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 Interview with Winston Henry, the developer of Killa View next topic
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Gimp Mask
Mamma's Gang member
Mamma's Gang member


Joined: 18 Apr 2002
Posts: 4516
Location: I wasn't raped by Wolfman Walt

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Gimp Mask: First of all, thank you for doing this interview. It has been the most requested feature on Duck and Cover, the premier Killa fansite. Also thanks for uploading the game again. Killa is now 20ish years old, some 5 years older than you were when you made the game; how does it feel that there's still interest towards Killa?

Winston Henry: 90s were a great time for gaming. I really enjoyed a lot of classics like Fallout 2, Age of Empires, just to name a few. I was always wanting to create my own game as well, but I didn't know where to start even, back then. When I finally found some tools for coding, after several finished "games", I decided I'd take a shot at creating a game based on my favorite game Fallout 2. So, when I finally finished the game, what better place to publish the game to than a community Fallout fan base DAC. This is where it all started. I remember there was quite some activity around Killa back then. You can imagine my surprise when I got an email notification about Killa a few weeks ago :)


GM: You originally made Killa around 2000, but posted it on Duck and Cover in 2007; did you keep working on it during that time, or was it mostly finished by then and you just thought it would be something the community would enjoy?

WH: I started working on Killa around 2000, but I was working sporadically on it. I would work for a few days or weeks on it, then I wouldn't touch it for a few months or years. Then I would revisit it and work some more on it, and then stop. And so on. Finally, while at university, I decided it might be a good idea to finally finish it, because I had some free time at one period. I also decided not to keep it only for myself and my relatives anymore, but I should try to see what other gamers from all around the world think of it.
Before I finally published it to DAC, it was considered a finished game. It was only because of so much interest and positive feedback that I decided to implement some additional features (like the motorbike).


GM: Was the game available anywhere before that, or was it a DAC exclusive release?

WH: If I remember correctly, it was and will remain a DAC exclusive. It might be that I posted it to NMA at one time, but I think no one paid any attention to it. It was the DAC community which was much more lively and gave it attention and provided constructive feedback.


GM: Did you have any prior experience with games development? What would you say were the biggest difficulties in making Killa?

WH: Not really, all my coding and programming training was done in Q Basic, Pascal and finally Visual Basic 6.0. Due to lack of skill and tools, the biggest challenge was making a full screen game with real-time elements, animations, etc. So I had trouble with quite a lot of it, actually. I knew I should use DirectX and C++, but I didn't have the possibility to learn that. So, I decided to use VB6.0 the way I knew and thought it possible to make a game with it. In the end, I ended up with making a "Windows Forms" turn-based game with static elements, except for moving around the map. Since, the game was so basic game-play wise, I wanted to make the game funny and silly, at least (though try to make it fun and challenging at the same time).


GM: You created the game assumedly inspired by the Fallout series. What was your goal with the game; was it more of a learning experience, or did you just want to create your own post-apocalyptic universe, or a bit of both?

WH: Yeah, it was based on Fallout, but it was more of a technical showcase of what I can achieve with VB6.0. I was intrigued with FO character sheet, skill sheet, etc. and that was something I knew it should be possible to achieve even in VB6.0. I then created a bunch of enemies, items, a few towns and silly dialogue, and combined all of that into a game. Anything else didn't make sense to me, because of technical and skill restrictions, and I didn't want to create a universe or a deep story, for such a basic game. I would do something like that, if I knew the game would be much more technically advanced.


GM: The protagonist in the game is female, which was pretty progressive for its time. Was there any specific reason for this?

WH: I didn't think of it like "progressive" back then. It was simply a sprite I found back then and thought "this might be fun and different".


GM: What's up with the username "Winston Henry"? You're not Winston Henry.

WH: Hehe, one of the personal best games from the 90s was also GTA. It was such a cool game back then, when I was around 15. So, I borrowed the profile pic and name from one of the chars from that game, because to my knowledge it wasn't used on the internet as username at that time.


GM: You were very involved with the Killa community, communicating with the fans and welcoming suggestions; it's not that out of the ordinary today, but most developers and studios were much more insular back then. Did you think it was important to take the actual gamers into consideration or did you just enjoy the camaraderie?

WH: I didn't think of me as a game studio, but more of a fellow gamer, who played and loved the same game as other members of DAC. I really had some great laughs, even at my expense, sometimes, especially when others were bashing Killa on how terrible it was. I knew the game didn't look best, because all the graphics was done by me in Paint, but I hoped they will recognize the effort, which happened in the end (at least that's how I perceived it).
So, it was a mix of both, actually. I really wanted to hear the feedback of other players and have a good laugh with them, as well.


GM: I like the simplicity of Killa's design: the game is easy to learn and all the information needed is contained within the game (a good example is the character creation screen which explains all the various stats and skills etc), but it doesn't hold your hand, so you have to explore and take risks. What are your thoughts on modern gaming and games design principles?

