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November 3, 2009 / Joe Osborne

GameX 2009: Terence Lee Chats With Us About Storm

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This weekend at GameX 2009 in Phoenixville, PA, I had the opportunity to speak with the winner of the “Community Favorite Award” [Dain Saint and William Stallwood won first place with Auditorium (Ed.)] of 2Bee Games’ First Indie Game Competition, Terence Lee. Lee’s winning project, Storm, made in less than two weeks time, is a physics driven title that empowers you with three elements (wind, water and lightning) in order to force weather balls into a given destination within each stage. Lee is now working with Spark Plug Games and Zoo Games (2Bee Games’ publishing arm) to bring Storm to consoles. Take a look at what he had to say about his debut title.

GEEK: How did you manage to make this game in just two weeks?

Terence Lee: Well, I had school at the time; I had midterms coming up and I saw this contest [2BeeGames Indie Game Competition]. Previously I had been doing this game-a-week project where I make a game in one week. Just pretty small games to practice development and programming. I thought this contest would be a very good opportunity for that, but I only had a couple of weeks left. After coming up with the idea, I spent all of my time working on it, pretty much twenty-four-seven.

wind

GEEK: How did you come up with the idea or what were your inspirations?

Lee: I didn’t know what to make at first, but I kind of wanted to play around with a physics engine. So, I downloaded Farseer Physics for XNA and just messed around with it. All the physics games that are out right now like Garry’s Mod or Crayon Physics, you’re doing mechanical interactions and building contraptions. So, I thought doing something more organic would be interesting. You think of just some crazy idea and go with that.

GEEK: It’s been said that you’re porting Storm to Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Wii Ware. What are you most excited about introducing to the game in the process?

Lee: With the prototype right now, there are a lot of things I wanted to add that didn’t get in. There are new weather elements that I wanted to put in. In the full game, one big thing that we’ll be improving is the overall polish and aesthetic of it. There’s some really good concept art for it.

As for the gameplay itself in the prototype right now, you’re moving these white balls around, which didn’t really make much sense. In the actual game it will be different kinds of seeds of fruit that you’ll have to get to soil and plant to make trees. So, there’s a stronger theme there. As for additional elements, I don’t think we’ll be able to get them into the next game, but I think in the future we’ll be adding like fire or snow.

rainGEEK: So, do you have downloadable content planned after this release?

Lee: Yeah, that’s what we’re thinking about. Now that we’re using consoles there are so many new different interfaces and the newest generation is all about movement. So with Natal, you could call wind or summon thunder by moving your arms. Like the Wii controller and SIXAXIS, there all different ways to do movement. That’s [Storm] the type of game where organic movements we’ll be able to interpret.

GEEK: So, you’re working with Natal and the Wii Remote, but are you working with the PlayStation ‘Sphere’?

Lee: We’re not at that stage yet, but we’ll be looking at whatever interfaces there are out there.

GEEK: Did you go with motion controls because you feel like motion is just the way games are going or did you have that mind when you first developed it on PC?

Lee: It feels like it would fit well with the game because, like I said, the game is very organic. Right now a lot of motion controlled games don’t translate well to the mechanical movements they make. We just realized that this is a good fit for it.

GEEK: So, you said that you’re going to be using the new concept art. Are you going to translate those hand-drawn visual into the console ports?

Lee: It won’t be the same ones. It’ll be a new style. I’m working with Spark Plug and they’re doing the development and I’m working with them on the design. They have a really good art guy and he’ll be taking the art in a new direction.
stormlightning2

GEEK: How about the music? Are you going to expand upon that or add new tracks?

Lee: I think I’ll be doing the music for the whole game. I have a set of keyboard controllers at home. It’s been a hobby of mine just to experiment with music. Music is a really big part of games and especially this type of game where it’s all about the environment.

GEEK: What’s the number one tip you can give to aspiring independent developers?

Lee: Specifically, I would say that it’s important to start projects and then finish them. One way you can achieve that is to make really small projects, which is a really helpful step because if you try to do it in a week and it goes bad you only lose a week, but you still gained a lot of experience.

Know all of the steps from start to finish. It’s not all about programming; there’s a lot of work in getting it done. Even if it’s just yourself, you still have to manage your schedule. There’s just a lot of skills you don’t learn from classes or books so it’s good to just get projects finished.

GEEK: Any word on a potential release date for Storm?

Lee: We’re thinking sometime late next year. We’re doing different consoles, so I think they’ll be coming out as they’re completed.

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