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Apr. 27, 2011

Q&A with Synapse Games

This week I had the pleasure to do an interview with Alex Reeve, President of Synapse Games, which launched the hugely popular game Tyrant on Kongregate a month ago.

Kongregate: How did you, personally, get in to gave development?

Alex: The first game I ever programmed was a text adventure when I was 11 years old. I sold one copy to my friend for a pack of fruit snacks, and I guess I got hooked on game development ever since then. Since then I've never gone more than a few months without working on a new game. I started learning C++ a few years later working on a console-style RPG, and eventually worked on a 3d tank game instead of going to class. I never finished any of those projects because they were way out of my scope, but I learned a lot about game design and engine architecture in the process.

Kongregate: How many people are on your team and how long did Tyrant take to develop?

Alex: We've got 5 full-timers and a few part-timers working on Tyrant and our other games. Total development time for the first release was a little under 4 months. It was our first Flash game, so a lot of that was time was spent figuring out how Flash works and building out our engine.

Kongregate: What kind of process do you go through to design a new card?

Alex: Design starts with the flavor and context of the card. We start with a very general concept like "Giant Leech Monster with Fangs" and then apply the skills and effects that make the most contextual sense. We also have to ensure that every card is different from existing cards, because we really want to avoid power creep. The biggest issue we deal with is keeping cards balanced in the long-term, because we're aiming for Tyrant to last for many years. It's hard to plan ahead that far for such a young game, but it's really important for the long-term health of the game.

Kongregate: What is your favorite card in Tyrant?

Alex: I really like the flavor of the legendary card, Ragnarok. There's something awesome about a giant wandering death robot-base with lasers burning everything up. Plus it reminds me of a villain hideout from a certain anthropomorphic turtle cartoon from my youth. A lot of our cards are obviously inspired by popular fiction, but we flavor it in a way that fits the universe. It's kind of our way of paying tribute to all the cartoons, comics, games, and movies we've grown up with.

Kongregate: Outside of your own of course, what is your favorite game on Kongregate?

Alex: I'm a sucker for zombie games, so I really enjoy Rebuild. There's something classic about killing the undead and salvaging for supplies that never gets old, and they do a great job of giving a sense of progression. Our VP Nick's favorite game is Burrito Bison, which I haven't played, but I hear him talking about it all the time.

Kongregate: Thanks so much for giving us time from your busy schedule to talk with us!

Be sure to check out Tyrant, the military-themed CCG!
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