Last year an interesting flash game popped up on the web. It looked like something we had seen before, yet it also seemed new and refreshing. That game of course is The Organ Trail. The development team over at The Men Who Wear Many Hats created a “new” game that blended the concept of our favorite game in elementary school, The Oregon Trail with America’s new-found obsession: a zombie apocalypse. Comic Booked was able to catch up with one of the Men – Ryan Wiemeyer – for a Q&A session. Ryan discussed openly some of the inspiration for the game, their Kickstarter project, and his thoughts on the possibility of bringing The Organ Trail to Xbox Live Arcade!
Jorgie Hernandez: Hello Ryan, thank you for taking the time to speak with Comic Booked today about your game, The Organ Trail.
Ryan Wiemeyer: The pleasure’s all mine. : winky smiley :
JH: Obviously the inspiration for the game is our favorite piece of “edutainment”, The Oregon Trail, but what sparked the idea to fuse that with a zombie apocalypse-like setting?
RW: We sit around and shoot ideas out at each other all the time. Most of the ideas are bad puns. We laugh, we cry and then we realize the idea is horrible. But at some point I threw out “Oregon Trail + Zombies.” It made a lot of sense. We liked it, it got us excited to talk about it and it seemed within our scope at the time. So we did it. That’s still sort of how we do things now. We just do what excites us.
JH: [Laughs] Whatever works, right?
RW: Sort of. I wouldn’t say all of our ideas have worked out. It’s often about challenging ourselves and learning new things. We have a bunch of games on our website that didn’t work. We put them in the corner.
JH: How much of a role would you say that the success of a franchises such as Resident Evil and the TV series The Walking Dead played in developing this idea? Do you look at something like that for inspiration?
RW: I collect zombie stuff. I have a zombie movie/book/comic/game collection. I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil and the Walking Dead comics. We like to slip in zombie references all over the game so other zombie fans will pick up on it and think we are cool or something.
JH: The folks over at Kickstarter and the people who pledged had a hand in making this game a reality on the iOS and Android. Can you talk a little about that experience?
RW: It’s been super crazy. Kickstarter is a great way for indie games to earn start-up money by offering cool rewards for backers of the project. We launched with the fundraising goal of $3,000 in 30 days, secretly hoping to get $6,000. I spent a lot of time upfront worrying about meeting our goal and making appealing rewards and all that jazz. Well everything went swimmingly. We reached our goal in about four days, and things were looking good for us. But then somewhere in the middle, the folks at Kickstarter fell in love with us and gave us some attention. That immediately exploded the campaign. We ended up with over 16k. It’s amazing. I kept checking back every hour to see the donations rolling in. I would often be heard saying something along the lines of “I just made $85 taking a shit.” It’s obvious from the success of the campaign that people really like the idea and there is a decent audience out there for us (who are generous and handsome.)
JH: The original Organ Trail was not part of the Kickstarter project?
JH: With companies like Microsoft opening their platform to independent devs via the Xbox Live Arcade are there plans to bring this or other projects onto traditional gaming consoles?
RW: Not right now. I guess if it’s really popular and it’s what the fans want… The only reason we are putting this game out again is because everyone kept asking us to put it out on iPhone. So, why shouldn’t we listen to our fan-base, ya know? We are currently using Unity, which is a great engine for multi-platform releases. I like XBLA, but most the sales data I see says that Steam is just a better option. But that assumes that we can get on Steam. I guess… we’re open to anything at this point. Again, it’s all about what excites us.
JH: Last question: Exactly how many “hats” do you guys wear?
RW: Well in the theoretical sense, I wear all the hats. I do production, art, sound, programming, design and PR for the hats. The rest of the guys usually stick to one thing but the idea is that anyone can do whatever they want. But if you’re keeping count, I have three real hats.
JH: Ryan it was a pleasure chatting with you. Again, thank you for your time and good luck to you and the rest of the crew.
RW: Thanks! Keep an eye out for the game in… Spring 2012? Something like that. Cheers.
JH: Word. Thanks again.
Comic Booked will be bringing you a hands-on review on The Organ Trail when it hits the App Store and the Android Market later this Spring.
In the meantime follow this link to play now!