Atomhex Creator Interview

I managed to catch up with the creator of AtomHex, Mark Incitti and ask him a few questions.

For those who haven’t yet played AtomHex, would you please describe the game.

AtomHex was an exploration of some ideas I had in evolving gameplay.
Enemies splitting, joining mutating.
I also liked exploring the idea of numbers a bit with 6 atoms, Hexagons, 6 colours, etc.
I had originally started working on it several years ago but because of players input that game gradually evolved into Grid Wars.
So what we have now in AtomHex is challenging, colour-changing, ever mutating game.
You pilot your ship in a 2D world collecting Hexes and fighting off the various enemies that relentlessly try to kill you off. There are various styles of playing it – each with different challenges and rewards.

Looking at you games page on your website, you seem to be no stranger to creating games. Would you care to give us a brief rundown of your games development history?

I’ve been making games for years. My earliest games were clones of classic arcade games (although they weren’t classic at the time – in the 80s) Once I picked up the Blitz programming language it became much easier to do the things I wanted to do – and I could complete games in a few weeks of spare time. I switched jobs 18 months ago and joined a game company. I did a couple of Nintendo DS games and just wrapped up on a Wii game.

Is there any chance that any of your other games might hit XBLIG?

Nothing planned at the moment. Maybe a sequel to AtomHex. Currently working on an iphone game.

From what I have read, AtomHex is based on a previous game of yours, Grid Wars and that you had to remove Grid Wars from download due to an issue arising with the creators of Geometry Wars. Care to go a little bit more into the facts on this?

I was inspired by the simplicity and purity of Geometry Wars.
I took my Blitzatron code that I had done a few years earlier and expanded on it.
I added the grid movement code and this led me to several new ideas that I wanted to get into the game.
I started getting feedback from people and the direction changed more towards making it look like Geometry Wars.
As development continued – and Grid Wars became more popular – I was asked to take it down and complied.
I could have easily modified the graphics and continued with it – but I got no response from them whether that would be okay. So I moved back to my original ideas.

Myself having played neither I wouldn’t know, but in your opinion, exactly how similar were Geometry Wars and Grid Wars?

Superficially they look the same – but play very differently.
Geometry Wars is a constant barrage of enemies with no time to think.
Grid Wars is slower paced and has more room for strategic planning.
I think they co-exist happily.

Did you actually take an active part in the development of the XBLIG version of the game?

I didn’t have much to do with the actual XBLIG version. It is based off my original BlitzMax code for the PC version. Chris did a great job porting it to XNA.

How long did AtomHex take to create?

Working full time at a job didn’t leave me much time to focus on it.
So it took several months to complete.
It took several more months of refining and play testing to get things balanced nicely.

Do you play any XBLIG’s?

I don’t currently own an XBOX! Maybe I’ll get one when the failure rate drops below 50%

For anyone wishing to become a games developer, is there any advice that you would like to give?

Don’t dream it. Be it!
Just get your ideas down in code. Complete things.
Someday someone will see what you’ve done and – success.