INTERVIEW: Mark Foster talks LD48 and Titan Souls

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Titan Souls was the best  ‘Overall’ game in Ludum Dare 29 and for good reason. It’s like a top-down pixely version of Shadow of the Colossus with ethreal music, intuitive controls, and tons of polish. Mark Foster, the programmer on the game, was kind enough to do a Q&A where he talks how Titan Souls came to be, game jam tips, and future plans for the stellar entry.

INTERVIEW WITH MARK FOSTER

Q: Titan Souls was one of the best games from Ludum Dare 28 and was one of the best game-jam games I’ve seen in a while, where did the idea for the game come from?:

We wanted to try a top down game, we thought that would be fun – all three of us usually end up doing platformers as a default so we wanted to mix it up. We initially thought “lets try and create a de-make of shadow of the colossus in 3 days, that’ll be a challenge”, so set about making a boss-fight driven game in a top-down view. The theme of ‘You Only Get One’ gave rise to the arrow idea and it kind of organically just grew from there. The player and all the bosses just have 1hp, which made the fights interesting, rather than damage sponges it was all about strategy and execution, which was a cool nugget of game design we discovered.

Q: Most game jam entries you see implement a cool concept or mechanic that gives it life, but rarely is ‘feel’ of the game as polished as Titan Souls was, what were some of your tricks to get the gameplay so solid?:

Focusing more on polishing than anything else, with reasonable goals for what ‘polished’ actually meant in the time scale. when the basics are in – movement, drawing the sprites, and putting down the world – it’s pretty straight forward, we just had to connect maps together, add the audio elements and start designing bosses. I think having our own separate jobs is always useful and you don’t end up stepping on toes or anything. The three of us just did our thing then relayed anything they wanted coded (ie. specific music loop stuff) and I’d put it in the game.

Q: (follow-up) You were able to work with a really great pixel artist in Andrew Gleeson on this game. What was Andrew’s contribution to the design?:

The design was mostly based around “what can I make really quickly?” so we’d throw some ideas around and I’d make some weird thing, we’d decide on visuals as I go, put it all together, then play it and iterate on it to make it fair and fun.

Q: (follow-up) How did having such a talented artist in the jam-process help you, as the programmer, give the game more polish than it otherwise wouldn’t have had?:

Andy could just keep churning out tiles and art (he’s super fast at it as well) so perfect for the jam. He also polished up the map – him being in Australia, I’d go to sleep then wake up the next day and the map was full of grass and pretty tiles which was great!

Q: Do you have a coveted Andrew Gleeson twitter avatar?:

I do not, never met in person so he doesn’t quiiiiite know what I look like. Plus I’m not cool enough for one.

Q: In the Ludum Dare devlog for Titan Souls, you mentioned that, beyond the overall difficulty, the major complaint from players was having to walk ‘all the way’ back to the arena if they died. But you talked about how that walk was actually really purposeful, could you talk about why?:

People got frustrated at having to go back, which they notice, but generally what’s not noticeable is that the frustration from this part makes the enjoyment of the kill much greater, and the tension of the fight just that little bit more tight. People noted the frustrating aspects, and sometimes raised them as negative points, but we wanted that to be annoying and frustrating. We feel it definitely makes the kills much sweeter.

Q: You also said you’d really like to flesh this out into a full game, is that still in the works?:

Yep we’re currently working super hard on it at the moment! I dont even know what day it is right now.

Q: ADVICE FOR FIRST-TIME GAME JAMMERS:

Make the gameplay first in 1/3rd of the time you have, then spend the other 2/3rds polishing it and making it feel right and maximise whatever theme you’re going for (fun, moody, weird, etc).

Favorite game-making tool:
Tiled (map editor) is fantastic, essential for tile-based games in jams!
Favorite Film:
‘The Prestige’ or ‘The Man from Earth’
You’re banished to a deserted island, what video game you bring with you?:

Dark Souls

 

Play Titan Souls: http://clawmark.itch.io/titan-souls

Mark Foster’s presskit(): http://iamclaw.com/presskit/

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