I have fond memories of playing classic mech games like Front Mission on the Playstation and Playstation 2, so when I saw some intriguing screenshots scroll through my Twitter feed the other day, I had to pause and find out more.
Turns out the screenshots were from an indie game called “Antraxx” – an isometric mech shooter that incorporates co-op elements to bring back the feel of those classic games in a more modernized setting. I reached out to the developers and connected with Leendert Oomen, co-founder and lead artist of the game. See what he had to say about the project!
To start, tell us a little bit about yourself – what’s your role in developing Antraxx, and what other projects have you worked on?
I’m Leendert Oomen, currently 26 years old. When I was a little kid, I grew up in boarding schools and felt disjointed from my family and my classmates. A lot of the people surrounding me never thought I’d make it far in life, and that filled me with self-doubt. I found my solace in games— I still remember when my cousin showed me my first mech warrior game. It was love at first sight!
In the past, when I was around 12, I worked on various MMOCC community games. Eventually I took over a project from a friend of mine which was called “Swiss Alps”. At the time I was playing a lot of Habbo. Swiss Alps was basically a remake of Sulake’s (the creators of Habbo) earlier game called “Lumisota”. The project failed and I stopped making pixel art and game development for years, choosing instead to focus on my sound design hobby at that time.
Since then, I’ve moved back to game development and art!
Today my role on Antraxx is being the original founder, managing director and the lead designer.
How did Antraxx get started, and what were some of the major inspirations for the project?
Around 2010 I found myself becoming tired of sound design and got into a huge writer’s block. Later on, in the summer of 2011, I came up with the idea to create a mech shooter and going back to my art roots by starting to work on pixelart again. Soon after, I met Sam Hellawell, our programmer, online and the project actually started to become something more than just concept art and drawings.
Our inspirations for the game mainly stems from:
1. Habbo — mainly for its social aspect of gaming and its isometric pixelart graphics.
2. Medabots’ Game Boy games — I’ve always loved the aspect of exchangeable parts and their malfunctioning aspect in the games.
3. EVE Online — Its player driven community, economy, and sandbox world mechanics
What have been some of your biggest challenges while working on Antraxx?
When I started working on Antraxx, a lot of pixel artists and developers told me it was impossible to do. This was mainly because I used really big image sizes for mechs and map tiles that nobody uses. Other reasons were because of the game being completely focused on multiplayer and it being a very large-scale project with just 2 people devoting their spare time on it.
Today I think making the decision of huge pixel art sprites and tiles was a great idea. Screen resolutions have increased and monitors have changed. Most games use pixelart at a zoom level of x2 just to make it work. We don’t necessarily have to do this. Even on a TV screen, our art can look great. Though — as a small exclusive for this interview since we didn’t tell anyone yet— we are planning to do a x2 feature. It actually gives a different vibe to it, allowing users to do tactical approaches upon enemy teams.
Antraxx has been generating a lot of buzz in the indie game community – what do you think makes your game so appealing to gamers?
I would like to say that we’re pretty unique. Although there are a lot of mech games out there, Antraxx has always felt very distinctive and abstract to me.
In fact, 5 years ago in 2011, I was unable to find anything like it. The mech scene was very quiet back then. I’d like to believe that we as Antraxx brought a change to that. If you look at recent indie game releases or even the 2016 E3, which was full of upcoming mech games, the mech scene seems to have reawoken. I can’t prove or claim that we have had anything to do with this and don’t want to. But I do really like that mech games are now back on the map. I have been speaking with various indie mech game developers that confirmed we are their inspiration though. And I am very flattered for this.
Will you be demo-ing Antraxx at PAX or any upcoming conventions/shows?
We don’t have any conventions or shows planned. We hope to be able to attend events like these in the near future though.
Any final comments?
First of all I would like to thank you for having us for this interview.
I would like to use this opportunity to add an announcement for anyone interested in our game:
We are running a Kickstarter campaign that’s going live on the 1st of October. Anyone who backed the game will get instant early access when the campaign ends on the 1st of November. The early access will be closed and to backers only.
Thanks once again for Mithical Entertainment’s time, and for you, the reader, in getting to know our game a bit more!