Next up in our series of chats with this year’s Independent Games Festival finalists is Alexander Bruce, creator of ‘psychological exploration puzzle mindfuck’ Antichamber – which is up for the Technical Excellence award. Here, he talks about competitions and conferences, being tired of alphas and unfinished games, and answers the most important question of all.
RPS: Firstly, a brief introduction for those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?
I’m Alexander Bruce, and I made Antichamber. If you’ve been to any major conference over the last 2 years, you may have seen me walking around in a hot pink suit. Somehow, it became my thing. Before I spent the last several years creating Antichamber, I did some work in the industry as an Engine / Tools programmer, and before that, I was finishing a university degree in Computer Science. I got into making games because I had a long history of playing them, and believed that there was room for me to step in and do things a bit differently.
RPS: Tell us about your game. What was its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What would you change if you could?
Antichamber is a concept that has been iterated upon so much that I’m not even really sure it matters where it started. It went from a weirdly implemented Snake clone, to an arena combat prototype, to philosophical art game, to psychological exploration puzzle mindfuck. As for what I’m trying to do with it, at this stage I’d probably have to go with “finish and release it”. I don’t really think I have a whole lot of say in where the game is headed anymore. It is what it turned out to be, and I now just need to see it through to the end. I’m pleased that the response has been very positive in competitions and at conferences, but there’s not much that I’d change about it anymore that isn’t already planned as additional work towards completion.
RPS: What are your feelings on the IGF this year? Pleased to be nominated? Impressed by the other finalists? Anything you worry has been overlooked?
The IGF is becoming a really formidable beast. Getting nominated once last year was an achievement to me, but getting nominated again, and getting an honourable mention for the Grand Prize, really feels like something. There were a hell of a lot of entries this year, so to stand out amongst that crowd feels great. I’ve admired a lot of the developers behind other finalists for several years, so it’s nice to be nominated alongside them. As for games that were overlooked, I’d have loved to see The Swapper nominated for something this year, but sadly it missed out.
RPS: Which game would you like to see take the Grand Prize this year?
I’ve not played any of them in depth enough to answer this properly. However, I played 1 level of Fez at PAX and was blown away. I can’t get over how good that game felt, from the single level that I played. So I’m going to have to default to that.
RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene of late? What would you like to see from it in the near-future?
I feel that although the number of people making games has steadily increased, the number of people making those games that really smash things out of the park has stayed about the same as it’s always been. I’m talking about the games that took real risks, and were polished to perfection. I’m tired of alphas and unfinished games.
RPS: And how does the future look for you, both in terms of this game and other projects?
The future for me is more conferences and then the release of my game. After that, we’ll see what happens. Competitions are no longer on this list, because I’ve pretty much run out of things to enter.
RPS: If you could talk to the monsters in Doom, what would you ask them?
Dead monsters don’t respond, so there’s no point asking questions.
RPS: Thanks for your time.