Virtual Dimensions // Interview with Alan Edwards from Estranged: Act 1
Interview with Alan Edwards from Estranged: Act 1
You all might remember something about Estranged: Act 1, we posted a review about it a few days ago, in addition to that, Alan Edwards agreed on answering some questions.
If you want to refresh your mind about the game, take a look at the review!
VD: What made you want to create Estranged and what were the key inspirations behind the idea?
AD: In the beginning there wasn’t an overall plan – I wanted to teach myself how to design levels, and the first level I created took a lot of inspiration from the Half-Life: 2 E3 beach
Some of that first level structure is still in the beginning of Estranged: Act I:
As I kept adding to the level though, I realised I needed some kind of structure to it, so wrote a bare outline of the story. I added the first character to the game, and from there Estranged was born.
VD: From a developers perspective what were the Highs and Lows in creating this mod?
AE: It was a pleasure to develop Estranged: Act I. The few low points were from content not being finished on time, but that’s to be expected with any project. It has been a great project to be a part of, and I feel lucky to work with such talented people.
VD: What in your opinion was the single biggest challenge to overcome in finishing and releasing Estranged?
AE: The single biggest challenge for me was learning the toolset in the beginning, and the codebase. Since this was my first ever exposure to C++, it was a very steep learning curve. It has paid off though, and immersing myself in those worlds really paid off in terms of learning.
VD: If you could go back and develop Estranged all over again. What – if anything – would you do different and why?
AE: I wouldn’t change a lot, however I wish I had a team of talented people to work with from the beginning.
VD: We would love to know what your plans are for Act 2 – Is there anything you can share with us at this stage?
AE: We aren’t ready to talk about Estranged: Act II just yet.
VD: Zombies and Survival Horror in general seem to be an ever popular gaming genre. Why do you think that is and what do you think of the current Zombie trend in gaming?
AE: I think it’s very similar to zombie movies – humans have a healthy obsession with the idea of not-quite-dead things that are as mobile as humans, however are more animal-like, and lust for the living. The concept has shifted a little though, from purely running around killing zombies (both games and movies) to running around killing zombies with other more story threads going on. I like both approaches to the idea, and look forward to new games and movies and movies around the genre.
Estranged: Act I is more adventure than horror, so I don’t feel quite as qualified to comment on that, however would love to explore that genre more in future works.
VD: Considering everyone that worked on Estranged – programmers, level designers, translators and supporters – how did you manage to handle communications and the workflow?
AE: Lots of instant messages! As a team, we use Steam and Skype to co-ordinate most of our work. The translations with the beta of Act I were the most difficult to manage, with me co-ordinating directly with translators on Steam, making sure that everyone was on track to complete languages before the release.
With the final Steam release, I got in touch with Valve’s Torsten Zabka, who was more than happy to add Estranged: Act I to Valve’s crowd sourced translation website.
Myself and Christiaan co-produced a lot of content in long calls, and for more complicated things it was very useful to hold conference calls with the team.
VD: Congratulations on getting Estranged onto Steam. What can you tell us about your experiences and the process of publishing Estranged on Valve’s digital distribution platform?
AE: Overall, it has been a very good experience. The Steam platform is a real asset for testing, publishing, patching, and communicating directly with players.
VD: What genre would you be interested in choosing for your next game?
AE: I would love to explore horror – games such as Amnesia are very exciting, and I would be very interested in working on one myself.
VD: What advice would you give to fellow modders and indie developers?
AE: Don’t get caught up with the little things. Don’t give up, and if you can’t get past something, work around it, or talk to someone who can.
VD: 2013 was a busy year for the Games Industry. In your opinion, what was the best game?
AE: I really enjoyed Metro: Last Light.
In case you haven’t played it yet, don’t miss the chance and download it right away: http://store.steampowered.com/app/261820/
VD on Twitch.tv
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