Defiant Development Interview

First off, congratulations on the Warco proof-of-concept demo’s Freeplay 2011 award for Best Art! Considering Defiant’s strong mobile gaming background, I just have to ask – what are the chances we’ll see it on iOS? Or does Warco need the power of a big, stationary console?

At the moment, we’re focusing on Warco as a PC/console experience. That said, we’re big believers in the power of mobile platforms, and we’re pretty excited about the hardware coming down the line over the next 12 months. We’ve already given some thought to the ways we could make the game work on mobile, so we’re definitely not ruling it out.

As the Freeplay Games Festival amply illustrates, we’re seeing a lot of impressive work coming out of the Australian indie scene. What makes you guys so darn good at game development – something in the water, maybe? But seriously, do you feel there’s a mix of certain conditions that’s effectively promoting indie game industry growth in your neck of the woods?

The main factor is, we’ve lost a lot of the big studios in Oz, which has spurred people into looking at new ways to approach the industry. That said, Australia has always punched above its weight in the areas of technology and the arts. So the indie scene is, to me, an outgrowth of that. There are some really great support structures in place to help people as they set out along the indie path as well. With the national and state level screen agencies being really engaged and involved, and the GDAA and Freeplay being focused on indie development, it’s a great place to be doing this sort of work.

Defiant is obviously quite busy these days! Game design, collaborations with other studios, augmented reality projects – where do Defiant members find the time for it all? Has your studio developed separate departments and devoted certain people to each activity, or is everyone kind of juggling multiple areas?

We do a lot of juggling! That said, it just happens that a lot of the projects we’ve worked quietly on for the last year have hit the press at about the same time, so it looks like we’re incredibly busy right now. The way we work is effectively to focus on one or two things at a time, and push hard on them.

What criteria do you look for in a potential partner when another studio approaches Defiant for a collaboration?

Generally speaking, we’re looking for partnerships that bring something additional to the table. I think Warco is a great example of a project we wouldn’t have created on our own, and it’s much stronger for having a journalist’s insight and a director’s eye applied. It’s actually been a very even collaboration, with everybody respecting people’s expertise inside their domains, but also having insight and new perspective on each element.

Moving on to Quick Quest, let’s start with the name. Will this be the final title or is it more a project name for now, and does it tell us anything about the nature of the game?

It’s a work-in-progress name, and the feedback has been pretty strong so we’re definitely considering changing it! It does let you know that we’re focused on providing a bite-sized Action RPG experience, though. Five- to ten-minute chunks of play is our goal, so that you’re set up for mobile play, but slightly longer sessions than Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja.

What will the game’s controls be like? Judging from the first teaser footage, it seems swipe controls might play some role in combat, as well as being handy in exploration?

We’re really embracing touch, and while we’re still refining the specifics of power activation and special abilities, we’re already happy with how the touch controls are coming together. You can pretty much hand the game to anyone and they’re able to understand it and start hacking up goblins straight away.

What can you tell us about Quick Quest’s world at this point? Is the dungeon shown off in the pre-alpha footage liable to make it into the final version, in whole or in part?

That dungeon is one of the many we’ll have in the final version, and reflects pretty well the sort of experience we expect players to have over a five minute block of play. That said, it’s also pretty early and there’s a lot of ground yet to be covered in development.

Are all the Diablo comparisons fair as far as core gameplay mechanics are concerned, or are there some major surprises the early teaser footage doesn’t reflect? Any word on multiplayer, character classes, or how skill acquisition will work?

I’d say that’s a fair comparison in terms of the high level overview of the game, although a lot of the details are different. We’re currently locking down character classes and skill trees, and we’ll have more to say about that down the line. In terms of multiplayer, we’ll have some social elements at ship, but no live multiplayer at ship.

The Quick Quest demo looks like it plays beautifully on tablet screens. What challenges and concerns does Defiant have to address when making sure it’ll feel just as slick to iPhone and iPod Touch owners as it will to iPad owners?

Size of buttons and interface is the big one, and we’re still working on getting that perfect for the phones. The basic touch controls work great though, and the game looks amazing on a 3GS or iPhone 4 – or an Android phone for that matter!

And finally, how are post-release activities for Rocket Bunnies coming along, with so much else on Defiant’s plate? Any big updates just around the bend?

I am literally doing our final testing on our new levels now. We’ve got a complete new galaxy that should be in the market by mid October, depending on how long it takes to go through Chillingo and Apple testing.

Our thanks goes to Morgan Jaffit, founder and director of Defiant Development, for taking the time out to give us some insight into what’s on this must-watch indie studio’s plate. iFanzine can’t wait to tear into Quick Quest down the road, but check Defiant Development’s website and Facebook page for the latest updates until then!