TIGS loves the coc- Immortals!

By: Lorne Whiting

On: June 20th, 2007

Immortal Defendddd

Interview with Rinkuhero of Immortal Defense fame, about Immortal Defense.

I’m kind of interested in who John Thornton is… perhaps, he and Rinku are mating partners!

1: The story is known as one of the best parts of Immortal Defense,
where’dja get your inspiration for it and why did you put a story in a
Tower Defense game?

The story was actually written by John Thornton, not me — we did
outline it together though. I decided to put a story in a tower
defense game because games without a story seem hollow and pointless
to me. I’m not saying the story is the most important aspect of a
game, just that when it’s absent or lacking, it brings down the rest
of the game.

When I play a normal tower defense game I’m thinking: What am I
defending? What are these things that I’m killing thousands upon
thousands of? Why am I doing it? What’s the point? Why aren’t they
fighting back, and just marching along like lemmings? Where are they
coming from, why are they doing this? The story in Immortal Defense
provides answers to those types of questions, so it doesn’t leave a
player wondering why they are doing what they are doing.

2: Did you intend to make me feel like a really bad person with the
story of chapter 5?

Again, you’re better off asking the writer of the story. I just asked
him, and he replied “Hahaha, yes.” If a person briefly felt that they
were a bad person for killing things all day, even though they
realized it was necessary, that’s a bonus. I think violence in games
can be fun, but I don’t think that violence is accurately portrayed in
games. It’s accurate in terms of the methods of violence and
sometimes even what violence looks like, but most games are inaccurate
in terms of the results of violence. I’d like to see more games about
the other aspects of violence.


3: The game seems, at least to those of us that did not know of you
before, to have come out of nowhere. How much time did you spend
making it?

We spent just under six months on it. I don’t think it came out of
nowhere though; a preview was posted on Indygamer
(one of the largest independent game blogs) about halfway through its
development. Six months is a record for me, most of my games take far
longer (except for contest games that I intentionally made in 2 days).

4: What are your favorite points in the game or strategies? Personally, my favorite is a level 7 fear with a level 7 ortho nearby.

My favorite Point in the game is the Love Point, but that’s solely
because of the secret ending to the game (in Hellspace). Strategy-wise
my favorite is the Strategist Point, especially at level 7, but I
think they all work together and have their uses, none is underpowered
over overpowered as far as I can see (people have said that, but it
hasn’t been consistent, there’s no one Point that people universally
feel is the best or the worst). But the Fear + Ortho combination you
mention is really great, and works in most situations.


5: Where’d the designs for the points come from? Seems kind of odd, how we have a bunch of emotion based ones, ala Fear, Love, or Courage, then we have things like Lovecraftian squid beasts called Cut points or the all powerful brain in a jar Danmaku.

They came out of wanting to make each dissimilar to any tower type in
any tower defense game, and distinct from each other. Cut is symbolic
of decision-making (note the similarity between the words decision and
incision), and Danmaku is symbolic of universal understanding, so I do
think all the Points are aspects of the mind.

Roughly, their progression represents the progression of feelings we
have when we are defending something: first we Fear what will happen
to that which we defend, then we gain Courage, we think about what to
do (Ortho), we decide to take action (Cut), and so on, and finally, at
the end, we change our mind (Turning) and then gain understanding

6: Were there any problems during development? Any show-stopping things that made you want to give up?

Yes and no. There were problems, there are going to be problems with
any game that anyone makes. At one point there were random crashes
that hard-crashed most of the computers in the world, except the
ones I had access to, which was difficult to fix (though I finally did
after a few weeks). There were also endless arguments within the team
about my bizarre tastes (for instance, rejecting music or art which
seemed great to the musician and artist but didn’t sit well with me).
That’s probably the hardest part of being a director of a game, having
to tell someone that something they worked on all day doesn’t work and
they have to redo it. But no, I never felt like giving up.

7: The game seems very abstract. Almost black background, random lines
flying every which way, people speaking… The way they do. Was this
all a conscious decision or was it more like “yeah, man, lets have some
fuck’n LINES protruding out of this part”?

Yes. It’s intentionally that way. If you look at the other games on
our site, you’ll see that we are
capable of some pretty good pixel art too, so it’s not just that we
were lazy, it’s that I felt that a game like this required the visual
style it had. I spent over three weeks just on the “weather effects”,
those little floating things that fly around and look weird (you can
see a variety of them on the title screen), trying to get them right.
If you notice, there’s some tie-in between those effects and the
storyline; for instance, there are some protruding lines in a level
called Sunlight, which point from all parts of the level to the corner
of the level, and when you place down a Point, they instead point at
that Point. The effects will go unnoticed by most people, but I think
it has a subconscious effect.

8: I heard you’re in favor of clinical immortality. That must be
interesting. What do you think society (I guess your local society, if
you think it’s relative) would need before they would accept
immortality on a whole?

Well, think about it this way: a hundred years ago the average age that people lived to was about 30. Now it’s about 70. We more than doubled our lifespans in a very short amount of time, and nobody really had any problem accepting it, I’m not even sure most people think about how amazing it is that the average human lifespan doubled over the last hundred years. I think that if it were to double again or even increase by ten, the same thing will be true, people will just accept it and not even notice it.

It’s not going to come all at once, you won’t wake up and hear on the
news “Okay, you don’t have to die anymore,” it’s going to be far more
gradual, people will live to 100 on average, then 200 on average, then
1000 on average. And people will always be able to be killed by
accidents or murder, clinical immortality doesn’t mean you can’t die,
it just means you won’t get old. But this is best explained by people
actually in the field, I recommend this video for those who are interested.

9: What’s it like being (cough cough) rich and famous, now?

Well, my share of the game’s earnings is only about $800 after three
weeks, so it’s still less than having a minimum wage job. And that’s
assuming it keeps up, which it may not (or it may go up, who knows).
But it’s pretty high as far as indie games go, and selling better than
I thought it would.

As for fame, I’ll have to say I’m used to people paying attention to
me either positively or negatively online: I was one of the more
famous people in the Ohrrpgce community (a game creation program), due
to running a magazine for it, there’s actually an entire LiveJournal
community devoted to making fun of me that has existed for years,
there’s a page on Portal of Evil for a likewise purpose. A good-sized
messageboard has been known to use my name as a curse word — I am not
kidding. Compared to those, a little more attention among a few
independent game developers isn’t too hard to handle.

10: Last but not least, when’s the release date?

The release date of Immortal Defense? It was June 1, 2007. Or do you
mean the release date of my next game? We don’t know yet,
optimistically it’ll be early 2008.


  • http://www.kingludic.blogspot.com Patrick

    I believe John is a loosely affiliated member of the RPG indie game art collective; I don’t know if they “mating partners” outside of making indie games.

  • http://sccos.blogspot.com KKairos

    I am actually very much in agreement with the author’s notions about violence in games…

    I grabbed the game on its DOWNLOAD THIS 4 FREE day and have enjoyed it immensely, and I do find it sort of amusing that a tower defense game has superseded my expectations by asking ethical questions on par with or perhaps even above most RPGs.

  • Lorne T Whiting

    Gawd. My articles keep getting owned.
    I submit something, and someone, I presume Derek, comes along and polishes it to a shine.

  • moi

    I know Pete Thornton, who has a badass friend.

  • haowan

    Good read. thanks

  • John Thornton

    Why I am a writer, cartoonist, and man about town. The easiest way to learn = http://mwhf.comicgenesis.com