Recently Wolfire Games released the official website for their upcoming game Overgrowth. Overgrowth is the sequel to the 2005 Action/Adventure game ‘Lugaru‘.
So Casualty Gamer caught up with Jeffrey Rosen co-founder of Wolfire Games, and got the latest details about their upcoming game ‘Overgrowth’ and what it’s like being in the game development world.
CG: To start off, could you tell us a short history about Wolfire Games, how it came to be and the people who work there?
David, my twin brother, is the main guy behind Wolfire Games. He has been programming video games for a long time, getting his start in HyperCard when he was around 8. He would write games all the time, each one getting a bit more advanced than the previous. Eventually, David started entering video game contests, and Wolfire Games started as a landing page for his entries.
David and I have long since wanted to get into the video game industry. Even when we were 8 years old, I remember writing a letter with him to LucasArts asking them to hire us to work on Monkey Island 2 with them. They respectfully declined (their loss!) but we were really determined. Ironically, over the years, David has been independently solicited by Blizzard, Raven, Ubisoft, and Crytek. He declined, first of all, because he was not legally old enough to work for them in some cases, but more importantly, because we decided to start Wolfire Games!
Once David graduated from college (Swarthmore) we decided to get serious. We started Wolfire Games, LLC officially and joined up with three other guys, Phillip and John, who we’ve known since elementary school, and Aubrey, who David has been working with since right after Lugaru.
We are all living in the same apartment building and work pretty much all the time on our upcoming game Overgrowth! (http://wolfire.com/overgrowth)
CG: Are you able to divulge any details of the story line for Overgrowth yet?
Overgrowth will inherit the spirit of Lugaru (http://wolfire.com/lugaru) and will take place in the same world. We have spent a lot of time mapping out the history behind Lugaru and the cultures of the species that inhabit the island. We can’t reveal much about the story because we are still working on it, but the title, Overgrowth, has a lot to do with it.
CG: How much depth will there be to the story line this time and will
it play an integral role throughout the game?
The story line is going to be awesome. Like in Lugaru, there will be a campaign mode where you follow a story line.
We are also really excited about user-created content. We have a really awesome community, and despite not even having access to any real modding tools, two excellent user created campaigns appeared for Lugaru – thanks Silb and Jendraz! We want to make it as easy as possible for people to make their own stories and levels in Overgrowth and extremely easy for people to play these mods.
CG: How many hours will an average player need to finish the game?
Our goal is about 10 hours. In addition to that, we expect there will be a ton of user created content to make it way longer. We are also working on multiplayer!
CG: From the information available on the engine it sounds pretty
awesome, has it been a difficult task adjusting to the new engine, and
what can we expect to see from the new engine?
The new engine is awesome. We are doing a lot of things that have never been done before. Our philosophy is basically to target a relatively small set of things, for example, the terrain, movement, fighting, and the mysterious stuff that litters the Overgrowth world, and just focus on that and make it better than anything else. As an indie studio, we don’t have the resources of MGS IV or GTA IV, but we are confident we can stick to a set of items and with good art direction, make the world look better than even the highest budget games available right now.
CG: Could you give us a bit of information on the battle system, and how it compares to Lugaru?
The fighting system will be contextual and be totally physics-based. It is made up of dynamic moves, allowing the user the freedom to kick ass in any way they choose, rather than requiring the user to press a small set of defined combos. We are adding a lot of new moves to the combat system in addition to a new grab button.
CG: How do you plan to distribute Overgrowth, the same way as Lugaru or are you planning to go to a content delivery service (Steam, etc)?
We will definitely distribute Overgrowth online using the Wolfire site. However, we are also trying to get Overgrowth distributed as widely as possible, through things like Steam, Direct2Drive, and hopefully even in stores! We have a few international contacts that might even be able to localize and distribute Overgrowth all over the world. We were very surprised when right after Overgrowth was announced, our blog post showed up on the web translated into French, German, Polish, Turkish, and Italian. According to Google analytics, we’ve even had over twenty visits from Kazakhstan. Very nice!
As an indie developer, it is really hard to get the attention of publishers and distributors. If anyone knows of any, please let us know at email@example.com!
CG: On the official site it says ‘coming soon’, can you elaborate on that?
We are shooting for Q1 2009. However, preorder now at http://wolfire.com/overgrowth/preorder and you can beta test early copies when they’re ready!
CG: It seems like most major innovations we’ve seen in gaming these past few years were inspired by indie studios like Wolfire. Why do you think that is and do you think we could be seeing the beginnings of a change in the industry?
The mainstream gaming business model does not allow for much risk taking. If you have a $100 million budget, you’re not going to experiment. Your investors simply won’t let you.
Indie gaming companies are on the opposite side of the spectrum. You have to take risks. With one artist, we couldn’t make GTA IV even if we wanted to. What we can do though, is come up with an awesome, innovative game that effectively complimenhts the talents of each team member.
We don’t have any investors to please and anyone who buys our game is giving 100% of the money to us. That means that we are able to sell a relatively small number of games and still be ok. If we sold literally 1/500th of the copies that GTA IV sold, we would be ecstatic.
CG: After you take the world by storm with Overgrowth, what’s next for Wolfire? What position would you like to see yourselves in 2 years from now?
We occasionally brainstorm for future projects, but we’re mainly just trying to stay focused on the task at hand. We’re optimistic and we want to believe that this is the year of the indie, online distribution is finally competitive with Walmart, the PC game market is large enough to support an independent studio, etc. etc. but we don’t have delusions of grandeur. What it comes down to is that video games are our passion, and if we can find a way to make a living doing what we love, then that’s all we can ask for.
CG: Finally, what does the term “casual gamer” mean to you?
A casual gamer is someone who doesn’t have time to make popcorn and watch 30 hours of cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid IV. They want to sit down for 20 minutes and play a quick game that doesn’t get in their face with massive load screens, require invasive installations, the knowledge of hundreds of controls, etc. They play for a little bit and then go do something else.
Our goal for Overgrowth is to make it easy to learn but difficult to master. We also are working hard to make sure you can jump into the game as easily as possible.
CG: Thank you for the interview, and we wish you the best of luck with Overgrowth.