WH: I hate hand-holding :) That really takes out the sense of exploration in games, and simply comes down to mechanical skill on what button to press at a given situation. I really like the sense of exploration in games, be it finding out what does a specific stat exactly do and how it affects other various components, where can I find Monster Skin, to what does this button do in the world. I really don't like how in modern games they give you a map, mini-map, a compass, green arrows, all pointing to where you should go next. I understand this is here for accessibility and to be more casual-friendly, but I like games with vague hints or pointers to where something is located more, and I really like games which tell you, for ex, to go half a mile north, turn right on the crossroads towards the village and then head to the forest near the village, to find the person that needs your help. No compasses, arrows or mini-maps. That was just one example. I like the slow pace of exploration games, otherwise you simply rush from one marker to another, blindly, just killing everyone in your path, without much questions. If you turn off the compass and other helpers, though, you simply don't know where to go, because there are no other kinds of directions. These games are simply not designed that way. On the other hand, one needs to be careful not to make the game too hard and not to overwhelm the player, as well, especially in the very beginning of the game, and that's where good design shines in games.


GM: I'm one of the most lethal Killas out there. Not a question really, I just want everybody to know.

WH: But are you the fastest one? ;)


GM: No, it took me 8 hours to beat the game. What do you do for a living these days? Did you land or pursue a career in games development, and if not, do you still do it in your spare time?

WH: I'm a CRM developer/consultant in an IT department. I don't have near the amount of free time as I would like to, but strangely enough, I started working and learning Unity just recently, a month ago. Quite intensively, too. I would still like to develop and publish a game, but currently I'm still at the R&D phase, so to say. Once I find out if I'm able to achieve everything I wanted, and once I'm sure I'll be willing to take the risk of investing my free time to do a game, I will evaluate my options on what game type would be best to start working on and then try to finish it in a year.


GM: How about the newer Fallout sequels; did you play any of them, and what are your thoughts on them? I personally enjoyed New Vegas but didn't bother with the other titles.

WH: I really wanted to give FO3 a try, however as soon as I noticed the same voice actors as in Oblivion, that put me off so bad, I couldn't play the game anymore. For ex, when I arrived to Megaton, and noticed NPCs having the same voice as elves in Oblivion, I couldn't believe it at first, and then it was a huge personal turn-off, to the point I stopped playing the game completely. I loved Oblivion, though.
Never tried any Fallout title after FO3.


GM: This is a long shot, but I must ask: any plans for a sequel? You were working on something with fog of war and turn-based combat with hexagonal terrain back in the day, and showed some interest towards making a sequel at some point, yet at the same time seemed discouraged by the prospects of an indie developer in the gaming industry. I feel like the world has changed quite a bit and nowadays it's much easier to build up interest and funding for indie projects.

WH: Nothing in the works, currently, but you never know. Like I mentioned in a previous question, I am currently learning Unity and trying out different things and how can they be coded, but no specific game genre or type defined yet. I still have to see my options on funding, etc, if I will take them, at all.


GM: Are there any other games you have developed and released, or is Killa the only one?

WH: Just a few, but nothing for general public. All of them are localized to Croatian (since I'm from Croatia, Europe). One is a version of Hangman (game with words). Nothing else worth of mentioning.


GM: When was the last time you played Killa?

WH: Maybe when I showed it to my kids for the first time, about 4-5 years ago.


GM: Do you have anything else you would like to say to our readers before we wrap up this interview?

WH: Thank you, guys! That was such a great period in life to me, to see all your comments, honest feedback and encouragement. To see how a game is perceived and received, first-hand. It really seems like ages ago that we talked about Killa, like it was some other life, but it was in this life, and I miss that, the more I think about it. It was really fun times and I also laughed a lot at the DAC forums.
I also really wonder where is everyone else, and what are they up to. It would be interesting and fun to find that out. It's been like, what, 14 years now?
Best regards to everyone,
Mike


---

Killa download and installation instructions here
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Mismatch
Paragon
Paragon


Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 2342
Location: Over yonder hill

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:02 am Reply with quoteBack to top

salute

Great interview, and well done finding him. Can't wait for the sequel, tho' honestly I never played the original. Never got around to it.
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Hyacinth
Elite Wanderer
Elite Wanderer


Joined: 29 Apr 2015
Posts: 674
Location: DAK Oracle

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 2:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Golden spade reward for investigating journalism right there
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Zed
Respected
Respected


Joined: 02 Sep 2002
Posts: 86
Location: Yahoo

PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great interview!
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fallout ranger
Hero of the Glowing Lands
Hero of the Glowing Lands


Joined: 08 Sep 2004
Posts: 2203
Location: Shady sands (no really!!)

PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:29 am Reply with quoteBack to top

That stirred some long dormant memories
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