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Super Amazing interview with the creator of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure

I had the chance to interview the mind behind the indie sensation Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Sparsevector.

A few years back on Xbox 360 a little indie game known as Super Amazing Wagon Adventure surfaced on the Xbox Live store and could be bought for $1. An homage to the classic PC Oregon Trail games with a twist, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure captured audiences with its rapid-fire gameplay, randomness, and its humor. If you were lucky enough to get it back then and are anything like me, that very well may have been the best dollar you have ever spent.

Buffalo. So many Buffalo.

Today, Wagon Adventure has grown in popularity, is now available for purchase through Steam or Desura and has become this sort of indie cult classic that is still enjoyed very much to this day. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to talk with the game's creator who goes by the name Sparsevector.

So before asking about any of your games specifically, I need to know how did you end up with the nickname "Sparsevector"? It's the perfect name for an indie developer by the way.

Thanks!  I've always liked the idea of using math terms as names for things since there's so many cool sounding math terms. I also like that "vector" has two meanings (the math one and the disease transmitting one).

Where did the idea for Super Amazing Wagon Adventure come from? It's obviously an homage to the classic Oregon Trail games, but as I describe it to my friends, it's kind of like Oregon Trail on drugs (in the best way possible).

Wagon Adventure was partially inspired by a group programming project I worked on in college. The project was to recreate The Oregon Trail, and one of my jobs in the group was to create the hunting and rafting minigames.

I made the minigames as violent and action packed as I could, and people seemed to really like the juxtaposition of the historical setting with over the top action. The idea for Wagon Adventure was then to make a game in the Oregon Trail setting but entirely fast paced minigames.

 

Aside from super smooth gameplay, this game is also absolutely hilarious. Did you write and think of everything yourself because if so, bravo good sir.

Thank you!  Yes, I did write everything in the game myself.  Writing all of the game's text (especially the many death messages) was a fair amount of work, but people really seem to appreciate the writing, so I'm glad I put as much effort into it as I did.

So enough about Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, let's talk about your upcoming project called Go Plague Monkey! Go! From what I've gathered so far, it seems somewhat similar to Wagon Adventure in the sense that it will be a random, quick game. Can you shed any more light into what this game is about and what we can expect from it?

The concept for Go Plague Monkey! Go! is that you're a monkey with a highly fatal contagious disease accidentally let loose in a city.  The city has a randomly generated layout, and you can go into all of the buildings in the city in search of powerups and more people to kill.  As the kill count rises more waves of enemies arrive, and eventually things get very chaotic.  

With the game I'm hoping to create something that's fast and replayable like Wagon Adventure but with more of an emphasis on unscripted gameplay and open environments.  The art style for the game is somewhat unusual with hand animated 2D characters on a partially 3D background.

I know you said that Go Plague Monkey is going to be delayed a little bit at least until next year. Is there any kind of release window we can expect or is it more kind of you'll release it when you feel it is done sort of thing?

Unfortunately, I don't have a firm release window for the game yet.  I've been working on the game for a long time (roughly 3 years although not all of that has been full time), and somewhat recently I found myself burnt out with the project. I've made some classic mistakes: in particular, I let the scope of the game grow bigger than I'd planned, and I underestimated the effort needed to produce artwork for the game. 

I'm still planning to finish the game, but I think the best approach for me will be to work on other things and then return to the game later with a fresh perspective and maybe some new tools.

"I try not to focus on [Wagon Adventure's success] too much, but it's something I'm aware of for sure."

Sparsevector went to PAX East this year and showcased off Go Plague Monkey! Go! and had overwhelming positive reactions to the game so far. Along with the success of Wagon Adventure it would be easy for an indie developer to rest on his laurels, but Sparsevector is making sure he doesn't so that.

I try not to let other people's expectations influence creative decisions too much, but I definitely feel some pressure.  A huge challenge in indie game development is finding an audience for your games, so I'm hopeful I can build on Wagon Adventure's success and start to build up an audience of players that respect what I do and follow my work.  I try not to focus on it too much, but it's something I'm aware of for sure.

Although there is no solid release date for his new game, we can most likely expect Go Plague Monkey! Go! sometime in 2016. In the meantime, if you haven't already grab a couple of friends and check out Super Amazing Wagon Adventure! 

Published Sep. 11th 2015

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