A few months ago, Chris Curra, CFO / VP of Production of Perpetual FX Creative, dropped me a line to let me know of their new game. Galactic Bowling was released on October 8th 2008. Chris and his collegue Kyle Entsminger, CEO/ Creative Director (also at Perpetual FX Creative) kindly accepted to answer my questions about the process behind the game.
-How did you decide to make Galactic Bowling? How did you pick the theme?
Chris – We wanted to make a casual game with AAA graphics that could appeal to the largest audience possible. Not another shooter, something achievable we could make at a high level in a short amount of time. We started GB right around when Wii bowling came out. We thought it was a good game but lacked character and life. We wanted to pick up where we felt Nintendo left off with their other strong character franchises like Mario, Metroid etc. and create a new world, exaggerated characters, and a story with depth that people of all ages could embrace and love.
-How many contributors did you have on the game? Can you tell us the break down in each dicipline?
Chris – Overall we had about 40+ people work on the game. We had every range of talent you could think of from Lead Programmer, Junior Programmers, 3D Character Modeler, and Texture artists, Environment Concept Artist, Character Concept Artist, Audio Director, Sound Designers, and Composers, Character Technical Director, and Riggers, Environment Modeler, and Texture, and Lighting Artists, as well as Graphic Designers, and an FX Lead, and FX artists. It was an indie title but we ran it like a big studio production using our experience.
-Very few indie games have 3d graphics and even fewer have graphics with such a strong art direction, what can you tell us about the concept art phase?
Kyle – We spent about 6 months in the preproduction and concept phase doing many concepts to define the style. We also were building our team and testing artists and other members to find the right combination of people who believed in our vision and wanted to be involved by embracing their roles within the team. Since we used talent from all over the world, especially in the concept phase, sometimes communication was an issue. Through our evolving Art Direction processes, we found visual’s rather than text direction are the best and fastest forms of communication.
-What was your biggest challenge in coming up with the look and feel of the game?
Kyle – In the concept phase we kept sending environment art back because it was too “real world.” We needed to take real world elements and combine them in different ways to create our alien space environments.
-What was your intended audience for the game and how did this influence the look of it?
Kyle – We wanted to hit the largest audience possible. We made sure that we had the same amount of males as females characters, left and right handed bowlers, and we pushed the character and environment art to a high quality and exaggerated level while still keeping it understandable and appealing to a younger audience.
-Your character are very stylised and your female have exagerated attributes, were you afraid of offending female players at any point?
Kyle – Not at all, our female characters are extremely strong yet feminine. We have put them in very important roles in the game for example our ending boss character is a female. All of the characters have stylized attributes, so it’s not like we only did that with the women.
(Note from the editor: You may want to look at the avatars to see what I’m talking about.)
-How do you go about hiring contributors, especially artists and animators?
Chris – Personally I like to give everyone a chance to prove themselves and their work so usually if we have a role available I’ll come up with a test and let anyone who applies have a shot at it. More often than less you find the people who submit the best work don’t have that much experience in the industry, but are gifted artists who need a shot and a little guidance. We have a few artists like that who are naturally gifted guys, with no experience, who are driven and want to learn and have done exceptional work for us with our direction.
-Any advice on artists who want to get started in the game industry?
Chris – The best way to get started in the industry as an artist is to look at the professional work being done in games today and get your work to that level. Switch to the other side of the table for a second and it will make sense. Why would a company who has a huge production in front of them with millions of dollars on the line hire someone who can’t get their work to professional quality? If you are the type of person who needs to learn by other people teaching you, look for studios who are ramping up for a big game where they need to hire lots of people and try to get in anywhere you can and learn, even if it’s an internship. Sometimes it’s best to get in toward the end of a production as studios are usually in crunch trying to finish a project and can use any and all hands they can get. Always try to get someone on the phone and remember they are just people like you who were in the same position you are in right now.
Thank you very much for your time….
Chris and Kyle – Thank you!
Galactic Bowling is currently available on Steam.