Our Five for Five series continues today with our Q&A with the two man development team behind Hevn. My hands on preview went live earlier in week, and I thought it was one of the most fascinating blends of sci-fi and survival gameplay I had seen. I was left eager for more, but for now we have the Five for Five Q&A with Larry Johnson and Mat Matthews from developers Miga where they reveal more about their unique take on agile development and the inspiration they’ve received from games like System Shock and films like Moon. Enjoy!
Hi there! We’re a two person indie development team looking to create atmospheric and engaging games. Although we are new to game development, we are very familiar with the development process and fortunately some of those skills do transfer over. In our former careers we were software engineers that developed large, big-data type systems and applications. And although that was fun, working on HEVN has been much more rewarding. It’s hard to beat learning art, game programming, sound effects, music, and a game engine from scratch only to watch something come to life from it.
Another interesting aspect is we’re developing HEVN remotely. One half of the team is in Seattle and the other half in Phoenix. This means 2 hour video meetings nearly every day (we’ve adapted a quasi-Agile approach) to make sure we’re working towards our goals for the game.
The Reticule – Tell us about the game, what will players be getting up to?
In HEVN, players are thrust into an unexpectedly mysterious mining expedition millions of miles away from Earth. They are isolated and under pressure to thrive and survive. They can also expect a narrative that spans time and space with interstellar intrigue, adventure, and characters and objects that fill out the world. There are random events, puzzles, choices, survival elements, and even optional combat. There is quite a bit of backstory as well. Not for the sake of just more content, but it’s all built into the world to help make it that much more immersive.
The Reticule – What is the inspiration behind the game?
It seems like we’re always finding new inspirations, whether it be from other games, movies, books, or even real life. Originally the idea was born from a simple question when we first started to get involved in game development (it wasn’t HEVN at the time, but a generic mobile helicopter rescue game that was uninspired). A family member asked “why not make a game you’d play?”. And with that we immediately switched gears and HEVN was the result.
But we are both huge fans of science fiction. While designing HEVN we drew upon our individual and collective favorites like Deus Ex, System Shock, Bioshock, Fallout, Mass Effect, Moon, The Martian, Alien, and 2001: A Space Odyssey!
Gameplay-wise, there have been a few games in the past where the immersion would kind of break due to minor object interaction issues such as, “Why can I pick up this particular object but not that one?” or “Why does this trash can move under physics but not that chair?” or “Why can I do this but not that?”
Although these things are common in games and definitely don’t prevent a player from finishing or even enjoying a game, there have been times where we’d notice this. It’s just something we try to address when creating objects, but obviously it’s a huge challenge. Just something to strive for as far as immersion goes.
The Reticule – Pick one thing you are most proud of about the game, and tell us about it.
Recently I think we’ve become more proud of the story and how it has evolved throughout the development process. As more mechanics and features find their way into the game, we’ve figured out ways to adapt the story to those mechanics in a way where everything seems to fit pretty well and provide more gameplay depth overall.
The Reticule – What excites you about the future of the industry?
It’s just really cool that more and more people are becoming interested in games. A big part of that is likely due to having more accessible platforms, but really the incredible developers out there are making some amazing things. And it feels like there is no shortage of inspiration and growth. Developers are willing to experiment, and people are willing to take chances on indie titles!