Interview with Triplane Turmoil game series creator Markku Rankala – Draconus Entertainment
IGDA.fi: Tell us who you are and what do you do
Markku: My name is Markku â€œDragstâ€ Rankala. I make all kinds of creative stuff and babies too. And sometimes also games! We have a company and team called Draconus Entertainment and we label ourselves as Indies. For me, an indie game developer is very different from a casual game developer.
We try to create innovation without being blinded by the fact that execution in a game must be done very well these days, and on the art side style should be paid a lot of attention to as well.
IGDA.fi: How did you come up with the original Triplane Turmoil game back in the days?
Markku: Heh, wellâ€¦ good question. Now I have probably shattered the miserable dreams of all our handful of fans about some kind of vague god-like developer genius status!
Did you know?
- TT1 graphics are mostly done by me, and despite my colorful skill diversity, I am maybe the worst graphical artist ever in the world!
Actually, the game is basically based on this old CGA-time pc game called Sopwith Camel. I really donâ€™t know why exactly this idea was the one we actually finished, we had plenty of ideas like an adventure game et cetera. The usual I guess! Even though people thought the idea was the best ever I have always felt that Triplane was â€œonly a cloneâ€, more or less. Even though I dare to say, especially with its second incarnation, it has evolved quite a bit!
IGDA.fi: Why did you go for 3D graphics in the latest Triplane Turmoil II ?
Markku: Why not? Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m a huge fan of 2d stuff, and play old stuff very much on emulators and handhelds. Handhelds are actually selling ridiculously well because I genuinely believe they have the games people really want to play. Good olâ€™ challenge, playability and so on, who cares if the actual concepts are mostly heritage from old 8- and 16-bit times!
The difference between 2d and 3d is actually a very interesting thing. In my opinion 3d is its best when itâ€™s not actually necessarily needed, you can do things with 3d that you canâ€™t with 2d. Then again, stylish things are much easier and nicer in 2D, such as in the King of Fighters series which is pretty much the epitome of 2D character art ever. Capcom gets close, but their style is a bit less detailed (and full of strangeness).
Personally I am very very happy how the â€œz fakeâ€ element worked with TT2! It was quite a bit harder to make it work right, as you might believe, and we never could have even had that option in 2d!
IGDA.fi: Have you attended Assembly? If so, how has Assembly influenced your products from Draconus Entertainment?
Markku: Yes, sure I have. Even though I have to admit I havenâ€™t felt any kind of influence in last 5-10 years, long gone are the days when Future Crew was â€˜da shitâ€™. Well, here are some memories I do actually have linked with Triplane Turmoil and Assemblies:
Did you know?
- Development of TT2 was about 3 years, but actual active estimation of that is only 1.5 years.
We were selling back then the beta version of the game for a cheaper price, and people were actually very interested about it. I remember the Capacala guys playing the multiplayer like crazy, and I think they even went and bought some crappy S3 display adapter because the vesa mode (svga) didnâ€™t work right with their current one! We were actually even â€œscoutedâ€ by Housemarque, but we did not end up following that prospect very far. Letâ€™s say that I genuinely feel that Triplane would not be remembered these days if we would have.
IGDA.fi: What kind of development teams had you assembled in creating these games? Who helped you or did you create these all by yourself?
Markku: Nobody helped me. Who would? Thereâ€™s only couple of game companies in Finland, back then it was even smaller and quite frankly it would not be in their interest to â€œhelpâ€ anyone in the game biz unless you work for them, with all this mad paranoia about work suspension prohibition (kilpailukielto). Legislature in my opinion should finally do something about this! Another problem is that when you join a Finnish game company as a worker, you are not given a contract but an edict; Companies force you into a take it or leave it -situation since they donâ€™t agree on modifying the â€œdefault contractâ€ for you because of several vague and strange excuses. A contract is something you both agree on, and edict is something you are forced into. Bah!
The truth with our success, or everything weâ€™ve done so far, is quite simple. Itâ€™s blood, sweat and tears, really. Diligence and tons of work. Thatâ€™s all there is when you want to do something else than be a faceless gear in this drone-driven society. The team, vision and everything we have at the moment is a culmination of years of effort and I am very happy we have reached some kind of crossroads with all this. You could say I canâ€™t distinguish anymore how much I have shaped things with my standards, and how much it has all shaped me.
IGDA.fi: What benefits have you gained later in life from creating the original Triplane Turmoil? What about Triplane Turmoil II?
