Interview: Blockbuster Inc. With Developer Super Sly Fox

Blockbuster Inc. Review Interview

Blockbuster Inc. is out now, and Insider Gaming’s Mike Straw sat down with the developers from Super Sly Fox for an exclusive interview to talk about the game in depth ahead of launch. From deciding on the game’s features to dealing with community feedback to building and releasing a game during such a turbulent time in the industry, nothing is off limits in this exclusive sit-down.

You can read the interview in full below or watch/listen to it via our YouTube channel.

For more on Blockbuster Inc., read our full review of the new game and find out whether it’s a game you should buy, wait on, or skip. It’s available now on PC via Steam.

Blockbuster Inc Interview

What were the inspirations behind Blockbuster Inc?

Panos Tzimas: Definitely. I mean, the game is definitely inspired and paying some sort of homage to this all-time classic, pretty much. It’s a niche and we’re exploring it right now with our own twist. So yeah, I mean, a lot of people will be comparing the two. And a lot of times, people will also say we’re the spiritual successors of the movies.

And we couldn’t be happier to hear that. So it’s fantastic. And we would love to deliver something that kind of like scratches that itch that people have from not being able to play this game anymore. It’s not available. So yeah, that’s pretty much what leads us to strive to produce the best game possible for the people and the fans.

How important was it to make sure there was much more than that top layer of you just build a movie?

Tzimas: I mean, this is kind of like an effort and a project that’s been going back for like six years, especially for me. It started as a side project. So you can imagine, like, we had no clue as a team that we would reach this point where, you know, the expansion we had, like from the development standpoint and how deep pretty much it got.It kind of like evolved through time.

 But yeah, definitely. I mean, obviously, as a small team of three people, we always strive for the best and we have to like, you know, at work pretty much every other studio that makes similar stuff has more people and more manpower. So we would even love to add even more depth to the game. So, yeah, definitely. You can say this was the goal and it still is.

And, you know, post release, it’s going to get even deeper. So, you know, we’re excited for people to try it out and, you know, also kind of like give us feedback and see where we get.

How important was it to make sure there was a detailed tutorial system?

Tzimas: I think I think it’s extremely, extremely important, especially the way we structured our tutorial system. It’s not the classic mission oriented way of doing things because our focus is mostly on the sandbox kind of experience for people. 

So we don’t want to really interrupt people while they’re building their studio from the ground up. So we have like these chapters, what we call them for the tutorials. And everybody can kind of like hop back to any chapter they have questions about.

It’s kind of like an in-game encyclopedia, but like an interactive one. That’s the way we consider it. So extremely important.

I mean, I know for sure that a lot of people will feel a lot of familiarity with what’s going on in the game, especially simulation fans and management fans. But at the same time, you got to assume people, you know, will will need help and adjusting to the game and the new features that we’re adding, because even if you played the movies, we’re adding a lot of new stuff. And, you know, you got to kind of help people explore through all these options and, you know, figure out like the tips and tricks and everything for the game.

There is a lot to do in the game like managing schedules, taking care of housing, the food you offer, and more. How did that process go into coming up with the features that you guys wanted in Blockbuster Inc.?

Tzimas: It sounds difficult if we present it like that, but also keep in mind that a lot of these things help with automation within the game. So for example, the schedule is an automatic process that guides the people and employees in the studio and to their tasks. It’s also one of these things that we want to expand upon after the release where you can have like individual schedules for groups and specific things that you’re going to be creating.

And when it comes to city map, that’s what we call it when you go outside the studio and you can manage the rent and all these things. It’s also one of those things that we want to build upon. We want to make this city kind of like a live environment where you can hop on the award ceremonies and have it change and all these things through the decades, which is important for us to replicate the feelings of each decade and have people really draw them into every era so they can experience the cinematography and everything.

Pretty much the Hollywood experience through our lens. So yeah, I mean, especially with Costas, we talk a lot about balancing and the design of the game and how we can help people use all these tools that we’re giving them as a system-based game, but at the same time make their lives a bit easier so you don’t have to really micromanage everything. And that’s what guides our decision and that’s why we listen to the community and see what they wish and what they would change. And yeah, we’re really active there.

