Eurogamer: Can Swarm grow post-release?
Joel DeYoung: Yeah, the game's set up to do DLC. If we're hearing people say, "We want more levels!" "We want a level editor!" "We want a sequel!" then we can respond fairly quickly to that.
Eurogamer: Your last game, DeathSpank - were you satisfied with how that turned out?
Joel DeYoung: Yeah, I think we were. It was a really fun game to work on, and being part of Ron Gilbert's next game was a lot of fun to do. We didn't start the company to make funny games, it just seems that's just what we do - it's a natural thing we tend towards. It's really heartening when you release a game and you read online about people liking it and the fun they had with the game. And now everyone's asking us online about a third version of DeathSpank.
Sales-wise its been a big success and we're really happy about it.
There's always things as a creator that you look back on and think you could have spent more time on, could have made it a bit better. Some things you don't even expect: some people, when DeathSpank eats food to replenish health he makes this smacking noise - I guess for some people it's a bit of a finger-nails on the chalk-board effect. For some people it really sets them off. In hindsight we should have had a check-box in the options to be able to turn that off! I think I publicly committed that we would do that anyway in the future.
Little things like that; things with the UI, the combat system, the progression, the quests. We put on our blog about a month ago and said hypothetically speaking, if we were to make another DeathSpank what would you like to see? And we got a flood of responses.
Eurogamer: Will you make a third DeathSpank game?
Joel DeYoung: Well I won't say anything officially, but you can just read our blog and read between the lines I guess.
It's been a great franchise for us and it's a great character, and there's a lot of world that's still unexplored for DeathSpank.
Eurogamer: Hypothetically, then, if you did make a third DeathSpank - would it be very different to how Thongs of Virtue was to DeathSpank? Those two were released very close together.
Joel DeYoung: Yeah. Those games were worked on more in parallel and they came out in rapid succession. If we did another DeathSpank it would take a lot more time and give a lot more chance to respond to people's feedback.
Eurogamer: What was it like working with the legendary Ron Gilbert? Was he a diva?
Joel DeYoung: Ha ha ha! No! I never saw him throw a latte or something like that!
He is very creative and he was great to work with. The thing I noticed, and this will apply to Gabe and Tycho and to Ron is that there does seem to be - and to a lot of people here at Hothead because we're a creative bunch - a lot of emotion and a lot of passion. Certainly when we made DeathSpank there was lots of vigorous debate about what features would be in the game, how DeathSpank would be portrayed, how far we'd go with certain jokes. But at Hothead the whole office and environment is set up to be a creative space. We allow people to have a creative outlet. If that means having heated discussions or being emotional or being passionate about what you think then we certainly allow for that.
But we also have an environment that's set up for mutual respect. Our philosophy is that we run the studio so that there is no diva or central figure and it's their creative genius that rules the day. Everyone's a designer and everyone contributes - it's actually one of our three core values. Just because you're, say, the lead designer of a project or just because you're Ron Gilbert does not mean your say-so has any greater weight than anyone else. Everyone gets to contribute and through a collaborative environment and process, we believe it's the best ideas that rise to the top.