Jan 26 2011
Our interview with Fire Hose Games about their upcoming title, Slam Bolt Scrappers
We were very lucky to get an interview with up and coming developer Fire Hose Games about their new game Slam Bolt Scrappers. This plucky title has wowed at a lot of the conventions it’s been shown at and what with production nearing it’s end we got a chance to ask the team a bit about it’s inspirations and goals for the project.
HBHUD: A lot has been said about the gameplay behind Slam Bolt Scrappers but not a ton about the story, is there a coherent story thread we’ll be following here or is it more wacky unstructured fun?
FHGAMES: Gameplay was definitely the primary focus in Slam Bolt Scrappers. Each level introduces exciting new mechanics that will push players through the campaign, and we see that as a key element that will keep gamers coming back for more. Overall, we didn’t want to burden our awesome gameplay with a distracting story. That said, when making a game, internally, it’s important to have some kind of story to help drive design decisions. When this story isn’t conveyed through cutscenes and the like, then the general themes and elements are still implicit – and I think gamers will see this in SBS. So, back to your question, let’s just call it structured fun that all takes place in the wacky Slam Bolt City.
HBHUD: Do you want to detail exactly what “Slam Bolt City” is a little bit for us?
FHGAMES: Slam Bolt City is the home town of the main characters, the Slam Bolt Scrappers.
HBHUD: The gameplay conceits in this title seem very unique, this kind of puzzle/action game that kind of mimics a base building sort of feel is something I’ve never seen before. Where did the idea to make this kind of game come from?
FHGAMES: Our development style is very iterative and as a result, SBS’s current incarnation is essentially the 5th version of the game. We started the project with the aim of making a game about building and the first iterations explored that a bit differently – fighting did still play a role, but the building was a bit deeper and more complicated. For instance, one early build had players working together to rebuild skyscrapers in a city while being attacked by strange monsters. Sounds similar, except instead of squares, players were building mostly with triangles and other tangram-like shapes (minus squares) – adding physics into the mix resulted in towers that quickly slid apart in a frustrating manner. On top of this, beating the level required players to run electrical wiring to all parts of the building while it was constantly falling apart and baddies were attacking them. Feedback on this build, like all others, helped us move on to the next build, keeping all the parts that players responded well to, and scrapping everything that players didn’t enjoy. We went through this process five times and finally ended up with the Slam Bolt Scrappers you know and love.
HBHUD: Everyone knows what a hassle it can be developing for the XBLA, are there any special difficulties that come from working with the PSN?
FHGAMES: Well everyone but us – as far as I’m aware, no one on the team has worked on XBLA games before (XBLIG is a different story), so we can’t really compare the two. That said, it’s been a pleasure developing SBS as a PSN game.
HBHUD: Multi-player seems like it’ll be an integral part of the SBS experience, care to elaborate about what multi-player modes you’ll have and whether they’ll be local or online?
FHGAMES: Everyone on the team has a soft spot for games like Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and other titles that sit you on the couch next to your friends, trash talking until close relationships are ruined forever. This kind of social activity seems to be missing from more and more games these days as the focus increasingly becomes networked multiplayer. We wanted to bring couchplay back to modern games, so that’s been a major emphasis of our multiplayer. Battle Mode, the competitive multiplayer part of our game, is pretty straightforward – duke it out against friends, with friends, or against bots. These matches can be really dynamic depending on weapon choices and team setups – players can play on teams, 1 on 1, or a variety of free for all match styles. The multiplayer focus carries over to the campaign as well. SBS is one of the few games out there that has a 4 player, local co-op campaign, and we feel that’s something you just don’t see enough of these days.
HBHUD: Always good to see encouragement to get back to actual physical interactions. So just to clarify is there any online at all or is it entirely local multiplayer?
FHGAMES: SBS will only have local multiplayer.
HBHUD: What with development coming along smoothly, are there any new features or aspects of Slam Bolt Scrappers you wanted to talk about?
FHGAMES: Here’s a bit of news that I’m personally excited about – the polls have closed and our two character names have been finalized! As you’re aware, we recently set up a poll where fans could help us pick names for two as yet unnamed characters – a wielding mask wearing brawling and a rockstar angel. So, here’s the big reveal: the mask is now Joule and the angel will be Zephyr! Overall, the experience was a lot of fun – it was great to get feedback from fans and get them involved in the design process.
HBHUD: My last question is the most obvious one, when will the public be able to get their hands on this?
FHGAMES: Very soon! Expect an official announcement about our release date within the next week or so.
We’d like to extend a big thanks to the team Fire Hose Games for sitting down and talking to us and we wish them all the best of luck with SBS come release.