- Continuing the ‘Road to the IGF’ feature reprinted from Gamasutra, Patrick Murphy talked to GlobZ's Alex Houdent about his IGF 2008 Best Web Browser Game finalist Globulos.com, the multiplayer, multi-game environment where 20 different titles share the same core mechanic.

This is actually a pretty neat title that has been relatively hidden, so it's nice to see the IGF bringing it to light - it's been around for quite a long time. Anyhow, I'll stop interjecting myself into the intro and let Patrick take it away:

What kind of background do you have in the game industry or in making games?

Alex Houdent: I started the company with Olivier Besson in the previous century (end of 1999). Before that, we were freelancers. I was more into doing websites, and Olivier was into educational stuff. Then in 2001 Fabien Riffaud arrived, who had been a developer in a startup company for a short time, and Laurent Fernandez, who was more a self-taught guy, and working with us was his first job.

Both Fabien and Laurent had been making games for years before as a hobby during their teenage years. In 2004, Jeremy Damon arrived and he is also the kind of person that has always had an interest in games, in addition to playing the drums while drawing comic books.

What motivated you to create Globulos.com?

AH: We were doing single player games for a few years, and when Flash 5 was out in 2001, we were really excited by the possibility of doing multiplayer games.

Globulos.com was first released in 2003. It was our fourth multiplayer game. Multiplayer games playable in the web browser are great, because they maximize accessibility and fun. And the internet is really about making users interact, as we can see now with all that "web 2.0" wave.

Where did you draw inspiration from in its design and implementation?

AH: The first prototype was made by Olivier Besson. He had marbles in the sand in mind, mixed with some biological cells. The first game was supposed to be a racing game. The racing was not so fun, so the prototype was left as is.

Then Fabien Riffaud added the "Arena" game, which was great. Then Olivier said "let's do a soccer game" and Fabien did a great soccer game with the funny rules. Then I said "let's do a croquet game". Fabien turned that idea into another great game. Then Laurent Fernandez added the graphics and animations, and Globulos was born.

What sort of development tools are used by the team?

AH: Everything is made with Flash. The graphics are made using FreeHand, and then imported in Flash. For the server side, we use the Flash Media Server. For the database we use php/MySql.

What do you think the most interesting element of your game is?

AH: The fact that there is consistency and variety at the same time. All the games share the same core gameplay mechanic, which is great for the user. Once you have played one game, you know how to play all the games. However, the games sessions and strategies are really different between the games.

Roughly how many people have been working on Globulos.com, and what has the development process been like?

AH: As I mentioned before, Olivier, Fabien, Laurent and I started the game. Since then, Jeremy has done some animation work for the upcoming version of Globulos.com that is going to enter beta soon. We are also working on a Nintendo DS version of the game, as you can see in this video:

Frédéric Nouel (Lead) and Cédric Bourse are working on the DS game development.

If the GlobZ team had to rewind to the very start of the project, is there anything that you'd do differently?

AH: We would start with the sounds and music!

What are your thoughts on the state of independent game development, and are any other independent games out now that you admire?

AH: Indie games and teams are flourishing on different platforms (web, PC, DS, Xbox Live, mobile, etc.), which is great. That does not mean every team or game is successful! We have been big fans of Ferry Halim's work (orisinal.com) for ages. All Yosio Ishii's games are great also (http://www.nekogames.com/).
Yamago's http://www.yatsha.com/games/xtremsnow/ is great. Such gameplay is very common on the DS now. But their game was online (2002) even before the DS was out. More recently, Nitrome.com games are very fun to play.

You have 30 seconds left to live and you must tell the game business something very important. What is it?

AH: Could someone manage to have Woody Allen work on a video game?