An Interview with Max Hall of Cantina Games

Outpost 13, a game which I recently did an Indie Spotlight for, has gained some ground over the last few weeks and because of its rise in popularity amongst the indie crowd I decided to email Cantina Games to ask for an interview. The creator, Max Hall, contacted me back and agreed to answer some of my questions based around himself and his game.

Amber: Who are Cantina Games and what do they specialise in?

Max: Cantina Games is me, Max Hall, and depending on the project, Stephen Rodack, and Nathan Burgos. Both of them have done a project with me (individually) in the past and I’m long time friends with both of them.

Amber: Who are you and what role do you play in the team?

Max: For this project I’m doing it all, programming, art, and animation. But I’m generally the guy who does the programming and then helps out everywhere else I can such as animation and anything technical.

Amber: How many games have you made so far and what are they?

Max: This will be my 3rd game out in the wild on my own, 1st was “Buffalo Sham! Sham!”, and 2nd was “Señor Pez”.

Amber: Outpost 13 is your upcoming title, could you explain a little more about the game and is there a storyline to Outpost 13?

Max: Yes. There’s an intro and setup, 2 main acts, and an endgame. The intro and endgame will be focused on Tantalus, and the main acts will be about how the crew is handling current events, this bit is slightly dynamic depending on who’s still alive and/or not fit for duty.

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Outpost 13, stay frosty!

Amber: Am I correct in saying that the aim of the game is to destroy everyone? Become man’s worst enemy?

Max: Yes and no, there’s a few ways for people to die in this game, be it accidental or monster murder (ha ha). But you don’t need to kill everyone, you just need to increase the accumulated fear. Increasing fear can be done a number of ways, and it doesn’t have to be a fear of monsters, it can be a fear of each other.

Amber: This sounds interesting, especially considering it’s usually the player who is in fear and not the player who creates it.

Amber: You say the game is “a tribute to  cult favorite science fiction horror films”, what made you go down this route?

Max: As terrible and self-serving as it sounds, I wasn’t interested in making a game for someone else. I’d rather make a really niche game that I and my friends really enjoyed vs. a game that get’s tossed into a pile of ten thousand other similar games.

Amber: People on social sites seem to really dig the game so far, so it looks as though you might have found a concoction that appeals not only to you but also other gamers.

Amber: What are some of your favourite sci-movies and which ones do you tribute this game to?

Max: That’s a very tough question, I’ve got a list a mile long (ha ha). The movies I can’t seem to get enough of though are Blade Runner, Predator (1987), Aliens (James Cameron), and the X-Files. I know I left a couple out, but if I were at gunpoint and had to choose, I could definitely see myself being buried with a copy of these films (ha ha).

I tribute this game to a lot of different media, most obviously The Thing and Alien, however with that said there’s a lot of inspiration I’m drawing from that is applied throughout the game, from the interior design to little “tip of the hat” easter eggs placed throughout the outpost and ship.

Amber: The game has a unique style, which I love, how come you decided to use this rather than go for something more realistic?

Max: When the idea for the game came to me, I knew I only had a couple of ways I could go with it, especially being a one man team. I could either go the cel-shaded “TellTale” way or go pixelated. Then earlier this year I came across this amazingly beautiful animated “Gods Will Be Watching” GIF from Deconstructeam, and I was immediately sold on taking the Pixel route.

Amber: Using a dog as the protagonist is an interesting choice, what made you go down this route?

Max: I knew I wanted to play as Fen from the very start, and that I was/am not interested in playing as a crew member having to defend myself or interact dynamically to the rest of the crew when people started to show up missing or dead. There’s a lot of games and companies out there that do that type of game style and are Gods at doing it *cough* TellTale…

Playing as Fen allows me the feeling of looking in through the window, to be secretly mischievous and to just watch what happens out of pure curiosity.

Amber: I suppose it’s also nice to be something other than a human or alien creature for once, I like that you’re being different here.

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Fen, the loveable and friendly dog.

Amber: Fen look like a loveable creature, should anyone be worried about becoming too attached to him?

Max: No he’s here for the “long haul”. I’m far too attached to Fen myself to get rid of him or make any attempt to imply that he might not make it.

Amber: It is mentioned that you unlock upgrades for Fen as you kill, what kind of upgrades should be expected?

Max: Pheromones, manual vent access, evidence manipulation, and varying sabotage abilities to name a few. There will be more details coming later down the line.

Amber: How long will the game take to complete for the average gamer, should the game have an ending, and is there any replay value?

Max: It’s really hard to say at this point, however I’m shooting for the 8hr minimum mark for the average player. There’s is an ending in order to wrap up the story and convey continuance. I’m not so sure the average player is going to be able to kill everyone their first time around. Killing everyone isn’t really necessary to propel the story, so if players want to experiment with different ways to kill people, and create different social dynamic situations then they’ll need to play around with disposing specific crew members.

Amber: You’ve started funding for Outpost 13 on Kickstarter, what’s your pitch to readers here to get them backing your game?

Max: If Outpost 13 in anyway looks or sounds like a game that you want to play, then you should probably back it. Go pledge $1 at the very least and secure your Kickstarter exclusive “Dr. Meow Meow Jones DLC”.

While Outpost 13 is my 1st Kickstarter project, it’ll be my 9th professional project completed, and my 3rd project to be completed as my own independent studio. Backers should rest easy knowing that they’re backing someone who completes projects.

Amber: Why did you choose Kickstarter?

Max: I was more familiar with Kickstarter than the alternatives, plus there was Kickstarter integration on Steam Greenlight, simple as that.

Amber: If the game is funded and is successful, would you consider a sequel if the storyline fits?

Max: Absolutely, already planned out.

If you would like to find out more about Outpost 13, Max Hall or learn of any future projects, please use the social links below.

Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=307555395
Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/911916691/outpost-13
Twitter: @CantinaGames

Amber

I play games. A lot of them. You can catch me streaming my favourite games on Twitch: twitch.tv/amberplaygames. Can’t wait to meet you!