Developer Interview: 10 Questions for Luke Finlay-Maxwell
Luke Finlay-Maxwell is the Android developer of Turtle Slider, the game that… wait a second… Turtle Slider? Yes, you know that game. We’ve reviewed it in September, revisited our review a few days ago and Turtle Slider gained 5 additional points! Luke Finlay-Maxwell and his developer colleague Gustavo Costa improved that game so much, that they enhanced the quality of the game in almost every single category.
So we’ve tested the game twice, why shouldn’t we talk to both of the developers then? Have fun reading our next Developer Interview!
10 Questions for Luke Finlay-Maxwell
My name is Luke Finlay-Maxwell, I study Computer Game Design at the University for Creative Arts in Farnham. I am the co-creator of Turtle Slider and I also write for Mouth London about games and where the industry is heading.
2. What made you want to be a game developer?
Ever since I was small the idea of creating something that is fun has always fascinated me. I’ve been playing video games since I was about 5 and every year something new in the industry completely captivates me. Also, having a job where you create fun? Who wouldn’t want that!
3. What platforms do you develop games for and why?
Currently I only develop for Android, simply because it is so welcoming and easy to use. However, I am looking into iPhone development so that I can gain an even wider audience.
4. What are your experiences in porting games between two platforms?
Luckily I haven’t had to do this yet so I can’t comment. We were originally going to port Turtle Slider to the iPhone but eventually decided that if we concentrated on just the single platform we could produce more updates and content at a higher quality.
5. How do you get inspiration for a game?
My inspiration comes from everywhere except video games themselves. While it is good to study games to learn things like mechanics and level design, a video game is a finished product that has been formed from other people’s inspiration. To be inspired by solely video games creates a loop where everything is just recycled ideas. Instead, I try to learn about as many different things as possible: be it the history of the Iroquois, Greek tragedies, how to code in binary or even trivial things like why is milk white? The more things you learn, the bigger and deeper your bag is to find inspiration.
6. How long does it take for you to write a game from start to finish?
I still haven’t quite nailed a ‘set’ time frame yet. For example, when creating Turtle Slider we estimated it would take two months, it ended up taking seven! Things always get in the way and the deeper you get into creating a game the more problems crop up. While I am getting much better at predicting when something will be released from creation to finish, it is still a learning process for me.
7. What are the biggest technical challenges when you develop a game?
Bug testing, compatibility and optimization are by far the hardest parts of any game I’ve created so far. The game itself is often the easy part; it’s the nitty-gritty bits at the end that can take up the most time. You will have a finished product on one Android phone, but then when you try it on another you will notice it lags, then keeps crashing, and then discover that the turtle can bounce out of the level…
Hopefully it will become even more universal. The last ten years have seen a huge step forward in the acceptance of videogames with the old stigma of “only geeks play video-games” pretty much gone. We will most likely see cloud-based casual games dominating the market and the idea of a console solely dedicated to video games will be long gone. I personally think that technology such as the Kinect will see a rise in Alternate Reality Games, where the goals and rewards are outside in the real world, instead of on your disk.
9. What is your favourite game at the moment and why?
I am in love Battlefield 3 at the moment. While the story is pants it’s refreshing to see team work being encouraged so much in fairly large online battles.
10. What is your advice for new developers?
Get something out as quickly as you can. Your first game will never be your best, so think of it as a learning process. Once you release a game you know that you have the ability to do it again, but better. Having said that, fill the game with as much love and attention as you can because it shows in the finished product. If you are ever stuck or going through a slow period: take at least a whole day to do something different such as reading a book or experiencing something new, just don’t use it as an excuse to play video games because you will return having learnt nothing!