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Interview Walking a fine line with Hinterland

DarkUnderlord

Professional Throne Sitter
Staff Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2002
Messages
28,318
Tags: Hinterland; Tilted Mill

<a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21636">GamaSutra interview Titled Mill</a>. They cover Hinterland:
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<blockquote>Like a lot of PC developers, over the past eight or ten years we trended toward fewer, bigger titles and of course that means less variety in a given amount of time. Tilted Mill did three big titles in our first six years, but we’ve already done three smaller titles since June of this year.
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<b>In terms of scale, how did your approach to making a city-building game like Children of the Nile differ from your approach to making Hinterland, which could be described as a village-building game that's a bit smaller in scale?</b>
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It was a pretty big adjustment going from SimCity Societies to Hinterland. Even though we’d all cut our teeth back in the day on games that were about the scope of Hinterland, it was still a big transition for us to go through. That’s just on the production side.
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As far as the actual approach to the game, well, because Hinterland is so unique, we were always walking a very fine line, and running the risk of being a “not good enough” city-building game combined with a “not good enough” RPG, or whatever.
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Games are tough that way – if you have some strong RPG elements, you’re compared to the very best RPGs. If you have some city-building elements, people expect a full blown city builder.
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On top of that, with the game being only $20 (our plan from the get go), then of course there are limits in terms of how robust each part of the game can be.
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So, on the one hand, it was tough making sure we were always getting the best bang for our development buck, but, on the other hand, working with a smaller team that was more senior overall was a huge advantage as well.</blockquote>
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Small titles vs big titles. Which do you prefer?
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Spotted @ <a href="http://www.gamebanshee.com">GameBanshee</a>
 

LCJr.

Erudite
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
2,469
As far as the actual approach to the game, well, because Hinterland is so unique, we were always walking a very fine line, and running the risk of being a “not good enough” city-building game combined with a “not good enough” RPG, or whatever.

I'd say they took a swan dive off that fine line and managed a not good enough city-building game combined with a not good enough whatever.
 

Oarfish

Prophet
Joined
Sep 3, 2005
Messages
2,511
Given they were hyping gameplay over graphics and making nods to roguelikes (which are renknowned for depth of gameplay) I was a little dissapointed with Hinterland. They managed neither very well.

I would prefer them to try more $ for more game with the same lofi graphics. That or go for a variation on Kerberos' approach with sword of the stars - episodic addition of features adding up to the final game.
 

getter77

Augur
Joined
Oct 12, 2008
Messages
861
Location
GA, USA
I still hold out hope that they will enhance the game enough through patching and possibly expansions to where it can live up to the goals they set in the hype period---at least the big ones.
 

Mnemon

Educated
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
64
I have the feeling Tilted Mill both needed cash and wanted to test waters - hence the release of (almost) three games in a very short timespan.

Nile Online is mainly just a one man project by their webmaster - which is of course an efficient way to use manpower while there's no need to design pages for new games.

I'd hope their games turn out to become more involved over time, but I'd guess the move from professional team to independent status just has to work differently to establishing an independent studio from nothing. If anything it is an interesting step and I hope it'll turn out a model for other developers. I'd welcome a market for "established indies" similar to what there is in the film industry.
 

Geofferic

Educated
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Messages
51
I have been playing Hinterland a lot and while it definitely falls short of the hype, it's closer than I expected it to be.

The biggest flaws, for me, are the combat (oh so not fun and a bit too fast), the almost-has-depth nature of the city building, and the idiocy of the AI.

With a few more options on city building (ie, a few more occupation types for city members) and another level of depth for each one and two more levels of depth for some as well as some exclusivity choices (like evil priest OR holy priest), the city building could be pretty cool. I'd say it's about 75% what it needs to be.

Combat needs more options - as does character development. Not a lot more, tho. I like the simplicity, but it's a bit too simply and the result is that most of the items are pointless - especially with the speed of combat.
 

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