Orbyx – Mystic Orbs of Chaos Developer Interview

It’s been a busy day for developer interviews. Here’s what Chris from HemiGames the developer of Orbyx – Mystic Orbs of Chaos had to say.

Q : For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t played Orbyx – Mystic Orbs of Chaos, please describe the game.

The basic idea of Orbyx is to collect the golden orbs on each level by blasting them with cannonballs. You need to take your time to set-up the best shot and then watch your cannonball bounce around the level smashing as many orbs as possible. It can be very satisfying when you make a massive combo shot or activate a magic spell, and it can also get very tense when you’re down to your last few balls. Essentially it’s a pachinko game similar to Peggle, although Orbyx has a lot of unique gameplay features that you won’t find anywhere else. Some levels have a Breakout style paddle at the bottom of the screen for example, or you’ll find cursed orbs that trigger nasty magic spells, and cannonballs can be launched from anywhere on the screen not just from the top, etc. Orbyx also has a nice fantasy style theme throughout and an interesting storyline when you play through the Adventure mode.

Q : What was your inspiration behind Orbyx?

Peggle was certainly the most obvious inspiration. I felt that there was a lot more that could be done with that type of game. I also borrowed some ideas from arcade fruit machines and pinball games, and of course Breakout. I also knew from the start that I wanted to make something with the feel of an old-school ZX Spectrum game, but with better graphics obviously.

Q : How long did it take for you to create Orbyx?

About 4 months, full-time.

Q : Probably a bit of a stupid question here, but are you planning any other future games?

I honestly haven’t decided what to do next, but if I do decide to write another game I’ll certainly let you know.

Q : What do you think of the whole idea of XBLCG?

I think it’s great. It’s a fantastic opportunity for small developers with little or no budget and a great idea to compete with the much larger game studios on Xbox LIVE. I hope the extra competition will make the larger studios less complacent and more willing to try new ideas. That would be good for gamers and the industry as a whole.

Q : What do you think of the XBLCG Community?

I was surprised by the level of support I got from the guys on the Creators Club forums. Everyone was very polite and the quality of the feedback was excellent. Overall a very positive experience.

Q : Is your background in games development?

I’ve been a professional developer for around 11 years and I’ve worked for several videogames companies, although I have also worked on casino and mobile phone games and I’ve spent the last few years writing financial trading software. Over the years I’ve worked on around 10 videogame and gaming products, although Orbyx is the first commercial game I’ve written by myself.

Q : How did you get into games development?

I think like most people in the industry I started writing small games in my spare time. I always had an interest in game engines and rendering algorithms, so I put a few technical demos together and got my first games job based on those demos. That was a long long time ago!

Q : From what I recall, there were relatively fewer problems encountered by peer reviewers and playtesters with Orbyx, that there have been with many other games submitted. What do you think you did different if anything?

I’m not sure I did anything differently to be honest. I’ve certainly tried very hard to keep my code bug-free from the start, and that probably helped. I wish I’d spent more time checking for bugs related to user profiles and storage cards before submitting my game for review though, that would have saved me a lot of time.

Q : What does it feel like to have your first XBLCG on the marketplace?

Exciting. I’m really interested in hearing what people think about the game as I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. So far a few people have told me that they really like it, which is great.

Q : What sort of games do you enjoy playing?

I really don’t get the chance to play many games these days, but when I have a spare 5 minutes I might play a hidden-object or card game. I also have a great little RTS game on my phone called Machines at War that I play on the tube.

Note : As I have met people before from various parts of the world who are usure of what the Tube is, I though it worth mentioning here that the Tube is London’s underground railway system.

Q : If you could give one piece of advice to anyone wishing to get into games development, what would it be?

If you want to work for a large games studio I’d suggest putting a portfolio together. If you’re a programmer you could write a few small graphics demos, for example, and I’d strongly suggest learning C++. Most larger studios also require a good degree in computer science so education is important. However, if you want to write your own games I’d suggest writing a very small and simple game and launching it on the Xbox Community Games site. That would be an excellent learning experience.