Interview Thomas van den Berg
A month ago I played the indie game Kingdom. It’s the game where you are the ruler of a kingdom and by managing what you spend your coin on determines how far you can make it in the game. The catch is, is that at night you attacked by creatures. If these creatures steal all of your coins and your crown, you lose the game. This was an amazingly fun strategy game so I had to ask, Thomas van den Berg aka Noionl who is from the Netherlands, more about this game.
PewPewCat: What was your inspiration behind Kingdom?
Thomas van den Berg: I was learning pixel art animation about 5 years ago, which yielded the original horse animation. I added a king and this would become the seed that the game grew from. First I thought that the king needed subjects who do their own thing and interact with each other. They needed some kind of adversary to pose a challenge of course, and I wasn’t very concerned about being serious, so I drew the original troll-faced noodly-armed monsters. I think unconsciously at the time I was very influenced by the really pretty looking pixel art games that were becoming so popular. Sword & Sorcery being the best example of that of using pixel art to make beautiful impressionist visuals.
PPC: How long did it take you to create Kingdom?
TvdB: I worked on the Flash game for about a year and a half as a hobby project, next to studying. Then, after the Flash game was very well received, I started working full time on a desktop version of the game, which took Marco and me two years. And at this point, I’ve been working on additional platforms and the expansion (“New Lands”) for over half a year already.
PPC: What inspired you into game development?
TvdB: Making stuff move on a screen with code is just the best. Building interactive simulations that people can interact with is just so satisfying, and games are a subclass of that. It’s the combination of logical problem solving with visual aesthetics and simulated systems that appeals to me.
PPC: What are your favorite games?
TvdB: One of my favorite games as a kid was Z, it had great art and clever strategy mechanics. And lately I was playing C&C Generals, and noticed how good the art is in that game, they really made the most of their polygons with great animations and particles. I think no matter how much resources a game uses—how HD or lo-fi it is—a good style is what makes it pleasurable to look at, and that’s what makes you want to pick it up and explore it.
Another one of my favorite games is Deus Ex, I remember playing it and really feeling a lot of freedom in how to approach problems. A lot of newer games really hold your hand and make sure to point out the few different options available to you (Violent/Non-violent/Sneaky). Then they hermetically seal everything that isn’t part of one of those options. Then to add insult to injury they instruct you about the consequences of these actions as well. The original DX didn’t do that, so I tried to sneak myself through the levels in the most cheesy way possible, and had so much fun doing it. And there wasn’t this obvious “This Action Will Have Consequences” message at each turn, so you feel so much more in control when you do find out something you did had an effect later on in the game.
PPC: What’s next for you?
TvdB: I’ll keep building interactive things, maybe another game if I can pay rent by doing it, but maybe something else. I do hope to make something weird, whatever it will be.
Stay tuned! More things are coming for Kingdom!
For more info on Kingdom: http://www.kingdomthegame.com/
To follow Thomas on Twitter: @noionl