One of the things I want to spend more time doing is interviewing game developers making great games. Portland has a very active local game scene and I plan on giving it more attention over the upcoming months. Some of my local friends over at Tiny Horse Games are working on a local couch multiplayer platform shooter that is so frantically fun it gives me some of the original Unreal Tournament feels. I reached out to Tyler and Hagen to do an interview with us and after a great PAX showing and a few local cons later they had time in their indie rock development life to talk to us about making games.

jdodson: I want to congratulate you both for the game coming out on Steam Greenlight and Mimic’s upcoming launch. Tell us a little bit about how you both met and decide to start working together?

Tyler Edwards: Mimic started as a global game jam a few years back. I’ve been working on it alone off and on for about 9 months when I approached Hagen at a Pigsquad meeting for suggestions on an artistic direction. I was squeaking by with minimal programmer art for far too long. I handed Hagen a controller and for a brief moment our hands touched, that is when I knew it was destiny. Haha ok maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that but he definitely had some genuine excitement in Mimic and wanted to be part of it.

Hagen Deloss: We are totally pumped to get Mimic Arena on Steam through Greenlight!!! I met Tyler through Portland Indie Game Squad about 2 1/2 years ago and he asked me to work on a global game jam (2013) project he had. I liked the idea, so we drafted up a contract and I spent nights and weekends creating art for the game for about 9 months.

jdodson: Mimic Arena is a couch co-op deathmatch game that in my mind is very reminiscent of Unreal Tournament. What are some things you felt really worked about the game and what are some things that you tried that you scrapped?

Hagen Deloss: Pretty much everything. On the art side, I rarely go with my first game concepts, so "scrapping" wouldn't really be the correct term. The fast, iterative building blocks are vital to the game as an end product. All games finished visuals are built on top of an invisible tower of "scrap".

Tyler Edwards: You are actually the first person to make that Unreal Tournament connection, there was definitely some inspirations there. Rounds of UT are typically very intense with minimal breaks in action. Often when people play UT the get into “the zone” a Zen like state where they spatial awareness and reflexes are amped up, they are able to make and act on split second decisions; even if you cannot achieve this state in a meaningful way, you’re still having fun and are rarely punished. So back to your question, what seems to enforce this ideal in Mimic the best is the projectile presence. Weapons needed to still feel dangerous when fired from a Mimic, who wouldn’t be conscious of what they are shooting at since they are just a copy of a player’s past life. We slowed down projectiles then allowed them to ricochet off walls. This causes projectiles to be easier to react to but now from multiple sources/angles which makes it much more satisfying when you dodge or land a hit. One Idea I’ve scrapped to allow players to have more of an active means on recording and spawning Mimics. This was meant to give the game a bit more strategy and further spotlight the main hook of the game with the clones. Unfortunately this added a layer of complexity that was too difficult to set up anything effective while focusing on any of the other existing machinates. It felt an awful like rubbing your stomach and patting your head, just not very natural, at least not without a good deal of rework that would've created a completely different game.

jdodson: One game mode you added to Mimic is “cross the line.” This mode seems to be a fan favorite and as such I am wondering about the process of how it came together?

Tyler Edwards: For a long time Mimic was not really using its main unique feature in strong way. Yea it was possible to use them tactically but most often there would just add to the bullet hell and were ignored completely by the player they were based off of. I wanted to find a way to make the Mimics more integral to the play cycle. I’ve have a good amount of history playing competitive multiplayer games and they typically sport some sort of objective based game modes outside of death match. Most modes and be broken down as kill those, get that to there, and protect that. Cross the line is definably of collimation of those. For those who are not familiar, Cross the line mode functions identically to a bombing run or capture the flag in most other games. You need to get something (your past self) to a physical location while the enemy team tries to stop you. I started with a prototype and saw instant potential that was only confirmed by my buddies and the local community. I still feel incredibly lucky with well it feels with the Mimic mechanic and how well it was received.

Hagen Deloss: I dunno that was all Tyler, but it's brilliant.

jdodson: What things do you want people to feel when they play Mimic Arena?

Tyler Edwards: Definitely that “zen” moment I was mentioning earlier. Where a person get sucked in and can no longer focus on anything else. I don’t even know how many times I’ve tried to hold a conversation while playing and literally can’t.

Hagen Deloss: I want them to feel feelings, I dunno man. I want them to have fun! The game isn't a super deep, meaningful game. I do like when people play the game and wrap their brain around the core "past life" concept and get psyched!

jdodson: Do you plan on adding anything to the game before launch?

