Interview: From Webcomic to Videogame With ‘Little Gamers’
Little Gamers, the deceptively cute webcomic about foul-mouthed European gamers, is now in development as a videogame itself.
Last week, during the industry’s Game Developers Conference, Microsoft spotlighted it as one of the downloadable games being developed with their XNA program tool set. The trademark Little Gamers humor got a big laugh with beer and shotgun power-ups that are used throughout the game. During the event’s keynote speech, Microsoft surprised the community by announcing that Xbox 360 owners could download the in-development game for a limited trial.
The game itself proved to be accessible and fun, especially for a game designed mostly by one person. And it gave you a big stick to poke zombies from a distance.
ComicMix had a chance to ask Pontus Madsen, one of the webcomics’ creators, and Loïc Dansart, the designer of the game, some questions now that the public has had a chance to to play the upcoming title.
COMICMIX: What’s been the reaction from the regular Little Gamers readers? Enthusiastic, critical or "UR SELLING OUT" nonsense?
PONTUS MADSEN: I’ve only heard nice things, no emails telling us we sold out. I think much of it has to do with the "free" aspect of it.
LOïC DANSART: Most of the reaction of the LG readers are really enhtusiastics, except for the few users on Mac or Linux who cannot play the game and complain about that.
CMix: How does it feel to have your game spotlighted as one of the of the better indie games in development? Proud or scared shitless that you have to live up to the hype?
PM: Nah, just proud. But since I didn’t really do that much work on the game, Loïc did 99-percent of it, I more feel like a spectator to something someone I know did, and proud of their work. Might sound a bit weird, I guess.
LD: It feels great! Three years ago when I started the project, I would never have dreamed about what’s happening, and now I have my game reviewed on major gaming websites! Googling my name went from one result (my own website) to thousands in two days! I don’t really feel any pressure, there are lots of other great indie games that will come for XNA, so it’s just excitement.
CMix: How close is the trial demo to the finished product?
LD: I can’t really say! Some people have complained about the "flat" level style, so I would like to add a bit more platform elements in the game, but that would mean rewriting the engine. I guess that the gameplay changes will all depend on my available free time or if some publisher wants to pick up the project.
CMix: Any responses to the reviews that have been published online?
PM: Responses from me? Nah, most are accurate and also very nice/kind. The ones who gave it thumbs down use idiotic arguments. The best one is the one where the game sucks because the writer thought we were a Penny Arcade rip-off. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Little Gamers has actually been around since 2000, almost as long as Penny Arcade.]
LD: I’ve had mainly two types of reviews: those who think the game is fun and those who cry, "This is just a Flash game!" Well yeah, what did they expect, a 50-hour game? It was meant since the start to be a fast-paced action game that can be played directly by anyone, during sessions of a few minutes, for some instant fun (which is one of Xbox Live Arcade’s main directives).
CMix: How much of the trademark bawdy humor will make it into the game?
PM: As much as we’re allowed. There are some restrictions on a platform so super-controlled by Microsoft. No nudity, no "cunts" and "dicks" and shit like that I’m afraid.
LD: I’m working on an in-game cutscene engine, with text-chat bubbles and all, so expect the funnies to be delivered! Due to copyright reasons, I cannot add Teletubbies-slaughtering, which is a shame, we can all agree.
CMix: Has little-gamers.com seen an increase in traffic since the release?
PM: Nope, next to none. Although 80-percent of the reviews/news sites said "based on a webcomic called Little Gamers," none of those actually linked us. Douchebags. We did get a few more referrals from Google though.
CMix: Since you joke about bootlegging software, what would be your reaction if you found everyone pirating your game?
PM: Wouldn’t have a problem with that. It’s done for fun, not for economical gain/prosperity. If there’s ever a full release, I’d rather release it for free with an option to donate and/or buy the game. We do the same with our books more or less. We try and sell as many as it takes for us to break even on the printing costs, and a few months later, we release the books for free as a PDF.. so that people who can’t afford/don’t want to pay for it, can still take part of the extra things in the books.
LD: I think that the Little Gamers authors’ point of view on piracy is that you should buy the products if you liked the pirated copies. I don’t think that they promote stealing. My point of view is that if I want to be able to afford a Ferrari before I’m 25, everyone should buy the game even if they don’t like it! And one copy for each of their family members. And their dog.
You can read more of Little Gamers at the webcomic’s official home on the InterWebs, the demo of the Little Gamers videogame is now available for download on XBox 360.