Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with Attack Mountain, what initiated the video game development company and what defines an Attack Mountain game?
ATKMTN: The two of us have been best friends since birth and grew up together right in the sweet spot; we were the perfect age to really appreciate growing up in the '90s. Among the usual kids stuff like cul-de-sacs, bike rides, making bugs fight each other (before Pokemon), and accidentally setting a marsh on fire that one time, we bonded over video games right when the medium was being blasted wide open and Japan was king. The two of us played our first video game apart from one another, but the experience shook us both in pretty much the same way. Before long, we were spending most of our time playing them, talking about them, etc. Once we were old enough to realize that it was something that could be done for a living – that people actually sat down and made these games we were obsessed with – that was pretty much it. It’s been our dream to open a game company together since we were in the third/fourth grade. Mostly everything we’ve done since then was to prepare us for a future and a career making video games. After college, our paths were a bit different, but we wound up converging at just the right moment in timespace to summon the Mountain.
The second part of the question is tough because it's hard to pin down one specific thing that makes an ATKMTN game an ATKMTN game. We were exposed to a lot of weird and/or cool stuff during our childhood, stuff that's part of our DNA now, and we try and impart our games with that sort of sensation.
The dumbed-down blueprint is two parts fun gameplay, two parts humor, two parts good music, two parts heart, and two parts something illegal. That's a total of ten parts. Is that how parts work? They add up to ten, or do they add up to a hundred, or...?
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in designing and producing new video game content?
ATKMTN: Lucky for us, we tend to share a lot of the same sensibilities when it comes to what we want to make and how to make it, so the "next idea" is never far away. Half of our published ideas start with something along the lines of "You know what would be fun?," and the other half are things we stumbled on while prototyping for the sake of prototyping. We also have a backlog of games a million miles long that has accumulated over the last couple of decades.
It’s not to say we don’t butt heads from time to time - you’re always going to have points of contention working with a business partner - but we’re pretty good at making compromises for the sake of a fun game. If we can't agree on something, we throw heavy objects at each other until one of us is knocked out, and the other one can make whatever decisions he wants.
Pre-production often involves a lot of prototyping, sketching, and drawing. Figuring out the guts and what will make for the most compelling game. Production’s a different story…we get lost in it. And on the other side, we take about a month off for every year we worked to recharge. For example, THE ATTACK PACK took 4 years and some change, so we took a hiatus from December to April. Then, everything just sort of starts over again.
BD: What can you share with us about any other creators with whom you have worked to develop Attack Mountain’s releases, including The Grey Man and SOS: Special Operative Stories?
ATKMTN: Most of what we do is in-house – art, design, programming, etc. There are a few exceptions, though, and that’s where our collaborators come in.
They’re fully contracted and usually brought on to fill in a gap that we don’t have time to fill ourselves, or we bring them on because we need their expertise to bring the best out in an idea. Our longest collaborator is Dudu Torres, an amazing illustrator from Brazil. He does all of our concept and cover art, so he is involved in pretty much everything we do from early on. We’ve been working with him for about five years now. He's a wonderful guy and he gets our whole vibe better than most people we've worked with.
We also tend to outsource our music, but we’re pretty particular. We vet dozens of candidates before picking anyone for that role, since it’s a huge and important piece to any game. For SOS we licensed an album from C-Jeff, an amazing chiptunes composer and co-founder of the Ubiktune label. For The Grey Man, we hired a pair of classically trained musicians (Jon Middleman and Alex Visciotti) to record an entire soundtrack from scratch using live instruments. For Quack Attack, we licensed music from Jake ‘Virt’ Kaufman (Shovel Knight, Double Dragon Neon, Shantae series), who Joe is a longtime friend of.
Then, there's "Sweet Steve" Woodzell, our versatile everyman. He does each game's individual logo work, scores our trailers, and whatever assorted pickup work that needs doing on the outward-facing stuff. He's a machine and our go-to guy for lots of different things. He's a fixer.
Since we both worked in the industry for 10 years apiece, we have a lot of talent we can pull from, from AAA to indies. It's really all about what we need at the time and how much we can afford.
BD: You recently released the three-game bundle pack known as “The Attack Pack,” which collects Quack Attack 1985, The Grey Man, and SOS: Special Operative Stories. What can you tell us about how best to purchase this bundle, and on what platforms are your games playable?
ATKMTN: The best way to pick these games up is on Steam. You can buy SOS and Grey Man individually for $8.99, and Quack Attack 1985: Turbo DX Edition for 99 cents – or, you can get all three in the bundle for $12.99. They complement each other pretty well, since one is a fast-paced action game, another one’s a slow exploration/puzzle game, and one’s a classically styled arcade game that will make your eyes bleed and fall out.
BD: What do you hope that players take away from your video game projects?
ATKMTN: We want the people who play our games to have fun. Everything past that is pretty good, man.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
ATKMTN: See here.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Attack Mountain?
ATKMTN: There’s a few ways to connect with us. Our site is a hub right now (www.attackmountain.com). You can follow us on Twitter at @attackmountain, which is one of the fastest ways to get in touch with us. You can also leave us a Facebook message, but we get a lot of spam on that one from people who want free keys. We tend to be on the quiet side while we’re working on things, but we always take the time to say what's up if someone reaches out. Drop us a line!