Is the plan to launch Laser Wars with Bluetooth multiplayer still on track? How is the feasibility of online multiplayer looking, and what’s the hardest part of implementing an effective multiplayer match in your game engine?
Mark: We have to be honest here and admit that we bit off a little more than we could chew when we initially set out to do multiplayer. We had an initial prototype going that used Bluetooth, but it was difficult to get it working consistently across all devices and all platforms. It would have been a better decision to go with networking over a Wi-Fi connection instead. There was a point several months ago that we decided to cut our losses with Bluetooth and focus on other aspects of the game instead.
However, from the Bluetooth prototype we had developed, we knew that multiplayer Tank Hero was incredibly fun and we still wanted to make it available to users in some form. That’s why we decided to include a split screen mode, which allows players to face off against each other on the same device. Split screen mode will be available for the iPad.
As for the challenges of online multiplayer, there’s the whole issue of match making, and inconsistent network latency is also a concern. We’re not counting out online multiplayer entirely, but we don’t have any solid plans to support it in the near future.
From your perspective and judging from fan feedback, what is it about the Tank Hero formula that’s drawn such an impressive following? Do you think you tapped into bedrock game design principles that have been around since the old console classics, or does your design philosophy hit on some new best practices that future devs might want to take note of?
Alkas: We didn’t think too hard about game design principles or philosophies when developing Tank Hero. We just put things into the game that we personally found fun or cool. Most of our users just tell us the game is fun and addictive. If there is some kind of secret formula, we really have no clue what it is.
We don’t feel like we’re in the position to be giving advice (hell, we’d love to hear what advice you guys have for us!), but if there is anything to say to other developers it would be this: Don’t try too hard to think of the “next big thing.” Just make something that you’d personally find fun. Chances are someone else will find it fun too.
And finally, do you see the Tank Hero franchise as sustaining an indefinite number of sequels, provided fan interest continues at this level? Or is there a point where Clapfoot would have to veer off in a new direction, either to fulfill your artistic needs or simply because Tank Hero will become something entirely different if you push the game engine much further?
Mark: I think after Laser Wars, we’re going to take a break from Tank Hero for awhile. We’re lucky enough to be independent and self-funded, so we want to take advantage of this and try out different things. We’ve already started pre-production work on two new projects. We hope to make announcements about them sometime over the next few months.
Big thanks to Mark Ng and Alkas Baybas for taking the time out to chat with us as they continue development on Tank Hero: Laser Wars! We’ll bring you preview footage of this much-anticipated sequel just as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, check out the trailer for the first Tank Hero if you aren’t madly dashing around and blowing stuff up on its mazelike battlefields already: