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.
In a prior interview, Jono Forbes gave me insight to the work Defective Studios was doing with Dejobaan Games. Toward the end of my stint at PAX East, he pulled me aside and handed over an iPad featuring a working build of Defective’s new original title, Gimbal Cop. We met up later with Defective’s 2d artist, Jonathan Elliot, to dicuss everything from game design to keg stands.
Gimbal Cop is a procedural Mario Kart with a gyroscope. Now, invoking the name of Mario Kart is daunting, but Defective managed to capture the spirit of Nintendo’s popular racer without imitating anything. The art style and concept are vastly different from Mario Kart, creating a fantastic new mobile alternative. Gimbal Cop features two classes that create a cat and mouse relationship between players, the Architect and the Runner, and each class has their own set of goals and obstacles. The overall objective is for one of the Runners to catch up to the Architect and then the race is over and shame is dealt out accordingly.
As the Architect, the player will have to get creative as they dynamically create the track by twisting and turning their mobile device as the path is drawn behind them. In the playable build Forbes had to show off, the race was set in SPAAAAAAACE, but in the completed title, you can expect to see a plethora of other environments. Asteroids and other space faring objects, such as the noble Narwhal, will provide obstacles to potentially slow down the Architect. Also floating about are gyroscopes which give the Architect a boost of speed. The frequency of the asteroids and gyroscopes depend solely on the lead the architect has. If the race is a close one, expect the architect to see quite a lot of boost opportunites. Staying ahead of the Runner (or Runners) is the goal, so utilizing powers such as switching up the track type and hitting those gyros will keep the race going.
When playing the Runner, players will have to stay on their toes and to react to the architect, taking on all the twists, turns, and loops they throw out. As the Runner gets closer to the Architect, the predictability of the track goes out the window. The player will have to be as clairvoyant as possible while closing the gap and trying to stay on the track. If the Runner falls off the track, they will lose some ground, but will always be given the chance to keep going and catch that smarmy Architect. Guaranteed this is the class that will induce the most crass language, at least for me.
Right now, Gimbal Cop is a two player experience, but Defective has been very mindful during development to include more players in the overall scope. This game occurs in infinite space. Infinite. Not just that, but at any point in the race, the Architect can loop back and see/crash into any part of the track they have already created. It’s almost like a 3D Centipede/Tron Light Bike Racer. The game keeps getting better and better.
Development on Gimbal Cop has only recently began, but they are already gaining a lot of attention from the gaming community. They attended GDC, then rushed home for PAX East, and followed that up with a talk at 3D Stimulus Day concerning the “making of” Gimbal Cop. Although they are only a few weeks into the project, the Defective team stood up and discussed the creative process including the overall design, tech implemetation, and the art.
It feels a little… pushy to ask when this project will be done. This is akin to asking a painter when their masterpiece will be complete once they put the first brushstroke on the canvas. And Defective isn’t going to rush perfection. Ideally, they would like to release the completed build of Gimbal Cop “when she’s done.” For Defective, making a ton of money is secondary to creating something meaningful. Sure making it rain is more painful with pennies, but at the end of the day integrity and being proud of your product is more important.
Gimbal Cop is being done completely in house, funded from the larger contracts Defective has completed. I asked if they would still be considering a Kickstarter since it is all the rage with the cool kids, and although they weren’t initially planning on it both Forbes and Elliot acknowledged the benefits.
Forbes explained, “If we do a Kickstarter and it’s wildly successful and we make enough money to support ourselves for like, a year, we might just put out the game for free to get people to know us.”
And this team is worth getting to know. Let me start by explaining how this indie team is living the dream. The Defective Studios HQ is located in their shared house on the first floor. That’s right, a bunch of indie developers living under the same roof. It sounds like the beginning of an awesome sitcom, but in reality, produces a creatively conducive atmosphere.
“It definitely adds another dimension of being with people 24/7 as opposed to just working with somebody,” Forbes admitted.
It’s always been my dream to wake up a programmer in the middle of the night with a new idea and a cup of cold water. There might be a sock on the door handle, but you can still slide character ideas under your artist’s door. He’ll look at it when he gets a chance. All joking aside, the whole team has an obvious passion for playing and creating games and I’m seriously looking forward to the titles this studio will be releasing in the future.
I love games, you love games, Defective Studios loves games. So keep an eye on this team and be sure to buy Gimbal Cop when it’s released!