Here is the great reddit post from May 2012, really interesting.
I’m Ian Verchere, the Executive Producer of www.familyguyonline.com. It’s a free-to-play online game, and it is not a typical “licensed” game. It’s good, so please AMA!
Q: Will we see many/any celebrity character cameos that we’ve grown familiar with in the series… or any Conway Twitty cutaways?
FGO_Ian: Some, for sure. We have “Quick Pops” in the game, which are things spread throughout the world that you can click on. Those act like cut-aways. In the baseball field of James Woods High, there is a dirt bike that will play the US national anthem 🙂
Q: When are you guys gonna make your mmo have less of a ridiculous graphics card demand? I have a decent card and it fails hard on my computer.
FGO_Ian:There’s a new build up today, and each build will have optimizations for frame rate, memory etc. We use the Unity3D player for FGO. Go to the forums, and there are MODS there to help you with questions like this.
Our first goal was to get it up and not crash servers, which we’ve been able to do (knock wood) since opening the beta on April 17th. With that done, and we’re a small team, we’re going to always be making improvements.
Q: Any other types of games you plan on building?, Are you going to go more into the online scene?, Do you have what it takes to build a WoW killer?, An MMO that mimics real life, that would allow players to work in real life professions, or commit real life-like crimes. Do you think that would make a good MMO?
FGO_Ian: Our company is also building Mechwarrior Tactics. I love all kinds of games, and want to do a platform MMO someday.
I think anyone who sets out to build a “WoW Killer” is going to get killed. I think you need to make the game you want to make, and one you want to play. Focus on that.
Q: Loved playing around in the beta, but there was one thing that bugged me. I’m positive I saw another character fly by me on a skateboard. Are we going to have mounts (or whatever you want to call them) in the future? And, will we be able to fight the Giant Chicken at some point too?
FGO_Ian: No skateboards or BTTF Hoverboards. There is a Delorean in there somewhere though LOL.
As for mounts – those are something we’ll bring in when we open up more open terrain and areas of Quahog. So that’s coming down the road.
As for Giant Chicken? He’s on like Donkey Kong for our mid-June content drop. You’ll need some friends to help you with that one!
Q: How do you start something like what you did? If you are guy in high school, what would you suggest to start something like you? (First steps).
FGO_Ian:I’d play games, but break down what is working for you and what isn’t. I’d learn to program or animate, and pick up some middleware or game editing kits and try building stuff. Find a company in your area and see if you can do QA for them. That’s testing, which is a surprisingly thankless job, but VERY important.
Q: Why did you decide to make Family Guy Online?
FGO_Ian:I wanted to make an MMLOL. There’s lots of sci-fi and fantasy stuff out there, but if you think of the way Family Guy references pop culture in the show, and bring that to games, it creates a lot of possibilities.
Q: is Seth macfarlane involved with the game?
FGO_Ian: Seth is doing original voice performances for the game, yes.
Q: how did you get started in the games industry?
FGO_Ian:By getting injured ski racing. I went to art school, and could animate, so I started at a small company that got bought by EA. A couple of us left to start Radical Entertainment in Vancouver.
Q: You said you’ve been in the industry for 25 years. Does that mean that you started with traditional animation? What games have you worked on that used 2D art as opposed to 3D? In today’s world, what would you say would be the next step for a traditional pencil & paper animator (with experience in relevant computer programs) to take the crossover step into the gaming industry? I ask as a 2D animator myself.
FGO_Ian:I have been in the industry full-time for 25 years, yes. I started with 2D animation on DPaint Animator. Battle of Olympus for Game Boy, Mario is Missing as well. I was the first animator outside of Nintendo Japan to be allowed to animate Mario. That was an honor for sure.
I believe if you can’t draw with a pencil you can’t draw with a mouse or Wacom. That being said, I’d encourage you to learn Maya. You have an advantage because you already know the principles of squash/stretch etc, and just have to learn the software.
Also, look at the game Sword and Sworcery. That’s a 2D game, so don’t let 3D stop you!
Q: What was it like working with Sega games? Did it take a long time to prototype your ideas, to make sure they’d work on that console(fun, playable, etc.)?
FGO_Ian: The Sega Genesis game was done for MTV, so not really any connection with Sega other than 16-bit cart and CQC. The game took a while because it was different from straight left>right scrollers at the time, plus you could toggle between Beavis and Butt-head. That was something no game had done before. It was a good project, and I still play it once in a while with an EMU.
Q: Have you met Seth Macfarlane personally? Is he as cool as he seems on TV in person?
FGO_Ian: I attend the reads for the show, and Seth is there. He is AMAZINGLY busy, completely cool and professional. He did a bunch of new stuff for the game, and it was great. Watching him go from Brian to Stewie to Quagmire to Peter in one take is very very impressive.
Q: I have always been really interested in game development. I haven’t done anything about it though. How would you suggest I get started?
FGO_Ian: You’ve answered your own question: Get started! Figure out what you want to do: code? art? design? produce? Then, look around your community for meet ups and start trying to find people that do what you don’t and get together. The barriers to entry are much lower than in Ye Olde Gaeme Days.
