When Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games revealed MOTHERGUNSHIP’s trailer, it was met with a flurry of excited comments about Tower of Guns’ successor. With a larger team and all of that valuable feedback from Tower of Guns, we were interested to hear how MOTHERGUNSHIP’s development process is going so far.
We interviewed Game Director, Joe Mirabello, to talk about MOTHERGUNSHIP’s weapon crafting system, community involvement in development and how his experience with Tower of Guns has helped to shape this game.
GameWatcher: Can you give us a brief overview of MOTHERGUNSHIP, please?
Joe Mirabello: MOTHERGUNSHIP is a first-person-shooter bullet-hell with a very unique gun crafting system. Aliens have taken over earth and you’re fighting back, destroying their armada one ship at a time while fighting your way to their flagship, Mothergunship itself.
GameWatcher: How has your experience and feedback from making Tower of Guns shaped
the development of MOTHERGUNSHIP?
Joe Mirabello: Tower of Guns was a single-developer experiment. I made that on my own as a test to see if such development was even possible. I also wanted to see how a first-person shooter bullet hell would feel and what sort of changes would need to be done to the gameplay to make that fun. Tower of Guns had some jankiness to it, but there was a core experience there - particularly in the later stages - that some people really latched on to and enjoyed. We decided to take that experience and expand upon it and improve it tremendously. We also look to MOTHERGUNSHIP as a way to improve upon everything Tower of Guns didn’t succeed at. For example, the number one requested feature for Tower of Guns was co-op gameplay, so we’ve been working on that for MOTHERGUNSHIP. Similarly, players really wanted to see more variety to the guns, so MOTHERGUNSHIP’s crafting system empowers the player to make virtually unlimited numbers of weapons.
GameWatcher: Can you go into detail about how weapon crafting works in this game?
Joe Mirabello: Sure, in most first-person shooters, IF there is gun customization, then it’s heavily grounded in reality (e.g. ”add a scope!” or “add a new stock!”). Alternatively, it’s solely cosmetic (e.g. “here’s a new skin for your AK-47”), or, it’s heavily routed behind choosing one of a handful of options (“Choose cool Add-on A or choose cool add-on B”). Crafting in MOTHERGUNSHIP is much more modular than that. Instead, we give the player a collection of modular blocks and let them play with them as much as they like. If they want to build something ridiculous, we let them. A ten-barrel rocket launcher? Sure, go for it! We try our best to avoid saying “no” to the player, and instead have constructed the game around saying “yes”.
GameWatcher: From what I’ve read about MOTHERGUNSHIP I understand that it has procedurally generated levels with a few curated rooms. What influenced your decision for this kind of level design?
Joe Mirabello: There are a few reasons for this, but it comes down to balancing a hand-crafted feeling with replayability. Good players will begin to recognize and take advantage of certain layouts, but they will never be quite sure about what is coming next. This is another nod to Tower of Guns, where initially it was a decision to go this way because of limited resources, but the level design was called out repeatedly as successful in that game, so we wanted to explore that approach more fully.
GameWatcher: It seems like you keep in quite close contact with the community, I’ve noticed that you have a Discord for people to join. Have any of the community’s suggestions made it into the game or altered it in any way?
Joe Mirabello: Yes! We’re always asking for feedback from the Discord or other communities. I also stream development every Friday from 1-3pm on Twitch, and in a recent session I was joined by the art director from Grip Digital where we interacted with the community live, sketching up new ideas together on the fly for some interesting gun parts. A few of those have already made it into the game, and others will be in the future.
GameWatcher: What sort of difficulties have you encountered while developing this game and how did you overcome them?
Joe Mirabello: Every project has its difficulties, but for me the biggest hurdle has been time zones. We’re an international team, with developers in Prague, Boston, Alabama, Germany and Zlin. Synchronizing all those people and keeping everyone on target is a large part of my job.
GameWatcher: When is MOTHERGUNSHIP scheduled to release?
Joe Mirabello: We haven’t announced the release date yet, other than “2018”, but we’re narrowing in on a few final options. Once we feel confident about that then we’ll be ready to announce that date…so, stay tuned and follow us on Twitter.
If you happen to be a Tower of Guns fan, or just a fan of bullet hell and FPS games in general, it seems like MOTHERGUNSHIP may be an ideal pick for you. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for when Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games announce the game’s release date.