NovaStrike Post Mortem Interview
Let us begin by saying that never in the history of this website have we received such in-depth answers on any topic as we did in this interview with Kevin McCann, President and Creative Director of Tiki Games.
Buried away in last week's PlayStation Store update was a little known game called NovaStrike. We've already reviewed the title, but for those of you who wish to know more about NovaStrike, the ill-fated PSP RTS Galaxy's End, Tiki Games, self-publishing a title or a plethora of other intriguing topics, look no further than this comprehensive interview.
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PSU: To begin, introduce our readers to Tiki Games. Who are you guys?
Kevin McCann: Tiki Games is a small development studio in San Diego. At the start of 2006 I hired my key team members (people I had worked with in the past). All of us had ten-plus years of experience in developing games and were very capable in our respective areas. Originally our first game (Galaxy’s End for the PSP) was to come out in mid-2007. As you can see that didn’t happen, and instead one year later we’re releasing our new “first” game – NovaStrike.
Prior to Tiki Games my background was primarily working on massively multiplayer games, although the only game readers may recognize is probably PlanetSide (where I served as the Creative Director and lead designer on the project).
PSU: Now, on to NovaStrike. How did the concept for this free-roaming top-down shooter materialize?
McCann: The concept of a free-roaming top-down shooter materialized when we had to put our first game (Galaxy’s End) on hiatus. We had a good engine and Galaxy’s End was a top-down RTS, so we figured we better put that engine to good use for our next game. And keep a similar perspective. Of course we greatly enhanced the engine from the PSP to the PS3.
While I’ve certainly enjoyed good rail-based shooters in the past, I wanted to make sure that we were free-roaming right away. And then it was looking at aspects of various top-down shooters that I’ve enjoyed in the past, mixing them together, and making NovaStrike its own game – not a direct clone of an existing game.
Plus I enjoy free-roaming games more. I wanted to make sure the game was something I’d purchase if it came out. That said you need to be careful of not making it too exclusive or you may end up not having many customers that will purchase the game you wanted to make.
PSU: On a network crowded with top-down shooters, what sets NovaStrike apart from the others?
McCann: I think NovaStrike’s biggest strength is its objective-driven gameplay. Granted, they are all variations of attack and defend, but most shooters are presently “kill everything while avoiding death to get a high score.” And that’s a perfectly fine goal for shooters – a number of them execute on this quite well. I didn’t want to go into an area where there were already solid games of that type.
So we took a risk and basically said, “Staying alive is assumed – let’s make that the background layer and put objectives on top of that.” There’s not really not a survival-based objective in NovaStrike. Again, surviving is just something you have to do – there’s always an objective to complete. In fairness I do want to acknowledge that there have been objective-driven top-down shooters in the past as well, but we wanted to take our own approach to this subgenre.
There’s absolutely a sense of accomplishment from playing a top-down shooter that focuses on purely racking up a high score (such as Geometry Wars and Super Stardust HD). But for NovaStrike we wanted the accomplishment to come from completing specific goals.
PSU: Why did you decide to produce NovaStrike solely for the PlayStation Network? Additionally, what are the benefits of working only on the PlayStation 3?
McCann: I had already established a relationship with SCEA while we were developing Galaxy’s End (the RTS we had to put on hiatus). As I stated earlier, I had ... (continued on next page)