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Road To The IGF: From Doodling To Kingdom Elemental Tactics

Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, we talk to Chronic Logic's Scott Thunelius about his IGF 2008 entry Kingdom Elemental Tactics, a genre mash-up of real-time strategy, tac
Continuing Gamasutra’s ‘Road to the IGF’ feature, we talk to Chronic Logic's Scott Thunelius about his IGF 2008 entry Kingdom Elemental Tactics, a genre mash-up of real-time strategy, tactics and RPG elements designed to be accessible to anyone. What kind of background do you have in the game industry, or in making games? I've been learning how to make games ever since I started playing them at the age of 12. I started off making a ton of little projects that taught me art, programming and design. After 20 full personal games under my belt, I moved on to making real big project games which were the precursors to KET. In an effort to slowly move into mainstream game creation as well as independent, I acquired a job working for the small Seattle-based game developer Gastronaut Studios. I am currently working for the much larger Red 5 Studios in southern California, which has been a wonderful experience. What motivated you to make Kingdom Elemental Tactics The duration of my childhood was primarily occupied trying to do anything but the busy-work I was assigned in the 7-year holding cell of death called "school." To accomplish this task I often drew pictures on paper that after time resembled small wars with knights and dragons. I drew these so often, they soon became games. Other equally-bored classmates would be so fascinated with these drawings, I established rules and game dynamics so they could join. I never forgot the rules to these games, and years later reconstructed these paper games on the computer. This became KET. Where did you draw inspiration from in its design and implementation? My main source of inspiration was Bungie's Myth series (except for number 3, that was a turd). I loved those games, and ever since I played them I've wanted nothing but to make a game that was based on its real-time tactical game play that made each unit feel very personal, then to add a bunch of my own spins on it by combining different elements from MMOs and RPGs. What sort of development tools have you been using in the production of the game? Paper clips, toothpicks and 3.2 inches of dental floss. Also, 3DStudio Max, Photoshop, and Blitz3D. What do you think the most interesting element of Kingdom Elemental Tactics is? I really like how KET is almost like a miniaturized version of MMO raiding, with a bit of RPG and RTS elements thrown in. I think it takes a bunch of old ideas, and combines them to make a unique experience. How long has Chronic Logic been developing Kingdom Elemental Tactics, and what has the process been like? Essentially it's been 2 years of pure bliss. In which we blissfully had no money, and blissfully slept on couches, and blissfully ate ramen until we wanted to puke bliss. If you had to rewind to the start of the project, is there anything that you'd do differently? So many things! First off, I'd make KET a casual game. It would have been so much better as a casual game. I would have stripped it of its personality, added lots of gems, pretty colored lights. Then I would have given the player a super high score for doing anything - no matter how mundane. Clicking the 'options' or 'exit game' button would give the player ten million points. What are your thoughts on the state of independent game development, and are any other independent games out now that you admire? I admire so many independent games right now. My favorites of all time are Tower Defense, Dead Rising, Tribal Trouble, The Shivah, Dink Smallwood -- oh, and Gish. Gee, Gish is a great game. It's most likely the best game ever. And even if Chronic Logic didn't agree to give me 20$ for saying that (no ramen for me tonight!!!!) I would still say Gish is a good game!! You have 30 seconds left to live and you must tell the game business something very important. What is it? I would really like to see more first-person shooters. As my dying wish, can you please make more first-person shooters? Perhaps you can make them with bland, grey, bumpy normal maps on every single polygon? Can you make them devoid of all style and personality? Can you make all the characters look the same? Can the guns mimic the same stuff we have seen since Doom 1? Can you make them have such massive system requirements that not even the most top-of-the-line computer can play it on launch? That would be great. Thanks, game industry!

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