I spoke with Doug Cowley of Magma Fortress about his journey creating Hoplite…
When and why did you begin developing games?
When I was around 12 or so. My parents worked in computer science/engineering and got me involved in that sort of thing, although I didn’t really keep it up beyond high school. Later on, I had a fairly long train commute to and from work and had been playing all the games of that sort I could find on the Android store. I thought it’d be fun to make my own.
How did you get the idea for Hoplite?
It was mostly an attempt to bring a style of games I enjoyed playing on PC – Brogue/Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup/Nethack to mobile. The ideas where a mix of those games and games I’d been playing on my phone.
What was the most difficult part about making the mechanics for Hoplite and how did you overcome that?
Balancing the abilities took a while. It basically came down to trial and error. Testing things and tweaking them until it seemed about right. Then releasing an update and having someone find a combination I hadn’t considered and starting again.
How did you come up with all of the abilities for the player in Hoplite?
Mostly it was taking ideas from other games and thinking about possible variations and combinations of those ideas and so on. Then trying them out and throwing away things that didn’t work.
Do you have any advice for fellow indie game devs who are trying to make a game of tactical movement and positioning?
The complexity of the mechanics can spiral out of control very easily. I’m not sure what my advice would be though as I don’t really have a solution to this myself. You could try to keep things simple but I find the complexity is half the fun.
What has been your biggest lesson learned throughout your indie game dev journey?
I don’t know if I’ve learned anything at all.