine / programming support for Long Story. We’ve released some of our jam games over the years but Fate Tectonics is our first fully produced game from our studio and we’re very proud of it.
How did the idea for Fate Tectonics come about?
Andrew: I had been thinking for a good couple of years about how to incorporate board game-like mechanics into a video game. When I decided to take up the One Game a Month challenge, I finally forced myself to prototype something in that direction. In that first month I created the basic tile-laying system and the world collapse. I hadn’t really thought much beyond that at first. Once that was working, I was surprised by how compelling it was even in such a simple state. Everything else has grown organically from that original seed based on watching people play the game over the years.
What are the games/media that influenced you and how?
Andrew: Carcassonne was my most direct inspiration. It’s not a game we play often any more, but I always enjoyed the simple pleasure of finding the perfect place for a tile. Populous also provided a lot of inspiration; a god game seemed to be the most natural theme for building an unstable world. One of my early influences was actually Minesweeper. It was my go-to distraction for years before social media inevitably sucked me in. I always appreciated the way the game was easy to play if you played slowly, but the temptation to go fast would cause you to make a mistake reading the board or mis-click, followed by this little moment of tension, and then you find out whether or not your mistake was fatal. I wanted that moment in a game with a little more meat on its bones.
What aspect of creating the game was the most fun?
Andrew: The most fun I had was doing playtests and demoing the game at conventions and seeing how much people were into the game. Especially when you’ve been working on something for this long, by the end of the project you can easily lose sight of what parts of your game are novel or exciting; you’ve had so much time for those things to become familiar. Every time another player would get excited about the game it was a nice shot in the arm that kept the team moving.
Rosemary: Designing the looks of the Fates was the most fun for me. I was given a rough outline of what each Fate did in the game, so each Fate’s design was based around what they had control over. Many of the Fates’ designs were based off of ancient mythology from various parts of the world, and also things that I love.
What was the biggest challenge while creating Fate Tectonics?
Andrew: We self-funded the game, which means we had to keep finding and taking contract work without losing our momentum on Fate Tectonics. Mostly I credit a very dedicated Henry Faber for helping us refocus several times. It also helped that we were able to keep Rosemary focused on the game regardless of what Alex and I were working on. Nothing like a growing pile of unimplemented art and a growingly impatient looking artist across the table from you to remind you that you have a game to get back to.
Rosemary: Deadlines and reigning in design/feature creep. And animating. Some idiot made the pixel art very complex and then I had to animate it all.
The game features quite a few accessibility options, were these difficult to implement and why do you think it is so often overlooked in other games?
Alex: Part of our current philosophy as a studio is that accessibility features are just a component of good game design. Most of the features were really easy to implement on the programming side of things but the ones that gave us the most difficulty would be the game speed slider and adding better support for high res screens / large font mode. Both of those features had a lot of little side effects that resulted in a lot of little fixes. I think the problem comes in part from some developers simply not valuing doing the extra work and some simply not realizing that it really isn’t that much extra work but most importantly that it ends up just creating a better experience for everyone.
Can you tell us a little more about the choice to use pixel art and a 16-bit soundtrack for the game?
Alex: For a lot of the team this was the look and feel of a lot of the experiences that make up our shared gaming history, so in part we wanted do something that had ties to our roots.
What are the future plans for Fate Tectonics/Golden Gear Games?
Alex: We’re not a group to stay idle for long. Concept work has already begun on two potential next projects while simultaneously planning for the first major update to Fate Tectonics, and let me tell you, we’re pretty excited about everything that’s coming next.
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
Rosemary: I have a pair of tiny red stiletto heels that act as my phone’s stand when I’m at my desk.
Anything else you would like to add?
Alex: I think the funniest bug we’ve fixed so far is we forgot to add the final description for Auroara before launching the game. When it went live her description said, “Bears eat beets” which was a nod to The Office.
A big thank you to everyone over at Golden Gear Games for putting up with our questions. Strategy fans or indeed anyone looking for a challenging, but very accessible game should add Fate Tectonics to their library. Check out our REVIEW for the game and don’t forget to follow the developers on Twitter to find out what they are up to next.