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Interview: Alex May (Cottage of Doom)

NOVEMBER 24, 2007

An interview with haowan, creator of TIGSource's B-Game winning entry - Cottage of Doom.

Let's begin with a little introduction of yourself.

Haha, ok. I'm Alex, I'm 29 and I've been into developing games since I was given a Vic 20 along time ago. Uh, what else? I'm from the UK, I nearly failed my degree because I was programming an asteroids game, and I recently had my wife cut off my dreadlocks (that she put in).

How does it feel to win TIGSource's inaugural competition? Considering that they were many old hats like cactus and Petri Purho who had participated as well.

Ah, if only I had won the inaugural competition - alas, I don't think I'm sexy enough. Winning the competition (B-Game) was awesome, though as I said at the time, it was the run up to the deadline and seeing what other people were doing that was the most fun. cactus didn't enter. :D

Er... what was the inaugural compo again?

Sexiest gamer :D

Haha that doesnt count!


But yeah, it was an honour. Close run thing too!

Who was it again? John something, he didn't think it was an honour, and deserted his judging post.

lol, yeah Romero. Guy leaves a stink behind him though, off the record.

I didnt know you entered the sexiest gamer compo..

I didn't!

No wonder you didnt have any chances of winning that one. But cactus did enter the B-Game compo with Mondo Medicals I thought.

Oh yeah. Was thinking of 3DP maybe.

What comes after inaugural... I've got to change that question.

Just put latest. :D Or change it to inaugural game development competition.

We're barely past the first question, and it's turning out to be a complete mess already.

It's fun!

ok second question. Since you clearly forgotten about Mondo Medicals, who did you consider serious competition in the TIGSource B-Game Compo?


No looking at the list!

The vast majority of the entries were really funny, and loads of them were fun, so it was hard to say what people would go for. In the end I considered the entries according to my own criteria for entering the competition. The ones I thought might win were Gunlimb and Transparentor. I also loved Weisser Punkt, Poizoned Mind and Betasuppe.

Seriously, when are you going to make your own web site and post up at least two of your recent games? I'm sure you've already had hosting offers by practically everyone in the indie scene.

Ah, I'll get round to it :) I have to come up with a site name. :D Besides, COD is available at SourceForge, being open source, and you're kindly hosting Generic Slash!

If TIGSource is holding a new competition today, will you be participating in it again? Or are you going to merely consider it?

I might enter, and I have an idea if there's going to be a demakes competition, but the B-Game competition actually killed another project I was working on because I was distracted, so I have to seriously think about whether I want to be sidetracked again.

Let's say that TIGSource allows the winner of the B-Game contest to choose a theme for the next competition - according to you, what would that be?

I love the idea of a demakes competition, and I think that a large percentage of indie gamers like retro styles so that would probably get some folks to join up. There's also talk of a Giant Naked Man competition, which I fully support as long as it also contains Long Cats (or caterpillars as they're otherwise known).

Don't you think that Derek should have rewarded you with a free copy of Aquaria as the prize?

Haha, I don't think Aquaria fits the B-game theme! But I'm really looking forward to it. Aquaria looks like it will be great fun to play with a tablet or on a tablet PC.

TIGSource, GameTunnel or Independent Gaming as your ultimate source for indie games? You only get to choose one, plus Derek and Russell will be reading your answer!

Why, Independent Gaming of course! I don't visit Game Tunnel, though that's not a reflection on the site - I just never got round to putting it on my toolbar. TIGSource I see as more of an opinion site than a site for raw news.

Much appreciated, but you're not going to get your free copy of Aquaria from Derek now!

Chalk up one more pre-order for that game, then. :D

So far, you've made games for competitions, so are you actually waiting for a new compo to pique your interest before you start working on one?

No, I'm not waiting. I was always developing games, but I get distracted easily. It just happens that competitions are short, so those games get finished. Feedback for Cottage Of Doom was quite good, so I've decided to make a full game based on the idea.

We're impatient. When is that going to be released?

It'll be ages. Months. There's a lot of work to do, I'm planning on doing it practically all myself, and I'm crap at setting my own deadlines. You may never see it!

Name a couple of your favorite indie games and developers. And what have you've been playing recently?

Some of my favourite indie games: Dwarf Fortress, Warning Forever, Cave Story, Armadillo Run, Bridge Construction Set, Space Tripper and Immortal Defense. I also have a lot of respect for developers who make prototype games - people like jph at Iteration Games, cactus and Kenta Cho.

I've recently been playing... Mario Galaxy, Halo 3, Endless Ocean, Dwarf Fortress, The Witcher, and the demo of Eschalon Book 1.

Space Tripper? And don't you think that the walk speed in Eschalon is a tad (a lot) slow?

Yeah, it's a trudge. I don't mind that too much, as it's a very traditional RPG, but more developers should think about how they represent things. Space Tripper was Pompom's first game.

Oh, that Space Tripper... right.

I still consider it to be their best work.

How about showing us a screenshot from your current project?

Deadrock currently looks like this:

I just finished writing a line segment vs. grid routine. Fun times!

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About The IGF

UBM TechWeb (producer of Game Developer magazine,, and the Game Developers Conference) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

The competition, now in its 13th year, awarded a total of nearly $50,000 in prizes to deserving indie creators in Main Competition and Student Competition categories at the IGF Awards Ceremony, held in March 2010 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, as one of the highlights of the Game Developers Conference.

The Independent Games Festival will return in March 2011 at GDC in San Francisco - look for more information soon. [More information...]

About The IGS

Featuring lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators around, the Independent Games Summit is a yearly event, with iterations thus far taking place in March 2007, February 2008, March 2009 and March 2010 at Game Developers Conference.

UBM TechWeb (which curates the IGF and runs GDC) plans to continue and grow the Independent Games Summit in subsequent years. [More information...]