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Midlife Gamer Meets: James Whitehead

December 21st, 2012 by

Its been two long years since our last Midlife Gamer meets when Xeroxeroxero met Yuji Naka back in November 2010, and I can think of no better person to resurrect the series with than one of the guys from Boss Baddie whose games we have covered since our Uncle Antman gave us a look at “Big Sky” back in December 2010.

The team over at Boss Baddie have come a long way since those early days of Big Sky, and so too has the game itself. Really Big Sky released in December 2011, gaining widespread acclaim and even a nomination for Indie arcade game of the year. Not bad for a small Indie team from Saddleworth. With its fast, addictive gameplay, outstanding soundtrack and simplistic and responsive controls, this was a title that begged you to have just “one more go”.

Now, its time for those who have invested in a PS3 or Vita to have the opportunity to gnash their teeth and contemplate the structural integrity of their precious hardware compared to the nearest wall. Boss Baddie have teamed up with VooFoo Studios to bring Big Sky Infinity to your Sony devices to sap what little sanity you may have left. The title is one of the first 3rd party titles to feature Cross-Buy and is currently included in the PS+ instant title collection.

I have a brief chat with James Whitehead from Boss Baddie Games, about the history of the company, working on Big Sky Infinity and what the future holds for the team.

Derek (DigitalPariah): Hi James. Thanks very much for taking the time to speak to us at Midlife Gamer. First of all can you tell us who you are and what you do at Boss Baddie?

James Whitehead: I’m James and I’m the big boss at Boss Baddie, I guess!

D: As is tradition, we ask everyone we speak to here at Midlife Gamer the same question. What is your favourite Biscuit and Beverage?

JW: The workhorse, the brick shit house, the Terminator… the Hobnob. And if you cut me I’d bleed Tesco Tropical fruit juice.

D: Can you tell me a little more about Boss Baddie. What were the origins of the company?

JW: Making games has always been a hobby to me. Sometime at university I made a little freeware game for the fun of it and it did really well, and at that point I thought there might be something in this. After university I cracked on with a game called Tormishire, it got too big so I teamed up with a mate, but then it got bigger still. We took a step back and started to make smaller games under the name Boss Baddie.

D: In the past few years we have seen a surge in Indie games breaking through to the mainstream due to their unique and creative approaches to game design. What’s your opinion on the Indie scene, and its place in the Games Industry?

JW: The tools are getting easier and people are experimenting more than ever, so you have these high production games that stand out from others. It’s great. I think we’ve always had that but the rise of digital distribution channels and the huge success of Steam, XBLA, PSN, WiiWare and buddies have got these games into more homes.

The line is already blurring of what constitutes an AAA game and a big budget indie game, and I reckon it’s only going to get more blurry-er.

D: You have recently released a new title, Big Sky Infinity, on the Playstation Network and PS Vita, in collaboration with the team at VooFoo Studios. What were the biggest benefits you experienced from pairing up with the guys behind Hustle Kings?

JW: The benefits can be seen in the game, it’s the art and technical wizardry they can pull off. They’re a great bunch and I’d keep an eye on them! (in a good way!)

D: Just like its predecessor, Big Sky Infinity features a mass of game types, procedurally generated environments and a plethora of upgrades available for your ship.What are your feelings on the games transition to Sony’s flagship platforms?

JW: For me it’s how solid their network is. I love how scoreboards are now proper, how you can see your mates scores so you can quickly gun for them. And then you have all that Cross Buy, Cross Save stuff going on – but with each version handling multiplayer a little differently. I guess I’m just a fan of how PSN crosses multiple devices now.

D: There may be some of our community out there that have not, as yet, played a Big Sky game. If you had to give one piece of advice to a novice on how to improve their scores, what would it be?

JW: Don’t stay still! There are tricks in the AI that increase the difficulty if you camp in one spot. Keep moving, keep shooting, when you get a giant charge laser attack – activate the drill so you don’t get hit by meteors, using the Spin attack is the best way to get starbits. But keep those secret…

D: From conception to release, what do you feel is the hardest part of the design process and what is the most enjoyable?

JW: The most enjoyable part is the final balancing and testing, and coming up with little ideas to just throw in at the last minute. The Dinosaur Black Hole and Pandora events were a last minute thing, but they just worked so well! It becomes a playground for a developer, and it was definitely the most fun part of the project.

D: Its been a big year for the team at Boss Baddie, with Really Big Sky officially released in December of last year, and now Big Sky Infinity this December. In your opinion, what has been the highlight of your year?

JW: It was the whole transition, going from hobbyist developer to being put in a position where you get to travel around the world, to places you’ve never been before, just to talk about games. I can’t pick a single event from this year that stands out. Of this month? The game’s launch! And spending (for the first time in any game ever) a bit of time at the top of a scoreboard. Do you know how good some people are at games? Last time I checked I was rank ~4000 on the Classic Mode scoreboard!

D: Finally, Is there any new projects on the horizon you can discuss with us?

JW: We’ve got a bit of a dream project we’re working on right now. I think that’s all I can say about it :)

Big Sky Infinity can be purchased now via the PlayStation Store, and is currently free for all PS+ users. As James stated during the interview, this game is also available as a cross buy title, and as such purchase on PSN will make the PS Vita version fully available and vice versa.

If you want to find out more about James, Boss Baddie and their games you can head over here to the Boss Baddie website.



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2 Responses to “Midlife Gamer Meets: James Whitehead”
  1. Great interview Derek, a really interesting read and I suspect will be the first of many. Really Big Sky is a super fun game and sits firmly on my “Never Delete” list.

  2. avatar Azrial says:

    Great interview, loving Big Sky Infinity, bloody hard to beat some of those score on there though.

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