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Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Interview: Paul Bridger, Developer of Axiomatic

By Tim W.
August 16, 2005


3D graphics were already in use by some independent games but mostly in a 2D environment. Our gaming experience is usually limited by movement on a flat plane, and very rarely the freedom is used to create a free-flowing adventure.

So there was quite a buzz when Axiomatic, the new space combat game from Ten Ninjas, was recently released to the public.

We caught up with the developer, Paul Bridger, to ask him a few questions about his latest creation.


INTRODUCTION

Tim: Tell us a little about your background as a developer. Any previous experience in game development?

PB: I quit my job as a business software developer about 18 months ago so I could devote all my time to writing games. I was sick of being a small cog in a another big machine. Axiomatic is my first complete game, but it took me several complete failures before I had gained the experience to create something good.


Tim: Why the name Axiomatic? What does it mean?

PB: The name Axiomatic is a tribute to my favourite Science Fiction author, Greg Egan. Axiomatic is the name of one of his fantastic collections of short stories. Egan shaped much of my earlier thought about what the future will be like, and ultimately he is one of the creative forces behind the Axiomatic universe. In the context of a simple action game I haven't been able to tell any of the complex story behind my universe, so that will have to be something for the future.


Tim: Also, the name you've chosen for your studio is interesting. Ten Ninjas.

PB: On the one hand "Ten Ninjas" means very little: I found it on one of my favourite t-shirts. However, the deeper view is that to be a successful indie developer you really do have to be ten ninjas: you have to be able to do a large number of things excellently. Game coding, Art, Music/Sound, Marketing, Business and so on.


THE GAME

Tim: People have been heaping praises about your game, Axiomatic. Roughly how long did this title take to develop?

PB: About 10 months engine development, and a couple of months gameplay development.


Tim: Could you tell us a little about the actual development process of Axiomatic.

PB: Well, I've spent a lot of time trying to make a solid, flexible architecture upon which I can build a much more complex game. Some very important components of my engine are made up of quality open-source software, OGRE and ODE and the awesome boost C++ libraries are top of the list.

For modelling I use Blender exclusively with extensive Python scripting and customisation. I've discovered that writing effective tools is an awesome productivity multiplier.


Tim: Is it just you working on the game? It's really an amazing title and hard to believe that it was all the work of one person.

PB: I've had some website and system administration help from my good friend Michael Stevens.

Otherwise it's all me: coding, art, sound etc.


Tim: Any particular influences that you draw upon during the production of this game?

PB: The most obvious influences I can pinpoint are Egan's books and general Transhumanist philosophy. I regard it as highly possible that one day homo sapiens will be eradicated by a rogue artificial intelligence. In fact, that's really just where the story of Axiomatic begins. I hope to explore these possibilities in future releases and future games.


Tim: What was the biggest problem you've faced during the development process?

PB: The thing that wasted the most time was changing goals midway through the development process. Initially I was developing something much closer to what most independent games are like today. Axiomatic was going to be a 2D shooter.


FUTURE PLANS

Tim: I think this game would have really strike a chord with the gaming community if multiplayer was implemented. Any plans on that?

PB: Yeah I've had a number of requests for this. The trouble is that for multiplayer to work well, you either need to have enough people playing the game such that you can go online and find someone to play easily, or you need to target LAN-party style play.

I'll definitely consider adding multiplayer in the future (though it won't be easy) but I am more motivated to expand my single player experience.


Tim: Can we expect more ships as well as environments as add-ons? And how will this be made available?

PB: Absolutely. Additional ships and environments are the tip of the iceberg. If Axiomatic is popular enough I will definitely be creating simple content packs with additional ships and environments. These will be available free to existing customers.

However, I also plan to add many extra gameplay features. These additional features will build step-by-step to my ultimate goal for Axiomatic, which is to create a huge universe for players to explore. You'll be able to research tech and upgrade your ship, with the ultimate goal of gradually destroying an initially dominant empire.


Tim: Wow. Great things to look forward to. How are the fans responding to your work?

PB: I get a lot of positive comments regarding graphics, and also a lot of suggestions for additional control schemes, features etc. It is hugely motivating to receive constructive feedback.


Tim: Will Axiomatic be ported to the Mac in the near future?

PB: If I had a Mac, Axiomatic would run on it right now. Also I definitely like OSX, so watch this space.


Tim: Any particular independent title you're currently enjoying?

PB: Unfortunately I am way too busy at the moment to play games. :)


Tim: For fans of your work, what is your next project? Will it be another title set in space?

PB: At the moment I'm very focused on making Axiomatic a success. This will involve many updates as described above. However, an idea I am very interested in is a kind of open-ended futuristic motorbike game. Since it is me, it would naturally have meaty explosions and would take place in a kind of alternate-reality.

Just as important, I think I have some good gameplay ideas in this space that haven't been tried before.


Tim: Alright Paul, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us.

PB: Thank you. The pleasure is mine.