Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Blake Petersen (Founder, Angry Giant Games) to lets us know how the addicting and retro-inspired dual-stick shooter on Google Play came to be and who will enjoy it the most.
About the Game:
In Invasion of the Box People, it all comes down to a simple concept: Destroy them before they can kill you! Outside of basically shooting the invading boxy aliens dead, you can also knock them into each other to create a powerful-yet-comedic “domino effect” – and when all else fails, pick up upgrades to boost your firepower. It’s time to show the “Box People” what baking enthusiasts are made of.
The game is simple, lightning fast, and doesn’t hold your hand. One hit, and you’re dead – though if you have skill, you’ll quickly slip into “the zone” and duck and weave through alien hordes without a second thought.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Invasion of the Box People born?
Blake Petersen: Originally, my plan was to just learn from making Invasion of the Box People. My goal was to learn what I had to do to get a game on various platforms such as mobile, PC and console. I wanted to make the simplest game I could think of. Early on, Invasion of the Box People was going to consist of the Bunker Defense game mode with a WASD control layout. The upgrades were just going to be different colored pill-shaped objects. However, the game ended up taking on a life of its own. I couldn’t settle on just going with the original plan, so I kept adding to it until it became the game it is today.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Petersen: Development of Invasion of the Box People was difficult, since I have a full-time job. I definitely worked myself pretty hard for this game. There were some bugs that plagued me for a while. One of the most memorable bugs was when higher performance collision detection was used on the Android version, the game would crash. I eventually found out that the explosion was triggering a collision event with multiple enemy body parts simultaneously. I then had the game ignore collision between enemy parts and the explosion itself – and after that, it no longer crashed.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes the game special?
Petersen: Invasion of the Box People is special for a number of reasons – a combination of things. For example, its simplicity. The game doesn’t overwhelm the player with a complex play system. The player only has to move and rotate the character (or just rotate the character in terms of bunker defense) to take out the enemies, pick up upgrades, and avoid being touched. The upgrades and different game types help break up the monotony and keep the player entertained. The upgrades also help add a touch of strategy to the game. I worked hard to ensure that the controls were smooth – and with some help (to be honest, artistic design is not my strong suit), I ensured that the visuals were pleasant. To sum it up, it comes down to a combination of a “simple yet not monotonous” smooth control system and nice visuals.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced Invasion of the Box People the most?
Petersen: For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what games influenced Invasion of the Box People. I’ve played so many games in my life … I unconsciously may have taken a bunch of concepts from different games and merged them together. I’ve been a gamer my entire life, so I’ve had my fill of different games. There’s probably one that I got the most inspiration from – but I unfortunately can’t figure out what it is!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Petersen: A fun story during the development of Invasion of the Box People occurred when my brother (who wrote the game’s soundtrack) and I were working on the audio. My computer speakers were shoddy, so we used an Oculus Rift headset instead – plus I wanted to show my brother how crazy VR was.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Petersen: Only if a better method is not available. I’m a big fan of innovation in general. With that said, I don’t agree with being different just to be different. If a different way is not better than the old way, do things the old way. If a different way is better than the old way, do things differently!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any thoughts on a console version?
Petersen: I’m thinking about a console version for Invasion of the Box People. I have to look into what goes into making a console game. I can’t promise a release date as of yet – but it’s definitely on my mind.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Petersen: Beating Donkey Kong Country. The first game I ever got was Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. An interesting thing about that game is that you have to beat the final boss twice. When you beat him the first time, the game makes you think you’ve won – but then he gets back up and goes after you again! I actually thought I won, so I stopped to go eat dinner at that point. The dinner table was in full view of the TV, so I saw him get up and kill me. I was shocked, to say the least. I later beat the game, but that was a very memorable moment.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Who will enjoy Invasion of the Box People the most?
Petersen: I’d say that casual or hardcore gamers will enjoy Invasion of the Box People. People who don’t play games probably won’t be into it – yet I’m sure most people who do will enjoy it.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Bottom Line, why must someone play this game?
Petersen: I wouldn’t say that people must play Invasion of the Box People, but I think they’d be missing out if they didn’t. The game is a great stress reliever, just like a lot of other games out there. However, I believe Invasion of the Box People does it better than most. I made it for mobile as well, so it’s a great time killer: If you’re waiting for the bus or the doctor or anything, you can take the game out and play it without an Internet connection.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Invasion of the Box People to be remembered?
Petersen: I’d like for people to remember it as an enjoyable game!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Petersen: I plan on making an iOS version of Invasion of the Box People at a later date. I’m leaning toward making a console version as well. After that, though, it honestly all depends on how well the game sells. I put in a lot of time and worked myself pretty hard for it. With a full-time job outside of game development, it wouldn’t really be sustainable mentally for me to keep working on games. So I guess we’ll see what happens.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Petersen: I hope people enjoy playing Invasion of the Box People as much as I enjoyed making it!
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.