Alkis Tagaras: Exactly, like community feedback was very important and still is. So yeah, they tell us what they like and what they don’t, and we listen, we manage, we delegate things, and we do what we have to do, I guess.

Blockbuster Inc Interview Set Builder

How is it juggling all this feedback and everything you get in? What I guess maybe is the process like? Do you compare it to what you already have planned or how does that work?

Tzimas: It’s kind of like both, but we always pay attention to patterns. So if we see specific feedback, a type of feedback that always reoccurs within the community, then we know that it’s something that makes sense for us to at least investigate. 

Of course, we heard some, as you said, ridiculous, we wouldn’t call it that, but we would call it funny, hilarious feedback for the game. It’s amazing to see how creative people can get through the community, but as I said before, keep in mind we’re just three core people and we can’t really, we gotta adjust everything to a tight schedule and we also gotta pay attention to add value to the game every time we add something new from the community. 

So I guess that’s it. First of all, it’s a pattern. So if it’s a pattern, then we’re gonna definitely investigate it. And then it’s just about efficiency and if we can manage to pull it in the game without disrupting any other mechanics.

What has it been like developing and releasing a game when there is so much turmoil and uncertainty in the industry?

Tzimas: I think everybody can comment, but I’m gonna start. For me, it’s a surreal feeling. It shows our resilience and passion about this project.No doubt, we just love working on this game. Also, I want to add that we’re lucky to have such publishers, because they’re supporting us. Not only financially, but throughout everything, we’re on the same page on what we want to deliver.I guess we do consider ourselves very lucky on that matter. I mean, we all hear stories about publishing developers, but props to them, props to the team.

We have a very good relationship between us. I think through the tough times, we hold each other up. It’s just teamwork, passion, and resilience in the end. I see a lot of indie teams that are struggling, but you gotta stay focused, man.

You gotta push through these tough times, because it’s kind of like a loop. Good times will come back, and then there’s gonna be hard times again, and that’s just gonna keep going, going, going. If you love game development, you’re gonna make it. I think that’s what I want to add. Maybe Alkis and Kostas can comment on how they view this whole thing.

Tagaras: I mean, it’s exactly what Panos said, right? You need passion. You need a good team. We are lucky that we have good publishers, and we communicate very good. It takes a lot. It’s very challenging. I’m not gonna lie. Of course, it’s very challenging, but if you love what you do, you go to the end.

Kostas Ventouras: Yeah, same thing. All of us started with the idea of making a game we like, and what made it happen is that we kept ourselves together. All of us wanted to make a good result out of it.We kept having good ideas, things to add, and as long as we have the time and the ability, we will keep adding stuff because we want to get the best out of it. I think that’s really what drives it the most.

Tzimas: Yeah, and we’re having fun, right? So, it’s not just work for us. I think that’s important when you wake up, and it doesn’t feel like work no matter how many hours we’re gonna crunch, and that’s what keeps the passion alive.

Even post-release, adding all this new stuff that we have, concepts and ideas, this is not the end for us. So, that’s what keeps us active. It’s also the community. So, I think once you get the community in, they also feed you. You feed off each other, their energies, and it keeps the engine ignited and everything as well.

Blockbuster Inc. Review Editor

Was a full video editor for the movies a plan to include from the start in Blockbuster Inc.?

Tzimas: Not at all. When I first designed the game, it was way closer as a concept to, can I name drop other games as inspirations? I guess I can.It was kind of like a blend of Game Dev Tycoon with Prison Architect, if it makes any sense.

So, it was also 2D back then, so it was never a 3D game originally, but as I said, as we started posting stuff and seeing what the community told us, everybody was expecting for this new, the movie’s kind of spiritual successor, and without this video editor and the visual feedback from the movies that you make, people were just like, okay, so what are you guys doing? How are we going to experience like Hollywood or film would, as we call it in the game, how can we experience it fully? And then we just realized, okay, we got to do it.

