To kick off X-Play's unprecedented coverage of the 2008 Penny Arcade Expo, we've asked each of the PAX 10, the Expo's top ten highest rated indie games of the last year, to answer some questions for us.
Michael Wilford, one of the three masterminds behind The Maw answered our questions about what inpsires him and what advice he has to other independant game developers.
MW: About 9 months so far.
G4: Where did you get the idea/inspiration for the game?
MW: We wanted to create something that people haven't seen before on Xbox LIVE Arcade. So we chose to make a "full scope" 3D action adventure game that features characters with tons of personality and animation. The two main characters are unconventional heroes that need to rely on each other in interesting ways to survive - one uses a plasma leash to manipulate objects and creatures in the environment, and the other one eats everything in the game to grow to limitless size.
G4: What's your all-time favorite game?
G4: If you could have dinner with any one developer, who would it be and what would you eat?
MW: The Stamper Brothers. And I'd eat pizza because I can eat a lot of it, which would buy some extra time to pick their brains about founding Rare and making so many great classic games in so little time.
G4: With unlimited resources, what kind of game would you make?
MW: I'd like to make a game that pushes the industry even more into the mainstream. Something that perhaps eludes the typical definition of a "game". Something episodic. Something with different degrees of accessibility and interactivity. Something that can be as accessible as watching a movie or TV show for non-gamers, but offers depth for hardcore gamers. Something that creates and supports a community of fans. Something with funny characters that have a story to tell. Something with a polished presentation and very high production values. I'm not quite sure what that game is exactly, but if we had unlimited resources we could figure that out.
G4: Which existing franchise would you like to work on?
MW: Castlevania, because we desperately need a proper 2D sequel to Super Castlevania IV on the next-generation of consoles.
G4: Where do you see indie gaming going in the future?
MW: The last few years have opened a lot of doors to indie developers, and the reception from gamers is pretty positive. I think people want to see more innovation in games, and that's precisely what small indie teams are good at. Indie gaming is going to continue to grow, but publishers will continue to be the gate keepers.
G4: What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to develop their own indie game?
MW: There are virtually zero barriers of entry to making your own indie game for PC. If you want to make a living at it, experience is key, and persistence is critical.
G4: What was the biggest lesson learned from your development process?
MW: That there are always improvements that can be made. If you look at how a company like Pixar makes their masterpieces, you've got to wonder if game developers can improve their process by borrowing some of Pixar's ideas on building story, pacing, composition, etc. And Pixar themselves are constantly finding ways to change and improve their own process. We've got a pretty talented team here at Twisted Pixel, so I'm pretty excited to see what kind of games we can make with more time and an improved process.
G4: Besides the obvious—making games—what are some of your hobbies?
MW: We're all really big film buffs too. A couple years ago we made a feature length live-action film called The Dorm Room. It taught us a lot about film making which definitely makes us better at certain aspects of game development. We're hoping to shoot our next film next year.
G4: Favorite movie, food, sports team, video game character, and actor/actress?
MW: Sin City. Fruit salad. 49ers. Guile. Arnold Schwarzenegger.