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Wildfire Studios Interview Print E-mail
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Tuesday, 31 May 2005
We made an interview with Darren Baker at Wildfire Studios, developers of the popular Tumblebugs PC Game.

What made you become a PC-game developer?

Personally, I began my fascination for computers at the age of 10 and
quickly found the only thing more interesting than playing games was
working out how to create my own! For me making video games is a perfect
blend of creative and technical skills, and it's very rewarding to create a
product that excites and entertains others.

Today Wildfire develops download PC (as opposed to retail console and PC)
games because we're able to create high quality, fun, addictive games
without huge teams, 2 year development cycles, and traditional reliance on
publisher funding.

What were your inspirations when developing Tumblebugs?

In terms of gameplay, Popcap's Zuma Deluxe, obviously. And Puzz Loop
before that.

First of all we wanted to create what to the players would hopefully feel
like a "Zuma 2" - with exciting, detailed graphics, awesome new powerups,
and realtime 3D rendering.

Once we picked the bugs-in-the-backyard theme, our inspiration very much
came from our own environment, and trying to choose those elements that
would be instantly and universally recognisable and appealing.

How does Tumblebugs differ from similar games?

For starters we believe Tumblebugs is helping to raise the bar on graphical
quality in download games. We're very proud that we've managed to cram
over 30 unique levels of high res, detailed 24 bit graphics into such a
compact download. And a good deal of it is rendered in realtime 3D. You
quickly realise that similar games look very flat and dull by comparison.

This 3D also helped us to realise our goal to create an immersive
environment where you as the player are right down there in the action with
the bugs, yet are still aware of the bigger picture and have the sense that
you're progressing through this larger-than-life backyard world. We also
didn't just want the game to be a loose collection of unrelated levels like
so many others tend to be, hence the comic book storyline integrated into
the game.

Powerups are another area in which we've gone beyond similar games. The
most obvious is the "Ballistic Bug" which truly takes the game into the 3rd
dimension and allows you to "lob" bugs over the top of the others and hit
your target precisely.

Then of course there's the "Star Bug" which allows you to cut a swathe
through the line of bugs and rack up some big points. It's great fun.

We also introduced the idea of "frenzy" rounds which speed the game up but
give you plenty of easy targets to shoot, and the Bonus rounds that
challenge you to be quick but precise.

What's your favorite computer game apart from your own productions?

I don't seem to find much time to play games for relaxation anymore,
sadly. The last games I really got into were Quake 3 and Unreal
Tournament, so you can see what I mean!

Joel, our game designer, has just finished playing Elixir's Evil Genius,
and he loved it. I think he'll take some inspiration from it... hopefully
for game design, not world domination. :)

The PC-gaming industry is changing at a whopping pace, what do you
think of the future of games like Tumblebugs?

I think production values will continue to climb, but there'll always be
the demand for fun, addictive and instantly accessible games. Of course
tastes change and this is an extremely competitive market, but basic
gameplay mechanics haven't changed a whole lot over the years. After all,
Wildfire has been successful making pinball games for most of its life, and
we celebrated our 10th birthday this month.

What will your future games have installed for us?

We've got some more concepts in the pipeline but I can't say too much
because they're very much at a prototype stage. They'll feature great
audio visuals of course, and we're hoping to tie the story arcs in even
more tightly. Most of all though, we focus on absolutely nailing the core
gameplay. From that follows the fun. :)

We thank Darren for his time and wish Wildfire Studios good luck on future games.

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