Lee Bamber of The Game Creators - Interview

Video games are an amazing form of entertainment, because they let us interact with the stores and environments as opposed to the passive roles we assume with other media such as music, movies or books. Many of us have heard a song and wanted to hum something new, or read a book and jotted down a bit of fan fiction or watched a movie as a kid and acted out a variation of our favorite scenes. Game creation tools have that same sort of draw, giving gamers a chance to create what would otherwise be locked away on in their imaginations. This is the premise behind FPS Creator Reloaded.


We recently talked about the upcoming FPS Creator Reloaded and its free sample game The Escape (you should check it out - did I mention it's free?) We are big fans of games, and most of us are also fans of dabbling with game creation on one level or another. This goes for me and the MUD - Kingdoms of the Lost - that I have been running with my wife for the last fifteen years, or Robert when he had a chance to lose some serious time in RPG Maker VX Ace.

We had a chance to bounce some questions off of Lee Bamber, one of the founders of The Game Creators, and here is what he had to say.


Chalgyr's Game Room:
What are your goals for FPS Creator over the course of the next year?
Lee Bamber:
In addition to crafting the easiest FPS game maker available, we plan to release both model packs and feature modules which will extend the capabilities of the tool, including a construction kit, model importer and multiplayer. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, ensuring the product is intuitive and powerful, and making sure the end games look and play great. Also expect to see more games, videos, tutorials and assets in the next 12 months.

Chalgyr's Game Room:
What lessons did you learn from the last release of FPS Creator, that you are applying to this upcoming release of FPS Creator Reloaded?
Lee Bamber:
The classic version released in 2007 was a great product for its time, and we spent the six years that followed releasing model packs, adding features and making tweaks and fixes during that time. For all we got right, I think the biggest lesson was what we did not do, which was to stick with the project full-time. Once it was in a box, we switched to maintenance mode and merely provided updates while working on new projects. This time the whole team has been geared up to work on a single project, FPS Creator Reloaded.

Chalgyr's Game Room:
Was there any fan feedback that was pivotal, or that stands out as important in developing FPS Creator Reloaded?
Lee Bamber:
The community is plugged into the development of Reloaded on a daily basis, and there is no single thing that I can pick out as overriding. I would say the one that really stood out for me personally was the creation of an alpha testing group, selected from community members who wanted to help test builds before they hit the wider world.  Having this safety net allows our builds to be much more reliable and protects thousands of users from a bad experience.


Chalgyr's Game Room:
In your screenshots section you show dragons and fantasy themes; what kind of content packs do you have in mind to support fantasy elements? Have you considered mechanics that would make for spell-like effects for weapons?
Lee Bamber:
Our current thinking is to create a Medieval pack which will provide the backdrop and scenery elements required to take the game player back to the time of King Author, Castles, Knights and sword fights.  Being a shooter creator we’ll be sure to include longbows and crossbows too!  We had a talk about whether dragons and magic should play a part in what could have been a historically accurate model pack, but that did not seem as much fun. We’re currently rounding up a few artists and this art project will start soon.

Chalgyr's Game Room:
The Escape was a short but effective demonstration of what the software can do; will we be seeing more examples like this, with more features, such as difficulty settings or other aspects that might really show off what the engine can do?
Lee Bamber:
Yes indeed, we have a lot of asset creation planned and already have assets in the works that could transform the demo right now. Expect both enhancements to the game demo currently released and new games set in different time periods and graphical styles to follow. We want to get across that this is not just a ‘level editor’ that spits out variations on the same game, but instead allows the creative energies of the user to be expressed without the complexity of a traditional game creation solution. You can also think of The Escape game as a marker point – this is what we can do now, when we have added more features and fine tuned the engine you’ll see more impressive game results.


Chalgyr's Game Room:
Do you plan on providing fans with a place that they can freely show off their creations, a community or developers hub where they can go for tips and tricks or technical support?
Lee Bamber:
We do have the forum which is a great place to share tips and find solutions, and we have the Gallery which shows images and videos of user creations. Our web guy is currently working on a Games Gallery – this will provide an easy way for Reloaded users to showcase their game in a web page with screen shots, videos and text. We’re also planning to include Workshop Hub as part of our Steam build so that users can share their creations with everyone. We also appreciate that sharing huge standalone executables may not be the ideal way to share what you have created, and we’ll be asking the community how they might want to share their games in the future.


Chalgyr's Game Room:
In playing The Escape one of our team members here at Chalgyr's Game Room commented that he did not see any sort of melee attack; will there be one added, especially given the possibility of a fantasy-based theme? Possibly a few different types of melee attacks / weapons?
Lee Bamber:
We already have back-end code for melee in the current weapon system, but we wanted to focus on projectile and ray-cast weaponry to get the ball rolling. Now we have bullets and rockets working fine, we will be extending the system to include closer range attacks, with model packs providing the weapons such as a knife for modern day and a sword for Medieval.

Chalgyr's Game Room:
So far, what has been the biggest challenge in trying to get FPS Creator Reloaded funded?
Lee Bamber:
It’s the classic chicken and egg situation. In order to get more pledges we need to impress more people and show cool features, but in order to create cool new features we need pledges to pay for the coding and art. We’re also quite early in the development of this product which means we don’t have a finished title to show off, which again puts off potential pledgers.  Our solution is to keep the project moving forward, adding the features in the right order and keep things interesting for the community. It’s an organic way of developing a product, and it works, at a slower pace of course. It also helps when mysterious benefactors pop in to say hello too!

Chalgyr's Game Room:
Maker programs are obviously quite popular, have you considered looking at other genres outside of FPS?
Lee Bamber:
At some point we will evolve into cross-genre features such as vehicle racing, third person, top down, puzzle and role playing games, but for the immediate future it makes sense to focus on a single genre and do it well.  The first person genre is one of the most feature packed game types you can choose, and we have our work cut out to make sure we do justice to the genre. Rather than creating new maker products, our strategy is to pack every FPS idea we and our community can think of into a single product, and over time, the lines will blur between straight shooter and other neighboring genres.

Chalgyr's Game Room:
Lastly, what particular video games are you playing right now?
Lee Bamber:
Good question. I finished playing Dishonored a few months back, along with Assassins Creed.   I have played a few FPS games on Steam for research purposes, but the one I have locked on for the moment was a non-Steam game called FallOut3. I started playing to study the AI and game elements, but stayed to follow the story (over half way now I think). I have GTA5 still in its shrink-wrap and I have been under some external pressure to play it, but I suspect it will become a time-sucking black hole.  Perhaps when FPS Creator Reloaded is on Steam I can relax a bit and play a few more titles.


Interview by Robert
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