Every indie developer got their start somewhere, and for many of them that starting point was in modding. Established developers like Valve and Bethesda make development tools and documentation available to modders, who then get all the experience and advantages of working with a sophisticated suite of tools without the hassle and difficulty of developing them from scratch. It’s an effective strategy; Half-Life 2 mods have eventually spawned standalone titles like Chilvarly: Medieval Warfare and Dear Esther. There are entire websites dedicated to keeping track of popular mods, and if you follow them then you might have heard of Alan Edwardes’ HL2 mod Estranged. Estranged is an atmospheric, story-driven adventure title currently in beta. For this week’s Humble Mumble, I got the chance to ask Alan a few questions about the game.
Successful indie studios are always the work of a small group of people with a lot of passion, but in this week’s Humble Mumble I talk to a special kind of indie studio: the one man team. Luke Hodorowicz is the sole developer at Shining Rock Software, and he’s been hard at work on an in-depth city-building title called Banished for the past two years. Banished puts you in control of a small band of travelers who have decided to rebuild in a new location. By managing trade, agriculture, and production, you will be able to sustain and grow the new settlement. It’s a resource management/strategy game with a few important twists, and I asked Luke a few questions about the game’s development.
There is no shortage of games that try to offer players the experience of being a member of a military or law enforcement unit. Some games take this a step further, putting you in the shoes of a general or commander rather than a lowly grunt. In these games, strategy and planning take precedence over reflex and muscle memory. Door Kickers is one of the latter; it puts you in command of SWAT team as they breach buildings, rescue hostages, and kill bad guys. The top-down real-time strategy title hopes to become “the ultimate SWAT Team command simulator”, and I got the chance to talk to Dan Dimitrescu, the lead designer at KillHouse Games, about the game.
You could be forgiven if you haven’t heard of J.U.L.I.A. Although the game got good feedback from players, a limited budget and issues with the title’s publisher withholding royalty payments prevented it from taking off like the developers, CBE Software, had hoped. They were one of several developers who struggled with a lack of response and payment from UK publisher Lace Mamba. But thanks to a successful campaign on IndieGoGo, CBE Software is now back on their feet and working on a new release: J.U.L.I.A. Enhanced Edition. The new game, now on Steam Greenlight, is such an improvement over the original release of J.U.L.I.A. that they are even considering a new name for the title. I had the chance to chat with Jan Kavan, one half of CBE Software, about how they got to this point.
You probably don’t need to take Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse 101 to recognize that there’s more to living through a zombie pandemic than simply slaying hordes of infected. Despite this, zombie games in recent years rarely seem to delve much deeper than shotguns and chainsaws. Thankfully, Screwfly Studios is looking to provide a fresh take on the zombie/survival horror genre with their debut title Zafehouse: Diaries. Zafehouse: Diaries is billed as “a tactical game of survival, planning, resource management and problem-solving” in which your ultimate goal is to lead a band of five survivors to safety. I got the chance to ask lead programmer Logan Booker and lead designer David Kidd a few questions about the game.