As the game lead, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How about the other team leads?
I am Andrew “Redigit” Spinks, the designer and programmer for Terraria. When I was young, I developed an obsession with learning as much about computers as I could, with the intention of making video games as a career. I joined the US Air Force when I was 19, during that time I started running flash gaming sites. I was successful enough at it that I started to do it for a living after my time in service was up. I guess I wasn’t happy enough with making sites about games, when what I wanted to do was actually make them. That’s what lead up to Terraria.
I met Jeremy “Blue” Guerrette while working on my last project, which was a Mario fan game. He has been a huge help with the whole creation process. He managed the beta testers and all the internal documentation, along with making a lot of the major design decisions.
Finn “Tiy” Brice is our new graphics designer. He worked with another team on an open-source game called Hedgewars. Having drawn most of the original artwork myself, it really speeds up the development process to have a dedicated spriter on board.
What was the main inspiration for Terraria?
I’ve had the idea for a game similar to this ever since playing Liero, which is an old freeware DOS game that can be summed up as Worms in real-time. Though, I’ve drawn inspiration from almost all of my favorite games. I tried to include all the major game mechanics that I find to be the most enjoyable.
So let’s get this one right out of the way. There appears to be a “continental divide” between those who dismiss Terraria as some kind of Minecraft rip-off and those who have the “get over it” mentality. How do you guys react when you read this?
People need to understand that Minecraft isn’t a game anymore, it’s a genre. There are so many possibilities with the gameplay mechanics in question that they shouldn’t be limited to a single title. I think a lot of us are waiting for the big names in the industry to pick up on these concepts and start incorporating them in to the new major titles.
Isn’t this type of debate inevitably good for the game?
From a business standpoint, controversy will always bring attention to your product. I could attribute a lot of the publicity this game has received to this comparison.
Did you guys draw any kind of inspiration directly from Minecraft? If so, do you give a nod in Notch’s direction?
Minecraft was the final piece of the puzzle in putting this game together, and also one of the biggest inspirations. I’d love to get the chance to buy Notch a beer someday.
Why release on Steam? Can we expect that achievements will be added?
Steam is a very good distribution platform for indie titles. They handle all the players accounts and payments for the game. Leaving us with more time to focus on the game itself. We have plans to add more Steam support in the future, including stats and achievements.
How many people are on the team now? Is it a virtual team, or is there an office somewhere?
Right now the majority of the team consists of three people. Though, we have another spriter who has helped out from time to time, and I am also planning on contracting our composer, Scott Shelly, for more music in the future.
We don’t have an official office right now, as the people who work on the game are scattered all over the world.
So your game is out-selling – and seeing more players than – Valve’s own blockbuster hit Portal 2 (the one with the multi-million dollar ad campaign)… What was your reaction when you first discovered that Terraria was flying off the virtual shelves? Where were you at the time, and what was the reaction from the other members of the team?
Jeremy came down to Indiana to help with the launch of the game, and after watching how well the first day of sales went you could say that we were pretty ecstatic.
Do future plans involve starting to work on other games, or is it 24×7 Terraria for the foreseeable future?
I’ve already thought about some cool ideas for Terraria’s replacement, but that will be several years away. Right now our focus is on Terraria and nothing else. We still have a lot of plans for the game. It was only in development for four months before it was released, and in another four months from now you won’t recognize it anymore.
Did you guys ever play, or were you at all inspired by, some of the original text-based adventure games such as Zork or Adventure (aka Colossal Cave)?
I never really played either of those games, but I am a huge fan of Dwarf Fortress.
Are there any plans to include more “traditional” RPG elements, such as stats besides just health and mana, and possibly a leveling up system?
We’ve played around with the idea of having a leveling system, but we all agreed the gear progression was the way to go.
What is your take on the future of indie games vs. the big-name developers?
It’s not my intention to bad mouth the big-name developers, but from my perspective the recent rise of indie gaming is due to big-name developers losing touch with what gamers want. Gaming shouldn’t be treated like a business. If you genuinely enjoy your product, then there is no risk involved because others will as well.
What’s your favorite thing about Terraria, and what feature are you most looking forward to adding?
I think the exploration element is my favorite part. I want to put so much content in the world that the only way to fit in more is to generate a different/harder world and bring your characters there.
How’d you guys manage to go from zero to release in less than six months?
I honestly have no idea how we pulled it off. The incredible hype for this game came out of nowhere. The last month was a scramble to keep up with everything that was going on. We’ve also made quite a few mistakes along the way, but it’s part of growing up in the industry. We’ve learned a lot and are ready to keep pressing forward.
So in terms of numbers, how many copies of Terraria have you sold?
We sold about 50,000 copies our first day, and 200,000 copies a bit after the first week.
All of the questions that follow come directly from your fans. We have tried to put them in order of popularity. First of all, the one most popular response we got when we told people we’d be talking to you was something similar to: I would thank him for a great game.
As cliché as it sounds, I owe a bigger thanks to you guys for supporting the game.
Are there plans for dedicated servers in the works?
Yes. (Ed note: brevity is the soul of wit…?)
Are there plans to have a Widescreen mode?
Likely, but not for certain.
Are there more bosses or NPCs planned?
Yes. In fact Tiy has been working very hard to come up with some new enemies for the game.
Any plans to leverage zombies as a boss event (huge numbers attack at same time)?
Possibly. If there is something that I see a large number of fans asking for, I will do my best to get it in the game.
How long do you plan to support the game for, and for how long things will be added.
We will continue to work on this game until the time comes to start on it’s replacement.
Will you be able to teleport between houses in the future?
Right now we are playing around with the idea of adding a new NPC that teleports players for a fee.
Are there plans for different type of flora/fauna for food and health? New types of minerals, armors and weapons? New types of decoration items? Stuff like books,water candles, chain lanterns?
There are plans for a lot more decorative items.
How about game modes like Capture the Flag or Survival (against one zombie player)?
We plan on expanding PvP by a great deal in the future.
Any plans for on-going communication with the fans via social media such as Facebook?
Blue does a good job at reaching out to the fans. I personally try to keep up with the TerrariaOnline forums as much as possible. I’m also usually on IRC (FOSSnet) when working, feel free to drop by and say “hi”.
Thanks to Redigit for taking the time to do a lengthy interview with us. We are eagerly anticipating future releases from him.
Thanks also to the Steam community for rounding out this interview with some great questions of their own: Daren, Grumblecake, Kamiyama01, Lurpsukka, MIK3K, Omocho, Ratfink Adam, SappinMahSentry, SuperNoble, TheHeston, tixe, VoodooVyper, WNxFusionGamerX, Zunkill