Hagen Deloss: That is all dependent on $$, if we get any type of publishing help or the the game's launch is popular, then we can use that dosh to put it right back into developing some features our initial project life cycle didn't allow. Reverse gravity stages perhaps?

Tyler Edwards: Definitely some more stages. Some last minute polish here and there. Most of my future attention however will be going to porting.

jdodson: This one is for Hagen. I follow you on teh social and see your art in process and completed. Your work has an almost mad scientist feel and at times you mix the beautiful and horrific in human and animal hybrids that are hypnotic and puzzling. How was your process on working your unique flavor into creating the art for Mimic?

Hagen Deloss: I created artwork that worked for the gameplay, I didn't expect the game to function around my art. We went through a few other visual styles before landing on what you see in Mimic Arena now.

jdodson: Why make games?

Tyler Edwards: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Something that, while not very easy to achieve, is still very rewarding to pursue; giving you an opportunity to learn a lot of skills not only in your field but others while still being a creative outlet of expression. Plus you know, making games is cool.

Hagen Deloss: Cuz it’s fun.

jdodson: What do you consider to be some of the best games out there and what do you like about them?

Hagen Deloss: All games are great, but I prefer RPG and TBS games, If you’re asking me to list a few favs, despite that being a little cliche, I would say Push me Pull You was a standout because of its unique visuals and their integration into the core game mechanic. Massive Chalice because duh, a TBS with character and family tree customization is rad.

Tyler Edwards: The games I’ve enjoyed the most were the ones with a single well rounded core mechanic with everything else there to enforce it. Splatoon is great example. Shooting ink is at its core. You shot enemies but are also encouraged to shoot the environment as it directly influences your ability to traverse it.

jdodson: You just showed Mimic at PAX Prime 2015. My fear of showing at PAX is that there is so much going on my mind would explode. How did you guys handle the show and what did you take away from it?

Tyler Edwards: Be prepared, pace yourself, and take breaks often. We went up there with a couple extra friends who helped a ton. If I would have changed anything it would have been to build up a stronger community following beforehand. Despite that the whole thing was still amazing; nearly lost my voice, made some friends, and got Mimic in the hands of some new people.

Hagen Deloss: I handled it by embracing that mental explosion. I have been to PAX a few times but it was way more fun to be on the other side of things this time, showing a game was really rewarding.

jdodson: What games have you both been playing recently?

Hagen Deloss: Life is Strange chapter 1, haven't gotten a chance to play any more.

Tyler Edwards: The last three games have been Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge, and way too much Destiny. Haha may need to cut them all back for know if I plan to make these next few deadlines.

jdodson: During Mimics development Hagen posted a video to Twitter of one of the Mimic fighters dancing to Single Ladies by Beyonce. After that I’m sure we were all wondering what aspect dancing would have in the final product? Hoping for a couple game modes where you can put rings on other players. (you can have that one for free)

Hagen Deloss: Noh

Tyler Edwards: Haha yea that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, unfortunately there’s just no way we could get the rights to that song so we had to cut it. I still want to visit the idea of extra modes either in the form of a single player or cooperative.

jdodson: This one is for you both. What’s the most rewarding part of game development?

Hagen Deloss: I love the process of creating worlds and then seeing people interact with them, love them, and get frustrated and confused by them, and then turn to me and say..."whoa."

Tyler Edwards: It has to be watching others thoroughly enjoying something you made or seeing the same group of kids continually coming back to play at a show.

jdodson: I’m torn between super excited for the Star Wars VII and super nervous. MESSAH TINK DIS MIGHTEN BE TERRIBLE! You know, like is this going to be good or is this going to be another Gungan nut punch? I guess I just need to keep talking this over with friends because I need to work out all my prequel trauma.

Tyler Edwards: Well I’m pretty confident Disney will be very careful to protect their new domain and they haven’t done anything with it yet (with it or Marvel) for me to think otherwise. I’m still much stoked to watch it, I have actually been avoiding trailers due to the risk of spoilers. A little bit of me is hoping it comes out exactly like Patton Oswald described it in Parks and Rec.

jdodson: Thanks you both for taking the time to talk with me, anything you want to say before we go?

Tyler Edwards: Thanks Jon. I guess the only thing to add would be look for Mimic Arena on Xbox One and Steam early next year and for anyone that wants to ask about the development or anything else to go ahead hit me up on twitter @TinyHorseGames.

jdodson: You can vote for Mimic Arena on Steam Greenlight right now.