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Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Chatting With Emotional Robots

By Arti Gupta

At GDC 2011, Arti Gupta chatted with executive producer Zach Lehman and game designer Joe Cleary of Emotional Robots about Warm Gun and the Unreal Engine.

A.G.: Tell us a little about Warm Gun.

Joe Cleary: Warm Gun is a first-person shooter using the Unreal Engine, the Unreal Development Kit. It’s a multiplayer game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Wild West and has six character classes, a number of different environments, unique trigger-based events and all kinds of cool stuff going on in it.

A.G.: What was the most exciting part of working on Warm Gun?

J.C.: Just seeing it come alive and give itself some wings, get a life of its own. When you work on something for three years, it’s a slow, steady climb to build. When you see it come together and it’s finally ready for people to sit down and play it for the first time, that’s probably the most exciting part. It’s gratifying. It feels good.

Zach Lehman: When someone finally touches your product and they light up and start playing it immediately on their own without you having to explain a bunch of stuff -- that’s the point where it starts taking off.

A.G.: I understand Warm Gun is available on multiple platforms

J.C.: Thanks to the UDK and the tools that we’re using, Warm Gun is available for the PC and iOS, and we’re hoping to get it out on downloadable content online. There’s multiple ways we can go with the engine, and we’re very fortunate in this day and age to be able to port it to many platforms. We also already have the game running on the iPad and iPhone. We’re looking at Android as well.

A.G.: What was the most challenging part of developing the game?

J.C.: For us, we have a small studio with just a few developers in-house and the rest of the team is outsourced, working remotely. I think that’s the biggest challenge and the most difficult part: being able to work with time zones and people’s schedules without it all falling apart.

Z.L.: And not just assigning tasks to people, but keeping people motivated to do those tasks when there’s not someone right behind them, watching them do it.

J.C.: It’s a different way to work.

A.G.: How do you handle that?

J.C.: We have everything laid out so that when people come in, they’re ready to hit the ground running with our team. We’ve got all the documentation, everything structured and organized so that they know there is always support online and there is constant communication. I think that’s how we are able to compensate for not being in the same building. We’re able to be versatile and flexible.

Z.L.: The way we communicate with the team is very different from a brick-and-mortar institution. There are a lot of freedoms you can take with an institution when you’re standing behind someone. We can’t do that; we have to keep them motivated and passionate about working, even if it’s something they don’t like working on at the time. Everyone is going to have to do something that they don’t want to do. In order to get them through that and on to other assets we need to create, it’s a completely different style of management and a completely different atmosphere.

J.C.: It’s definitely not corporate, that’s for sure. We have a lot of fun. We’re movers and shakers -- you have to make things happen and you have to be flexible. It’s worked for us. We’re indie, we’re trying to break in and get it out there.

Copyright (c) 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.


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