We caught up with Andreas Firnigl, CEO of Nosebleed Interactive, to talk about Vostok Inc., crazy cat ladies, and cocaine. Yes, you read that right.
Thumbsticks: You wouldn’t necessarily think idle-clickers and twin-stick shooters would go together; what was your rationale behind the combination, and did it take some trial and error to see if they complimented each other?
Andreas: The idea comes from a bit of a frustration actually. I love arcade-y twin stick shooters, and I played stuff like super stardust and geometry wars a lot, but only ever for 5 minute sessions. I always found they lacked a reason to go back (other than obviously being really fun). I’d also been playing some idle games. I’m not even sure if I actually like idle games but I was hooked.
We started prototyping an idea that combines the long term hooks and progression of idle games and the intense action of twin stick shooters and 2 days later we had a prototype up and running that’s scarily similar to the final game, except without 2 and a half years of polish.
One of the goals was to constantly provide short term and mid-term goals as well as an overarching sense of progression. I’d like to think we’ve hopefully achieved some of that. The other thing was we wanted to make a game you could sort of play while you were distracted, like if you’re working on something and you decide to have a quick go you can play for 3 minutes of action, land on a planet and then minimize to go back to a spread sheet or document or whatever (on in my case as a PS4 player, open Netflix or YouTube). This really was a focus for the game and it’s how I tend to play it.
Talk to me about that art style; it’s weird and charming and quite mad; why is there a cat lady?
With the prototype, we built it in a couple of days while we were in QA with our first game (The Hungry Horde) and it was near Christmas, so our artist had already gone off on Holiday. It was kind of down to me to do some artwork for the game, and I decided to ape one of my favourite YouTube channels (Kurtzgesagt) as it meant I could quickly do assets that looked decent. The style has evolved a little over time, but the influence is still there. The Cat lady… That’s my Daughter. She LOVES cats. In fact the 3rd solar system (the one that’s all rainbows and endangered animals) is partly her influence.
In the best possible way, I compared Vostok Inc. to cocaine in my review – though it seems, with a name like nosebleed interactive, you may have had similar things on your mind?
Everyone has their own interpretation of our name. People love it or hate it, but no one ever forgets it. That’s really the main objective for a company name.
Can you talk a little bit about the game’s music? It had a lovely ambient feel while in menus and sped up frantically to chime with the action.
I had Ged (SoundCloud alias Garth Knight) on my SoundCloud for ages and when we were working on The Hungry Horde, I asked Sony (who published the game on Vita) if we could get him to do the soundtrack. They agreed and we’ve been working with him ever since. With Vostok I really wanted to try something a bit different so we built a system where we have loops come in depending on what you’re doing, so if you’re shooting a drum might kick in, I fan enemy is near you’ll get some synth loop and so on. It’s a really cool system and despite not having done anything like it before, Ged turned out a great soundtrack. I’ve actually still never met him in real life though!
For a unique, hybrid experience like this, I’d love to know which games influenced you and your team the most in the making of Vostok Inc.?
MGSV and Peace Walker – the way those games hook you in with their metagame was probably the biggest influencing factor in starting the game. Cookie Clicker – for obvious reasons this played a big role. I’ve played a few idle games since, mostly for research, but it was cookie clicker’s simplicity that really drew me. Geometry Wars/Super Stardust – top notch twin stick shooters. Shenmue (this is on every list) – you know… minigames. Gunstar Heroes – the weapon system is a direct rip off of theirs!
After this promising start, what’s next for Nosebleed Interactive?
We have a lot of ideas, but for now we’re concentrating on content patches for Vostok. We have some pretty big ideas for that, that we’d really like to do first, but yeah, we’re always full of ideas.
Want to know more about Vostok Inc.? Read our review.