[The far too engaging Rudolf Kremers joins us for our next E3 2011 profile interview. His indie studio Omni Systems swept PC/Mac gamers off their feet with ambient RTS Eufloria back in 2009, and now they're prepping a PSN release for the title. He shares about the console porting process the team is currently entrenched in, along with some other major projects they're working on.]
Name and Job Title
Rudolf Kremers – Director Omni Systems Limited (Indie game dev with many many hats to wear)
Folkestone, United Kingdom
Eufloria (PC, PS3 to date, more to follow) and a whole bunch of other titles in traditional game dev like Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire, Championship Manager, Avatar the last Air Bender, Stolen, and more. Also written “Level Design – Concept, Theory and Practice” and have done loads of custom Quake levels.
Too numerous to mention but Sci-Fi and fantasy culture, and certain corners of science (AI, theoretical physics) stand out. There is also a whole universe of games out there that have been a massive influence.
DIYGamer: Well we already know a bit about you and Alex from Eufloria. You were visiting E3 to promote the upcoming PSN version, so how’d that go?
Rudolf Kremers: It went really well, we spoke to a ton of people, from fans to biz contacts, but in some ways it was just as important to step back and see people play the game. In fact, this led to some final tweaks and improvements that have made a real difference to the game.
To my knowledge Omni Systems has been a PC and Mac developer up until this point. What differences/challenges has console development presented versus PC/Mac development?
Ah well, console dev is a very different beast. Even though we are self publishing and self funded it means that there are some serious restrictions that apply to the process. For one thing the whole game had to get ported from c# to c++ which was painful (Ask poor Alex) and additionally you are subject to a gated approval process by Sony, with different processes in Europe and the US to deal with. Furthermore the pc version allowed us incremental improvements and player feedback, which is not possible with this console release. Joypads rather than mouse and keyboards were also an interesting challenge.
Tell us an origin story: How did you and Alex meet and how did the development of Eufloria come about?
Alex and I met at a company called Blue52 (now defunct) and although we did not work on the same games we became friends. The company went under, we went our ways and started to work at other companies that did not really suit us, until Blue did a phoenix from the ashes and was reborn as Curve Studios. (Still a cool company btw.) This time we did work together, namely on a crazy project where we had to create 6 games in four months for the Avatar the Last Airbender brand. I designed all the games and our focus was a 2d platformer, which I did together with Alex. This was an AMAZING experience, and some of the best fun I have had in games. Alex and I gel very well, partly because he is a very good designer himself, and he has trust in me too. So experience kinda begged to be repeated, and later on, after we left Curve when the company had a bad time of it, Alex pointed out the TIGSource Procedural Game competition. I was racing towards depression working on Championship manager (A truly awful experience) and as a result was extremely keen to do something truly interesting. Between the two of us we hammered out Dyson in 1 month, and that later turned into Eufloria.
You and I had a very engaging conversation (despite a loud room at the Joystiq event) where at one point we talked about the importance of ambiance and atmosphere in gaming. Care to wax poetic on the subjects?
Careful, I may start a rant here…
“Ambient gaming” is a bit of a personal obsession of mine, partly borne out of frustration with the strange emphasis many game developers put on adversarial and systemic game design. My personal interest in game creation is also fuelled by a wish to engage in world building, to communicate through the fantastical environment of a game, to enjoy the exploration of the new, to feel a sense of wonder. They are worthwhile goals and components to many games, if we let them be. I have gone as far as write a manifesto of sorts on the subject here.
Dyson/Eufloria is a great game, and has had a sizable lifespan in the spotlight as far as indie games go. That’s all fine and good, but I wanna know what else you’re working on! I know you’re an idea guy, so there are probably some thousand projects in queue; but are you currently developing or working on anything heavily outside of Eufloria you can tell us anything about?
Guilty as charged! I am working on more projects than you can shake as stick at.
Some stand out: I am doing a game called StarLit with Dugan Jackson, Dave Parsons, and with music by Milieu, which is like an ode to exploration games and classical Sci-Fi. That is going to be a special one I hope. Additionally I am doing a comic called Spire. I am doing a smaller game called Neopolis as well which is multiplayer only, and I am involved in various writing projects too. I am also publishing a series of Dynamic Themes for PS3 made by Dugan, and I am getting into e-publishing. Ahem, it is a lot actually.
Is there any advice you’d like/be willing to pass on to any up-and-coming indie developers reading?
Absolutely: Try and be honest about the originality/appeal about what you do, or at least make sure you work on what YOU want to work on, and make that stand out as much as possible. Keep thins DIY, don’t think you must have massive backing or financial support to make cool games. It is all doable these days where you can self-publish without the need for much money.
If you make something that is really YOU it means that it will be unique and thus have little competition.