Review by, William Griston, For Love of the Game – Gigamax Games Contributor
After my article on Splitgate: Arena Warfare was published, 1047 Games reached out to me to do a Q&A. Without a bunch of fluff explaining exactly what is what, I’ll just let the Q&A speak for itself.
Gigamax: My name is William Griston, contributing writer for Gigamax Games.
I’ve been writing for them for a bit over a year, they have given me absolute freedom when it comes to what reviews I write and about which games.
With that being said, here’s a series of questions that the guys behind Gigamax and myself have come up with for you guys.
G: What is your name?
CJ: My name is CJ Peterson. I am the lead Community Manager for 1047 Games currently overseeing our first release, ‘Splitgate’!
G: How did you get into gaming/how old were you when you started gaming?
CJ: Being a child of the 90’s, I naturally grew up playing Nintendo 64’. I was around the age of six years old when I remember being glued to the TV for hours playing Mario games. He was the face of Nintendo, and in a lot of ways still is. So whenever there was a new Mario title released, there was always a lot of excitement that filled the house. I was also a massive fan of racing games because they were the only type of games my Dad was ever really into. I remember very fondly playing hours of Wave Race 64’ and the Star Wars Episode I pod racing game with him on his days off. That Star Wars game was a masterpiece and I still would put it in my top ten favorite games of all time to this day.
G: How did you get your start as a developer?
GJ: I have really found the description I use of, ‘sneaking into the back door and pretending I work there until people don’t realize or ask questions anymore’, is the absolute best way of describing how I got started. Working in the gaming industry is a dream job for most. On paper, I don’t have twenty years of game development experience. I have around one year with odd jobs and internships here and there. When I found out about what 1047 Games was creating early on, I did everything I could to land an interview for the team.
G: What role did you play in the development of the game?
CJ: My job at 1047 is very frontlines. We have amazing coders, artist, sound designers, the list goes on and on. I am not one of them! When I use the term, ‘frontlines’, I am mostly referring to being more in the public’s eye compared to the actual developers who get down into the bare bones of the game. I am the lead of all community-related things. I describe the job as a ‘relationship manager on a very large scale’ of sorts. If it has something to do with the players on the game, I somehow most likely contributed to it in some way. Being apart of an indie team, we all wear many hats and it’s just apart of the culture. I luckily work alongside an amazing team where we all dip our toes into different things to help each other out and aren’t afraid to do so in any way. I feel like that team drive bleeds into the game in a lot of ways, too. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the fans. Which is always another rewarding part of the job for us.
G: How was it working on the game?
CJ: Working on the game is a complete joy every day. Working on something like Splitgate is my childhood dream come true and I couldn’t be more thrilled that I am able to play a part in sealing it’s long future in the gaming world!
G: What was the inspiration behind the game?
CL: The game is marketed as ‘Halo meets Portal’. It’s the simplest way to describe the game in just a couple of words quickly. But it summarizes it perfectly. The inspiration is something that is very present mechanically when playing the game. As two individual things, the game is something we’ve been playing for a decade and more. But combined together brings a really unique play style that hasn’t been seen before, but still allows players to have a very nostalgic and familiar feeling when playing.
G: Other than attempting to bolster the ranked playlist’s player count/ease of finding games, how come you decided to remove the Social Playlist when it was by far more popular than the Ranked playlist?
CJ: The decision to remove the playlist at first was made because we were receiving feedback pretty strongly about how players did not want to play the random ‘mish mosh’ of game types. The decision to remove the playlist was made very innocently at first. We figured that it would help find games instantly in Ranked, and if players wanted to play those random game types, they could hop into custom games and play them. We made the decision to pull the playlist and got immediate drawback from the community. So it was very obvious that there was a want for Social, that we didn’t necessarily understand fully until we made that decision to remove it. Both Ranked and Social playlist have been put back in the game since that week and we have no plans on removing either again.
G: Did you reinstate it due to community feedback?
