Developer Playlist is The Black Panel’s occasional column devoted to industry figures and the games that inspire them. Each instalment features a ‘playlist’ of influential titles hand-picked by a talented creator.
Men (I mean manly men, I mean Daniel Boon style men) are not often associated with the video games industry. Daniel Visser may make many rethink their positions. Just look at his photo. If that doesn’t scream “I would eat Bear Grylls for breakfast” then nothing does. Visser is the Managing Director of Wicked Witch Software, an Australian development company that specialises in mobile gaming but has also worked on many console titles. Visser is so manly that he even scared the NRL and the AFL into letting Wicked Witch take charge of their respective licences for mobile gaming. He also worked in the past for Melbourne House, Torus Games and CrawFish Interactive. These studios have had an undeniable impact on the local games industry and with a pedigree like this, Visser’s playlist is something everyone should take note of.
—– Daniel Visser’s Playlist —–
TETRIS makes another appearance in a developer’s playlist. Visser says “While there are many classics like Tetris and Asteroids, and some great remakes or evolved versions such as Geometry Wars or slants like Bejeweled or Zuma, Tetris remains high on the list for the ultra-simplicity and its role in defining the casual continuous game. This game continues to influence me as much as being a solid reminder for how simple games can be, and how complex they end up getting!” Originally issued in 1987, Tetris has since been released on almost every platform imaginable.
For his second choice, Visser went with Ensemble Studio’s 1998 strategy classic AGE OF EMPIRES II: THE AGE OF KINGS, “While it is hard to pick a favourite RTS from Warcraft, StarCraft, Command & Conquer: Generals and other greats that may even include the Civilization and SimCity series, Age of Empires II still holds a special place for me because we played it the most over the years (perhaps we had more time then) and this game features a great end game with multiple ways to win that still holds up against modern RTS games, even its own sequel! This game is also an influence when we discuss balancing issues, unit counters, learning curves and end game play.”
Finally Daniel picks one of the most addictive game experiences ever created in Blizzard’s 2004 money making machine, WORLD OF WARCRAFT. Visser had been impressed with 1987’s Ultima Online, but when he played the Wow beta, he was “amazed at the level of detail in the world, and at the great storyline and artwork that we knew and loved from the previous Warcraft games brought to life in full 3D. This game is a great influence for everything fantasy, and is the undeniable benchmark in MMO gameplay.”
So what’s next for this manliest of games developers?
Well, the iPhone is clearly in his sights, with multiple sporting games coming out this year for the iOS platform. He also hopes to port these games to Android early in the new year. Visser is particularly excited about an upcoming casual game Wicked Witch is bringing to the iOS system. He says “our first casual game is as beautiful as it is addictive!” So readers, watch out for Visser and Wicked Witch… putting the MAN back into gaming.
Other editions of Developer Playlist: John Halloran (PopCap); Jon Paquette (Insomniac Games)
Image Credit: Moby Games (Tetris)