J.S. Joust’s Doug Wilson Talks About The History and Future of Sportsfriends
I know couch play has been a big part of Sportsfriends, and it wasn’t in the cards during development, but now that it has been released have there been any talk about eventually adding online capability?
No, no. There are a few reasons for that. One, it is definitely way outside of what is financially feasible for us. Technologically it is really intense and as this scrappy team of indie designers, even if we wanted to it wouldn’t be possible. For J.S. Joust online play doesn’t make sense, nor does single player, so that’s out. Infact, Bennet wrote a really great article for Polygon a few weeks ago about why technologically online play doesn’t always make sense. I think it could make sense for BaraBariBall, I think technologically Hokra it is too fast and Pole Riders because of the physics engine it would be almost impossible to sync that information correctly over the network. Which is basically why you don’t see any online physics based fighters.
The thing is, it’s not that I don’t like online play, but when you are designing an online game, you have design it around the limitations of networking capabilities and I’m a really big believer in designing from the ground up. So, what we did was design all of these games specifically for in-person spectators, physical like local setting. There are things that you can do from a design and technological perspective, if you make an assumption, like I’m going to double down on local play. If that means that they are niche, then whatever, that’s fine. But, I think one of the things as an indie is that I’m going to focus on the one thing that I can do well and instead of going outside of my scope or budget, i’m going to focus on this aspect of the design.
We are all interested in local play, and bringing people together and give them the excuse to invite people over or meet strangers or whatever. I understand if people are critical of it, if they don’t have any friends around or something, local play will be harder for them and that’s fair as well. But, we are really proud of it and this is the one thing we wanted to do and what we wanted to stand-up for.
What about allowing players to use the PS Camera to stream themselves playing J.S. Joust?
Well, I guess the issue is that sometimes the camera default that Twitch is in isn’t that large. But, if possible I would love to be able to have people stream themselves playing J.S. Joust. Yeah, just as a designer I would love to watch that, but I am not sure if there is going to be any specific support behind the existing PS4.
Are their any other plans for DLC in the future?
Nope, this is the release. There are actually a bunch of secrets hidden in the game and we are really proud of that, some of them are pretty large and in-fact some people on Twitter have already starting finding the big ones. There is also a lot of extra content and game material in the game. So, I guess that is our version of DLC, so to speak.
Have you been working on anything since completing JS Joust? If So, could you give us an idea as to what that might be?
On the side, and this is after I’m done, I need to move over full time to it. My business partner, Niels is a really amazing illustrator, which is kind of hilarious since I made this no graphics physical game. But, he has a concept for this adventure game that he’s been working on slowly, so we have a team, my European contingents, who have been working on this single player beautifully illustrated music rich adventure game called Mutazione and it is still kind of in the early stages. But, we are working on it gradually and steadily for a while and it is kind of the total opposite of what Sportsfriends is.
It is exciting to try different things, and so, Sportsfriends and J.S. Joust was very much my baby and being the lead creative on that, but with Mutazione I am trying to help. I am doing game design and programming on it, but I am trying to help Niels bring his vision to life. It is like trading off creative director and I am excited to tackle that.
Any plans for a PS3/PS4/Vita release?
I am a big PlayStation fan, and if that is in the cards and makes sense. It is being done in Unity, so in theory it could now that there is a PlayStation Plug-in for licensed Unity developers. I am big into the controller and sitting on a couch with a nice big screen, but it is going to be a while before we know. I would like to if it was possible.
Will this be funded again through Kickstarter?
Probably not. That is something we have to figure out. We have had some Danish art funding for the initial prototypes, which has been great. Now, after Sportsfriends I just need to collect my thoughts and we will take stock of where we are at. The Kickstarter was great, Sportsfriends was great because fans had played these games at conferences and they were weird games. So, if publishers aren’t going to do it, we needed crowdfunding to do it.
Mutazione is a different beast, especially because it is story based. But, I am a big fan of Kickstarter actually, so if it makes sense we will. But, at this point its too early and we will know more in the fall after I have the Summer to work on it. It is the excitement and perils of being a small indie developer.
What are your thoughts on Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift? Would you consider making something using VR?
I’m not the biggest VR guy myself, I think it’s cool and people are making good stuff with it. So, it’s not like i think it sucks and should go away or something, it’s just not for me. I guess my issue with it is that I am more about the shared space, people getting together in the living room and when you put on a VR headset you are off in your own world and you are disconnected from anyone else in the room. I am more into enjoying a game with someone in the same room, like I used to watch my brother play adventure games over his shoulder or play JRPGs with friends just trading off the controller.
As a designer, it is probably less useful to me, but I think it is cool technology and I am sure people are going to do great stuff with it.
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