“Looking back, is there anything you feel like you shouldn't have done in Axiom Verge? [Or anything you would’ve done differently?] Like, maybe in retrospect, the world was too big, or there were too many weapon options?”
Tom Happ: “Too many weapons” is one of the biggest complaints I hear, which was borne of (perhaps overzealously) trying to give players more to search for than just missile or energy expansions. Instead of being perceived as “this is way more interesting that increasing a counter”, it was perceived as “weapons are less valuable than in other games”. Another complaint is that the bosses are “just bullet sponges”, which was also a reactionary design choice since I was trying to avoid making “puzzle” bosses (like in Nintendo developed games where a boss can only be taken down by performing a sequence of puzzle moves… grabbing its tail with a grapple and throwing its own spikes back at it or something). I don’t like having to solve puzzles while something is trying to kill me. But I would like to have made the bosses smarter than I did. Or maybe had the courage to avoid bosses altogether.
Definitely agree with puzzle bosses. One of the worst thing to come from the success of oot. EVERY damn thing became a puzzle boss. Suuuuuper repetitive tedious and boring. Once you figure out the first loop, it's tedium from there. Wait wait wait wait wait, oh they're doing that one move now, attack weak spot, do damage while stunned, oh its back up, wait wait wait wait.... ugh.
Both metroid and Zelda used to have great arcade style boss fights, but post oot and prime, you just repeated the puzzle loop 3 times. Big downgrade in my opinion.
I don't think I would enjoy a metroidlike without bosses. They'e pretty important milestones in the games flow to me. I mean, the games progression design would have to be pure ecstasy...
“If Nintendo contacted you to make the “next entry in the Metroid series” what are some ideas that you would like to put in the game?”
Tom Happ: I would make something different. It feels like every Metroid has the same collection of items, powerups, weapons, enemies. So I’d come up with some other items and abilities. I’d probably be tempted to try and reboot the character, remove the cartoony stuff like being raised by bird people, the prophesized savior stuff, the Barbie Doll zero suit, try to bring in more of the Ellen Ripley and Boba Fett aspects of her personality.
The glitch abilities that didn't make it, make me want an Axiom Verge 2 one day. Or something Metroidvania'ish that has glitch weapons and abilities that more strategic and also can make your jaw drop.
As another one-man indie who recently released their first title on Steam, I definitely believe that indie publishing on one's own in 2018 is similar to buying a lotto ticket. You most definitely have the chance to make it big IF you are discovered, but with the market being so crowded--and with there being such a huge quantity of great games available--the chance of being discovered is extremely slim. Just releasing a great game is not enough anymore. Having a major platform owner or publisher involved, or having someone with publishing/production experience involved, can obviously make all the difference. I would definitely offer that advice to anyone else considering participation in the 2018 market.
This was a fun read. They did an incredible job with Axiom Verge, looking forward to whatever comes next.
One of the cooler things about AV's development is how Tom also did the music. Given how messy and chaotic game development can be, I'm always a little in awe of quality developers. The fact that Tom was also able to compose a dope score is crazy to me.