Interview With Chris Jorgensen of Cascadia Games

We saw that you just recently added Retina support to Cavorite 2! Just how much work goes into this process, both on the art and the programming side?

On the programming side, it’s just a matter of scaling the display and loading higher resolution art. Plus, the Torque community has many members who publicly share how they achieved various features, including Retina support.

The feature has been so late coming to the series due to a lack of foresight on my part more than anything technical. Once Cavorite 2 wraps up beta, I plan on taking Retina and a small list of other tweaks back to the original. I want it to be a consistent (and awesome) experience across both games. The game looks beautiful in Retina. I feel foolish for not implementing it earlier.

Why did Torque become your game engine of choice? Have you run into any hard limitations in this engine yet?

I’ve been using Torque for about six years — starting three years before Cascadia Games existed. Early on, it made sense to port PC projects to iOS, rather than start from zero, and Torque made it easy to do that. The engine isn’t for beginners if you want to make iPhone apps. At times it requires knowledge of C++, Objective-C, and TorqueScript. But if you’re comfortable with all three, it gives you a lot more flexibility than engines that don’t come with full source.

There really is no limitation to Torque other than the time and talent you have to update it. In retrospect, for example, I should have integrated Box2D into the engine. I think the less realistic default physics of Torque can throw folks off. But all engines have weaknesses. Torque’s are minor and often fixable.

Cascadia Games owes its continued existence in large part to GarageGames. Our first and still one of our biggest revenue sources, the TGB Kart Kit, is sold through their store. Without the kit, I wouldn’t have had the money necessary to hire the talented artists Cavorite required.

Would you say an indie developer has to have a really tough skin to take the kind of criticism one typically gets on the App Store? What’s the most far-out, below-the-belt comment you’ve received so far?

I would say so. You have to be able to separate yourself from your games. It’s not a personal criticism when someone points out a flaw in the app. I usually don’t mind at all if someone says why they didn’t have a positive experience. I try to take the feedback and update things for the better.

Typically, I’m more frustrated by unjustified low ratings. For example, if the game won’t launch, then I hope the user understands it’s not something on my end. Apple isn’t going to feature games that don’t run. Yet these (rare) folks often leave a one-star review rather than seek out support.

I’ve seen a lot of crazy comments. It’s amazing how every once in a while someone assumes Cascadia Games is some sort of scam operation that the world needs to be warned about. The funniest one I’ve seen, however, would have to be when someone called a game of ours the worst app in the App Store. I thought that was hilariously over the top.

Aside from Cavorite, which titles or franchises have you spent the most time developing? Might a sequel be in the works for any of these, or do you intend to keep trying completely new ideas while maintaining Cavorite as a core franchise for the studio?

The kart kit takes most of the time not spent on Cavorite. In fact, it’s starting to show its age a little bit and will be getting a big update soon. Traditionally, I’ve complemented the update with a new game. In the past it was Zombie Karts and then Cascadia Kart. This time we’re doing something new. We’ve licensed the rights to Apogee’s Wacky Wheels and will be remaking it this year. We’ll be working closely with 3D Realms to make sure it’s the definitive retro experience for kart racing fans.

After that, we’ve got a great new platformer that’s in the design phase. Thus far, the concept has excited everyone who has seen it. Before that or Wacky Wheels happen, however, the goal is just to get Cavorite 2 on iOS and Mac, update the original, then look into a Windows-based app store, preferably Steam.

I genuinely hope Cavorite remains a core franchise. If number 2 is profitable, you can bet we would make a number 3. We’ve already talked a little bit about the story and the new features. Hint: it may very well be Dr. Cavor’s first adventure away from the moon!

Big thanks to Chris Jorgensen for taking the time out to answer our questions and tell us a little about his studio’s future plans. Don’t forget to read our hands-on impressions of Cavorite 2 while we wait for a solid release date, and keep an eye on Cascadia Games’ website, Facebook page and Twitter account for the latest.