Chaos Theory Games Interview Part 2: Choices, Choices

For those of you who may have forgotten, Analog Addiction recently interviewed Nico King, Artistic Director at Chaos Theory Games – an up and coming Australian game development studio. If you missed part 1 of the interview, or thought it was editorial gold and want to read it a again, you can find it here. Otherwise, read on for part 2.

Choosing Platforms to develop on

King has acknowledged that Australian developers have not really hit it big in the PC and console market. He puts it down to a capacity constraint, “we literally don’t have enough developers to allow for teams of that magnitude! I remember reading a while ago that after the downfall of Team Bondi, the number of game developers in Australia was cut in HALF. One studio closes its doors and half of Australia’s developers disappear overseas? That’s insane!” Nevertheless, his team is giving it a go.

The team chose the PC “mostly because the PC is the most forgiving platform to develop for at the moment. We started working with C# and XNA when we were 16, and PC development has grown as a natural extension of that. Although we’ve been trying to push ourselves in different directions recently (more on that in a second), it’s hard to escape the powerful debugging, lack of necessity for memory management (although that’s a horrible assumption) and strong 3rd party and online support that comes from PC development.”

When I asked about developing for consoles, King responded, “Although we’d love to develop for consoles, our company isn’t strong enough to extensively test games developed for those platforms and we’d be hamstrung by trying to pass certification. Although the new ‘indie’ initiatives introduced by Sony and Microsoft with the launch of their new consoles are very promising for companies like us, it’s still a little out of our reach.”

But what about mobile devices, a trend currently present in the Australian game industry?
“I don’t think we’ve necessarily gone against the mobile trend, we’re just a little slow to arrive to the party is all. The few projects that we’ve completed on PC have taught us buckets about our own ability, the development cycle, how long certain tasks are going to take, and how hard it is to market your titles. Bringing all of that knowledge to mobile development means we have fewer new things to learn, focusing instead on unique ways of using the touch interface and other inputs, and working within the memory and size constraints. We’ve actually just invested in some mobile development technologies, so expect some Chaos Theory titles to pop up on the Play Store or iTunes store soon.” (Since the interview took place, Chaos Theory Games has announced two mobile games in development, Novae and Desola)

A love of multiplayer

Chaos Theory Games currently has three titles available – Oversight, a single player game, Infinite Loop and S.W.A.P, which are both multiplayer titles. I asked King why, at the moment, the studio gravitated towards the multiplayer landscape. While King admitted he does not prefer one genre over the other, he did acknowledge that it was a “subconscious shift towards multiplayer experiences.”

“Perhaps it’s because our company was formed from a strong friendship that grew out of multiplayer experiences. When the 3 Chaos Theory directors get together to share a vision, multiplayer is the thing we think of that we can all easily agree on and get excited about. Most of our collective gaming knowledge comes from endless nights spent playing couch co-op games. However, looking back on many of our brainstorming sessions and the ideas we force ourselves to come up with on a fortnightly basis, most of what we want to do is single player.”

“When the idea for S.W.A.P was first pitched, it was a single player game with a heavy emphasis on plot. The main mechanic, the ability to exchange bodies with someone, was what started everything. We loved the idea that if I put myself in imminent danger and then exchanged bodies with an enemy, it was possible to kill them, without using weapons!

As the concept progressed, the developers began to see the game’s multiplayer potential.

“We quickly developed a prototype to see what gameplay would be like. It was frantic, disorienting, interesting but most of all it was fun! I had never thought about the number of strategies and moves that could be executed. It was really refreshing playing a game that opened my mind and caused me to explore new ideas, rather than just using the standard mechanics of a FPS because that’s what everyone is used to.”

One of the contributing factors to S.W.A.P being a multiplayer concept was the fact that the original project was created by a group of students working with a limited time frame. “Rather than make a single player game with a short play through and limited replayability, we would create a multiplayer experience that would be enjoyed for a much longer period of time. We realised that good multiplayer experiences will develop their own content, due to the ability to create divergent gameplay from limited mechanics.”

However, this was another occasion where the students were over ambitious, not giving themselves enough time to implement everything they wanted. Once their degrees had been completed, the original group, bar King and lead programmer Greg Nott, went on to pursue other career pathways. King decided to team up with his friends at Chaos Theory Games so he and Nott could have some assistance completing the project. While it was a setback, King admits, “we are always coming up with improvements and enhancements that we would love to one day implement, perhaps creating a revised version, using all the skills we have learned.”


King also provided an insight into their lone single-player game, Oversight. While it is a single-player experience, King admits that CTG has wanted it to be a multiplayer title ever since.

“It was released at an awkward time for all of us and we didn’t want the added stress of learning networking from the ground up, as Oversight really only suited an online or LAN based multiplayer experience.”

Infinite Loop

Chaos Theory Games’ Infinite Loop, currently available through Desura, was “born from an overnight obsession with Teknopants’ Samurai Gunn which we literally couldn’t stop playing after six straight hours.” King tells me this is what lead to their desire to make a multiplayer game at a game jam. That concept is now Infinite Loop.
“I guess I would say having multiple people sharing an experience really reminds me of the human element in gameplay.”

See, developers are like gamers

Just as most gamers like to dabble in various genres rather than sticking to one, game developers like to do that too.

“Although our titles have had a strong multiplayer focus so far, we really just want to stick our fingers in every pie and try developing games from every genre. There is so much good to be said about the strong community-forming aspects of multiplayer games, and some of the hilarious moments that arise when a group of like-minded people are able to have fun together.”

Next week in our final part of the Chaos Theory Games interview, Nico King discusses S.W.A.P’s Open Beta and what comes next for the studio.