Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview with Nicholas McDonnell co-founder of Samurai Punk


If you haven't already played ScreenCheat for the love of god get it already. One part classic fps mixed with the fact that you have to actually screen cheat to figure out where your friends are. It's the perfect party game for up to four players! I had the chance to have a short interview with Nicholas McDonnell, co-founder of Samurai Punk. Nicholas is not only Art/Level Designer, but also Sound Designer on Screen Cheat.


How long have you been developing games for?

I’ve been making games for about 2 years now starting off with global game jam 2013 in Melbourne were our companies namesake Samurai XX was created.

Where did the original idea for ScreenCheat come from?
The original idea came out of Global Game Jam 2014 where the theme “We don’t see the world as we are, we see it as we are” threw us for a loop. Trying to come up with cooperative games about sharing information in split-screen just wasn’t working as screencheating would be a huge design flaw. So we decided to turn that flaw into the core mechanic. After we settled on that we just thought back to the shooters we played as kids like Halo CE and it was clear what direction to take the game.

Tell me about the process of going from your first build to a finished product. What was the biggest hurdle in finishing the game?
The biggest hurdle was networking and level design. These were two huge problems we had to overcome and still encounter. For one the game is built with a remote team so we needed to have functional network play to test content. And with just one main programmer getting this stable has been a huge time sink for him. As for the level design, screencheat is such a unique game to design content for as the mechanic means you have to work in very interesting and new ways that traditional multiplayer level design doesn’t teach you. As such I’ve had to come up with weird solutions to the abstract problem of conveying space by each players screen whilst maintaining a nice flowing level.

ScreenCheat features an online and local mutliplayer. Was it important for you to feature both or was there just enough demand to bring the game online?
The real reason as I mentioned before for Online was that it was needed just to make the game at all. Since I spent half of the game's development in another state it was actually the only way to test content. It turned out to be invaluable throughout development as I could always find 3 other people to test with among my group of international testers.

Is the focus of ScreenCheat to play with friends? Do you feel a lot or modern games are missing the social connection that party games like ScreenCheat offers?


I don’t necessarily think its missing from games.  I just miss having it in some of my games. I think no game should be forced to have any particular feature but when it disappeared because of technical limitations (trust me I know why no one does it any more) I think we did lose something. Fortunately a lot of independent developers are filling that void these days.


Any future updates we should be looking forward to for ScreenChat?
We plan to get a few more maps/modes and features like Mutators done before we call it quits on Screencheat.

Any chance we will see ScreenCheat on Wii U, PS4, or Xbox One?
Now that we’re released on PC we can check out of options for consoles. But I wouldn’t expect any news on that for a little while.

Whats your favorite ScreenCheat moment?
I found a video online of someone “360mlgnoscoping” someone after they actually had just done a 360. So that was cute. 

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