The Interview: Robby Zinchak: 8-Bit MMO
A few weeks ago, we showed you the awesome indie game, 8-Bit MMO. Well I had a chance to talk with Robby Zinchak, the brilliant mind behind 8-Bit MMO about the game and the development process.
So in your words describe your game?
8BitMMO is a construction sandbox game, which essentially means you can build anything you want in a massive, persistent, retro-styled world.
What made you go the 8-bit route?
Nostalgia! I grew up on 8bit & 16bit games. I explored every nook and cranny of them. It was at that age where the line between reality and fantasy hadn’t 100% cemented yet, and it felt like those worlds were infinite. Those places felt real, like you could move in and become a part of them. With 8BitMMO, I’ve tried to capture that feeling from my childhood and create a 8bit world where you really can become a character in the game.
Can you tell us about the character customization and being able to change so many things?
The project is an ongoing work in progress, and character customization is one of the areas that is in the works. I just rolled out the first few items in character customization, including being able to change your color, or to choose a non-human race to play. The first non-human race is the Zombie, which you can use to infect other players with Zombieism! I’m also planning additional non-human races, as well as wearable clothing, for the near future.
Many people know the term “Sandbox” because of the game Minecraft can you tell us about the “Sandbox” aspect of your game?
In the game you’re free to build constructions of whatever you want. Many players build houses, castles, even whole cities. Often times players come up with new and interesting ideas – like building pvp arenas, or gauntlet courses. It all takes place in one massive, persistent world. Even just wandering around and checking out all the cool creations can be a lot of fun.
Now was this game made completely by you, can you tell us about the process and experience of making the game?
I started making the game around 2001, and have restarted development several times. Most of the intervening time has been just me working on it on & off in my spare time, but late last year I left my day job to work on the project full time. Before last year, I had experimented with a lot of different visual styles and engines, before settling on the current setup. I like that it can now be played in browser, because it means many more players are willing to try the game since they don’t have to install anything.
Having the freedom to create and destroy is awesome in a world of MMO’s that make you march in line with everyone else. However, are you worried people can cause trouble in the game as well with such freedom?
Fortunately, the town system greatly limits troublemaking. When players create a town, they effectively own the surrounding area, and it cannot be tampered with. The player can allow specific friends to build in their town, but otherwise they are safe from griefing.
With a lot of free to play MMO’s there is often al carte items that you can purchase that gives you an advantage. It is good to see there is no money advantage with this game. Did you consider adding special items that you could pay real money for?
There are several purchase-only items in-game, but they don’t give you any combative advantage over other players. Players are able to enjoy the game without having to purchase anything — of course, I hope they will consider a purchase if they want to support development 🙂
Can you tell us about the NPC’s or Non Player Characters?
There are several NPCs in-game that will teach you the basics of how to play, or give you quests. RobbyZ will teach you the basics of how to play. Draco the Architect is a dragon who likes to build, and he’ll teach you how to use the construction system by giving you various quests. Tutorial Zombie is a mercenary of sorts, and he’ll give you contracts to go out and kill the nefarious LawyerCats that plague the wilderness. I am planning additional monsters & quest NPCs in future.
I asked earlier about giving people freedom and the possibility of griefing, however, there would be social consequences in the game if that happened correct?
Yes. Griefers generally don’t have much success in their trolling, and they are generally shunned away from towns. So it behooves players to be nice to others, or they’ll likely be playing alone.
Can you tell us about your video gaming background?
I’ve been in the industry for around six years now. I got my start at Midway, then moved to Capcom, and then Microsoft. I enjoyed working on some great titles with very talented folks while I was in the traditional industry, but I’m excited to now be a full-time indie. It’s fantastic to be able to work on my own vision and interact directly with fans.
To play 8BitMMO, visit http://8BitMMO.net