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Blendo Games Interview: Brendon Chung

03 10 13 - 20:00 Used tags: , ,

Hey, I got a chance to interview Brendon Chung of Blendo Games.  He's the one behind the Quake 2 GPL powered Gravity Bone, it's sequel Thirty Flights of Loving, a new Doom 3 GPL powered game Quadrilateral Cowboy and several other games.  You can listen to the interview over at moddb.com, Youtubedownload a mp3 to put right on your iToy/whatever AND, as an added bonus by my beautiful wife, a transcript of the interview so you can read instead of listen! Click "Read More" for the transcript.


r Games Interview - Mod DB

Blender Games Interview

Date: 10/01/2013

 

Introduction: This is Steve (The Happy Friar) Howe from the website Earth Quake and I am interviewing Brendon Chung of Blendo Games whose newest game is coming out soon based on the Doom III engine. He has released several other Quake II GPL powered games.

 

Steve: Brendon, please introduce yourself.

 

Brendon: Hey, so I am Brendon. I run a small company called Blendo Games and I have been making independent games for about 3 years now. Prior to that, I was working in the triple A game industry.

 

Steve: Alright, so how did you get into Indie gaming?

 

Brendon: Yeah, so I was working in the triple A game industry as a designer and I had been thinking about doing my own small games for awhile because that is kind of how I got started making games. When I was very young, I was just making mods for games like Quake, Doom, and Half-Life. I kind of wanted to return to that because making those small, little personal projects was something I really enjoyed and I felt that there was lots of you know territory that I wanted to explore. After the company I was working for was unfortunately shutdown, I decided you know what; I might as well take a stab at making my own thing and seeing if I could make a living off of it/see what I could do with it.

 

Steve: Okay, yeah. According to your bio here on your website that was in 2009, so I take it you had some money saved up so you could live while you started this?

 

Brendon: Yeah, so. Yeah, the company I was working at was Pandemic Studios. While I was at Pandemic, I had been kind of saving up some money every month to kind of fund this little experiment of mine.

 

Steve: Okay, so what’s the most popular Indie game you’ve made so far?

 

Brendon: It’s probably a tossup between Thirty Flights of Loving and Atom Zombie Smasher. Atom Zombie Smasher was a bit more of a traditional game. It’s is more of kind of a mix between a real-time strategy game and a tower defense game. That caught on pretty well surprisingly. Thirty Flights of Loving was a bit more of an experimental story-based game, so that kind of was made for a little bit different audience. That got some traction for different reasons than Atom Zombie Smasher.

 

Steve: Yes, I remember Gravity Bone when it came out and then it never connected to me that you also did Atom Zombie Smasher. I got it in one of the Indie Humble Bundles and my kids love it. That’s one of their favorite games and it’s weird because they have other games. We have Doom, we have Quake. They have Max the Magic Marker. They have World of Goo but this one they like even though your saving little pink squares against little green squares but they love it. It’s one of the games they like to play over and over and over.

 

Brendon: Yeah, there’s something about the abstract art where people just become cubes that I think that it just lets people kind of identify with them a little bit easier. There is no realistic representation of people, so you end up kind of imagining in your own mind what they look like, how they are behaving, and what their personalities are.

 

Steve: Yes, well, they like to turn it on easy so they can ya know take over the whole map, my eight-year-old. That’s one of those games like that, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Max and the Magic Marker those are the three they all want to play.

 

Brendon: Love it.

 

Steve: Well, I don’t play those ones as much as they do. They got their own computer and I am usually down here doing work instead of playing. Yeah, I saw on your website to you have other games, Flotilla which looks like a space combat type game.

 

Brendon: Yeah, it’s like a turn-based space strategy game where the ships kind of move in a completely 3D environment, so instead of just controlling them from the 2D plane, you have complete control of the XYZ of the ship and combat is done in a turn-based style.

 

Steve: Air Forte. That’s a high altitude game of math, vocabulary, and geography. Could you explain that one?

 

Brendon: Yeah, it’s a top down where you control a smaller airplane and it kind of is made for learning about geography, vocabulary, and arithmetic.

 

Steve: So, for Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving, and Quadrilateral Cowboy, you are using Id’s GPL engines. How come you are using that over something like Unity or any of the other ones that are out there?

 

Brendon: Yea, for a few reasons. One is just simply I just grew up using the Id Software engines. Doom is where I cut my teeth and Quake was something I was really into during high school and college and so when it came time to start making my own things as Blendo Games, I just felt comfortable to use what I knew well. It was an engine that I kind of knew all the nuances of and was pretty comfortably with. Secondly, there is something about having these engines, the completely open source that I liked. Id Software released the open source versions of their engines for Doom and Quake, Quake II and Quake III, and Doom III. After the game kind of is off the shelves for awhile, they release the source code for their engines, so their something about having complete control over every single part of the engine that I really like. I am in a position where if there is anything I do want to change, being able to change it is something that is possible. The only thing that is limiting me is my own skill set, is me taking the time to research into how to implement this one thing, so I find that is a position I could be in. Another thing is, there is just something about (this might sound kind of silly) but there is just something about the player movement of the Quake engines that just feels right to me.

 

Steve: You’re not the only person to say that. Lots of players who have played Quake since Quake I came out, like me, I just can’t get used to Unreal games because it feels like the Unreal engine is slightly different. No one can ever nail it down. We don’t know if it is the latency of the mouse input, the keyboard. It just feels different.

 

Brendon: Yeah, yeah exactly. That’s exactly the way I feel is that there is just something about the numbers, the way they tuned it. There is a wait that your character has. There is this kind of it feels like you’re an actual object in a world that has a certain type of physics to it. What’s that?

