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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Plague


Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Kyle Moseley unleashes a deadly computer virus on Joystiq -- er, not an actual virus. His game, Plague, is a computer virus. Wait, no! It's not a virus! Just... just read Kyle's interview; he explains everything.

What's your game called and what's it about?

Our game is called Plague. It is about a devastating computer virus that takes over the world and you play as a personified, bottom-of-the-barrel, anti-virus program and have to save the world. It plays like a side-scrolling shooter where the enemies are computer viruses.

What inspired you to make Plague?

We knew we wanted to make a side-scrolling shooter, but we didn't know exactly what we wanted to do with it. We fired up some old-school games and spent some time researching for a while. Eventually we pooled our ideas together and picked out what we thought would make a fun and unique experience while keeping the nostalgic feel of the genre.

How are you innovating the sidescroller?

The most innovative thing in Plague is probably the variety of weapons. Many of them pay homage to older games. For instance, there's a gun that fires large asteroids that break apart into smaller asteroids on impact.

What's the coolest aspect of Plague?

The Potpourri gun! It's by far the coolest weapon in the game. Without giving too much away, I can say it's the most overpowered weapon in any game I've ever seen. It removes all the challenge from the game once you find it, but there's only one and it's hidden pretty well. It's worth looking for.

Anything you'd do differently?

Managing our time would be one thing. We took way too long, but we learned what kind of pitfalls to avoid if we were to do it again. We'd also enlist more play-testers. For the most part, the developers were the only ones to play the game and we ended up getting too good at it. Later, we found other people struggling to beat parts that we thought were easy.

How long did it take to create?

Plague took two-and-a-half years to develop. This includes learning the new programming language, the entire process of concept to design and play testing. It was a long, bumpy road but we're happy we finally got it released.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
Working for an established company would be great, but since we had no experience we didn't really have a choice. We were doing it for fun, education and future career building.

We were just eight students at the time we started this project. Working for an established company would be great, but since we had no experience we didn't really have a choice. We were doing it for fun, education and future career building.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

Yes. We support everything indie developers stand for, and we submitted Plague to the Indie Game Summer Uprising.

What are the implications of being on Xbox Live Indie Games for your future in game development?

Well, marketing is going to be tough, and sales probably won't be spectacular either. XBLIG is a platform for hobbyists more than people looking to make game development their career. If we didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't do it.

Sell your game in one sentence:

Plague is an action-packed, 2D side-scrolling homage to the 8- and 16-bit era of gaming.

Plague has infected XBLIG -- get it now before its gets too large to contain on one console.

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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