Frontiers - Interview @ Worlds Factory
Worlds Factory has an interview with Lars Simkins about his kickstarter Frontiers.
How did you manage to be both a VFX artist who worked on stuff like Hunger Games, Priest, Breaking Bad, Hawaii Five-0, Lost, Fringe, Flashforward and Revolution (most of which I’ve seen and loved, by the way) AND an indie developer who’s doing a Daggerfall-like game all by himself? You’re some kind of genius!
Ha! Ask my wife if I’m a genius, she’ll laugh. I’ve been a filmmaker all my life so getting into VFX was just a (long) process of teaching myself the skills and slowly building up the connections to get on good projects. After college I was lucky enough to meet an amazing VFX artist named Eric Chauvin. He taught me the bulk of what I know about matte painting and I got some of my first jobs doing overflow work for some of the shows he was working on.
Thankfully his supervisors liked what I was doing, so that led to more jobs. Along the way video games and game development have always been hobbies – most of my friends in college were more into gaming than movies and a lot of them went on to work at some pretty cool game studios. It wouldn’t have taken much to push me onto that career path. So a few years ago when I decided to start working on FRONTIERS alongside my day job it felt pretty natural.
Onto Frontiers. You said that exploration is the main focus of the game, but there’s a big question to be asked here – do you plan to reward it with actual powers, items, skills etc. or do you intend it to be a reward in itself? Because for some that would be enough, while others are always looking to get something out of their invested time, so they probably wouldn’t like to spend a lot of time exploring some land and getting nothing in return.
Rewards are essential. My first thought when I started working on it was the most obvious thought – remove *everything* not directly related to exploration. But I found that this resulted in the most boring game imaginable. There’s the urge to see what’s around the next bend, but that’s not enough on its own – over time I found that exploration has a lot more to do with choices than I originally thought – while walking in the woods I’d pay close attention to what interested me about one direction vs. another, and I found that I was always making calculations.
Can I get back before it’s dark? Will my boots hold up to that mud? That’s when I started introducing survival elements into the game, and the fun started to reappear. The trick is knowing when to stop, and knowing what kinds of choices facilitate exploration vs. stifling it. I think a lot of the choices developers made in the TES series stifled exploration.
Release: In development