It is, quite simply, the best Bear-based driving sim of all time. It’s picked up a Nuovo nomination in this year’s IGF. It’s time to meet up with Justin Smith and give him a great big Bear hug…
RPS: Firstly, a brief intro to those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?
Justin Smith: Hi, my name is Justin. I started making games as a wee lad typing in code listings from Compute magazine on my C64. Then I did some Atari ST and DOS freeware games. I eventually worked in the big scary game industry for several years. My career wasn’t taking me anywhere interesting, so I quit to pursue my dream of being Jon Blow.
RPS: And… the game. Tell us about it. What was its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What nags?
Justin Smith: Enviro-Bear started as an entry in a TIGSource competition. I never seem to be able to complete a game without some kind of arbitrary constraints and a time limit. The game concept sprung to mind while playing with a physics sandbox. The bear and the foresty setting were things I figured I was capable of drawing. I didn’t really think too much. I just picked some ideas that seemed satisfactorily silly, and rolled with it. It actually started with a squirrel, but squirrels are a lot of work so I switched to bear. Overall I’m most pleased with the colours. I think with a slightly different palette, the game would have been a failure.
RPS: What’s your feelings on the IGF this year. Pleased to be nominated? Have particular love, bemusement or hate for any of the other entries? Is there anything you think is missing?
Justin Smith: Every time I start to read someone’s IGF rant, I dread when they’re going rip Enviro-Bear for being in there instead of some serious game. But it’s not happening. Reactions have been mostly positive, so that’s pleasant. I’m rolling up my sleeves now, getting ready to duke it out with all the arty-games in the nuovo category. Anything missing? Dadaists Gone Wild 2 should have gotten an audio nomination.
RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene generally this year? People have been relatively downbeat about 2009, after 2008 being so obviously incendiary. What are the themes, in your eyes? What are people missing?
Justin Smith: This year was a bit more sedate. I guess all the good ideas are being used up. 2010 will probably see most of the remaining good ideas in the world be implemented. Jon Blow will then implement the last of the truly great indie idea. Then in the following years, a smattering of fairly decent games will appear intermittently. I predict by 2015 it will be a total Mad Max situation in the indie game scene.
RPS: And how does the future look for you? What are you working on now and the foreseeable future.
Justin Smith: The future looks hazy. My primary concern right now is scoring some cash. I’m working away on a couple things. One is a top secret project. I don’t know why it’s a secret. I guess some people are a little paranoid. I’m also slowly working on another unprofitable iPhone game. It’s a loosely historical game about humanity’s journey into space, and eventual exploration of the outer solar system, played through interactive poetry. As we all know, poetry = $$$
RPS: Delightful Girlfriend would firmly agree. Thanks for your time.