Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers by Jade
ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love?
What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions
for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software
companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got
a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what
they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.
The first time I played
Pocket War, I missed my lunch break and my bathroom breaks. It was
so addictive that you just can’t stop playing. Then I got
to know Tully Edson, the mastermind behind the game. Maybe it’s
because Pocket War is a such good game, maybe it’s because
of Tully’s talent and dedication to the game development that
Pocket War has developed a growing crowd of faithful followers who
helped shape this turn-based strategy game into a multi-player title
with massive numbers of war units, various landscapes and even add-on
mods. We sat down with Tully of MetalShard
to chat about the Pocket War 1.0 release.
Interview: Jade Dragon: Tully,
let's talk about what gave you the idea to make Pocket War? Are
you a turn-based strategy game fan?
I am a big fan of both turn based and real time strategy games.
One of the very first computer games I played, was the original
Empire. It was the old text based version where units were represented
by letters and you used the cursor keys to select things because
back then the computer didn't have a mouse. That is probably why
I chose to recreate that game. From there, thanks to everyone's
suggestions, the game has grown into much more.
a pre-1.0 release game, Pocket War was a more polished and feature-rich
game than many other titles that are officially released. Can you tell
us what were your 1.0 release criteria? What are some of the milestones
in the Pocket War’s development?
Pocket War has been a rather strange experiment. I was new to the whole
game development world, so I needed to learn everything. I didn't know
anything about distribution, customer support, etc. Those who know me
know that I learn by doing, so I figured the best thing to do would be
to build a simple game and release it. Then I could listen to what everyone
had to say about it and make changes as needed. I figured I would call
the game 1.0 when the amount of changes people asked for slowed down.
The first version was completed in three months. I have been taking customer
suggestions for a year and a half since then, and I would say that the
game has improved substantially.
I have to say without Pocket Gamer's support and PDA Buyer's Guide's support
I would not have made it. They both provided me with valuable resources
for getting feedback from Pocket War users. Mike at Pocket Gamer supported
my frequent updates and postings even when there was a big backlash about
me doing so. If he had not done that, interest in Pocket War would have
probably died out and the feedback would have stopped coming in. Tong
at PDA Buyer's Guide provided me with the use of their message boards
until I was able to bring my own online. Without that, I would not have
been able to get feedback from my customers. Both of those things were
instrumental in Pocket War becoming what it is today so I have to say
thank you to both groups of People.
I would also have to give a huge round of thanks to my original beta team.
They provided me with at least 50% of the changes that went into shaping
the game. They also spent an enormous amount of time testing and playing
crippled versions of the game.
not only achieved making a great game with high quality level in graphics,
sound, replay value, etc., but you've done something very special in Pocket
War. And that's the multi-player mode. Could you describe how the multi-player
system works in Pocket War? How massive is the player base and how much
growth can the game take?
in Pocket War is a strange beast. Pocket War is not real time. People
tend to play it more like chess than like darts (a game of thought as
opposed to skill.) Also, PDAs tend to be offline most of the time. With
those things in mind Pocket War's multi-player was built. The way it works
is you take a handful of turns and then submit those to the server. The
server passes those turns on to the other players who do the same thing.
You don't have to have to be connected all the time. If you are connected
all the time, then Pocket War will tell you when everyone has gone and
it is time to take you next turn. If you are not connected you can just
check to see if it is your turn from time to time. In a few days we should
have email notification coming online, so the server will send you email
when it is time to take your next turn and then you can start up Pocket
War take you turn and then go do other things.
All of the real work is done on the PDAs or PCs. The server just holds
the communications until the next player is ready to take their turn.
The server really doesn't do much so it can handle tons of users easily.
It is also hard for me to say how many people are playing at any given
moment since there isn't an "online" list.
Pocket War also supports head-to-head so you can pass a PDA back and forth
or pass a save game back and forth via email. I personally like that type
of multi-player more because you can yell at the other person while you
play. We are also looking at adding IR support. You can kinda do it now
by sending the save game back and forth via IR but I would like to see
that better integrated into the game.
talk about the mods. You have a couple of beta testers writing various
mods and adding new elements like new units to the game. How easy is it
for players to write their own mods in Pocket War? What advice can you
Mod making has expanded out past the beta testers now. There are average
game players making their own changes to Pocket War, and we think that
is great. The latest release comes with a unit maker program that you
can use to make your own unique units. Even if you plan on building complex
units, the unit maker is a good place to start because it is so fast and
easy to use.
With it you can change almost anything in Pocket War. You can build your
own units, make your own map types, build your own AIs, even change the
way the entire game is played. If someone was thinking about doing a hardcore
mod to Pocket War, I would suggest first looking over the script reference
programming is probably the best place to start. After that you can look
at a file called script.pak in the Pocket War installation. That file
contains all the scripts that make Pocket War act like Pocket War. We
left all the comments in and left it in a readable form so people writing
complex mods could look over it and see how Pocket War does the things
Finally, if you are trying to build a mod for Pocket War and get stuck,
post your questions to the MetalShard forums. I watch over them and try
and answer all the questions I can, and you will also find that most the
other players are pretty friendly and happy to lend a hand as well.
We are also setting up a program for selling add-on packs to Pocket War.
If anyone is interested in making mods to Pocket War, and then selling
them through the MetalShard website, let us know. You can reach me at
1.0 release, what is your vision for future Pocket War major releases?
will be a couple of small changes added to Pocket War (most of them I
mentioned), plus we are working on a map editor. After that Pocket War
is going to be placed on hold for a little while. The reason Pocket War
will be placed on hold is there are two new titles in the works at MetalShard.
One of them is another turn based strategy game, like Pocket War, but
very different. Unlike Pocket War they will be released more like normal
titles where we work on them until they are at a 1.0 stage and then we
will have a limited beta. However, they will be like Pocket War in that
after they are released we will continue to listen to our customers and
update the games to make them better.
If anyone has more ideas for Pocket War keep posting them to the forums.
Just because it is on hold for a little while doesn't mean it will be
on hold forever. It is only a matter of time before Pocket War starts
the long march to 2.0.