Interview with:

Caspian Prince



Makers Of:

Revenge Of the Titans

SMTG:How would you describe revenge of the titans, to someone who has never even seen a screenshot before?

Cas: It's a mash-up between a real-time strategy game, a tower defense, game and a time management game. That is, it is none of those things, but has elements from each.
So we've got these giant monsters trundling towards a base in the middle of the screen, and in the meantime you're trying to harvest crystals to make money, place turrets approximately along their expected path to defend the base and other buildings they might walk into, and all the while you're being distracted by having to reload turrets that have run out of ammo, or empty refineries that are full of crystal, or collect powerups that appear here and there. In case that sounds simple and manageable, the invading monster's aren't stupid, and they'll adapt their strategy to yours in an attempt to outsmart your defenses.
Then there's a metagame on top of it all where you have to wisely choose how to spend your profits from refining crystals on researching new weapons and technology.

SMTG:ROTT isn't as laid-back as most tower defense games, there is some frantic clicking involved. Are you not scared that you might be frightening off less hardcore players?

Cas: I've seen it billed around the 'net as a tower defense game, and this has confused a lot of players who are expecting to get a tower defense experience.
As for the hardcoreness of the game - well, it is true it is a pretty hard game by default at the moment, but we're constantly tuning it trying to find the perfect balance. There are ideas afoot to remove some of the time-management aspects of the game as they have proved unpopular with quite a large selection of players, but that might be making it into a game that it is not. We'll have to see.
The actual aspect of the game that is most hardcore is the "spiral of fail" caused by ending a level with too little money to research new things. We are probably going to have to change this aspect of the game significantly to mostly eliminate this problem.

Above: Cas and his artist buddy chaz...

SMTG:Your games are famously made in Java. Why do you specifically choose to develop using Java, as opposed to C++ or any other language?

Cas: Because that's where my skills were really good in the first place. I'd take 3x as long to do it in C++ (actually most programmers would take at least 50% longer). The thing about indie game development is that one way to enter the fray is to use the skills you are good at to get what you need done rather than keep learning new crazy clever stuff. If you spend all your time learning new stuff you never get any games done, or never maximise the potential of what you already have.
As it is, we're sticking with Java as well because it gives us that cross-desktop platform compatibility which is otherwise quite tricky to achieve without some headscratching. And, it is a very, very nice language to develop in, too.

SMTG:ROTT is part of the humble indie bundle. Were you surprised how well the bundle sold?

Cas: Not surprised so much as relieved. I had worries that the original bundle was just a one-off and that this time around no-one would be bothered to report on it and it'd be a flop, but as it is, it made a decent sum.

SMTG:How do you get that cool retro look? I hear it involves a lot more under-the-hood work than might first be apparent.

Cas: Indeed. In fact if you look with anything other than the casual eye you'll notice that it isn't at all retro. There's no pixel art in there, no restricted palettes. It's all drawn in painstaking detail in Photoshop, animated in 3DSMax, and then drawn in layer upon layer upon layer of sprites. A single frame in Revenge of the Titans might have as many as 10,000 sprites in it. Even the Titans themselves for example are made up of 4 independent sprites. Often each sprite is independently animated, or loosely connected with other sprites.
There are no less than 180MB of uncompressed 32-bit RGBA graphics in Revenge of the Titans.

SMTG:Are you tempted to release some DLC for your games? I can imagine that extra levels and units for ROTT might be popular.

Cas: I imagine they might be popular but we'd rather start developing our multiplayer game instead, which will be designed from the ground up with DLC in mind. Mostly because it's quite tricky to introduce stuff to Revenge now after so many years in development without breaking the balance.

You can find Revenge of the titans, and puppygames other titles here



Democracy 2
Mr Robot
Smugglers V
Numen: Contest of Heroes
Dead Frontier
Eschalon: Book II
AI War: Fleet Command
Revenge Of The Titans
Castle Vox
World Of Goo
Gratuitous Space Battles
Puzzle Pirates