Interview with Wolfire Games
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Friday, 05 December 2008

We sat down and interviewed Wolfire Games about their operations, games and intentions.

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How did Wolfire Games get started, and how has it evolved from the start? 

Wolfire Games was started by David Rosen.  David has been an avid programmer since second grade, when he made his first action game in Hypercard.  I can remember sitting next to him at recess as he programmed a decision based war game.  You had to figure out the correct string of choices or you had to watch your stick-figure get blown to pieces, set on fire or shot to death.  Even then, with primitive tools and black and white graphics, David created a virtual war zone good enough to get his game banned from the school library.  Since then, David has made hit games like FirePong, GLFighters, Black Shades and Lugaru.  After graduating from college this past Spring, David decided it was time to get serious and expanded Wolfire to include his twin brother Jeff (who has also has inherited the Rosen programming gene), Aubrey Serr (an amazing artist who has worked with David on previous projects) and Phillip and I who have known David and Jeff since kindergarten. 

How did you get the idea of developing a game about ninja rabbits? 
I’m sure David wanted to put wolves in a game from the beginning.  You might have noticed the wolf theme around here.  This all goes back to David’s dog, Wolfie, who is very large and wolf-like.  I think David really wanted to make his loyal pet an awesome and savage video game character.  Once wolves were in, David wanted an opposing species that offered a clear contrast to wolves.  Rabbits are probably the least likely animal to confront a wolf.   The fact that Turner is a rabbit who so easily ignores stereo-types about his species as he charges off to fight wolves, gives him automatic depth and appeal as a main character.

Tells us about the revamped AI in Overgrowth?
Many games these days have enemies who don’t react to pain and like to keep charging at you mindlessly until they finally run out of health.  I can’t give away too many of David’s tricks, but I will say that Overgrowth AI will cause enemies to be self-interested and aware of their own mortality.  Do no expect them to play nice.  They will try to kill you in the safest and easiest way possible.

How will the multiplayer work in Overgrowth, will there be online multiplayer features? 
We are planning to incorporate small-scale multiplay functionality in Overgrowth.  We’re a little apprehensive about pvp multiplay because fighting in Overgrowth will be twitch-sensitive and might be upset by even small amounts of lag. However, we think co-op mode should be pretty manageable. 

There will also be many online features supporting the sharing of mods, levels, clothes, and items between players.  Lugaru had limited mod support but fans still created two full single-player campaigns as well as new character skins and weapons.  Overgrowth will finally give our fans the tools they deserve.  We’ll have updates about this soon on our new Overgrowth ModDB page
 
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You have tried a little bit different approach when developing Overgrowth, why did you decide on releasing weekly alpha versions of the game, and what have been the benefits? 
We are trying to incorporate our fans as much as possible in the Overgrowth development process.  That’s why in addition to monitoring fan suggestions on the Wolfire Forums and hosting a public IRC channel we are also getting our weekly builds to fans who have pre-ordered.  After all, we’re making Overgrowth for them.  So if they’re willing to help us figure out how to make our game better, we shouldn’t hide from them, we should be making it easier for them to give us feedback.  In general, our fans keep us motivated, focused and excited about what we’re doing; plus they often come up with cool ideas that we might not think of ourselves. 

In your blog there are many posts about the graphics in Overgrowth, how will they be different from Lugaru? What are the features of Wolfires Phoenix game engine? 

Since Lugaru, the Phoenix Engine has been completely overhauled…twice!  I can mention a lot of big technical words for the new effects that we’re using like: multi-sampled HDR framebuffer objects, atmospheric haze, dynamic blurred cube maps for ambient lighting, ambient occlusion, and object and tangent space normal maps.  However, I think it’s best to see our new effects in action on the Wolfire Blog
 
What will be the system requirements for Overgrowth? 
It’s hard to say at the moment.  Computers purchased within the last year should be able to run Overgrowth with most of its bells and whistles enabled. 

When will Overgrowth be released? 
Right now we’re shooting for Q1 2009.  However, we reserve the right to take extra time to make sure Overgrowth meets our high standards.

What future game projects are Wolfire planning? 
We’re putting all our energy into Overgrowth right now and can’t spend much time thinking about what’s next until we’re finished.  We do occasionally toss a few ideas around but I unfortunately can’t tell you anything definitive just yet.