XBLIG Uprising Developer Interview: Chris Zukowski – developer of City Tuesday

As part of our ongoing coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III we asked Chris Zukowski to tell us a bit about himself and his game, City Tuesday (read our PREVIEW of the game HERE).  Chris was kind enough to take the time to tell us about his game and his career as a developer.  The full interview, the first of a series of interviews we will be doing with every developer that is part of the Uprising, can be found in its entirety below.  Enjoy, and of course a big thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions.

First, tell the readers a bit about yourself: what is your history as a game developer, previous efforts, why you decided to start getting involved in making games?

In my day job I create software that runs giant servers for banks, and governments. It really isn’t creatively stimulating. And I realized that if I don’t focus my creativity in a positive outlet, I end up using it in not very constructive ways like making a very elaborate cookie display in my company’s annual bake-off. It was a bit much.

So I decided I was going to make a game. A real, fully featured game that you can play from beginning to end.  The funny thing is that if you just make a game, you get to participate in the conversation of what games are and what makes them good. You are part of that whole ecosystem. It is really exciting.

How would you describe your game in a sentence? What do you feel makes your game special or unique?

You are a man who is stuck reliving the same day and you have to use that to your advantage to uncover a terrorist plot.

If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration (for this game or in general), what would it be?

The biggest influence was Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It was a very innovative game about living in a world that would reset after 3 days. You had make sure everything you started on day 1 was finished before the world reset. It was really great.

How long did you spend in development? Could you walk me through the timeline for the game, all the way from the conception of the idea to the final marketing of the game a few months ago? What software and tools did you use?

I got the first idea of a game set inside a warning sign while riding on the BART subway train. I was in San Francisco and had just attended the Game Developer’s Conference in 2010.

I slowly constructed the game soon after. This is my first game so there was a lot of learning involved.

I would cobble the game together on weekends and after work. I had to take breaks to get married, backpack across Italy and move. However, I am now finally finally done.

Have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform?  What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?

My next game will be for iOS devices. I think there is just so much creative potential on those devices. I am really looking forward to it.

I wanted to develop for XBLIG because C# and the XNA framework is very easy place to get started. The code and the development environment are very well structured. Similarly I am developing for one device, the XBOX. I dint have to worry too much about compatibility or different hardware profiles.

A game’s soundtrack can make or break a game, tell us how you selected yours. Did you produce in house, team up with a music producer or simply purchase royalty free music?

I actually don’t think music is totally important for a game. Some games have good music but I didn’t want to have a sound track for City Tuesday. There are some brief clips of music but they are almost sound effects. Instead I wanted the various elements inside the game to create sounds. There is a film term for this that I couldn’t find with google, but basically you only hear music if the music is being played in the actual world. I wanted to try that.

If there was one thing you could improve on, or simply do differently in development what would it be?

I would have made a much simpler game.

How did you go about deciding on the name for your game and why did you end up with the title you have?  Were there any rejected titles that didn’t make the cut?

I wanted to make a game that was very contemporary. The day of the week “Tuesday” is such a boring day but it was also the same day as that horrible tragedy that brought us into the 21st century.

Many gamers dream of making their own games, what advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to developer?

Keep your first game so so so so simple. Don’t have cut scenes. No dialogue. No 3D. No scrolling. If your game is saving anything other than a high score table, it is too big. Your game shouldn’t be any more complicated than a game made in 1979. I didn’t do that for City Tuesday but I wish someone had told me to.

The XBLIG market has had mixed results so far in its existence. What do you believe could make it better? What do you believe could improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?

I hate to say it but I think it is perfect exactly how it is. The indie game community needs a place that is like public access television. There needs to be this nursery where people try making games in a safe environment. Sure many suck but at least it happens here and they can try it out. It is really easy to make a game for one platform and that is what XBLIG is. And you can sell your game, and market it and get real feedback. It is great.

Just as in baseball we need a farm league. If you make a good game and it does well, you can move up and try it on Steam or some of the other services.

What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?

Expect City Tuesday to hit September 18th. I am really looking forward to it.

What game in the Indie Uprising are you most excited to play (besides your own of course)?

Entropy. Great concept and the game looks so nice.

Anything else you would like to say?

City Tuesday is really my attempt to show something that you might not see in games today. I tried to make it very contemporary and rooted in the real world. There are no wizards or bald marines. It is a game that is based on common people doing common things. It is a world that can explore and interact with dozens of NPCs and it might be funny and it might be a bit enlightening. So please, try out my game; it is made by a one man team.

 

We would like to thank Chris once again for taking the time to answer our questions!  Stay up to date on all of our coverage of the Indie Game Uprising III by bookmarking the following page: CLICK HERE.  CBR will be providing previews, developer profiles, interviews and of course reviews for every game involved in the Uprising. And, as always, support indie developers!

 

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About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.