We recently got interviewed by Igrorama about Project FPTD.
Igrorama is the biggest Serbian video game blog, and we are very glad that they decided to do an interview with us. It covers many interesting points on FPTD development, some personal thoughts and previous projects.
Original text is on Serbian and can be found here: Igrorama.com
This translation is not official, it is done by me.
We recently tested a development version of the game called Project FPTD, an interesting mix of first person action game and tower-defense strategy. Certainly, the most interesting thing is that it is, in fact, made by a local author. Today we talk with the author of this product, indie programmer named Filip Zemljak. Read the article and find out more about this, and his previous games, and problems that the game developers in Serbia almost always encounter.
Igrorama: Hi! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
FZ: My name is Filip Zemljak, I live in Belgrade. I am a student of Faculty of Organizational Sciences in Belgrade, department of information systems and technology. I have been developing games since I was thirteen. I am currently working on an unnamed first person tower defense, which working title is Project FPTD.
Igrorama: Your first computer game, Ghost Shooter, is made with the Game Maker tool. Experienced programmers do not have many nice words for this tool, but the truth is that it interested a lot of young people to enter the world of game development. What is your opinion, since you have been on both sides of this "conflict"?
FZ: In those years it is better to start with a tool like Game Maker, than to go for raw programming. Most young people, at that age, are full of enthusiasm and willingness to create their own games. They are interested in how will the game look and work, not what are loops, pointers and polymorphism. Another important factor during game development is socializing and having fun. Every moment something new is discovered, new opportunities are created, desire for game making is growing. To young people Game Maker offers it all. Of course, at some point you will reach its limits, but at that stage you will be more than capable to go for some serious programming language. "Experienced" programmers will often tell you that it is a waste of time, but if I listened to them, I wouldn't got this far.
Igrorama: You worked on a first person action game, with the unusual name Arilienta. Can you tell us something about this project, and tell us whether you will continue the development in the future?
FZ: Arilienta is an action adventure game with RPG elements. Originally it was a full-blooded medieval FPS, but it was later expanded with RPG elements. Game was build using NeoAxis engine, and role models were HeXen and Strife. Alongside me worked Branislav Petrović, a buddy from classroom, who is responsible for the overall graphics of Arilienta and FPTD. Later on Goran Carić joined us, and he made all the concept art for both games. In November 2009 we presented Arilienta on the Belgrade Entrepreneurship Fair. We were the first entrepreneurs at this event that presented a video game as their product. Audience was thrilled, but the judges, mostly older ones, we're not interested in games, so we went home empty handed. Due to a lack of people, development of this game is currently on hold, but we gained extremely valuable experience and knowledge.
Igrorama: The reason for this interview is your unnamed project with the working title Project FPTD. It is a tower-defense game with first person view, on which you are working for a long time. Where did you get the idea for a game of this kind, and who were the role models?
FZ: Because Branislav gave up work on Arilienta due to personal necessities, and I didn't manage to find a replacement for him, we decided to do a smaller game, which would require much less time and effort. The environment was supposed to be science fictional, and I came up with an idea to make first person tower-defense based on Sanctum, which I played not long before that. This game was presented on entrepreneurship fair too, where we gained sympathies of the audience and same judges. You can assume the outcome. Development went good, alas, Branislav had personal problems again and he was forces to abandon the project. About 75% of the game is done; all that are left are maps, enemies, polishing and ideas that came along the way. As you saw during testing, the game is in some kind of early beta phase. It is quite polished and playable, but it lacks content. It is important to note that environment and enemies are subject to change, because there's not much content in the game currently.
Igrorama: So, all interested 2D artists and 3D modellers, ready to assist you in the development of this game to any extent, are free to help? It is not necessary that one man does all models, there can be more of them to complement...
FZ: That's right. Everyone interested can contact me on my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Igrorama: Can you tell us more about the background story of this game?
FZ: The story revolves around the micro-organisms from the planet Atom, who decided to invade the Earth. By primarily infecting animals, they carried out very fast attack on the mankind. It worked perfectly at first, but our scientists have discovered a way to heal all the infected animals. The aliens then directed their unconscious army to the laboratories in order to prevent the production of the antidote. Professor Klang, principal scientist, hired a mercenary group Protector to set up the defenses around the base and prevent any attacks. The player assumes the role of Jack Armstrong, leader of the mercenaries. His task is to defend the base in which scientists hide. As already said, the story and content are subject to change.
Igrorama: Is there a choice between several different characters, who would have their own special abilities and different tactics? Or do you have a different plan to separate your game from competing titles of the same genre?
FZ: In addition to the first person view, the most specific feature is moddable tower AI. A simple system allows the player to change the towers way of getting targets. By this, each tower can be unique, buy also more deadly than before. In addition, building can be done from the first person or strategy view, it is possible to buy new weapons and upgrades, and take direct control of the tower. Also, the enemies come in different varieties; normal, leaders with special powers, and hunters that lunge at player.
Igrorama: Given that the demo version that you sent us the required .Net Framework, it is clear that you have long since outgrown Game Maker and related tools. What technology do you use for the development of this title?
FZ: The game is programmed in C# using NeoAxis and its development tools. I chose NeoAxis because non-commercial version allows you to to create a non-commercial title without any restrictions. C# was imposed as a programming language, because engine uses it, but its not a bad thing for me, since it is more readable than C++ for example, and it feels like home. Currently I use license NeoAxis 1.0.
Igrorama: By your guess, how much time is required for the completion of the game? What are your future plans?
FZ: My current goal is the completion of three to four maps and multiplayer component, thus finishing the game development, and then to offer additional content in the form of DLC packages. Time required for completion of the game largely depends on the amount of content that would be put into play.
Igrorama: What is driving you towards the development of video games? Most young people think that all is doomed to failure, that in this country nothing can be made. Do you think one man can change the world alone, even with a video game?
FZ: The creation of new virtual worlds is what drives me to work on video games. It is a great pleasure to bring to life some of the worlds created by our imagination. As long as your hands are free of course; when you impose some restrictions the work on the game loses its charm. Our country, like most people in it, it's pretty ungrateful for this type of work. Most projects fail because of our indifference or lack of people, but it all comes down to persistence and perseverance. There is always the possibility that someone can change the world, but it is a Sisyphean job, primarily because some people don't want you to succeed.
Demo version of the game can be downloaded for free from official site.
By: Nikola Bulj