Friday, April 23, 2010

Steven Peeler interview

Today we have an interview with Steven Peeler, one-man-company of Soldak.. yes, Depth of Peril, Kivi's and Din's Curse (see my review on demo here) creator! Here we start:

  1. Hi, and thanks to be here. Is a pleasure to have you here!

Hello. Sorry it took me so long to finish this interview. I’ve been extremely busy.

  1. We already know your past work on Ritual, what is the most important thing you learned from this experience, both technical and human?

From a technical standpoint, the most important thing is probably that I was exposed to programming just about everything. This is really important for an indie because you really will be responsible for everything, not just a subsystem like AI. One of the other important things I learned was how to finish a game. Starting a game is fun and easy. Finishing a game is hard work.

  1. Can you describe a typical day in a one-man company (at least as a programmer and designer)?

I really don’t have typical days, they vary a lot. It really depends on what I’m working on currently, what phase of development our current game is in, what I need to finish in the next few days, and what has happened recently. For example, right now I’m doing lots of marketing tasks. A month ago most of my days were spent fixing bugs and polishing the game. A couple months before that I was spending much of my time implementing new things. The only things I really do every day is email, checking our forums, checking any recent, relevant threads on other forums, and keeping tabs on places like twitter and facebook.

  1. What are your sources of inspiration? Trivial question, but I'm curious: D

I have lots of sources of inspiration. It mostly comes from other games, books, and movies and probably in that order. These days I play games with more depth in them like RPGs and strategy games. The interesting part of games being an inspiration is that a lot of times for me they give me good ideas because they lack something. The dynamic nature of Din’s Curse is my response to a lot of games that feel hollow because nothing ever progresses. Like the woods are on fire, but they will stay that way forever or a quest asks you to hurry but hurrying doesn’t really change anything.

  1. What tool do you use in your work? What language, what ide, such as libraries or tools opensource?

I primarily use C++ in Visual Studio. I also commonly use Xcode, Vtune, and Photoshop. As for libraries we use Zlib Data Compression Library, libpng, Independent JPEG Group's JPEG software, and Crypto++.

  1. How do you organize your work, in particular the design of complex games like Depths of Peril and Din's Curse?

I start by creating a small design document. I use this mostly as the vision for the game and a basic guideline. I then iterate from there. This probably wouldn’t work very well for a large team, but for me and Soldak this works really well. I think of my work as exploring in a lot of ways. You make a general map of the direction you want to go and then set off and see where it takes you.

  1. What do you think are the major flaws of the developers and designers in your work? Or at least what yours?

I think the major flaw for the industry at large is that they spend so much money on art that it is hard for them to take risks on new genres, twists on old genres, or even make games in certain sub-genres at all. My biggest flaw is I don’t talk enough. I should be constantly telling the world why they should be buying and playing our games (which you should because they are awesome). I’m normally fairly quiet though, so this isn’t very natural to me.

  1. What do you think of your most recent creation, Din's Curse? And when it comes out? :D

Personally, I think it’s our best game ever. Some of the dynamic world stuff that we are doing is really cool. I’m of course very biased. We have actually released Din’s Curse now. It is available at

  1. Do you think to translate your games in the future? What do you think of language barriers in games in general and in your in particular? Are an obstacle in the fun?

Everyone just needs to learn English. I’m kidding of course (although a lot of things would be simpler). With each new game of ours we make translating easier. Both of our previous games have been translated to multiple languages (retail and through mods). One of these days it would be nice to ship our version with multiple languages. If you know a little bit of English, you can probably get by in Din’s Curse. It’s not a heavy dialog game or anything.

  1. What are your plans for the future? Maybe Depths of Peril 2? Or new games?

Right now I really don’t know. I would like to make Depths of Peril 2 some day. Din’s Curse 2 or some expansions would be fun to work on. I also have a bunch of other new game ideas I would like to do some day. So far I really just haven’t thought too much about what we are doing next, I’ve been focused on finishing up Din’s Curse.

  1. What advice can you give to those who are approaching for the first time to your profession?

My usual advice is to pick a small project that is unique and innovative and actually finish it. Nothing teaches you more than actually working through the entire cycle of development for a game.

Thanks Steven and good luck!

You can found new and exiting games on Soldak web site:


  1. Interesting interview. Bye Marco

  2. Din's Curse is a lovely game, and you should drop by and look at the demo, and give props to Soldak ;) .

  3. The cost of art IS a huge issue in the industry right now. When I started (circa 2003), a non-main character could be concepted and implemented from scratch (art and animation only) in about a week of work hours(ideally). Nowadays, in most next gen engines it takes at least a month if it's not a variant or sharing existing animations.

  4. Thanks for your comment.. but
    what sort of next gen engines do you mean?

  5. I hope you could also consider parking games. It might be boring for you since you are after hard pack action but this could also kill time if you are tired.

  6. People on other forums gripe about Din's Curse not being "pretty"--I don't want to pay $50 retail for empty-play eye-candy -- give me dynamic game play, something with HUGE replayability, tons of character combinations to try out, charge me only $20 and I don't care if it's stick figures on the screen. I'm a die-hard from the desktop game era, so I'm used to having to IMAGINE. If it's all eye-candy, I'm not flexing my imagination anymore. If 90% of your big budget is in troves of 3D artists, maybe your game isn't for those of us actually looking for something interesting.