I got into the gaming industry by forming Sunspire Studios with several friends from school. All of the current and past team members met at the Computer Graphics Lab (CGL) at the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada, where we were Master's students. Some of us (like myself) were pursuing CS degrees, while others were pursuing MFA degrees (Master's of Fine Arts). So this environment was the perfect place for gathering the required skills necessary to start a game company. The original idea for starting a company came from Rick Knowles and Mark Riddell; they approached several people in the lab, including myself, in December 1999 with their ideas for a new game.
2. What other games were you involved in?
All of my other game development work has been on various "pet projects" that were never released publicly. As a game developer, Tux Racer is my first professional project.
3. Do you think that Linux can become a good gaming platform?
Wow, that's a loaded question. You're assuming that it isn't already a good gaming platform! I think that Linux is a great gaming platform -- it's stable, fast, free, has good development tools and support libraries, and has good drivers (faster than Windows in some cases) for several major lines of graphics cards. So (for example) in a game-console type of environment, Linux would be a great platform.
What's holding Linux back (in the desktop gaming arena, at least) is that setting all this up can be very tricky for the novice (and even the expert at times ). However, as progress is made to bring Linux to more desktops, this situation will only get better, and that should help to increase the popularity of Linux as a desktop gaming platform.
4. What started Tux Racer?
Tux Racer originated as a final project for a computer graphics graduate course that I took at the University of Waterloo in the summer of 1999. People really seemed to enjoy the game (even though it was still very primitive), and so I decided to keep working on it and released it to the public in early 2000.
Sunspire decided to adopt Tux Racer as its first project in August 2000, and serious development on the game began shortly thereafter.
5. What do you like most of the game?
I'm a graphics guy, and so I have to say that I really like how the game looks. This is largely due to the great textures and models that Mark and Rick created, but I also think that we did a pretty good job on the engine as well.
Even after spending so long with the game, I'm still often impressed with the visuals in the game.
6. What was the hardest to accomplish?
While there were some very challenging technical hurdles, I think the toughest thing about making a game (especially when you're a self-funded startup like we are) is finding the perseverance and determination to keep moving forward and finish the project. Luckily, our team fed very well off each other -- if one person was having a down period, others would be working on cool features and that kept the team motivated. The few "death march" periods we went though as we struggled to meet deadlines were also pretty tough, but we survived.
7. Have the sales generated enough gross income to break even yet?
Sorry, it's our policy not to discuss sales or revenue figures publicly.
8. What sort of game are you planning to make next? Any ideas yet, is a project ready, or are you still just working on getting Tux Racer refined?
We're still in the brainstorming and planning stage for the next project. We're also still very busy with Tux Racer -- providing support, working on the marketing and distribution aspects, preparing for the release of the level editor, etc.
9. Does it look like Tux will be in retail any time soon?
We're hoping to have Tux Racer in retail stores this Spring, but we're still in negotiations at this point.
10. Should Tux go on a diet?
Actually, he has lost some weight from all the racing he's done since the 0.61 release... who knew eating all those herring was also a great workout?
11. If Tux does well in sales, will there be a console port?
That is certainly something we're looking at, but we have no definite plans yet.
12. If a console port is possible, which system would get the port? PS2, Gamecube, XBox?
We haven't made a decision in this area. It will likely depend on various practical considerations (given that our resources are quite limited), in addition to the technical issues. The Gamecube would be a fairly logical choice though, since Tux Racer is a title that appeals to the family audience, and this is a market that Nintendo targets very well.
That said, an XBox port would be interesting simply from the amount of press it would generate. :)