ProjectorGames is an indie developer that has worked on many games ranging from non-commercial titles such as Zombie City to Xbox indie games, which include: Steam Heroes(won indie game of the week), Stunning Stunts and BitStream. I had a chance to sit down and talk with them about their latest and most ambitious game yet–FortressCraft, Coming this month for 240MSP.
Adam Sawkins(also known as DJarcas), the sole developer of FortressCraft, shed some insight on his humble beginnings as a 5 year old programmer, writing games on his Commodore 64 and how he grew up with a passion for programming. He even admitted to fudging his programming experience to land a job only to learn the languages required in a very short period of time. He is also able to hold deep conversation while coding proficiently at the same time. He says this to those that which to get into game programming(writing): ” If you want to write game,then write games” and “There are only two cooler jobs: an astronaut and a spy”.
This passion turned into a challenge when he was told on a forum that a Minecraft style game would never be possible on the Xbox despite high demand for such a title. Shortly after this proclamation Sawkins returned with a basic build running on the Xbox, before it was known as Fortresscraft. The images he posted were considered photoshopped version of Minecraft and quickly scoffed at, so he then resorted to using his mobile phone to create a poor quality video that clearly showed the Xbox hardware and the game running on it, with no dispute thereafter.
It became a full time project with work being done on it evenings, weekends and any free time available. Sawkins enjoyed the concept of Minecraft and realized that he could make a console version with many enhancements and changes, surely separating itself and not only because it would be a console version of the game. He also cited Dwarf Fortress as a huge inspiration for FortressCraft and hopes to add many elements into the game in the future.
Many features are planned and some of which would really only be possible on the Xbox, such as spilt-screen multi-player which would allow gamers the ability of sit down with their friend and explore other user created worlds together. Also, it is planned to have the option of messaging your friends on Xbox Live to inform them of the game which could open even more content to explore. It is hoped that FC will have the ability for 128 users playing together at the same time. Another Xbox only feature will be the inclusion of Xbox Live Avatars, which is a great way to show a face behind the creations. Though there is no Kinect support available it is an exciting possibility for the future.
The biggest focus of the game will be user generated content. “the game will never be finished” says Sawkins, as users will help expand the game by creating with limitless possibilities. The community is already helping shape the game before its release by suggesting new blocks and features for the game to have; with the registered forums members reaching near a thousand there is no lack of ideas. All suggestions will be taken into consideration and will be used to create future patches for the game which will help keep the game a living environment for all creative minds out there. The same creative minds that will very likely just use the game “to draw gaint c0_ks”.
One such suggestion was nightvision “it seemed so obvious it would be dumb not to put it in”. Other ideas that the ProjectorGames team are excited about would be the inclusion of monster trucks, laser guns, video surveillance blocks, (one block a camera, the other a TV) and of course the user created block contest winner, the trampoline block. Custom blocks of this nature will certainly pave the way for more cinematic machinima creations and allow for broader storytelling.
FortressCraft really has no limits and because it is an indie game it is free from some of Microsoft’s restrictions as well, which is great for creative developers but it can be limiting as well. Many believe that there is no market for this game on Xbox, though 25,000 youtube views may disagree. Even despite some negative press and commentary likening the title to a Minecraft Clone, though, there are plenty of defenders of the game as well and Sawkins is very grateful to have such a loyal following even before the launch of the game. His goal is just to make games that will make people happy and he will not sacrifice quality to make the game reach the limited size constraints Microsoft has imposed to bring the price of the game down to 80MSP.
Sawkins had this to say about the lack of network on the games trial version: “its like sex, its okay by yourself, but much better with a partner”
One of the most innovative additions is the relic system, hidden throughout the land are various relics that provide players with “super powers” akin to those hacks that are common in Minecraft. The developer hopes to pick up where Minecraft was 6 months ago and surpass it in updates and quality. Sawkins “wanted to take something [he] loved and make it better”. this will be achieved by releasing patches and, more notably, chapters that will come out every four to six weeks.
I hope that with the buzz surrounding the title and the great demand presented on various forums that this will help bring light to the Indie Games section on Xbox Live and expand a community that is full of creative and talented individuals. Though the game is a few weeks from release I would suggest checking out their site for up to date information on the title and Sawkins encourages anyone to send him awesome videos of creations they have made in the game after it is released.
“The biggest difference is that it is on the XBox 360!” – Keemstar, PR and creative assistant.