Yes, this series is ongoing! This time I contacted Matt James, founder (and only) member of hermitgames, the creator of Xbox Live and PC indie title Leave Home. Click on to read what the said in response to my generic questions.
G.S: Do you think games can be art, and if so which games in particular would you consider to be art?
M.J: I'll answer this first. Anything is art, all it needs is for people to look at whatever it is as art. But it could still be shit art. It's more important to make good, interesting, worthwhile stuff. This piece by Rich Stanton recently was good, but it's still adding more wind to a pointless debate I think.
G.S: Is Leave Home art?
M.J: It's more craft for me. I enjoy making it, putting together all the pieces, improving and refining them. The ideas come quickly but putting it together takes a lot longer and leads to more and more different ideas. Once it's finished I don't really care if other people think it's art or not, see above.
G.S: Leave Home was critically well-received, but how did it sell?
M.J: I spent all the money on old Sinclair calculators and moving back to Cornwall (been stuck up north for a bit), dunno how much it was in the end.
G.S: What were your major influences when developing Leave Home, not just in terms of the art style or gameplay, but also in terms of the music?
M.J: Music: Rephlex/aphex stuff obviously, music I made back in the 90s, noises the spectrum made, for the next game I've been messing specifically with the speccy sound chip after getting interested in it while doing Leave Home. I've got some AY-3-8912 hardware working that I can automate and double up/stick effects on, because the chip only has 3 channels and like 2 noises (square and white noise).
G.S: Is hermitgames a one-man developer because it has to be or because you want it to be? Do you prefer working alone to working collaboratively?
M.J: I'm happy working on my own, don't feel limited by it. I'd collaborate too if there was some project that seemed interesting, but there's nothing I really want to make that needs someone else's input. I don't plan stuff like that, games mostly come from messing about with limits and testing myself.
G.S: You’re doing a new game, right? What can you tell us about that?
M.J: It's awkward. It's less of an obvious genre game than Leave Home, with that some people just saw it was a shooter and went "why the hell is it called leave home" "why isn't it like some other shmup" "it breaks this specific genre rule" etc and discounted it. so the next one I've pushed more into being difficult and awkward so hopefully those people won't even bother looking at the new one. But I don't really have much control over that kind of thing once it's released.
G.S: Any chance of a PlayStation release for any future hermitgames projects?
M.J: Maybe one day, I can't be bothered going through the approval processes though so they'd have to change that.
G.S: Advice for aspiring indie developers?
M.J: Make loads of games, finish them.
Thanks to Matt James for answering my questions. Stay tuned to the blog for more indie developer interviews soon.