A WDesm exclusive for XBoxHornet
Flotilla is game taking the PC indie gaming scene by storm: It has near-instantly gained a cult following for unique gameplay, thorough polish, and a supernatural receptiveness to bugs, tweaks and requests (since its PC launch on February 27th, 2010, it has already hit version 1.7 – that’s seven revisions in less than seven days!).
What’s it all about? Flotilla is a space exploration/combat game, featuring randomly-generated universes that give you a new experience with every playthrough. Your fleets move in a full 3D environment, letting you flank the enemy from all angles.
The game also supports splitscreen multiplayer. Join a buddy and explore the galaxy together. Or, play the Skirmish gamemode and blow up your buddy!
-Brendon Chung, BLENDO Games
Gamers worldwide are enthralled by the casual nature and tactical intensity, and BLENDO’s receptiveness to their player’s requests makes them a flavour-of-the-month, for sure. But even if this PC game is so innovative and gobsmackingly awesome, what does it have to do with XBLIG? Well, good news for all you gaming junkies out there that prefer a couch; Flotilla is currently worming its way through XBLIG approval, and will descend upon us all very, very soon. I caught up with Brendon Chung to discuss the awesomeness of Flotilla.
WD – How long has BLENDO Games been around, and how many people are involved in BLENDO Games?
BC -I started Blendo Games in December 2008. I do all the development myself, and have friends willing to endure my prototype playtesting.
WD – It seems that each and every game by BLENDO is incredibly unique – no two seem very much alike. Is this intentional, have your interests changed, or do you just like to keep things fresh?
BC – It’s a fun challenge to try developing different genres. I’m a big fan of developers that mix bits and pieces of different games together, so I try to dip my toes in as much different genres as possible. I had never made a strategy game before, so it was a nice change of pace to make Flotilla. I think there’s a certain joy in seeing someone work on something outside of their comfort zone.
WD - Flotilla seems to be incredibly unique in terms of game design. How was the gameplay of ‘Flotilla’ born?
BC – I made a 2D spaceship game a while ago, about turn-based fleet combat. I never got around to finishing it, so it never got a public release. Some years later, I wanted to learn how to make a 3D game. So, I took that old 2D space game and expanded it to make Flotilla’s combat component.
From Original Prototype.....
...To Finished Product!
WD – Are there any games or videos that inspired you during development? The deadly ‘serenity’ of watching combat choices unfold reminds me of Defcon, and the fleet-on-fleet battles could easily be at home in any number of space operas.
BC – I’m a sucker for submarine movies. There’s always that balletic cat-and-mouse duel between subs – I love that. I see the Flotilla ships as enormous submarines stalking through outer space. Armed with huge hulking proton beams.
WD – Specifically in terms of artwork, what made you choose the graphics style you did?
BC – I’d love to say that the ships are beautifully stylized, but they’re more of a product of my limited 3D modeling skills. As is, the simple flat-textured ships took quite a while to look decent.
It was nice to be able to stretch out and do some 2D artwork for the adventure portrait pictures. My games are typically 3D, so it was nice to finally give my drawing tablet some work!
WD - What about the music and sound effects? What sort of background ambience can we expect in Flotilla?
BC – The adventure mode has music cues attached to all the different random encounters, so there’s quite a variety. The combat mode features nice piano pieces from Chopin.
WD – Gameplay-wise, Flotilla seems to hit upon many loved buzzwords – multiplayer, randomly-generated content, and in-depth configurations. With all of this variability, was it a nightmare-and-a-half to code it together? What were some of the biggest challenges?
BC – The biggest problems were the rendering code (mostly because this was my first attempt at coding a 3D game) and the control scheme.
A simple move order required a tremendous amount of button presses. I was very lucky to have people test out the early versions and give helpful feedback. It’s nicely streamlined now, and I think it works pretty well.
Some of the space you can hope to explore
WD - While the Windows version is already out (and attracting quite the cult Indie following for its creativity and uniqueness), the XBLIG is lagging behind just a bit. Other than the obvious hurdle of being peer reviewed, are there any other content differences between the PC and Xbox version?
BC – The PC uses a mouse and keyboard, but other than that, the content between the two platforms are identical.
WD – The PC version has already received a few bugfixes since Flotilla’s launch – can Xbox users expect the same treatment?
BC – Yup, the Xbox version will also receive updates and fixes.
WD – Between multiplayer game modes and randomly-generated adventures, it definitely seems like Flotilla is going to be easy to get your money out of tenfold, but is there any plans for long-term support, bugfixes, or even DLC, or do you already have your eye on the next hurdle for BLENDO games?
BC – Flotilla has received several version updates since its release, and I intend on continuing that. Beyond that, I have a couple of projects on the drawing board that I’m pretty excited about.
This still isn't as ridiculous as a "Psychic Dog Advisor"
WD – XBLIG has picked up a stigma as a ‘casual’ gaming repertoire, and some devs have expressed trouble trying to swim upstream from that label. Do you think “Flotilla” can be classified as a casual game, or is it exclusively for the hardcore?
BC – I’d call Flotilla a light strategy game. There’s certainly things in there for the hardcore crowd, like flanking the enemy and coordinating fleet maneuvers, but it’s all streamlined pretty well.
WD – What would be some words of encouragement to other Indie developers looking at using the XNA framework / releasing a game on XBLIG?
BC – The XNA framework is quite well done. I think we’re all barely scratching the surface of what it’s capable of. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what cool things people make with it further down the road.
After answering my barrage of questions, Brendon had to get back to work (working on version 1.8 already, perhaps??), but he was kind enough to leave us with two other prototype screens, just to show how far the game has evolved. After viewing the screens, take a stop by BLENDO Games
and try out the PC demo, join their Messageboard
, view the trailer on the XTube
, or wait impatiently for the XBLIG release!
The prototype screenshots - The 3D upgrade looks so much better!
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