Q&A with the Maker of Prune

November 20, 2015 altafhssn48

Q&A with Prunes

GMReviews had an Interesting Q&A with the Maker of Prune. Mr. Joel McDonald has a very keen perspective about his game, he has also worked on some AAA titles (Call of Duty, Wolfenstein)

Who all are involved in the making of the Game?

The game was made primarily by myself, having done all the design, programming, and art. Then about 5 or so months before releasing the game I brought on Kyle Preston to compose the music and help with the sound design.

What inspired you to create this game ( Prune )?

I've always had a deep love for trees and their beauty. So when a friend of mine shared a small tree generation algorithm on Twitter I was instantly drawn to it. I started playing with the code and felt like there must be a game in there somewhere but I couldn't quite figure out what it would be at first. After a week or two I happened to look across a field and noticed a tree that had been damaged in the previous night's storm. Its large branches were splayed out on the ground. This was the inspiration for the pruning mechanic in the game ( Prune ).

What is the best part of the game according to you?

I think the game is at its best early on when you're still figuring out the "rules" of the game. The simple pleasure of swiping at the tree and having it react in different ways and learning how to start to control and direct it.

What's your favorite game apart from PRUNE?

It's definitely tough to narrow it down. One of my favorite puzzle games is World of Goo. When it first came out it was such a delightful surprise and continually offered new and interesting gameplay and narrative throughout the whole game. On the other side of the spectrum, I've also always loved Quake III: Arena and specifically the feeling of speed and near-flight that you get from bunny hopping around the maps.

What will be your future Projects? Will it be another game of the same Genre?

Haven't really had a chance to think about the next project too much yet, but it will probably be pretty different from Prune. I do tend to be drawn towards the puzzle game genre, but I'm also interested in competitive multiplayer, sandboxes, simulations, etc. A recent idea I've been thinking a little bit about is some kind of playground-creator game where you could make extreme digital playgrounds and then have them 'play tested' by pudgy little NPCs. We'll see if I get anywhere with that--it'd be mostly just an excuse to play around with the physics system for me.

What were your previous Projects Mr. Joel?

Well I worked as a designer at Raven Software for 7 years, contributing to mostly first person shooters such as Wolfenstein, Singularity, and Call of Duty. I got a bit tired of the FPS genre and decided to go indie back in fall of 2013. I was then lucky enough to be able to take 6 months or so and prototype game ideas, including a rhythm sword fighting game and a game where you play as a low-income dad at Christmas and are trying to provide gifts for your family while not losing your job.

What makes Your Game ( Prune ) better than other Games of the same Genre?

I don't know if I can say its better per se. But I think one thing it does well is to stand out from the typical puzzle game. There's not really anything like quite like it. A lot of games on mobile tend to blur together and get lost because they're all chasing what has been successful in the past. Prune goes the other way and offers a stark contrast that seems to resonate with people.

How would you review your game ( Prune ) Mr. Joel?

I would definitely be drawn in by the visuals and minimalist art style, and I would appreciate the similarly minimalist design and the decisions that went into it. I think I might complain that a few of the levels are too hard and that the game is maybe a bit too short, but at the same time I'd be happier that it's a short game than a long game since I don't have a lot of time to play games these days.

Is the response of the game what you thought it would be?

The response has completely exceeded what I thought it might be. During development I questioned whether it would be a game that anyone would even want to play. I was worried that it might be too weird since it's mostly about making this interactive tree art.

Luckily some outside people played the game during development and helped boost my confidence, but I still never imagined it to get this big or to resonate with so many people.

Where did Your Complete Your Education?

I first got my applied mathematics degree from a small private college and then went to Iowa State University to finish my computer science degree.

How is life as a Game Developer?

I definitely feel like I've found myself and what I am meant to do. When I was young the concept of being a "designer" was pretty foreign to me for whatever reason. But slowly over the years I've come to realize that's what I love doing best is designing things and incorporating my abilities in both art and code. I also love working from home where I can be alongside my family (I have 2 young boys) and not feel like I'm missing out on their childhood due to crunching at a traditional game studio.


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