Honor in an Interview, Take Vengeance!
Interview by: Master Blud
I had played the first Honor in Vengeance and was extremely impressed by the visuals and gameplay. I thought the first game had some potential. Now that Honor in Vengeance II is out, I thought I would interview Michael Hicks about his history and the past titles he had worked on and currently released. Michael had some very insightful answers to my questions. Let’s take a look.
VVGtv: How was honor in vengeance series originally concepted?
Michael: The idea for Honor in Vengeance started back when I was a freshman in High School. I had a really strong desire to create a 3D game, since all of my previous attempts had been 2D. For the next few years I sort of worked up to creating a 3D game, and during that time I started to piece early ideas and concepts together. Sometime during my Junior year I was talking to one of my close friends Adrian Garcia (who appears as a voice actor in the new game!), who had written a storyline a long time ago about a Martian rebellion. I pieced his story together with my desire to create a space shooter in vain of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and that was the true beginning!
VVGtv: Why XNA/XBLIG?
Michael: I remember when XNA was originally announced, I was in grade school and I literally flipped out about it. I kept thinking, “I could create a game for the Xbox!”, and my excitement hasn’t really died since. I’ve been a huge console gamer all of my life, and the way XNA is structured has really helped me learn various math concepts that I had never even heard of before at such a young age. I remember going to my Math teacher in 7th grade and asking her about vectors and matrices…. she was kind of confused and I had to explain to her I needed to know these things for my 3D game. Little did I know it would take me four more years to actually begin on it!
VVGtv:Are you looking to release on other platforms?
Michael: Yes, but not any time soon. I have been asked this question a few times recently and I’m here to stay on XBLIG for at least the next few years. Ideally, I’d love to follow the path of Zeboyd and work my way up to a release on Steam, but I’d like to contribute as much as I can to XBLIG.
VVGtv: Before honor in vengeance, did you have other games that fell through the cracks, if so, why?
Michael: I made a handful of games from 7th grade to my Freshman year in High School. One was a small 2D RPG that I still think is pretty enjoyable. I circulated these games around to close friends, but that’s about it. I really considered these games “fun learning experiences”, so releasing games to a large audience at that time didn’t appeal to me.
VVGtv: How much time did it take you to put into each Honor in Vengeance?
Michael: I started working on the first Honor in Vengeance around April, 2010. A lot of time was spent editing the story, learning 3D concepts, and really planning the entire storyline in general. I finished up around November and the rest of the time was waiting for me to turn 18 in January so I could release the game. I started Honor in Vengeance II last February and spent an ungodly amount of time working on the game… it literally became my life. Sometimes I’d stay up for two days straight in my room coding, I loved every bit of it though.
VVGtv: If you were to go back to the beginning of development of Honor in Vengeance, would you change anything at all?
Michael: I wish I would have been able to have more people test the game before releasing, I was really blinded by the fact that I had just made a 3D game, a dream and goal of mine for many years. If I hadn’t been so excited to release it to the public I feel like I could have made some improvements to the final product. Either way, I don’t regret anything because I learned so much from that entire experience. I’m really happy with how things ended up for being my first published game.
VVGtv: Can we expect anything more from your studio in the future?
Michael: Absolutely. I am moving soon, and once I get settled in at my new place and get things going with college I will begin work on Honor in Vengeance III. After that I have a number of other games I’d like to release for XBLIG as well.
VVGtv: How many people are with the development team of your studio?
Michael: In the past I have considered MichaelArts to be a one man studio, bringing in “freelancers” to work when appropriate. However, the team behind Honor in Vengeance works extremely well together and we are starting to solidify into a solid team. Development wise our SFX creator, Jonny Martyr, has contributed to both titles. He also created some of the music you hear in Honor in Vengeance II alongside me. Additionally, we had two 3D artists this time around which was great! The VO cast consists of very good friends of mine that I met on a Star Wars fansite back in the day…. as long as they want to keep coming back, they are here to stay as well. All of us are capable of doing multiple things, and I feel like we have all bases covered. We make a great team!
VVGtv: Currently, what Xbox indie game do you play outside of developing?
Michael: “Plague” is amazing, I was really surprised by how addicting that game was! I also am anticipating the release of the upcoming RPG “The Fall of Gods”, which is a beautiful game I’ve had the honor of playtesting at the forums.
VVGtv: What is your history in programming and development?
Michael: It really all started as a kid, I would always find ways to hack games open using a GameShark, or exploiting weird glitches that let me see the game as the developer would; it gave me such a magical feeling! My dad helped me start programming with Visual Basic at a young age, he’s a programmer himself who has dabbled with anything from machine code to BASIC. The next big influence came when XNA was announced, and the rest is history!