Interview with Against the Wall indie developer Michael P. Consoli

Not too long ago I ran a story about an indie game called Against the Wall.  It looked like a great little title and indie developer Michael P. Consoli was able to raise $8,416 through Kickstarter for the project.  If you’d like to try it in its alpha-build, I recommend checking it out here.  Last week I interviewed Michael about him and his game.  Hit the jump for the full interview!
Hi Michael, thanks for meeting me!  I first wanted to quickly ask where you’re from and what you do.
Well I’m from South Orange, New Jersey and this is what I do full-time.  I passed on a job opportunity to work on this and before that I was in grad school for awhile.  I decided I wanted to be my own boss and work for myself.
Do you think you could summarize what Against the Wall is all about? 
Well, this is a first-person platformer and sort of a puzzle game that takes place on the side of an infinite wall.  And what you want to do is use this device to pull out bricks from the wall that help you move up.  The wall is also procedurally generated, so you can fall for miles and miles and never stop.
What do you think your inspiration was for Against the Wall?
I would have to say Borges’ Library of Babel where there is an infinite world where all are lost and wandering, very desolate and devoid of meaning.  The actual wall idea was from college, a creative writing course, where I wrote a short story about these people climbing a wall and trying to get to the top.  When I did the Ludum Dare back in May I really clung to that idea and sort of ran with it.
When I was playing it seemed like there was some subtle hints to a back-story, do you think you have any plans for that or to flesh that out?
Well, it won’t be explicit, at least not the background or the back-story…you’re going to have a world to develop without NPC interactions or narration and have people figure it out for themselves.
I was actually going to ask if you were planning on any NPC characters, so I guess my follow-up is why did you decide not to put any into the game?
This was part of the limitation of having one person making the game.  With NPCs you have more animations and voice-overs, so it would be difficult.  You know that scarecrow that’s right at the start of the game?  I wanted to have a quest-giver at the beginning who says: “Take this, here’s something to help you along the way”, so instead of an NPC, I created this scarecrow with the wand and this note.
I played and followed a bit of your Ludum Dare project, what was it like trying to make a game in 48 hours?
Its a real rush, especially with a deadline approaching.  Its hard to get code together that works and I haven’t always gotten the best response from people because of that last-minute rush.  There’s always something missing.
For another game that I recently put out [for Ludum Dare], there were a few features missing that kind of soured some people’s minds.  And [while making] the game that would become Against the Wall, there was this gate at the end that was suppose to open and it wasn’t opening…I had set the model to static, so it couldn’t move.
Yea, that’s not so fun when you can’t finish the game [laughs]
Yea, so to sort of redeem myself I decided to spend a whole day working on [this new game] and making the game as large as it is and playing it afterward.
I think I played Abandoned, I think it was called.
Yea.
I laughed about it because I think I saw the name “Abandon” like 5 times on the entries.  
Yea, I’m “Abandon” not “Abandoned” [laughs]
So, do you know who you’re having do the music for the game?
Zoe Blade, she’s a composer from the UK.  She just gave me some samples and she’s really talented.
I was wondering if you’ve ever played Myst, because I feel like this game has a very Myst-like quality to it.
Yea, I love Myst, I love the whole series and the worlds they have.  Some other games that I think inspired this were Shadow of the Colossus and ICO, games where you’re basically lonely.
Another obvious one seems like Minecraft.
Oh yes, Minecraft certainly did inspire me a bit.  Notch’s blog posts on generating the infinite terrain, the Minecraftpedia articles on how he did it, the chunk system, Notch was a great inspiration.
Well thanks Michael, I really appreciate it, it was great talking to you!
Michael P. Consoli’s game Against the Wall is currently in development and looks to be released sometime this year.  Please visit his website for the game to play the alpha version of it.  You can also pre-order the game to get future access to the closed beta.
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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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