One of the great things about PAX is that gamers can come face to face with the developers that create the games they love. I spent a chunk of my PAX-time doing brief interviews with indie developers for a series called “Mini Indie Interviews.” You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn some things you can never unlearn. Enjoy.
Initially, I was drawn to the Fire Hose Games booth by their dinosaurs with moustaches setup. It was the most proper thing I’d seen at all of PAX (yes, that includes the Geek Chic booth), and I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to talk about dinosaurs. Fire Hose Games’ have been around the dev circuit for quite some time. They have been contracted to do early prototyping and design work on the player interfaces for Dance Central, assisted in porting Twisted Pixel’s Ms. Splosion Man to PC, and tapped again by Harmonix for development on upcoming title Rock Band Blitz. If you haven’t heard of at least one of those titles, I have no idea how you got onto this site or why you are here.
Last year, Fire Hose Games released their first original title, Slam Bolt Scrappers, to the PSN and saw major success. If you’re a PAX vet and the name sounds familiar, it might be because Slam Bolt Scrappers was featured in PAX’s 2010 indie showcase. That means Fire Hose Games is 2 for 2 on original IP. And much like in 2010, when I stopped by to check out their new game Go Home Dinosaurs, the booth was packed. There was nary an open computer, and only one man running the show. After praising him for being a Superman of sorts, I started poking and prodding Anthony Novak, who does QA and assists with design and production, about their new title.
Go Home Dinosaurs is about protecting your barbeque from a line of advancing dinos. You play as gophers, collect resources and purchase powerups to take down the mischievous prehistoric creatures before they reach and either eat or tip over your BBQ pit. As the game grows, so will the powerups. Gamers can buy trading cards containing powerups, and trade with other players to expand their resource base. It’s a tower defense title with some seriously adorable graphics, drawing in children like a pied piper of video games. I think that sentence may have been redundant.
Novak explained, “Lot of kids stop, stare, and then have their parents let them play it.”
The accessibility is palpable. It’s cute, it’s simple, and it’s going to be powered by Google. That’s right, Go Home Dinosaurs is another title that will be coming to a Chrome browser mere megabytes away from where you sit right now. Fire Hose Games is working closely with Google to release this title on their Chrome web client. Novak explained the ease of Chrome integration, and the simplicity of pushing updates at a moment’s notice, something that cannot be done on XBLA or PSN.
He also praised Google with how fantastic they have been to work with on this project. Browser based titles like this are a burgeoning medium, and being in the thick of it can be both daunting and incredibly rewarding. Luckily, Google is helping Fire Hose get their tech in order so the game plays smoothly in Chrome. In my opinion, it’s one of the smarter venues to explore. Not everyone has a console or a PC powerful enough to game on, but everyone uses a web browser.
“It’s exciting for us since we suspect this is the direction we’ll see lots of games going in the future. Big, 3D muliplayer titles that players can hop online and play in their browser. We’re psyched to help trail blaze!” Novak commented.
I sat down and tried out the demo level, and attained a fairly high score. So high that I worried about whether Go Home Dinosaurs would be too easy for adults. When I asked Anthony about it, he explained that although the art style and accessibility is there for children, the puzzle element will reel in the older gamers looking for a challenge. I am a connoisseur of puzzle titles and I can attest to the truthfulness of this statement. Look at games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Both very simple in nature, but with a real draw to gamers (and non-gamers) of any age.
Typically, I’m lamenting how dumbed down games for children are, but this is one I can really get behind. It’s like Plants Vs. Zombies for children, and it forces kids to think when they play, unlike the majority of shovelware that devs pump out to gain a quick buck. Thoughtful design will take Go Home Dinosaurs far, so be sure to fire up Chrome at least once this summer and give this title a try. If you can’t wait for summer, you are in luck! Fire Hose is always looking for playtesters, so feel free to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.