A preview of what's to come with their upcoming XBLA/PSN/Steam release: Duality ZF
Co-Optimus: Are there other game-types/genres you’re interested in exploring? If so, why that particular genre and would you continue to include co-op?
Matthew: Yes, arcade style racing games and beat ‘em ups. Jason coded an OutRun style engine in grade 8, and we’ve been itching to use that technology every since. We know and love arcade racers as much as we do shmups, so I think it’s a niche market we can also dominate. Plus Jason’s optimization skills are fantastic, so we could get crazy performance out of such a retro engine that’s never been seen before. Off topic but it also shows why we make our own engines. You can’t do a game (as good) in a prefab engine.
As for beat ‘em ups, same idea. We love Streets of Rage, didn’t like Double Dragon, and we think there’s some subtleties there we can address and make a great fighter game. We will always have co-op, although the racing game might not if we choose to not split-screen. Split screen co-op isn’t as powerful as same-screen co-op.
Co-Optimus: What’s one of your favorite “nostalgic” co-op moment?
Matthew: The best co-op moment was Jason and I playing Super-C; one of us with spread and the other with fire. Note that a single spread can create 10 on-screen bullets but two spreads can only total 16! And also note the fire can power up if you hold the button. We decimated bosses. Particularly the boss on stage 6 was killed in less than a second. I remember we (jokingly) commented on how the developer never intended for such domination! When we kicked ass we would always call it “decimation”, that’s where the name “Decimation X” comes from, “X” being a unique identifier.
At some point, the decision must be made to make games for fun, or for business. Which is serious.
Co-Optimus: What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in being an “indie” games developer?
Matthew: By far the biggest challenge is the transformation from a hobbyist to a business. It comes down to different disciplines and different decisions - very hard decisions that can feel wrong to your core. It still plagues us and I would be lying if I said otherwise.
Co-Optimus: In your opinion, what’s your view on the “state” of co-operative gameplay in the games industry? Has it gotten better since the days of coin co-op arcade machines? Do you think that it’s become a “bullet point on the back of the box?”
Matthew: It’s an after thought, just like leaderboards are in most XBLA games. It’s too bad. We just happen to make games that are great co-op. Who doesn’t want to play an amped up Space Invaders like game with four players? It’s just fun.
Co-Optimus: What’s next for Xona Games?
Matthew: Duality ZF on XBLA, PSN, and Steam. Can it be done? We hope so. Beyond that, world domination!
We'd like to thank Matthew for his time and look forward to Xona Games' next co-op title! Remember, if you're an indie developer that makes co-op games and would like Co-Optimus to feature your game in an Indie-Ana Co-Op feature, send an e-mail to email@example.com!