We talk to Ghost Town Games about their cuisine-based title Overcooked, augmented reality, local multiplayer master-classes and the glorious Sega Dreamcast - enjoy.
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
We've been inspired by all sorts of things. We've always loved local multiplayer games, we used to plays lots of games like Gang Beasts, Towerfall, Mario Kart, Wrecked, Goldeneye etc. etc. and we knew we wanted to make a game which people could play together.
We also played a game called Storage Inc. which was an indie game for Xbox 360 and is another co-operative game which really inspired us.
Can you tell us about your team at Ghost Town Games?
We started Ghost Town Games about 12 months ago. Oli De-Vine and I (Phil Duncan) used to work for Frontier Developments (Lostwinds, Kinectimals, Elite etc.)
I was a Designer there for 7 years and we left basically because we wanted to start making the kind of game that we wanted to play. Oli handles all the code, I handle the Art and the Design, we're a really small setup which means we can afford to take more risks and we can be much more agile with the way we develop, there aren't any day-long meetings to discuss minor features, we can very quickly make decisions and act on them.
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit?
It's difficult obviously, there are a lot more independent studios out there creating games now than there have been in the past, but I think if you look at some of the recent successful indie games they are all trying something new and trying to push games in a new and exciting direction.
I think that's the beauty of independent development, you have smaller studios with less mouths to feed that don't need to see millions in profits to stay sustainable and so they can in some ways afford to take more risks.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Obviously people have vastly different routes into the industry and it depends what experience you're looking for. I will always recommend to people trying to get work with an established studio first, largely because you get to experience making games without the extra work that comes with being independent (admin, PR, marketing, finances etc.) not to mention getting to work with developers who are at the top of their game.
In terms of getting into the industry I think the starting point should always be a passion for games and a good amount of knowledge/experience in the field that you're trying to break into, that and talking to as many people as you can; going to tradeshows, meetups, game-jams, anything you can do to get your name out there.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
Oof. That's a really tough question.
Rather than games I've played I think I'll instead answer with a game I worked on: LostWinds 2: Winter of Melodias was one of the first games I worked on at Frontier Development and for me it epitomised everything I now love about games and games development.
It was a smallish team (around 30 at its peak) we were tucked away in a different building and were given something like 6 months to bring out the game. Steve Burgess, who was the Lead Designer on the series was an absolute inspiration (and a good friend) and it was just such a magical time working on a project that everyone was just so passionate about.
Everyone was working really hard on the game, and not because there was some pressure from above, but because everyone genuinely wanted the game to be as good as it could possibly be. Add that to the fact that it was a metroidvania puzzle platformer with some truly innovate mechanics (absolute dream for me as a designer) and yeah it was just an absolute blast to work on.
Where do you think the industry is heading - is VR the future in your opinion?
I honestly can't weigh in on VR much at the moment. I've been blown away by the various demos I've tried and I'm excited to see how much it catches on as a medium. I think when VR games start to encourage more social interaction, that's when I'll get really excited.
I also really like the promise of Augmented Reality, I like the idea of playing a game in my living room with friends, where the game is projected into the space in front of us, maybe we're all looking down into a miniature kitchen and we're playing Overcooked together, that could be really exciting :D.
What does the future hold for Overcooked and Ghost Town Games?
We're working on the console ports of Overcooked at the moment (it’s coming out on PC, Xbox One and PS4), and we're hoping to release the game some time in the next few months.
We have some really exciting news which I can't quite share with you yet but we'll hopefully be announcing that soon too.
In terms of the future for Ghost Town Games we want to keep making exciting and innovative new games. We have some great ideas for follow up projects which I think are going to blow people away so we just hope we get the chance to make those a reality really. : )
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Yikes! Again, a tough one... my initial reaction was Dreamcast, because I just have so many favourites from that era: Chu Chu rocket, Crazy Taxi, Power Stone, Jet Set Radio.
In fact, yeah, that's what I'm going to go with because just reading back through that short list aren't those just such diverse and such innovative games?
Then there's Shenmue and Skies of Arcadia and and and... so good!
Thanks to Phil & Oli at Ghost Town Games. Want to know what we thought of Overcooked? Check out our report from this year's rezzed, and leave your comments on the forum.