Alien Hominid was one of the real surprise successes of this console generation. Developed and funded independently, and defiantly old-school, many were surprised to see such a game even released for a console in this day and age. It probably helped that millions had come to love the little yellow bugger in his Flash-based web browser game (a working prototype for its console descendent). The eye-catching 2D artwork and internet buzz helped the game generate attention without the need for advertising hype, and Alien Hominid was able to find its audience; something many games from big publishers still struggle to do.
Few companies could embody the indie spirit better than The Behemoth. Founders Tom Fulp, Dan Paladin and John Baez funded their 18-month endeavor out of pocket without any kind of support from a publisher or outside studio, all in the name of doing their way. After wrapping up Alien Hominid they took some time off to make a short but sweet web-based beat-'em-up, Dad 'n Me, which took home the "Best Web Browser Game" award at this year's Independent Games Festival. Behemoth's lead gameplay programmer (and Newgrounds founder) Tom Fulp was generous enough to spend some time with us to talk about past glories, future endeavors and the life on an independent developer.
GotNext: Let's get the big question out of the way first. I understand you're gearing up to reveal your next big title? What can you tell us at this point?
Tom Fulp: We're still pretty hush hush with our next game, since the platform and publisher is still up in the air.
It's a multiplayer hack-'n-slash adventure, with both arcade and RPG elements. It's like Alien Hominid meets Dungeons and Dragons.
GN: Ah, like the D&D arcade games?
Tom: Yeah, it is a brawler much like classic games such as Double Dragon and Final Fight, as well as the D&D arcade game. You can gain levels and enhance your character's attributes. You can also find new items and weapons, as well as gain new magical abilities.
GN: Interesting. River City Ransom comes to mind there as well.
Tom: River City Ransom is definitely an influence. It also has some Castlevania elements, where you can explore and return to previous areas with new abilities. But the general gameplay is much like a classic brawler.
GN: Are you sticking with a purely 2D presentation this time?
Tom: Yes, just like Alien Hominid, all the art is hand drawn. We are working with some depth of field, but in a 2D sense... You can walk left and right as well as in and out of the playfield, but it's still all 2D.
GN: Excellent. I really enjoy Dan [Paladin]'s art. It seems really strange to me how the 2D style was simultaneously considered one of Alien Hominid's strongest selling points as well as one of its biggest commercial handicaps.
Tom: Yeah, we are all huge fans of 2D games, so we thought it was perfect timing to make a 2D game. A lot of fans agree, but there are plenty of people who just don't get it. People perceive 3D as being "the new thing" and 2D as being "old news", but I think that will change as time goes by and the impact of 3D wears off. For a lot of people, it has already worn off. A lot of 3D games look the same, although there are still plenty that look amazing.
GN: I guess it helps it to find the right niche.
Tom: Finding a niche is definitely good for a small developer. If we wanted to make a 3D game, our budget would most likely skyrocket. The expectations would be a lot higher. By working with 2D, we are able to give people something that is an evolution of the form, without breaking the bank. The fact that we still love playing 2D games doesn't hurt, either.