GameFan takes you under the Hood with Grapple Buggy designer, artist, programmer, sfx guy, level builder and all around Mommy’s boy, Nathan Fouts…
GFM: First, tell us about yourself and Mommy’s Best Games. What led you to the Indie space and what’s the story behind the name…
Nathan Fouts: I’ve worked at several places including Running With Scissors on the infamous POSTAL series, and Insomniac Games on Resistance and Ratchet and Clank. After growing up playing and loving 2D, but with years working in 3D, I was ready for a change. As the digital scene really established itself with this console generation, I figured now was the time to start my own company. Mommy’s Best Games prides itself on exquisite gameplay and hand-crafted 2D experiences. The name comes from a childhood joke about Mom making everything the best. I liked it because it had a disarming feel, and contrasts with all the alien blood and guts we tend to have in our games.
Tell us about the game—give us the pitch so to speak.
NF: Commander Javeya and her alien science officer Drozo are sent to investigate a distant alien planet in search of the single most valuable commodity in the known universe, a fuel called “Vald.” The two characters represent competing governments both painfully interested in how much Vald they can harvest. The titular Grapple Buggy is equipped with dual grappling hooks, super-gripping tires, a mega-boosting engine, and all kinds of upgradable technology to help the player explore the bizarre planet. Through driving like a mad-man and swinging with wild abandon, the story unfolds and the uneasy human-alien alliance is tested, and the player gets to ultimately choose exactly who gets the fuel and what sacrifices will be made.
The game has a very distinct look. Is it hand drawn, rendered, or some new space-age technology?
NF: We like to refer to this ancient Chinese secret as “drawing” using “pixels.” I realize 3D games and their polygons have tried to destroy this artform, but Grapple Buggy features a 2D, hand-painted style meant to evoke the richness of a painting and the physical weight using pixels.
Did you license an engine or build it from scratch?
NF: This is where the Space Age technology comes in—it’s all from scratch, but built on XNA.
How many people are on the project, how long has it taken, and how close are you to being complete?
NF: I’m the primary designer, artist, programmer, sfx guy, and level builder. Hamdija Ajanovic makes the otherworldly tunes. I also have some friends contributing to level creation and programming, and we’re working with an extra artist now too.
So the ETA is?
NF: THE FUTURE!!! (2011? 2012??—We’re working on it! I just want to make it nice for gamers.)
PSN, XBLA, Steam, or all three?
XBLA we hope. The others may fall in line later.