Let’s speak to someone surviving the REAL outback: Game Development!
Some time ago, on my personal YouTube channel, I interviewed SlimWaffle, the sole developer of one of my favourite games, Outback Survival.
It’s strange that I like Outback Survival. As a rule, I don’t buy Early Access games: I mock them with the force of a thousand suns.
This is why I was on the fence about buying it for such a long time, but then I read that the game map was a literal map of Australia.
As an Australian, I’d literally never experienced that before (apart from in real life, obviously). So, curious, I bought the game.
As is common with a lot of Early Access titles, it’s far from finished, and far from perfect. I don’t care. I love it. I’ve been able to find the actual area where I actually live in real life and build a base there. No other game has offered me that – not one. So, going against type, I find myself being satisfied with the game as it is. And knowing it’s all being done by just one person (with random spots of helps here and there, hello Trexian!), I’m even more forgiving.
I recently caught up with SlimWaffle again and asked him a few questions I didn’t think to ask the first time around.
SlimWaffle and I have a bit of a rapport, and our banter is, frankly, the stuff of legends. As you can see with my other interviews on GIQUE, I do know how to be more formal – but just this once, I’ve decided it was appropriate to be, shall we say, ‘Aussie casual’.
It’s not required viewing for this article, but if you’re curious you can watch the first interview below – please note that I have lovingly allowed you to skip right to it – it’s an audio interview so feel free to alt-tab out and pretend it’s a podcast too, if you like:
Follow-up Interview with SlimWaffle:
The Outback Survival logo is now rainbow-coloured. Any particular reason(s) for that?
Basically, I think it’s important in these modern times to support LGBTQ+ people, and that was a nice simple way for me to show some support.
Also, it looks awesome.
Indeed it does! Are there any plans to add a tutorial to Outback Survival?
Yeah, that’s something I’ve been looking at for a while now.
The main issue at the moment is how to implement it in a way that doesn’t screw around with the game flow – I want it to be holistic, and not some annoying crap that people speed through to get to the game itself. I want people to know how to do things in the game, but I don’t want to force them to do it, either.
I’ll take a proper look at it when there’s a little less work on my plate – there are other game systems that need to be sorted out first.
Have the Australian Government funded any aspect of the game, like an Arts Council grant or something like that?
First of all, I’m not sure how I’d even go about that. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out but there’s no real incentive for me to do so, because of the second reason.
The second reason is that it’s really important to me to have complete creative control over it. Like, I don’t want some bloke in a suit telling me to put Fortnite dances in the game.
Will you put Fortnite dance in the game though? I’d love to dab on the enemies.
*awkward shuffling noises*
Okay, so that’s a no then? No flossing for me?
Alrighty then! Which other games series would you say that Outback Survival is closest to, and why?
I think it’s closest to the Far Cry series, especially Far Cry 4. You can just roam around and basically do whatever you want, and that’s the vibe I’m really going for with Outback Survival.
I’ll add quests, probably some repeatable ones, eventually and that might change things. I’m always working towards a more immersive experience, because that’s the kind of thing I enjoy about Far Cry 4.
Having said that, it’s probably better to say that Outback Survival was inspired by Far Cry 4 than it’s, like, a clone or a copy of it.
What are the drawbacks of being the sole developer of the game?
There are a few worth mentioning, like having to take time to teach myself skills, such as 3D modelling and learning how to code new things. For instance, I’d love to have another death animation.
(Author’s Note: he’s talking about how the dead enemies just ragdoll on death, flopping to the ground as though made of liquid – I love it myself but I’m not the one making the game so it’s not my call)
There’s also the time management aspects.
Like, I love working on this game, and I’d probably just work on it all the time if I didn’t have other obligations. The thing is, that’s not really a healthy way to live, so I find it hard to force myself to stop working on it. If I were working with others, that probably wouldn’t be an issue.
Also, it’d be nice – once the game is finished – to get someone in to deal with the social media and exposure side of things. At the moment I’m not too fussed about exposure, because I know the game can be so much more and that’s the version of the game that I want to share with everyone.
What are the benefits of being the sole developer on the game?
There are a lot more than you’d think!
Being your own boss, setting your own work hours, not having to deal with office politics – stuff like that.
But the biggest one for me, by far, is having complete creative control over everything that happens. That makes me sound like a bit of a tyrant, so I’ll put it another way: When some code has bugs in it, I know for sure that it was my fault.
That’s more the kind of thing that I mean. It’s not about control as some stupid flex like ‘I’m the king of the castle’ – it’s about control as in, well, making the game is like steering a ship, and I like being the only person who steers it, because then – if it crashes – I know whose fault it is.
It also makes debugging the game a lot easier too, for all the same reasons.
Being the sole developer of the game must be exhausting! What kind of things do you do to relax?
Play games. I was a gamer before I started making Outback Survival, and I’ll be one after it’s finished too. I tend to move from game to game but I always come back to immersive games, such as Far Cry 4.
Do you play Outback Survival, beyond playtesting it?
I love trying to build in different areas of the map and trying to avoid enemies, and then killing them when I can’t avoid them.
What’s your favourite area (on the map) to build in, and why?
Hard to say, but probably the Western Australia area – it’s pretty flat and there’s a lot of wide open spaces to build in.
Is Bikey Mike based on a real person? If so, who?
(Author’s Note: Bikey Mike is, so far, the only NPC in the whole game. He’s a vendor, and most players will meet him the first time they play.)
His name is based on a real person, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Fair enough! What would you say to people who would classify the game as an asset flip?
(Author’s Note: I’ve already explained why I don’t think that Outback Survival qualifies for the ‘asset flip’ monicker here)
I mean, well – people are entitled to their own opinions, of course. I don’t think it’s an asset flip myself because I know how much work has gone into it. Like, yeah, I’ve used some pre-made Unreal stuff, but they’re just placeholders until the actual artwork, or modelling, or whatever, gets done.
I had to code a lot of the graphical enhancements by hand. That was a lot of work. So, stuff like that is why I know the game isn’t an asset flip.
I agree completely. Now, on to the most important question that can be asked about this game, and probably the most important and impactful question that you will ever be asked in your life. Are you ready for this?
Jeez, no pressure or nothing!
Why aren’t there dropbears in this game?
Are you pretending, like our government does, that these very deadly tree-based predators don’t exist? You have a great opportunity to confirm their existence to the world, and I’ve got to be honest: I’m a bit disappointed you’re buying into the whole ‘Dropbears aren’t real’ conspiracy.
Let’s just say that I might have plans to implement boss monsters and leave it at that.
Oh. Okay then, forget I said anything! Speaking of boss monsters though – as you know, my YouTube channel is called ‘Strontium Dingo’.
I would like for the Tasmanian area of the map to spawn one large super-tough dingo called Strontium Dingo. What will it take for me to convince you that the world is genuinely crying out for this very important addition?
Well, I mean – stranger things have happened?
Yes, it was a fantastic show but I didn’t really get into season 3. Good memes though. Anyway – thanks for your time Slimwaffle, it’s been a pleasure!
Anytime, mate – and thanks for your interest in the game!