Two Hat Games; Developers on a Mission

Eric KrauseI visited the game design and development project team known as Two Hat Games while they presented their semester project to their classmates and faculty. The team showed off their noir mystery game, “Building 37” while their instructors gave them feedback.

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This is a very valuable part in the game design process, as it allows the team to narrow their focus to specific parts of the project. After Two Hat’s presentation, I interviewed the four team leaders.

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Left to right: Two Hat Game team leaders William Folk, Austin Stewart, Jeremy Rodgers and Adam Toth

What exactly are your roles in the whole game design process?

Jeremy: I have multiple jobs, that’s why we’re Two Hat Games because everyone has two jobs. I’m a programmer as well as the lead design and I specialize in narrative. What I did was write out the story for the game, and I’ve been testing it. Also, I am in charge of hiring voice actors, putting subtitles in the game, and making sure everything fits together.

Austin: I’m the lead programmer. A lot of what I do is make sure that the game is actually working.

Adam: As the art lead, I really focus on [organizing] the artists because, as creative types, everyone wants to do their own thing. So I work a lot with Will on solidifying the art style we want to go for. So I make sure that everyone is following that same style.

William: I am the lead game designer focusing on the mechanics.

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Can you describe general theme and vision behind “Building 37?”

Jeremy: The general theme of the game is a noir, science-fiction, mystery where you play as a private detective who has been sent to out to investigate the mystery behind a disappearance that happens to be part of a larger incident that had happen sixteen years before. Then you, as the main character, arrive at the ground zero site where the incident happened, and discover a large underground facility that has all these weird devices. Things don’t seem as they’re supposed to be and everything is shrouded in mystery.

Have there been any games that have served as an inspiration for Building 37?

Jeremy: – Gone Home is mentioned a lot

Adam: Gone Home, when it comes to the exploration, serves as an inspiration. The Wolf Among Us was an inspiration when it came to the art style. This comic book art style allowed us to have a stark contrast in light, which is a huge theme in noir. Also, the comic book feel gave us the freedom to poke fun at things but still have a dark tone.

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What aspects of the project are you most proud of?

Austin: For me, the part I really enjoy the most would have to be the backend stuff — making sure saving and loading works. Just the fact that it does work is exciting, because we have hundreds of different [components] and the fact that they’re working coherently in one system, in one game. I’m just like, yes!

William: I like it when we do these play tests and the best thing is when we see the player figure it out on their own. When they love a puzzle and have that ah-ha moment — I think that’s the best, especially for puzzle games. It helps encourage us and let us know we are on the right track. It reminds us why we are making this game.

Austin: In one of our previous play tests, we had these boxes and people would just stack them. They’d just stack these boxes to see how high they could get it. For a little bit I was like why? I hate these people. But then they were enjoying and loving the game and I’m like, I love you!

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Are there any aspects of the game that you are looking forward to finishing?

Austin: (Jokingly) Everything.

Adam: From the artist stand point we’ve been working a lot in the rooms. The next big step we are taking is adding all the textures, colors, and look for everything. It’ll go from this washed out grey to, all of the sudden, these saturated colors. Being able to see that, in all the rooms, in a finished environment, is a huge reward.

Austin: These guys are excited to get it done to see it. I’m just excited to be done because I’m sick of it. There’s a saying that goes around all the time in game development that the last ten percent of a game will take ninety percent of your time. And it’s just so. We have all these bugs and I just want them to go away.

Adam: It’s just one of those things where once you fix one thing, you’ve broken three other things.

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What are your guys’ favorite games?

Jeremy: – Dead Space is defiantly one. I love that trilogy and the story behind it. I’m a big narrative guy, I like a really good story, and I want to be able to get invested in a game. I also like the basic titles like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat.

Adam: As of recently ,Wolf Among Us is one of my favorite games. Firewatch just came out and I love that. That’s a huge narrative game. It’s interesting how in high school I was more into action-oriented games and things like that, but now in college I’m like narrative all the way.

Austin: I really like racing games for some reason. I hate them in practice but in playing them, they’re fantastic. I also like puzzle games. The Witness just came out and I dropped forty bucks on it and haven’t looked back.

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You can expect to play Building 37 on April 27th on PC and Mac. To keep up on the game until it’s out you can head over to Two Hat Game’s blog. You can also head over to their home site at building37.com. Also follow them on Twitter @TwoHatGames and like Two Hat Games on Facebook.

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