 

Steve: Instead of, a floating bunny. Like in Unreal, it feels kind of like your floating.

 

Brendon: Yeah, I mean sometimes you kind of feel like you’re on ice skates or you kind of feel like you’re on camera and you’re just kind of hovering around. Yeah, I never felt that would play too good.

 

Steve: You had a game about geography, you had one about spaceships, you had one about zombies, a tactical game, you had Gravity Bone and you had 30 Flights of Loving which are kind of like I want to say shooters, but their first person but not really shooters. How do you come up with an idea for these games?

 

Brendon: For me, there is just something about being my own little company that doesn’t have anyone to answer to. There is something I enjoy about trying as many different genres as I can. Flotilla was my first title that I made as Blendo Games. Flotilla is a turn-based tactical game and I had never done a turn-based tactical game before. I had never made a tactical game before. I have never made my own 3D engine before, so any reasonable company would say, you know we’re not going to trust you to make this because you have no experience doing this and you have no track record doing this genre or the technology. I think that something happens when you pull someone out of their comfort zone and have them do something that they haven’t done before. I think that something happens with you when that happens. I like it when dramatic actors do a comedic role or a comedic actor does a dramatic role. For me, I like kind of getting out of what I am comfortable with which is generally first person games and just doing something else, so that is why I kind of jumped around to different genres doing Flotilla, Atom Zombie Smasher, and Air Forte.

 

Steve: Now, kind of on a related note, in the past 3 years you have released five commercial games. Do you like releasing small games sooner rather than a big game with a longer development time?

 

Brendon: Yeah, I do enjoy playing the games. Like I am a big fan of the Open World genre but as a developer whose company only has basically one employee, I can’t do a big game on my own for just pure production reasons, so for me it just makes a lot more sense to make kind of more smaller projects that don’t have too many moving parts and then release them as quickly as I can as opposed to spending a huge amount of time doing a large, large project.

 

Steve: That makes sense because it seems many, many Indie games at least on Indie DB when I go there to look at them, they have really big ambitions and they get part way in but they always want to make what seems to be a big Triple A style game.

 

Brendon: Yeah, I feel like I am kind of lucky in that I got into the mod making scene when I was maybe in elementary school or so and I kind of cut my teeth doing that exact same thing where I would have these grand plans of making these huge Quake II campaigns, or multiplayer mods, or whatever it is. I had that exact same problem where I just never finished them. Over the years, making lots of failed mods, I kind of learned to better scope my projects in such a way that they were even more finishable.

 

Steve: Okay, so what can you tell us about your new game, Quadrilateral Cowboy?

 

Brendon: Yes, so Quadrilateral Cowboy is a game set in a 1980s cyberpunk kind of universe where the player is hired by big corporations to kind of sabotage and break into their corporate rivals to steal secrets, download data, and do various activities for them. The game play is played from the first person perspective using the Doom III engine and the hacking is done through a small computer terminal that the player kind of carries around, so at any given time the player can drop this terminal on the ground and actually start typing on it. The player has to learn this very basic kind of programming syntax to kind of hack into cameras, doors, and kind of manipulate the world.

 

Steve: How long have you been working on this game?

 

Brendon: This has been my biggest project so far. I started it in January of last year, so it is reaching two years now. It is a bit bigger in scale than my previous projects.

 

Steve: Has been being an Indie developer allowed you to survive on it or have you had to pick up another job so you can keep doing this, which you obviously love to do.

 

Brendon: I have been lucky that my games have been selling pretty well, so Blendo Games has been my full-time job for the past three years or so. Digital distribution kind of makes things feasible for smaller developers like me to just sell things online and not have the upfront cost of printing boxes and distribution, printing out CDs, things like that.

 

Steve: I want to say I saw your name on the list of the QuakeCon panel last year or two years ago.

 

Brendon: Yeah, I was invited to a panel talk at QuakeCon. It was my first QuakeCon so it was pretty exciting. It was a panel on modding the Quake engines, id software engines.

 

Steve: Do you think that now that you’re kind of relatively famous that it’s changed you or are you kind of the same guy you were three years ago when you left Pandemic?

 

Brendon: I don’t think that I am a famous person. That’s definitely not something I would say. I have been very lucky to have a following of fans that support me and let me make these small, little experimental things that I have always wanted to make. Due to internet and digital distribution through things like Steam, it kind of makes these things possible. I am very fortunate to that we have this collision of things like digital distribution and free/cheap tools online to make these things possible.

 

Steve: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your upcoming games? Do you want to say thanks to anybody who has helped you out?

 

Brendon: Yeah, I want to thank you actually. You’re a common poster on the Doom III World forums and always with very helpful information that helped me out a lot through kind of when I first started Doom III stuff years ago and up to now.

 

Steve: Well, I must not have recognized your username back then but that site is very good and I have to say BNA and the guy who runs that. He pretty much doesn’t do any Doom III modding anymore but he leaves it up there and keeps it running for everyone who’s interested in doing the Doom III modding stuff.

 

Brendon: Yeah, that’s really an amazing resource.

 

Steve: Thank you very much. I am looking forward to Quadrilateral Cowboy. Is it still coming out in 2013.

 

Brendon: It is kind of up in the air but it is what I am shooting for at the moment.

 

Steve: Okay, well, I am looking forward to that one. I didn’t even know Thirty Flights of Loving was out until someone on Doom III World pointed me to your new game and then I went to your website and saw, oh, there’s a new game out by him. I didn’t even notice that. Well, thank you very much.

 

Brendon: Alright, thank you very much Steve.

 

Steve: It was nice talking to you.

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