We definitely have to add something like this. And again, I’m just going to keep saying that, post-release, it’s going to get even better, even more content, even more animations to pick from. So, yeah, it was never the plan originally, but there’s a lot of stuff we added because of the people.

How did the team decide on adding features, genres, themes, and more into the game?

Tzimas: I think we’re just trying to capture the majority of stuff. Obviously, each one of us have seen shows and movies that we like and pop culture elements, which we intend to add even more in the future. 

But originally, there were specific genres and themes that we had to add just as a base for the game. For example, vampires, you can’t really do a 1920s run without vampires. It’s just the basic elements, trying to get all the mainstream attention to this stuff. And then post-release, we’ll just keep adding. I think eventually, we might even have polls on what people would love to see, and we can make something close to the real stuff, but mostly as a reference.

Was there anything that just didn’t click or had to be removed?

Tzimas: We have not abandoned… Kostas, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but we have never abandoned a feature that we intended to add, but some of the features are not fully fleshed out yet completely. And we will also not abandon them, but we do have to prioritize.

There’s stuff for the meta game after the 60s or the 70s in game where stocks and shares come into play. And these things had to take lesser priority over, for example, the video editor that you said, because we saw that people really want a video editor. So yeah, we never cut content from the game, but we do have keep improving a lot of aspects of the game. So yeah, that’s pretty much how we roll.

Blockbuster Inc Interview Lot

When you see just everything you guys have done as a team to get to this point, what is the first thing that goes through your mind knowing it’s here, it’s out, now it’s just supporting it?

Tzimas: I don’t even know, man. It’s just a mix of emotions. To be honest, it feels surreal. Even talking about it, it’s just been so long that I think we’re all very excited and terrified at the same time. We even had a prologue out. It’s not even our first release.

There was a demo out and we saw the feedback from the people. I mean, we got 95% positive reactions. So yeah, I don’t know. I just say ecstatic. I think that’s the only word that describes my feelings. Maybe the guys can comment on what they feel like, but yeah, ecstatic and terrified.

Tagaras: Exactly. It’s a mixture. I’m worried and excited.I’m happy. Every day I’m telling Thanos, 10 days, nine days, eight days, seven days. It’s crazy.It’s so surreal, but it’s exciting. Yeah, for sure.

Ventouras: Yeah, I think that’s the thing. Mostly, it’s normal to be a little bit stressed on what you expect to see, but I think at this point, we can be optimistic enough about it.

Tzimas: Yeah. And just one last thing to add to this question is that we’re not that stressed in a negative way because we know that we’re going to keep being super active on the community and the development post-release. 

So for us, it’s just work as usual. We just hope people understand that there’s definitely going to be a roadmap in the future. There’s definitely going to be more features than Conan added. So there’s, in a sense, nothing to be worried about. I mean, sure, some people might not enjoy what we created, but that’s all part of the game.

How important was it to allow that flexibility and that freedom from players with Steam Workshop?

Tzimas: Extremely important. I think it’s a game like this one that need to have a workshop, like full-on creativity. And even the simplest example, there’s a lot of shows and movies that we can’t really replicate for copyright reasons, but that’s where the community comes into play and they create their very own unique stuff.

We will expand upon this as well. But for now, they can share their sets. And if somebody wants to get in the game and not have to build their own sets because they want to focus on the management side only, that’s fine. We got you. So as I said, extremely important. Involve the people as much as possible. This is the way we operate as a team in all aspects. Concepts, ideas, feedback, workshop, anything. And we will try to include even more options for the release.

What are the future plans for Blockbuster Inc.?

Tzimas: I said, for example, one of the things that we want to add, a minor thing, is the schedules. Even more schedules, even more content. We cannot really say anything specific right now because the first month after release, it’s really important for us to gather all the feedback from a massive player base that’s going to play the game, hopefully.

And we’re going to direct pretty much our roadmap through that. So we can’t really say because we can’t promise something that’s not going to happen for the roadmap. 

Stay tuned. You will see a roadmap very soon.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *