CCGR: Tell us about yourselves and the company. When did you start the company and why?
BTG: We started BraveTree Productions almost two years ago. Before that I was at Dynamix (a Vivendi/Universal company). That's where I met my partners Joe Maruschak and Clark Fagot. We were each interested in finding the most effective process for developing software. When Dynamix folded in 2001 we decide to put our money where our mouth\'s were and try out some of our ideas.
I personally have been working on computer games since the 80s. I'm one of the older people you'll find in the business. When Pong came out, I was a senior in high school, so I didn't grow up with the medium like most people in the industry, which I think gives me a unique perspective.
CCGR: Tell us about ThinkTanks. How long have you been working on it? When is the release date? What is the story?
BTG: ThinkTanks is a cartoon style tank game that can be played in solo or on-line mode. It has its roots in the early arcade games. We always enjoyed the simplicity of games like Combat (which was our initial inspiration). We\'re finding that most people just don\'t have the time to devote to learning and playing computer games that they might have had 10 years ago. We wanted to make a game that adults and children could jump right into without a the whollong learning period. As a matter of fact, many of our testers have been children. Their enthusiasm has reinforced our belief that our philosophy about game design is on right track. We like to think it\'s a game that\'s easy to learn, but hard to master. This way people can join quickly, have fun, and stay to keep improving.
We worked on ThinkTanks for about a year, but because of other projects we
were involved in, we couldn\'t devote ourselves full time to it. It\'s now released on http://garagegames.com/. The backstory has to do with an alien race that has captured the best minds from Earth and placed them in tanks to do battle for the aliens\' amusement. It\'s a pretty simple idea that we might eventually expand upon
CCGR: Were there any stumbling blocks or set backs during the development of ThinkTanks?
BTG:The development cycle went fairly smoothly. We\'re still refining our process, but we were very happy with the way it worked. The Torque games engine we used from GarageGames was an extreme help. It\'s very robust and was easy to develop on.
CCGR: Can it be compared to another game? What is unique about ThinkTanks? BTG:I would compare it to the tank arcade games of the past like Combat and Battlezone, but ThinkTanks is more immersive and energized. Once you get in you\'ll be delighted at how crazy it gets.
CCGR: How does ThinkTanks handle violence?
BTG: Being a tank game, we had to include some type of shooting and hitting of targets, and the ThinkTanks backstory is a little on the edge (brains on tanks fighting evil robots on tanks). So we decided to make the brains somewhat cute and to make the battle as none offensive as possible. When you destroy another tank the brain case simple pops off and disappear. No exploding brains or blood (just some cool smoke effects). I have an opinion about computer games that I haven\'t heard expressed much in the industry. I\'ve often heard colleagues say that games won\'t give anybody any ideas they don\'t already have. I think this is a cop-out. We are a medium, and a medium is a way of exchanging ideas. I believe as game developers we have to share the responsibility of fostering an environment of non-violence in our society. I\'m not a total wet blanket. Like the cartoons of the past, some slapstick is acceptable, but there is definitely a point where it goes too far.
CCGR: How does the AI work? What moves can we expect from them? Are there different difficulty levels?
BTG: The AI is really quite fun. When setting up a game, the player can decide how smart the robot (bot) tanks will be and how many they want to play against. The more intelligent bot will attack, retreat and counter attack. The least intelligent can sometimes be seen flying off a cliff. It\'s a blast just to watch.
CCGR: Will it be available in stores? If so which ones?
BTG: I can't comment on this right now. I\'m supposed to keep this under my hat.
CCGR: Will ThinkTanks support user created Modules or will you release an editor for it? Expansion packs?
BTG: Right now we\'re in the process of discussing the future of ThinkTank. Nothing has been decided yet, put expansion packs and the release of the editor are definitely possibilities.
CCGR: Have you implemented everything you wanted in ThinkTanks? Is it everything you hoped it would be or better?
BTG: We've implemented what we wanted and more. We had definite goals before we started and looking back we are pleased on how closely we stuck to them. The game did go through some changes in development, but these changes were easy to add and didn't effect the schedule drastically.
CCGR: I noticed you have ThinkTanks available for PC, Mac and Linux. Which version runs the best and which is your favorite?
BTG: I'm a PC guy so I'll go with the PC version. We\'ve had some very happy Mac and Linux users, though.
CCGR: What platform did you develop the game on?
BTG: We started on the PC and ported from there.
CCGR: Do you have any questions for us or comments for our readers?
BTG: I'm glad there are forums like your site that offer a different view on gaming. It's very refreshing. And for the readers, please play the demo and give us feedback. We want as much info as we can possibly get to make the next version even better.