Eurogamer: At what point would you consider moving your business to Xbox Live Arcade - if at all? Does the freedom of Indie Games hold a special allure?
Nathan Fouts: I love the Wild West feel of the Indie Games service. I spend a lot of time working on my games, and helping give feedback for other games, and I still see odd games pop up now and again I never had any idea about. Sure it's not often very good, but it's often interesting (Herman creeps me out!), and I like finding weird games.
That said there's no question that with the lower number of releases, and more publicity, the Arcade game section has more traffic. Getting Grapple Buggy polished and onto the Arcade service would be fantastic.
Eurogamer: Would you consider porting your games to any other platform? Maybe make them available for PC via Steam?
Nathan Fouts: Actually I'd love to bring some of Mommy's Best to the PC market! We've received a lot of requests from gamers to sell Weapon of Choice for the PC and we may have some good news to share with those gamers soon. It's an issue of having time and money to fix all the issues inherent to the many variations of PCs out there. We're exploring how to handle those issues currently.
Eurogamer: What can you tell us about the origin of Grapple Buggy? Did it come about as an evolution of the spider backpack from Weapon of Choice?
Nathan Fouts: Good guess! I think I've always been fascinated with that tiny moment of weightless you get from jumping, flying upwards into the air. After lots of Bionic Commando playing in my youth, it just seemed natural to want to swing after doing a great sand-dune buggy jump off a high peak!
Eurogamer: Grapple Buggy seems like the kind of game that would sink or swim based on the tactile feedback to the player. The game itself combines two enduring gameplay features that people love to play with - they love driving bouncy buggies and they love swinging. They're also both things that can be horribly frustrating if they don't feel just right. Is it challenging, as a solo developer, to hit that physics sweet spot where simply navigating the gameworld is a pleasure in itself?
Nathan Fouts: It's a really rewarding challenge. It's the most important part of the game, the part on which I have spent the most time honing, listening to feedback, and tuning things again, and finer still, to get it right. It's the veritable core of the game, and for me it had to be really fun, but it also had to 'justify its existence' in a sense. The swinging and buggy controls in Grapple Buggy had to also be original. With this game, I wanted to make sure the player experienced a new kind of fun way to swing and drive.
While the game is still in the middle of development, it's been tested with a lot of gamers, and already people are saying they like the controls and the feel of the game. I think it's on the right track, now there's just plenty more game to get done!
Eurogamer: What about Shoot 1UP? Does it start with a flash of inspiration - "Let's have all the extra lives at once!" - followed by attempts to fit it into a gameplay template, or do you start from the basics of a genre and try to work out what can be done differently?
Nathan Fouts: Shoot 1UP did start life with a flash of inspiration which came from a combination of internal machen lust and recently discovering the Experimental Gameplay Project . I thought it would be neat to award power-ups based on a numerical method of destroying enemies, and then build a fleet from those power-ups.
It got a good response from the meager 7-day sketch I released, and so a full version began! I grew up playing shmups from the R-Type, Gradius, and Thunder Force series as well as others, but am also fascinated by the danmaku shooters of the past few years. I think seeing a phalanx of ships spread out over a landscape made more sense, and thus the vertical format in this case, instead of a horizontal scroller, though I'm generally partial to those.