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Harms Way goes from dream to screens, trailer

Justin McElroy

It's so rare that we get into something before it's cool, that we have to savor it when it happens. In January, we were smitten with the concept behind Dorito's Unlock Xbox finalist Harms Way. Well, a little less than a year of development later and creator Justin Carpenter and developer Bongfish are putting the finishing touches on the shooting-driving hybrid and prepping it for release this month. It will vie for votes with Jill Robertson's Avatar Crash Course.

We've got a bunch of screens and the first trailer after the break, as well as a quick chat in which IRS staffer and college student Justin tells us how the reality of game development stacks up to the dream.

Gallery: Harms Way (Xbox 360) | 15 Photos

What was the original concept for Harms Way, and how did it change?

The original concept was a merging of two genres I love, driving and shooting. To sum it up, I wanted this to be like Burnout meets Call of Duty. Over the course of development, we made some major changes to the overall style, but the core gameplay remained in tact. One of the biggest and most noticeable changes was the vehicles and the environment. It feels a little more like the Dirt series than Burnout. The shooting mechanics were simplified quite a bit too. They now feel a little more like the chopper gunner segments (from the kill streaks) in Modern Warfare than the normal gameplay. There still are upgrades and various weapons though.

Was being flexible difficult for you?

At times yes, but not nearly as much as I thought it would be. Michael, and the crew and Bongfish were very easy to work with. He never asked me to change anything without a good explanation. Even then, he would usually explain the problem, and instead of asking me to change it, ask me what we should do to handle the issue. We made a great team. They brought some great ideas to the table too, and I had a list of suggestions 10 miles long, and amazingly enough, they incorporated almost all of them. Occasionally it was hard to make sacrifices, but they were usually things that I wanted to do that were way to ambitious.

What the most valuable thing you've learned about game development throughout this process?

That you're always after a moving target. You have to be flexible and willing to change when necessary. The target isn't necessarily your original ideas, it's making your ideas fun. Sometimes an idea that sounds cool, or looks good on paper, isn't actually fun at all. You've got to be willing to adapt and listen to feedback. I had the privilege of listening to some amazing tips from successful developers and they were telling us (the top 10 finalists) that it is extremely rare for a game to go through development without some major changes.

When can we get our hands on it?

The game is set to release in the first or second week of December, and I am very nervous about it. I am very happy with the final release, and even think it is one of the best products available on Xbox Live Arcade (right up there with Trials HD and Shadow Complex), but there's no telling how the public will receive it. I know it's an amazing game and I think it will be hard to beat, but voting can be terribly unpredictable, so I don't want to get my hopes up just yet. If you like the game, you can help support us by voting at and on the Xbox dashboard once the game is released.

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