I recently had the opportunity to interview the two man team known as MinMax games, the developers of the awesome indie game Space Pirates and Zombies (or S.P.A.Z.). Andrew Hume and Richard Clifford were both cool enough to sit down and answer a few questions I had for them after reviewing their game. So without further ado, here is what they had to say about making a game with only two people, reviving a genre and the influences that helped them create a game.
First off, the game is awesome, so thanks for the revival of a genre that has not gotten too much love over the last few years. Speaking of the genre revival, what led you to choose the top-down-space-shooter? More specifically, were there any games that made you guys decide “the gaming world needs more of these?”
We are both huge space game fans. We can’t talk inspiration long without mentioning Star Control. For years we were hurting for some kind of worthy follow-up, but it just never came. We got sick of waiting and just made the thing ourselves.
Also on the genre side, were there any specific books, movies or TV shows that specifically influenced you when you made the game?
Star Trek, Babylon5, Star Wars, Aliens, Terminator. The list goes on and on. We pulled influence from everywhere. There is a series of art book from Stewart Cowley that heavily influence our ship designs.
Obviously making the game had to be quite a challenge, considering there were only two of you guys to work on it. How long did it take you to create something that plays as well as S.P.A.Z. does?
We originally figured it would take about 6 months. It took 2 years just to get us to beta. As we worked on the game and saw what it could be, we got more ambitious. It got really scary there for a while, working all those months without any income.
What was it like developing such a large-scale game with only two of you? Any major issues? Did it turn out like you wanted it to?
With just the two of us, we really had to solve every problem on our own. Thankfully we didn’t encounter any road blocks that we couldn’t overcome. In many ways the game turned out far better than we ever imagined. We’re very proud of the game we created.
There is a fantastic, cynical sense of humor to the game, but it is not overdone, how did you go about setting the tone of the game?
We had both worked at a big company working on games that were either slapstick, or had no humour at all. Working on this kind of game was like a release for us. We could feed in all the silly sci-fi jokes we wanted. As we started writing the dialog, we fed in this humour in hopes of keeping people reading the story, tutorials, mission descriptions, etc.
The randomly generated map was a cool idea, what sparked that decision?
A lot of 4x games already do a lot of random generation. S.P.A.Z. isn’t a 4x game, but it does have a lot of similar features. Since we generated just about everything else, it just felt right to generate the whole map too.
I know you’re constantly planning and adding things in to S.P.A.Z., but if you guys could change, not necessarily fix, one thing in S.P.A.Z., what would it be?
There are all kinds of little technical things we’d like to fix, but the end user probably wouldn’t see most of that. Feature wise, I think one thing we would have liked to add, but couldn’t, was multiplayer. It would likely have taken another year or two to do that.
What’s next for MinMax? Anything you can talk about?
For now we’re still knee deep in dealing with S.P.A.Z., but we do hope to make a sequel some day. We’re hoping that game will focus primarily around multiplayer. It’s by far our most requested feature.
Thank you very much for your time, and S.P.A.Z. is an amazing revival of a genre that I love, so thanks for that as well!
Thank you very much for the interview. We hope to hear from you and your readers on our forums.
So there you have it, the MinMax guys are pretty cool. In fact, they’re so cool that they gave us a few codes to give away. Stay tuned to DualShockers where we will give them out to some lucky people. If you just can’t wait, S.P.A.Z. is on sale right now on Steam for $4.99!