An Interview with Christaan Gough on The Sci-Fi Guys: The Game

There are plenty of podcasts available on the net to download and listen to, but the hard part comes in actually maintaining a steady flow of listeners. One podcast that has managed to achieve this success is The Sci-Fi Guys, which is featured on Destiny Talk Radio Network.

Destiny Talk Radio Network began in early 2006 by Lee Tyers and his colleague, Stuart Claw (our very own MCM BUZZ editor). The team hosted The Expo Radio show, before branching out to various projects, one of which was The Sci-Fi Guys. Hosted by DTRN’s Stuart Claw, Michael McDonald, Matt Dillon (who left in 2010) and Aaron Darlington, it brings listeners the latest news and opinions regarding anything sci-fi, film, and television related. What has made the podcast so successful is the combination of the banter, competitions, news and some interviews from top stars in the world of sci-fi. 

Four seasons later, the team can now happily announce that a game is currently in development based on the popular sci-fi podcast. I had the opportunity to interview Christaan Gough, one of the creators of The Sci-Fi Guys: The Game, to find out more.

Q: The Sci-Fi Guys is a hit podcast. Can you tell us a little about this?

A: “It does seem popular – I know I enjoy listening to it. It’s a real thrill to be doing the game with them.”

Q: The podcast gets over 48,000 listeners! How does that make you feel, especially as you are developing the game?

A: “Primarily pleased that such a great show gets the sort of following it deserves. The guys put a lot of work in and it’s all for the fans and community, they don’t profit from it at all. I am sure that doing the show can sometimes be a struggle for them on top of their other commitments. But yeah, when so much of what is out there these days is such rubbish, it’s really nice to see a good show about other good shows get the appreciation it deserves.

My secondary feeling is one of responsibility – there is a significant fan base out there and I really owe it to them to make sure we give them something that builds on that. We want to make the game something that takes the experience forward to a new level, whereas a lot of the time games are sort of “peripheral” tie-ins that don’t really feel like they belong. In some cases they can actually feel like quite cynical attempts to wring money out of the fanbase. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of playing a tie-in game that really doesn’t do justice to the thing it is based off. Stuart and I talked a lot about wanting to make the game an extension of the show, a way to draw the listeners in deeper, rather than a sort of ‘side thing’.”

Q: How did you get this opportunity, and why did you decide to create a game?

A: “My team and I were all regular listeners to the show, and I had sent the odd email to Stuart just like many of the other listeners. We had traditionally been involved primarily in middleware (engine) development, and also in consulting for other game dev teams whose focus is more on the games themselves. We had been providing a bunch of services such as concepting, code for hire, motion capture and so on – sort of doing the ‘tough bits’ that people needed help with, but we had been wanting to focus more on our own internal games.

When the show hit a troubled patch we had this crazy idea about possibly doing a game for the show to help them out. We had been working on some other projects internally but hadn’t really committed to a ‘main one’. I dropped Stuart a line to discuss the idea, and it grew from there. We had a bunch of chats about how it might all take shape and at that point we decided as a team that it felt like the one we wanted to pick as our main focus for the next wee stretch. The teaser trailer and playtest video briefly show the look and feel of the game. What kind of experience should gamers expect when playing this? It has actually come a long way since the trailer and playtest stuff we released – that stuff was really preliminary work. Expect it to be in that style but slightly tweaked. As I said before, we talked a lot, both internally and also with The Sci-Fi Guys, about wanting to make sure the game feels like it delivers the show, but more rather than feeling like a ‘side thing’. We felt early on that it is more important to shape the game around the show than say, pick a genre and try to shoehorn the show into that.

We discussed ideas about hopping genres as the game progressed to kind of make the most of any given situation as it came up. We have backed away from doing that *too* much now, as it became a bit distracting, but I guess if that’s what we went in with at first then it speaks to what you should expect. I guess the short answer is, expect the show, but more. Don’t forget we are working closely with The Sci Fi Guys every step of the way to make sure it feels like it comes from them as much as anything. In many ways we are just facilitating it. The Sci-Fi Guys is gaining a release on the iPod and iPad, as well as the PC and Apple Mac.”

Q: Should we expect very different versions of the game on each, or are you aiming for the same experience on each?

A: “Originally no, but we couldn’t help ourselves, wanting to add some extra polish here and there where we can. This has gotten to the point now that some features may not make it into the more casual platforms due to a lack of power on those devices.

I think though that these things will essentially amount to the visual polish and tweaks to the controls, rather than the experience itself. If you consider the ‘experience’ to be what you get from playing it, then I don’t think it will differ. If you consider the fancy effects to be an important part of the experience, then its possible it may differ slightly. By the way, if the interest is there, we aren’t ruling out other platforms – we have the ability, it’s just a lot more work and stuff, so we will wait to see what the reception is like before we go there. The readers should let us know if that interest is there though.”

Q: And finally, once the game has been released, do you know what is next for The Sci-Fi Guys?

A: “You’d have to ask the Sci-Fi Guys about that one; we are just their game facilitators, although the guys – and Stuart especially – have become really good friends of ours over the last year or so. Kind of like workmates often do, but especially from talking every day or two through so many crazy events for us all. We have all had a lot on our respective plates during this period, so in a lot of ways I think everyone is kind of taking things one step at a time at the moment. Speaking for myself though, I would love to see Sci-Fi Guys grow though – stuff like the shirties is awesome and I can really see the show going from strength to strength in the future.”

You can watch the teaser trailer for The Sci-Fi Guys: The Game below:

The Sci-Fi Guys: The Game is due for a release on the iPhone, iPod/iPad, PC and Apple Mac. For more information, please visit the official Facebook page for the game. 

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