MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2009 (#40)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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162 MacDirectory FEATURE Welcome to another installment of At the Core, our regular look at noteworthy game developers for the Mac. This time around we profile Reflexive Entertainment. Chances are you'll have played a Reflexive game at some point in the past 10 years. Founded in 1997, the firm is responsible for bringing titles like Big Kahuna Reef, Ricochet, and Wik and the Fable of Souls to market, which won numerous awards at the 2005 Independent Games Festival, including the Seumas McNally Award for independent game of the year. We had the good fortune to speak with Russell Carroll, game director for Reflexive Entertainment. MacDirectory > Do you develop for both Mac and PC? Russell Carroll > Yes we do, with increased focus on Mac (seven of our own, one published and one more soon-to-be- published Mac game this year). The PC has always been the base that we work from, and as we know that audience well, it's a good place for us to begin. However, it's certainly not where we stop. We've been really excited about the Mac, and have been working to port over our favorite games to the Mac in addition to trying to make sure that every new game that we release is quickly if not simultaneously released on Mac. MD > What is your impression of the state of the Mac games industry? Is it growing, is it healthy? RC > I would say it is growing. Of course my feel for that part of the industry is more closely related to downloadable games. In that sector I can definitely say things are picking up. I think people are coming to realize that there is a growing audience of Mac users who want good games for the Mac, and as that demand increases, the amount of focus put on making sure any game you make is also available for that audience will also increase. MD > Has the inclusion of the Intel chip affected development of Reflexive's titles? RC > Nope, actually, not really. Any time we do a Mac game we want it to be playable across PPC and Intel, OS X 10.4 and higher, so the answer is 'no' on this one. MD > What's your game design/develop- ment process? RC > Process, hmmm. Well, I would have to say that it is focused a lot on passion. The reality is that it is different depending on who is in charge of the project. For my own projects, I start with my stack of design ideas. Whenever I have an idea for a game, I write it down. Sometimes, my mind will keep coming back to that idea and I'll add details or maybe even start flushing out a full design for it. Then it will sit until I reach the next point when I am ready to start a project. At that point I go through all the ideas I have and start trying to figure out what idea seems like it would be the best fit for the marketplace, which one seems the most exciting to me, and which one has the right scope. I usually end up with three different games after doing that). So then I work further to get down to the one that best answers all of those criteria, even if it isn't the best in any of the criteria. Going forward from there, I fully flesh out the design. I'll create a design document that is around 10-30 pages long depending on the game. The goal with the document is to think about problems before they happen and to better determine how the game will flow and progress. It isn't much fun to play a game where it gets boring after a few levels and you are wondering if there is anything more. However, in a downloadable game, we also have to keep the size somewhat small. Working within those constraints, you work to innovate in small but meaningful ways that will make the game consistently entertaining through a large number of levels. I also like to put together charts and spreadsheets while doing my design documents as I think they can be invaluable in determining how the levels will progress, what types of upgrades will be available, and getting things like a game economy planned out, AN INTERVIEW WITH REFLEXIVE ENTERTAINMENT AT THE CORE WORDS BY KEONI CHAVEZ AIRPORT MANIA

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