Mechanic Miner – Preview & Interview

An Interview with the awe-inspiring Game Director and Programmer
Finn Nielsen at Hello John

What was the moment you realized you had to make Mechanic Miner?

I once built a working steam engine prototype with a 2-D physics engine. Watching it work made me happy & I decided I wanted to help others share in that experience by making it into a game.

What was the leading inspiration behind Mechanic Miner?

  • The Minecraft Alpha: I got myself hooked on building automated train systems with redstone. It was tricky, before powered rails, so you had to use a glitch to give speed to the train cars.
  • Flash Gordon, the comic strip from the 30’s: The world in which Mechanic Miner takes place is inspired by the planet Mongo with its many dangerous inhabitants and hostility
  • Dwarf Fortress: This game to me embodies how important it is that a sandbox-type game has a real game world with a history and lore to take place in. Also a forerunner for all the automation building possible in Minecraft.
  • Terraria: This game really showed me how a procedurally generated open world and RPG elements could work with 2D platformer style gameplay
  • Jules Vernes’ Journey to the Centre of the Earth and HG Wells’ The Time Machine (novels): These novels are great adventures of exploration and discovery that take place in eras of great technology advances. Much of the setting and characters, as well as the machinery itself is inspired by these.

Have there been many challenges so far in the creation of Mechanic Miner?

The fact that it was a crafting/building game with some complexity meant that it was hard to convince people who were not into this type of games, including money people. However, once we showed the game at Insomnia and after that started to invite people for the alpha, it became easier, because we had players who really liked the game and spent hours playing it.

You can build really complex machines in Mechanic Miner, so a lot of effort has gone into designing the building interface, and especially into refining it and doing experiments to make the learning curve easier, while at the same time preserving the complexity possible.

We have worked and iterated a lot on the game world and enemies and challenges, which need to fit the machinery types players can build, and provide fun challenges in machine building and use.

What was the biggest challenge while pursuing the dream?

It was hard to get someone to back us with funding, because the game was unusual in many ways. It is a mix of different genres, and as such did not fit well into “boxes” that investors often like to think about. Funding the development of the game did cost me a great deal of headache, but ended up in a good place it seems.

What’s your favorite creation of steam powered transportation?

During the alpha and lately the beta the community have created and built a plethora of contraptions and interesting machines, most of which we could not have dreamed up ourselves. It is genuinely hard to choose, but here are a couple which I am particularly fond of:

These walking drones by 23jhawk: //

…or this new fast-moving BB-8 by Thimzy: //

Do you have any favorite design types? e.g. planes, walkers, cars, etc.

The walking machines have always interested me, being impractical in many cases but very cool

A close runner-up is submarines, which we have already prototyped and on which we plan to base a whole act in the story mode…

Do you have any major plans you can tell us for Mechanic Miner post release?

We have posted a roadmap, which gives an overview over all the things we want to add to the game after the EA release (// There is a lot more stuff we wish to add to the game! Highlights include:

– modding interface

– more machine parts and sensor types

– more acts in the story mode with underwater and flying gameplay

– more off-the-rails gameplay types like farming or giant mechs (yes, I do like those walking machines!)

~Aaron Nicholls

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