Wang Commander! It’s a game about penises, and that is just so silly that we couldn’t help ourselves from becoming utterly entranced by the concept. Or maybe we just like dicks a lot. Either way, we thought it’d be swell to have a chat with the game’s creator Richard Pieterse about his current side-project…
NAG: You’re currently working at Free Lives, what do they think of you working on a game project in your spare time? How do you feel about doing your full-time job in your spare time?
Richard Pieterse: Wow, what a terrifically awkward question. Free Lives have been incredibly supportive. Wang Commander is strictly a side project for me. I always try to put Broforce first, and only work on Wang Commander when I have a spare moment. Sometimes its difficult to push myself to work on it after a long day, but if I’m really not feeling up to it I’ll just kick back and watch a film or read. It’s really easy to burn out if you’re not careful. I actually find that the two compliment one another. the work I do on Broforce is very technical (online multiplayer programming) so working on Wang Commander is a creative release. When I’m overwhelmed by the technical challenges of Broforce, spending sometime on the simple design problems of Wang Commander can be cathartic.
NAG: How far are you planning on taking Wang Commander? Full release, Greenlight, console?
Rich: I haven’t got any specific objectives, I’m just going to keep working on it and see where it goes. I’m considering posting it on Greenlight, but it needs more gameplay first. Getting it on consoles would be amazing, it is designed for gamepads after all, and very few PC gamers have 4 gamepads.
I don’t have any ambitions for commercial success, but some critical acclaim would be a dream come true. I think that what excites me most is the thought of submitting it to interesting festivals. I’m considering submitting it to the next Sexpo actually. I really just want the game to be vehicle for me to meet interesting people.
NAG: What inspired your interesting shared controller input?
Rich: Hmm good question. I think that Fingle, GIRP and Dark Room Sex Game all had a profound influence on me. I’m in love with the idea of games that bring people closer, lower personal barriers and spark interesting discourse. I want to make games that people seek out to play with someone they like because after they have played them together they will be a little bit closer.
The idea of sharing gamepads first occurred to me while I was making another game at the start of the year. The game is called Escape Velocity and it was an exploration of a simple idea: how many people can play simultaneously on the same screen. In the game each player needs only one button to play so about six people to can share the keyboard. I wanted to push the idea even further, so I added support for mouse, allowing another three players if they didn’t mind getting physical. The last piece of the puzzle was to add gamepad support. There are a lot of buttons on a gamepad, you can easily have five people sharing one gamepad. In the end, I think the game supported around thirty simultaneous players. Unfortunately the game itself wasn’t very compelling, however, I think its conceptually very interesting and some of the ideas, such as shared controllers, made their way into Wang Commander.
NAG: How was the general reaction at rAge? Were there some people who didn’t realise what the game was about?
Rich: The reaction was fantastic. I’m always worried that people will misinterpret the motives behind the game and simply find it vulgar and juvenile, however, everyone seemed to enjoy and get it. It’s a fantastic feeling to see a group of people who don’t know each other smiling and laughing because of the game. I still haven’t figured out what the appropriate age restriction for the game is, through that is part of what makes the game interesting. I personally think it’s a good game for teens to play. My hope is that the game will open people up to reflecting on their feelings about heteronormativity and discuss their thoughts with their fellow players. I feel like the subject of penises touching is still taboo in public media, and that’s just silly. I might be over rationalizing it though. At the end of the day penises are pretty funny and I want people to have a laugh.
NAG: What other crazy game projects do you have swimming about in your head?
Rich: I have a couple of weird ideas rolling around in my head but for now that is where they will stay. Apparently telling people your goals prematurely makes you less like to act on them. My two immediate aims for the rest of the year are to organize an exhibition of local games in somewhere in CT, and to build a 4 player arcade table designed around the a central mechanic of crotch thrusting.