Hero Generations: An Interview w Scott Brodie – Former Microsoft Game Dev Goes Facebook Indie

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Scott Brodie - Developer of "Hero Generations" - a game for FacebookHero Generations is a unique and thought-provoking free-to-play strategy/adventure. You play a rapidly aging adventurer that must choose between adventuring and starting a family. Synthesizing the best elements from beloved games such as Civilization, Passage, and the Legend of Zelda, Hero Generations offers meaningful and memorable gameplay in a casual game format.

Scott Brodie is the sole game designer and developer behind Heart Shaped Games’ first title, Hero Generations. In a previous life Scott supported other indie game developers as a Producer for Xbox LIVE Arcade at Microsoft Game Studios.

Having briefly met Scott at IndieCade 2011, where Hero Generations was a finalist, and excited about his imaginative new title, we decided it was time to ask the developer a few questions about launching a title on Facebook, and the decision to move from a triple A job to the indie spectrum.

Hero Generations game for Facebook - screenshot
Hero Generations screenshot on Facebook

IndieGameReviewer: Talk about the spark that triggered the development of HGs:

Scott Brodie: The initial spark that started Hero Generations was the idea that it would be an interesting experiment to see how a player’s path through a traditional adventure game would be altered if their main character was aging rapidly. The rest of the game mechanics kind of flowed from exploring that idea fully. I thought about how aging would cause you to lose or gain strength. I also spent a lot of time thinking about the types of experiences people typically have throughout their life and how that could create interesting decision points; starting a family, choosing a career, traveling, etc.

IGR: Did genre come first or second in your planning phase? (ie did the idea dictate the genre or vice versa)

The idea around the aging gameplay dynamics definitely dictated the final form the game took. I was never really tied to pursuing a particular genre. I ended up creating a casual turn-based strategy game because that format gave players space to think about the choices they were presented with, and from a development perspective, made it possible for a sole-developer like myself to build it.

IGR: Did you intend to write a game for Facebook from the outset, or at what point did you decide that it might be the best launching pad for HG?

To be honest, the suggestion to make Hero Generations a game on Facebook came from discussions with my good friends at Spry Fox (Triple Town, Steambirds). Their approach towards free-to-play and facilitating meaningful social interactions made a lot of sense to me. Integrating with Facebook seemed like a natural fit, because a lot of the enjoyment of Hero Generations comes from comparing the unique stories that emerge from playing the game. I think the light social aspects in the game now (leaderboards, sharing discoveries) already add a lot, and there are more social features planned for release soon.

IGR: Do you feel the same about Facebook after the big “change”?

The changes didn’t really have an effect on Hero Generations. I’m encouraged by a lot of the changes, like the new “ticker”, because it shows that games are still a big priority for them. I’ve had a really good experience developing on Facebook.

IGR: How do you feel about Zynga trying to leave Facebook?

I honestly haven’t spent much time thinking about that. The activity of the larger developers on social networks don’t impact what I’m trying to do as an independent developer. My goal is to offer new experiences, so the games I build are never really in direct competition. My goal is to simply find enough of an audience that can allow me to keep making games for a long time.

IGR: Talk about what you learned at a “AAA” like Microsoft? What did you do there? What games did you work on?

I spent most of my time at Microsoft Game Studios as a Producer for the Xbox LIVE Arcade Publishing team. A role like that exposes you to a lot of awesome developers, and the projects I was a part of taught me a lot about what it takes to make a hit game. I shipped something like 15 games and worked on many more; the last few games I was a part of include Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Snoopy Flying Ace, and Scrap Metal.

IGR: What was the moment you told yourself: you know what, I’d rather go for the total uncertainty and financial struggle of being an indie game developer?

It was just an itch to be more involved in the day-to-day game design and development stuff. I have more of a development background, so it was always a bit painful at times to not be able to go in and fix the problems I saw. With the landscape being so bright for Indie games these days (iOS, Facebook, Steam, etc), it just made sense go for it now and start Heart Shaped Games.

IGR: Did you create all the elements of HG yourself? (music, graphics etc)

Yes. Though I have a lot of fantastic friends who help me work through design and technical problems, most everything you see in the game was created by me. It has been incredibly gratifying to build a game the way I’d like from start to finish.

Team Description

Heart Shaped Games is a new Kirkland, WA-based independent game studio dedicated to building innovative and meaningful casual games.

Contact Information:
Scott Brodie, Founder, Game Designer
Twitter: @brodiegames or @heartshapedgame

Game Information

Play Hero Generations now on Facebook (basic permissions required)