Markku: If we look from the economical perspective, not much. Itâ€™s nice to see people liked it and everything, but Iâ€™m certainly not driving a Ferrari or anything! I actually got enough money to get myself a semi-fancy mountain bike back then which now, after 10 years, is on its last feet. Thatâ€™s about it, so I canâ€™t say Triplane ever was any kind of economical success. Distribution and everything was even harder back then compared to present day, and the user base (gamers) happen to be one of the most relentless groups on earth. They think piratism is ok, and that they should get all things in life immediately for themselves without giving anything in exchange.
Iâ€™d say the largest thing is that I was certain my path to glory was game development since good response to TT1 showed that people can get crazy and addicted with your stuff!
We have actually made a couple of times more profit out of Triplane II in just couple of months, but Finnish people are still a bit lazy about buying games from internet. Fortunately we are having a couple of new prospects, one being in Finland and the other globally, maybe even niche markets like Russia or Far East (online game sales IS a growing thing there!)
TT2 makes a nice CV though!
IGDA.fi:From your website I read that you have been able to get Triplane Turmoil II to be sold in a Savepoint store in Vantaaâ€™s MyyrmÃ¤ki. What are your feelings as an indie developer about this?
Markku: Well! What can I say; it is one of the highlights of my (game dev) life! Big thanks to the Save Point guys; I hope their store stays up into all eternity! I respect good service very much, and these guys deliver!
The current retail version is actually also sold now in couple of other places as well in Finland and there are some things happening behind the scenes which I canâ€™t reveal just yet!
IGDA.fi: Have you ever considered other platforms than PC for the Triplane Turmoil game series? If so what? What was the main reason for not pursuing to develop on those platforms?
Markku: Absolutely. The problem is usually the cost of the development tools, and that you canâ€™t just have them. So far, Xbox360 with its live arcade has been one of the most interesting possibilities since it already includes distribution which I think is much more of an obstacle than different platforms. However, if Iâ€™m informed correct, the large portals have over-booked XBLA for at least a year or so with their casual game titles.
From the previous console generation I was quite indifferent about the Xbox and the ps2 was just the system for a hardcore gamer like me to go with. Now it appears things have turned around; Xbox360 is very cool with plenty of good stuff, and ps3 is just a combination of the worst PR in human history.
Steam is also a very interesting outlet since Valve seems to like a bit less â€œsmash hitâ€ games in there as well. Thumbs up! And of course there are the powerful handhelds these days too.
Did you know?
- Many users had problems with the sounds or sound engine, but interpreted is as poor audio skills!
IGDA.fi: What is the main area of focus you want to have in the games you create? And why?
Markku: Hard to say. I think all the games have quite a different focus point since it has so much to do with the genre. Personally I would be interested in doing games that the large companies in here donâ€™t develop at all. Adventure games, Role-playing games (RPG) or western hackâ€™nâ€™slash where the first quest on your road to heroism is to beat the shit out of the rats infesting your uncleâ€™s barn with a rotten spoon of foolishness. Thatâ€™s one-handed, mind you. Other shooters than 1st or 3rd person ones, strategy games et cetera. Of course this means we actually have to come up with new stuff, but it pains me when new groups are starting from all these same genres. People, you canâ€™t match a sports game or mmorpg development, unless the approach is completely new! Which it is not in 98% of the cases!
In my opinion our ultimate trump card is that none of our games/ideas can be described very easily! The closest you can get is to have some kind of vague description of what youâ€™d get if you combine two or more existing titles.
One thing I believe myself is challenge. Iâ€™m bored to death with this â€œhere is everything on a silver platter for your recreational pleasureâ€ crap markets are being filled with. My warrior spirit does not resonate in joy unless the game slams me in the face, HARD, leaving me in this strange stun which really leads me into an actual excitement. Iâ€™m the type who plays Ikaruga for s++ ranks, Guitar Hero on expert and so on. But there is a trick into this which most people miss, especially those in a bondage with a huge financial pressure! Playability must be ON THE PAR to the challenge. Challenge with poor game play is a steaming pile.
In the indie scene there is a problem with new ideas actually being EVEN LESS innovative than in a large aaa-title development. In other words, (creative) freedom does NOT guarantee better ideas.
I also would like to point out, that if you have commercial interests the actual game development process is only 50% out of the total process, and thatâ€™s what brings most of the misery to many. If you donâ€™t have the understanding of â€œhow money worksâ€ and how to actually make a business out of something, youâ€™re pretty much screwed from the start unless a miracle occurs and Lady Luck drops success on you from the heavens. And like in the lottery, that just usually doesnâ€™t happen so it shouldnâ€™t be even taken as a serious option. Do you want to wake up as a fifty-year old, and realize nothing happened?
Interview by Miikka Luotio