Last month we interviewed Darrin Henein, he’s the design lead for Firefox Mobile at Mozilla. During our interview with Darrin we learned that he is also the creator of the popular iOS game Lastronaut. In his interview, Darrin talked a lot about learning by doing and not being afraid to just try something. Having always wanted to create a game, he finally felt he’d picked up enough skills through his career to give it a shot.
The game started as a side-project, he and his friend Stephan Leroux worked on it in their spare time over the course of two years. When it launched in the App Store they hoped it would be played by a few thousand people but never expected the response they had. It was recently nominated for Best Indie Game 2015 by the Canadian Videogame Awards. We thought it would be interesting to catch up with Darrin and learn more about his experience developing and launching Lastronaut.
For people who haven’t played what’s the basic premise behind Lastronaut?
At its core it's an infinite runner. I didn't want to invent a whole new type of game and have to think about game mechanics while I was just learning to make a game. I figured "let me start with something that's kind of simple and a little bit more understood as far as game design goes." It was clearly heavily inspired by popular games at the time, like Jetpack Joyride.
Basically, I had this story in my head about an astronaut who—after this apocalyptic war with the robots, obviously—ends up being the last human on Earth. He's tasked with piloting the last rocket ship off of Earth as humans are quickly abandoning it. He's running through all sorts of chaos and madness to try and get to this ship. As a player you're running, avoiding obstacles, and you have a couple of different weapons that you can fight back with. That simple premise ended up being far more complicated than we initially had hoped, but at least we weren’t reinventing a whole new type of game.