CJ: Absolutely. We are a team that listens to feedback extremely closely. I can promise you that a social media message or comment has not been left on one of our pages in the last year straight that was not been replied to, or at the very least read. We don’t take ourselves extremely seriously. When we are wrong about something, we want to know so we can fix it for you. We make the game, but you are the one playing it. We know that now and always. So the feedback from the community is a massive deal to us to see what exactly we are doing right or wrong. Obviously, we can’t implement things in the game requested by every message we receive. But if we see something similar pop up often our way, we decide if it’s something we need to have a discussion about. Most the time, that discussion is had and the decision to remove, modify or add the wanted feature is fixed in the following updates. So community feedback is huge to us.
G: What was the biggest challenge you faced while developing the game?
CJ: Early on, we faced the challenge of the science behind the game. Leading up to the official launch, the team was working absolutely insane hours and getting no sleep practically in order to get this shipped on time. Everyone was focused on pieces they were responsible for, and responsible for getting it done on time. They were successful, until putting all the individual pieces together. That’s when things started getting a little trickier and we ended up having to change the launch date last second. Super disappointing for everyone, but they absolutely refused to launch the game with known issues. So they went back, worked harder on figuring it out, and was able to launch a super solid game.
G: What is the biggest challenge the team faced?
CJ: We are always facing challenges. There’s never going to be a point where we aren’t. Whenever someone makes any sort of product and puts it out there to the public, it’s go time! Overall, the biggest challenge as a team is probably the unknown. There’s a lot of unknowns that are intimidating. It starts with ‘do we have something here?’ then once that decision is made it turns into ‘how can we make it and release it to be as smooth on day one as possible’. Then once that is figured out it turns into ‘will people like what we made?’ There’s a ton of unknown involved. But you just have to actually do it before figuring out if you did it right or not.
G: What is the biggest challenge the team faces as the game matures?
CJ: Being able to take the groundwork we’ve laid and figure out how to evolve and build from it correctly. We are happy with where we are at right now overall. But we obviously can’t just leave the game exactly how it is and expect to have a long lifespan. So right now, we are in a beginning stage one phase where we are focusing very heavily on polishing what we put out on full release a handful of weeks ago. Being able to immediately identify issues and pumping out fixes for them is an almost 24/7 job. But we are dedicated to doing that to ensure the game maintains that standard we have set in place.
G: What is the teams ultimate goal for the game?
GJ: To make this game exactly the game we envisioned. We have the mindset of never being comfortable with what we have, which produces an incredible work ethic. But also produces that drive needed to constantly be on top of everything game and community-related. Having personal high standards isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they are not unrealistic. Taking this game as absolute far as we possibly can with constant updates and tweaking is the end goal. But you don’t get the first thing without doing the second. We understand and welcome that thought process!
G: Are there plans for more official maps/weapons/game types?
CJ: Absolutely! That is something that isn’t going to be a one-time thing either. Maps, weapons, and game types are something that will admittedly come less often than normal weekly patches. Those things take a lot more time than just your normal patch. But we have full intentions to keep the game fresh and that’s definitely one of the ways we plan to achieve that.
G: Why should someone who has not played Splitgate, play it?
CJ: Great question! What we did was take two things the gaming world is very familiar with and smashed them together to result in a very fresh and unique thing. It’s also a really great change of pace for the things that have been out on the first-person shooter scene the last handful of years. So if you are a classic Halo 2 fanatic or if you are just searching for a fresh feeling in FPS in general, this game is waiting for you to download right now.
G: What made you decide to go with a Free To Play model, rather than the standard priced model?
CJ: We saw that Free to Play doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Up to a few years ago, if you had a Free to Play game, there was a lot of assumptions behind that immediately that included ‘pay to win’ strategies from the dev team along with sometimes outdated graphics and poor mechanics. The truth is though, a lot of the times that was absolutely the case. We haven’t seen until recent time, some massive Free to Play titles actually come onto the scene and completely change the standard. Along with that, when the game was released, we weren’t close to where we wanted to be with it. So we didn’t feel right charging someone who wanted to play our game, that in our minds wasn’t where it needed to be to slap a price tag on it yet. So a mixture of personal standards as well as the recent change of being able to release a full game like ours for free and not have automatic assumptions about it, made us make that decision very easily.
A big thank you to 1047 for taking the time to do a Q&A with us, hopefully, you the reader find this as interesting as we at Gigamax did.
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