Q: When is Curious George getting back together?
FGO_Ian: Hah. Maybe when The Authorities ask us to play an Icelandic Punk Rock festival!
Q: Hey Ian, I’ve been playing Family Guy Online since the first wave of closed beta invites and would be interested in asking you some questions about the direction that the game is going.
I was wondering if any more legitimate MMO-Type content would be added soon, such as dungeons or raid type things Will there be performance increases in terms of server lag, I have a very powerful PC yet FGO always lags, so i’m fairly sure that it’s the servers because i have around 70FPS or so.
Will the game always be browser based or will there ever be a downloadable client (would increase performance greatly) I have many more questions where these came from but i don’t want to waste your time, also SSX Tricky is one of my all time favorite games ever, thank you for helping to create that.
FGO_Ian: Hi – sorry for delayed response; I’m transitioning to LAX here shortly. – dungeons and raid (end-game stuff) is in the longer term road map. We do want to be faithful to Family Guy (it’s not just D&D: Quahog), and we’re planning on how to do that. – that’s a Unity thing, and we’re working on that with them. – we’re looking at client DL. We’re not a big team, so we have to call our shots carefully. Input from people like you is very important to us, and will help us make decisions!
Thanks so much!
Q: Do you currently watch family guy? I know I’ll probably get some backfire for this but the show has slowly turned into a hit or miss sort of situation for me. Most of my friends don’t even give it the chance of watching it to see if it’s still funny. Have you seen any impact on your game since the new seasons were released? Most people agree that seasons 1 & 2 were comedy classics, so I’m pretty curious to hear your stance on it. Thanks for doing this!
FGO_Ian: Of course I watch Family Guy! We work very closely with Alex and Andrew, two senior writers and now Producers. I actually think the show is going through an amazing period, where they’re trying things, pushing ideas etc. Like games, not every idea works. When they do – like Metaverse, or Ep12 this year “Livin on a Prayer” it’s amazing. Thank you!
Q:What makes a good game in your opinion?
FGO_Ian: When I can’t stop playing it. Ultimately, the best games I’ve played (and designed) are the ones that get the deep core balance of REWARD vs CHALLENGE just right. This is very important, and many games rush out before they get it right. In a game like ours, we’re listening to what are gamers are saying, and constantly working to balance the game.
Q: As someone about to graduate with a degree in medieval studies but wants to get into the industry from a creative side (concepts, stories, character development) what would you recommend. Should I get a college diploma in computer arts or programming? Or can I apply straight away to creative positions? Should I submit game proposals to companies hoping they will hire me?
FGO_Ian: I would recommend continuing to study programming, especially C# and Java if you’re inclined. I’m always in favor of continuing your education, but most companies in the game industry want to look at portfolios and existing work.
I would not submit a game proposal unsolicited to any company. One, they won’t read it. Two, they probably have a similar idea in their development pipeline already, and they won’t even open what you send in for legal reasons. I know, because that’s how we all have to operate.
With the growth in the Indie game scene, and freeware dev environs like Unity (not to mention the web is your distribution), rather than “propose” a game, figure out a way to make it! Good luck!
Q: When is the level cap increasing?
FGO_Ian: Did you hit 15? There’s another update coming June 20th!
Q: I did. Ran out of quests by like level 12(I think) besides the repeatables. Ended up grinding out the rest of the way on the public quests. Needs more questing. More often then not I noticed even when a skill was off cooldown it still didn’t work ie. meg/chris’s self heal.
FGO_Ian: New update May 30, plus more stuff coming every couple of weeks in June including some grind and Mayor West meta-quest. Teen Class self-heal works, but I’ll check with QA and see if they can’t find something. Thanks for playing.
Q:What is your view on the latest trend in micro transactions around virtual products and games that are designed to be as psychologically addictive as possible to maximize profit?
As someone who hasn’t played your game, can you explain how FGO approaches things so as to avoid making me feel like I’m missing out on a key part of gameplay, can’t be competitive, etc. unless I pay real money?
FGO_Ian: FGO is a “mid-core” game. It’s not ATM-ville nor is it Call of Duty. It’s free. You can progress with Skill, with Time, or shorten the amount of time you need to progress with Money.
But again, the game is free. It’s dual currency, one is earned the other is paid. You can absolutely be competitive if you’re willing to use time and skill to progress. We designed it that way. If you want to save time, we’ll sell you stuff. Did I mention the game is free?
Q: Play some of the game. Will the game ever had a download client, so I can play from my desktop?
FGO_Ian: It’s a browser-based game, but we will bundle a dl client at some point down the road. Thanks for playing!
Q: Is there going to be any PVP in FGO? If so, how will it be implemented? Open world PVP area? Battlegrounds/Arenas?
FGO_Ian:That’s in the plan for sure. We’d like to get PvP in sooner rather than later. It won’t be open world, more skill-based in an instance, like Quahog Laser Tag or something. Thanks for the question!
Q: Laser Tag! FREAKIN’ SWEET. And no, thank you for the answer!