Interview with Indie Game Dev MinMax Games

An interview by GrafixGFX aka Dale, with MinMax Games, the company behind Space Pirates and Zombies.

Read more about MinMax Games at their website:

IGR: Hello, MinMax Games! To whom do we have the pleasure of speaking?

Andrew: Hi everyone. I am Andrew Hume, one half of MinMax Games. I have worked in the games industry for over ten years now, but decided that AAA game development was not for me. My responsibilities on SPAZ are centered around coding and design. I am an old school PC and Amiga gamer, and I think that the games industry pretty much peaked creativity wise around the year 2000. We are very glad to see the emergence of the indie scene to allow us to bring back some of the ideas from the past.

Richard: Hi there, I’m Richard Clifford. I had previously worked at a large AAA studio for 5 years on some large projects. I left that job to start MinMax with Andrew. We both had the desire to slow things down a bit, and work on something a bit closer to the heart. We are both equally in charge of the over all design of the game. My primary duties include generating all the art and sound assets.

IGR: What was it like developing SPAZ, and how long have you been developing it?

Both: We’ve been working on SPAZ for 2 years now. We originally intended it to only take 6 months, but as the game grew, we wanted it to be even better. It’s been a bit of a rough ride working on something for that long with zero income. We put just about everything on the line for this project, hoping people would enjoy it. We’re very happy that people are finally able to get their hands on it. So far everyone is really enjoying the game we’ve made. It’s a really great feeling to make people so happy.

IGR: Did you do everything yourself (from coding to the graphics), or did you hire freelancers to assist?

Both: We use the Torque 2D game engine. The game also has hundreds of thousands of lines of custom code and script to make everything work. We paid for licensed music, but other than that, we did every single thing ourselves. Between the two of us, we are able to produce just about everything we need for a game such as this. It is a heck of a lot of work, but we’re proud we were able to do it all.

IGR: What inspired you to make a game like SPAZ, because Space Pirates and Zombies seems an unlikely combo at first..

Both: When we started out, we had no doubt in our mind we wanted to make an epic 2D space shooter. We’re both huge fans of games like Star Control 2 and Masters of Orion. It didn’t seem like anyone was making these kinds of games any more, so rather than waiting, we just did it ourselves. We took a risk hoping other people were starving for an old school game like this. So far it seems there was indeed a market for SPAZ. We tend to get love letters now from happy fans. That makes it all worth it for us.

IGR: How did you balance the various ship types and weapons?

Both: At first we just started making lots of ships of various shapes and sizes. If we saw a weapon in Star Trek, or Babylon 5, we tried to include it in the game in some way. We aimed to have a complete array of components you’d expect out of a sci-fi game such as this. As we continued to develop the game, the ships and weapons evolved and we balanced them as we went.

We’ve been in open-beta for quite some time, and that has been very helpful for us for tuning. There are so many different ways to play the game, and getting user feedback on a regular basis is critical.

IGR: What would be your favorite ship in the game, with what weapons and why? 

Richard: After the changes we made in version 1.0 I would have to say the Helix with Mass Bombs is my new favorite. It takes a bit to get use to using bombs effectively, but they are very gratifying if done correctly. I just can’t get enough explosions 🙂
Andrew: I probably still have to go with the triple turreted Hammerhead. It has just devastating fire power. My configuration is a little weird though, since I fit it with just shield and reactor booster and no armor. It is so light that it is a battleship that behaves like a sports car. If the shields pop though, I run like hell.

IGR: Any last words for the fans?

Both: We like to send out a special thanks to everyone that supported us during beta. Without you all, SPAZ would not be what it is today. You all have been incredible and invaluable to us, and the development of SPAZ. We hope to continue to support SPAZ for a long time to come.

IGR: Well, thanks for your time and we hope to speak you again soon!

Both: Thank you very much for the interview! We hope to hear from you and your readers on the forums. Have a great day 🙂