Titan Attacks serves up intense shooter attack with a retro nod in the graphical style.
First of all, great game! Obviously the game is inspired by a surreal mismash of Space Invaders, Galaga, etc., but can you describe how this idea came about? Random brainstorming or was this something you’ve wanted to do for a while?
It’s almost embarrassing really. The Puppy Invaders applet was done by an up-and-coming developer called Michael Reitzenstein. He hacked it together inside 16 hours or so he claimed (also he reckons it’s the first and only Java game he’d written). Chaz put some nice graphics on it, I tuned it a little, and we put it up on the front page of the site. Immediately afterwards we were inundated with emails asking us to do a “big” version. So we did! It took nearly a year because we stopped halfway through to do Ultratron.
The graphical style is beautifully pixellated/retro and I’m loving that. I never thought I’d say be able to say that. You’ve credited Chaz (your artist) for the graphics on the indiegamer forums but can you provide any insight into how it came into existence or the thought process behind it?
Graphics is so much more than resolution, 3D, shaders and antialiasing. Graphics is about art, style, purpose, and meaning. We wanted the game to have a 1982 sort of feel to it, graphically, to reflect the simple and basic values of the gameplay. But just like the gameplay we’ve very subtly spruced it up. It looks retro at first glance but it’s very, very modern.
Some people, yourself included, have commented that Titan Attacks is a clone. The insprations are obvious but I wouldn’t classify this game as a clone in the same way that most games covered in this blog are. In my opinion anyway. What’s your take on that and on cloning in general?
Well, no, I think I was being a bit tongue in cheek when I said Titan is a clone. There’s nothing quite like Titan on the market today, nor has there really ever been any game that quite mixes the ingredients together in the same way. This is a strange question really as I can’t make up my mind about an answer. On the one hand the sea of tedious colour matching games and “space shooters with those shiny 3d rendered spacehips” games and so on really bore the hell out of me, and I’ve no interest in playing them at all. On the other hand I’m very keen on taking existing ideas and producing distilled, perfectly formed versions of those ideas, like Titan is with the Space Invaders genre. Or Ultratron with the Robotron genre – in my opinion Ultratron is a much more perfect game than Titan. But I’d be really, really annoyed if 2 months down the line Real produced a pixelly retro space invaders game with falling parachutes, especially as they aren’t interested in Titan. Not that I think I want to give them Titan now.
Got any tidbits of insider information for people playing Titan Attacks? Preferred upgrade paths, hidden strategies, cheat codes? Anything you’d like to share or are we on our own out here?
It may be strategically advantageous to lose your multiplier now and again to keep the difficulty level down. The game auto-tunes its difficulty with your multiplier, you see. However then you won’t be scoring nearly as many points. As for upgrade paths – I’d go for ship speed first, then ramp gun power up a bit, then extra bullets. The addons I do last.
Any advice for up and coming indie developers? Any warnings? What would you say to someone who said they wanted to start making shareware games?
My advice would be to try and find a niche before you start – “shooters”, “strategy”, “match 3” – but try and make sure that niche isn’t already full of competitors already. There aren’t many people making shooters these days, and especially not miniature ones like we’ve started making.
I’d advise developers not to use C++ unless it already fits them like an old glove, and even then, to think about moving on towards a managed environment. Getting games finished quicker is much more important than getting games that are 2MB smaller to download or 20% faster.
We’ve been doing the shareware game thing for 3 years now and we’ve not even yet managed to make a profit on the tools we bought at the start and the server hosting. A lot of the reason for that is that we weren’t really focusing properly on a niche. Now we are, things are looking up.