Quick Q&A: There Aren't Enough Video Games

Welcome to the second Kotaku Quick Q&A, this time with a small twist. Our interviewee answers four of my questions and then has one question for me and you.

On the hot seat today is Rami Ismail, who co-runs the indie studio Vlambeer. Popular critical hits such as Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing have made Ismail's young Dutch team one of the hottest crews in indie gaming. The studio's next release, the PC, Mac, Linux, PS3 and Vita-targeted shoot-em-up Luftrausers, is slated for later this month.

I recently posed four questions to Rami. He had answers:

1. Are there too many video games? Too few? Or the right amount?

Rami Ismail: Too few. We know games can place us in huge battles in history or in spaceships in the far-flung future. They can be twitchy arcade survival games and slow puzzle games. They can take us exploring unknown lands and help us experience the life and problems of others. Yet there's so much that hasn't been made yet, so much that games can probably do that nobody has made yet. Having more games made by more people from more perspectives would be great.

2. Would you ever want to play a Super Mario Bros. made by a studio other than Nintendo? If so, by who?

Ismail: That's a rough question. Would it still be a Mario game if it wasn't made by Nintendo? We all call Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 'Call of Duty' games, but are they really the same franchise? They don't feel like that to me. Or a Metal Gear game that isn't Hideo Kojima's last Metal Gear game? Can there be such a thing as a Super Mario Bros. by another studio?

3. You were robbed at E3—had a backpack full of development hardware stolen. How did that affect you and Vlambeer?

Ismail: Luckily things turned out OK. We had good backups and we had just won the Apple Design Award, which came with some hardware. Everything has been replaced and we've gone back to work. It was just annoying.

Quick Q&A: There Aren't Enough Video Games

4. How will you know when you're done with Luftrausers?

Ismail: You never quite know when you're 'done' with a game, but you gets this creeping sense of completion that you need to give in to at some point. We like working on new things more than on things we've worked on for months, so for us it's really when we start to get bored of developing a project that we decide to wrap things up. That doesn't mean we got bored of the game—it just means we've achieved what we wanted to achieve and are ready to set our sights on something new. That's when you have to do some of the boring stuff: check thousands of lines for spelling mistakes, complete all the business forms, double-check for bugs, fix your interface flow—you struggle your way through that and then you release your game.


And that's not quite it from Rami. For these Quick Q&A's, we're going to ask our interviewees to turn things around and ask us—the writers of Kotaku and you the readers—a question. Here's Rami's question...

1. Which person is your favorite game developer or -designer?

Stephen Totilo: I'd like to think I know enough about game development to feel that labeling Shinji Mikami, Shigeru Miyamoto, Patrice Désilets, Sam & Dan Houser or Mark Pacini as a favorite developer fairly credits their achievements as an individual and doesn't disrespect the effort of the lieutenants and large teams around them. But I'm not sure. In lieu of that, I'd rush to the indies and say I'm a fan of Terry Cavanagh's work and Jenova Chen's, but I ultimately must go with the guy whose most recent game was wonderful and whose next, from what I've played, might be even better: Jonathan Blow.

Kotaku readers, would you like to also answer Rami's question?

To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.