Towerfall is making such a big splash on Ouya that some are calling it a system-seller. Whether or not you’d be a whole new console just to play it, there’s no denying Towerfall is pretty awesome. The game’s creator, Matt Thorson, sat down with us and answered a few questions about making games for the new Android console and plans for future Towerfall content.
Gamewoof: First off, what’s your story? How did you get into gaming and game development?
I’ve played games for as long as I can remember. My dad brought home an NES when I was really young and from then on I was drawing Mario levels on construction paper. At 14 I found a program called Game Maker and started making my own games.
Can you tell us a bit about your new game, Towerfall, and where that idea came from?
TowerFall is a 4-player archery combat platfomer. It harkens back to the days when local multiplayer games dominated the living room. I have a lot of very fond memories playing Goldeneye, Smash Bros Melee, TimeSplitters and the like with my friends and family. Hopefully TowerFall can capture those feelings once again.
Browsers already felt strange for the size of games I want to make. My earlier work felt right at home as downloadable games, and I moved to Flash primarily so I could support myself financially with my projects. I’ve really enjoyed working with Adult Swim and might still work with them in the future, but for right now I’ve been eager to work on something of a larger scale that I can sell directly to players.
How was the development process different working with Android/Ouya?
Actually not very different! I built the game in XNA originally, and there’s a port of that called MonoGame that runs on Android, iOS, Mac, etc. There were some difficulties involved in switching over, but as far as cross-platform development goes it was pretty painless.
Obviously, the current version of Towerfall is meant to be enjoyed by several players, but was there ever a concept for a a campaign or single-player mode beyond the training?
TowerFall actually started as a single player game. The original prototype was created in 48 hours at a game jam with my roommate Alec Holowka (he ended up doing the music for the final game). I had been obsessing about multiplayer design all year, so the versus mode was a lot more fun to work on for me and it eventually took over. I have plans to revisit some of the single player ideas soon!
We’ve had a lot of fun messing around with the different multiplayer options and finding weird new ways to play. Do you have a favorite custom mode?
With my roommate Chevy, we love turning on Start With Wings for our one-on-one battles. A popular setup for experienced players is always No Autobalance + Symmetrical Treasure + Single Arrow. For 3 or 4 players, Always Dark + Stealth Archers is pretty funny. This weekend we played a lot of Last Man Standing mode with Start with Bramble Arrows + Max Arrows.
It’s also fun to mess around with activating variants only for one player. For example, we’ll play a 3-on-1 Team Deathmatch game, but give the solo player a few advantages, like Start With Shield + Start With Wings + Max Arrows.
There’s a crazy amount of possible combinations though, that barely scratches the surface.
Towerfall has pretty robust demo, but the full game costs $15. Of course, it was worth every penny and more, but that’s definitely more than average on the Ouya Store. Was there ever any hesitation about the price for you?
There was a bit of hesitation. I went through all the arguments of why to price it cheaper, but they all basically boiled down to catering to expectations. In the end I decided to simply charge exactly what I think it’s worth and be very honest about what you’re buying. The popup screen in the game lists exactly what you get when you buy it, and the free version lets you play as many times as you want with limited features.
Hopefully TowerFall can help set a precedent of Ouya games not falling into the “race for the bottom” that you see in mobile markets. I would really like to see it become a viable platform for indie developers to get started on.
Are there any plans for additional maps, characters, or other DLC for Towerfall?
Like I mentioned above, I want to try adding some more single player content to game in the form of a story mode. I have some really cool ideas for enemy designs to try out and I would love to flesh out the backstory of the world more. Hopefully it ends up working, but I won’t add anything to TowerFall unless I love it. The quality bar has to stay very high.
There’s also a lot of variants I want to add to versus mode. I’ll probably add those slowly over the next few months in small updates. I have a few concepts for more versus towers that I’d like to explore at some point too.
What are some of your other favorite Ouya titles? Any mobile games you can’t put down?
I love The Amazing Frog, and I’ve had a lot of fun with FishMoto. No Brakes Valet is great too. I don’t really play mobile games, unless Animal Crossing counts.
Have you ever thought about porting some of your other games to Android or specifically developing games for mobile devices?
I have a few vague ideas for mobile games I’m interested in developing, but it’s a matter of always having something more interesting to work on. Touch screens as input devices don’t tend to excite me as much as controllers. I would be up for porting one or two of my older games to Ouya though, when I get the time.
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us.