Nathan with his wife, who works as Mommy’s Best Producer
This week we got a chance to speak with Nathan Fouts, the man behind the remarkably entertaining Xbox Live Community title, Weapon of Choice. If you haven’t had a chance to play this brilliant game, download the demo. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be offering Fouts the paltry sum of 400 Microsoft Points for the full game in seconds. Let the interrogation commence:
Tech-Gaming: Let’s pick the mind of the game’s creator. Name five console titles that influenced Weapon of Choice.
Nathan Fouts: Hmmm… Top five in order of love are: Contra Hard Corps, Gunstar Heroes, Super Turrican 2, Shadow of the Colossus, and Metal Slug 3. And vaguely on topic, my favorite system so far is the Sega Genesis. Still play it all the time!
T-G: Can you briefly describe your background in game development?
NF: Canceled games, canceled games, canceled games, then Running With Scissors and POSTAL 2 for a few years (total fun), then Insomniac Games and Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, and some PS2 Ratchet games. I specialize in gameplay programming and design, such as weapon creation, boss monster A.I., blood stream physics, etc.
T-G: Weapon of Choice offers a refreshing amount of advancement to the run and gun genre. From the life system, death brushing, and vengeance missile- what was the impetus for these innovations?
NF: I carefully dissected my old favorites, especially Contra Hard Corps and considered how to improve them, at least, as far as I was concerned. I love instant-kill games because the tension level is so high, but I still find them aggravating when I die. Death-Brushing came about as a way to even the difficulty level somewhat.
This has been a double-edged sword as some people find it too easy and some people still find it too hard. The good news is, most people really enjoy the difficult and find it just right. I guess you can’t please everyone.
Having each Operative act as playable life took weeks of writing down ideas, and thinking them through. In the end, I thought having no continues and each character act differently was a pretty gutsy move for the run ‘n’ jump genre, but I had confidence it could be rewarding and contribute to the overall feeling of each Operative being a unique, living, character.
Quick, shoot it in the head. No, not that end!
T-G: Looking over the completed game, is there anything you would have liked to add, or change about WoC?
I would love it if I could have made cooperative play work. Sadly I had
it working on the PC but could never get the framerate fast enough on
the Xbox 360. That is definitely something on the list if we ever do a
I also wanted to include a collection-award system for the
game which would reward gamers for more exploration in the levels. That
could come with a subsequent version of the game but it’s not definite.
T-G: What was the greatest obstacle in the creation of the game?
NF: Reigning in the scope was a constant battle. I originally had around 40 levels designed, and probably hundreds of monsters. It does provide an excellent wealth of ideas for the possible sequel. But by then I’ll probably have all new designs in mind!
T-G: If you could change one aspect of the gaming industry, what would that be?
NF: Well, if things could just magically work, I’d love for all gamers to have the ability to instantly and perfectly get information about games in which they are interested. That would probably be a dream for anyone making any product, but let me elaborate.
For such a niche, old-school-turns-new game like Weapon of Choice, there’s a lot of gamers out there who I think would enjoy the game a lot but may not know about it. Those gamers may have only a few games on their Xbox 360 but would still enjoy Weapon of Choice because it happens to feel like the old games they grew up with, but with new playability.
The reason I say it’s “magical” is because there are lots of ways for gamers to keep up with info on their favorite new games coming out. I think there are a lot of gamers in the case of Weapon of Choice who don’t have the time to even keep track or look for games, but would still enjoy it.
This magic system would eliminate the need to actually look for information and keep up with things because it would … transmit information directly to your brain? Hmm… was something like this announced at the last CES? I hope so.
One question: Is Teat Walker milk suitable for human consumption?
T-G: Those spider-udders on the first boss, reminded some players of male anatomy. Was this done on purpose?
NF: Those were actually designed after cow udders. I grew up around milk cows and the idea of including them in creature designs stuck with me. Impressions people have from seeing the Teat Walker (especially in action) are really entertaining.
T-G: What’s next for Mommy’s Best Games?
NF: We are currently holding a speed run contest! It ends January 26, 2009, be sure to check out the site here.
There’s some fun prizes like 4,000 MS points and one-of-a-kind prizes
like original production art and personalized swag. After that—it’s on
to the next big game! I can’t wait to reveal more, but some time will
have to pass for that.
Weapon of Choice fans, leave your comments and questions for Nathan; hopefully he’ll take a moment out of his busy schedule to answer a few.