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A Nostalgia Trip With Warp Creative Director Kelly Smith

In the start of a new feature series, one of the leads behind Trapdoor's Warp explains why Combat for the Atari 2600 is his favorite game ever.

Sure, Combat looks simple from the outside, but if you take the time, there can be way more to it.

There’s your first game, and there’s your favorite game.

For me, on most days, it’s Mega Man 2. On other days, it’s Deus Ex. Cop out? Yeah, absolutely.

Our favorite games inform so much about our playing habits. Mega Man 2 institutionalized my love for hard-as-nails platformers, while Deus Ex...well, I just really loved Deus Ex, and it mostly spoiled me on games with a deep story and engaging player choices.

Rather than going on and on about my favorites, I’m going to ask developers (weekly, if I can help it, but probably not) about their favorite games, and how said games have influenced them. This is meant to be short, sweet, and to the point, with a set of questions hopefully provoking interesting answers.

First up, Trapdoor creative director Kelly Smith. Trapdoor’s Warp, published by Electronic Arts, kicks off Microsoft’s “House Party” promotion on Xbox Live Arcade this week. If you’re not familiar with Warp, our lengthy Quick Look EX should get you up to speed, but here's what you need to know: you can possess dudes and blow 'em up. Neat.

(Note: This feature doesn't have a name. I kept trying to come up with something clever, and failed. Ideas?)

Giant Bomb: If you’re forced to choose only one, what’s your favorite video game?

Kelly Smith: Combat for the Atari 2600. It might not be the best game I’ve ever played, but there are few games I can think of that I remember more fondly.

GB: Do you know how old you were when you first played Combat? What do you remember?

Smith: When I was a kid my family really encouraged us to be interested in technology. For Christmas one year my grandparents got us an Atari 2600 and I’ve never looked back. We had the Pitfall games, Crackpots, Frostbite, River Raid, and lot of other great games, but Combat was easily what I played the most. I was always bugging everybody in the family to play with me, but if nobody was around I would just practice by myself.

GB: Now, the hard part: why is Combat your favorite video game? What makes it stand above all others?

Smith: It largely comes down to nostalgia and the impact it had on my life. Even after we had a Genesis and SNES, the ol’ wood paneled Atari stayed connected nearby. I’m certain that Christmas gift from my grandparents had a huge role in me eventually working in this industry.

GB: Do you still return to Combat every so often? How come? What changes when you go back?

Smith: I don’t really play it much anymore because it’s hard to find people to play with. A few years ago a friend got me one of those replica 2600 consoles with the games built into it. We played a bunch that night and it was exactly like I remembered, janky controls and all. I think it would have felt wrong without them.

Needless to say, I got a pretty big kick out of the Giant Bomb Holiday Nostalgiafest.

GB: Has Combat influenced the way you make video games? In what ways?

Smith: Combat is a great example of how minor changes in core mechanics will dramatically alter how you play. I like to start with an idea and then list all of the ways it could branch off, eventually picking out the ones that are the most appealing.

Some of the strange later game modes may have also played a part in my fascination with asymmetrical multiplayer. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to explore that in future projects.

Part of the reason Combat's fondly remembered is because it was a launch title for the Atari 2600.

GB: When you first played Combat, you just played games for fun. Today, you make them. How does that color the experience?

Smith: Thinking about the mechanics of the world while you play can often spoil the experience, but I can also appreciate the effort and talent that goes into my favorite games. Even if there is something frustrating in a game, I try to think about WHY it’s that way rather than just cursing too much. From past experience, it’s usually a pretty reasonable production issue, not just somebody being lazy.

GB: In a single sentence, convince anyone reading this why, if they haven't, they should play Combat.

Smith: Sometimes if you sneak up on somebody and lock your tank into theirs, you can throw them through the screen.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
46 Comments
Posted by patrickklepek
Sure, Combat looks simple from the outside, but if you take the time, there can be way more to it.

There’s your first game, and there’s your favorite game.

For me, on most days, it’s Mega Man 2. On other days, it’s Deus Ex. Cop out? Yeah, absolutely.

Our favorite games inform so much about our playing habits. Mega Man 2 institutionalized my love for hard-as-nails platformers, while Deus Ex...well, I just really loved Deus Ex, and it mostly spoiled me on games with a deep story and engaging player choices.

Rather than going on and on about my favorites, I’m going to ask developers (weekly, if I can help it, but probably not) about their favorite games, and how said games have influenced them. This is meant to be short, sweet, and to the point, with a set of questions hopefully provoking interesting answers.

First up, Trapdoor creative director Kelly Smith. Trapdoor’s Warp, published by Electronic Arts, kicks off Microsoft’s “House Party” promotion on Xbox Live Arcade this week. If you’re not familiar with Warp, our lengthy Quick Look EX should get you up to speed, but here's what you need to know: you can possess dudes and blow 'em up. Neat.

(Note: This feature doesn't have a name. I kept trying to come up with something clever, and failed. Ideas?)

Giant Bomb: If you’re forced to choose only one, what’s your favorite video game?

Kelly Smith: Combat for the Atari 2600. It might not be the best game I’ve ever played, but there are few games I can think of that I remember more fondly.

GB: Do you know how old you were when you first played Combat? What do you remember?

Smith: When I was a kid my family really encouraged us to be interested in technology. For Christmas one year my grandparents got us an Atari 2600 and I’ve never looked back. We had the Pitfall games, Crackpots, Frostbite, River Raid, and lot of other great games, but Combat was easily what I played the most. I was always bugging everybody in the family to play with me, but if nobody was around I would just practice by myself.

GB: Now, the hard part: why is Combat your favorite video game? What makes it stand above all others?

Smith: It largely comes down to nostalgia and the impact it had on my life. Even after we had a Genesis and SNES, the ol’ wood paneled Atari stayed connected nearby. I’m certain that Christmas gift from my grandparents had a huge role in me eventually working in this industry.

GB: Do you still return to Combat every so often? How come? What changes when you go back?

Smith: I don’t really play it much anymore because it’s hard to find people to play with. A few years ago a friend got me one of those replica 2600 consoles with the games built into it. We played a bunch that night and it was exactly like I remembered, janky controls and all. I think it would have felt wrong without them.

Needless to say, I got a pretty big kick out of the Giant Bomb Holiday Nostalgiafest.

GB: Has Combat influenced the way you make video games? In what ways?

Smith: Combat is a great example of how minor changes in core mechanics will dramatically alter how you play. I like to start with an idea and then list all of the ways it could branch off, eventually picking out the ones that are the most appealing.

Some of the strange later game modes may have also played a part in my fascination with asymmetrical multiplayer. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to explore that in future projects.

Part of the reason Combat's fondly remembered is because it was a launch title for the Atari 2600.

GB: When you first played Combat, you just played games for fun. Today, you make them. How does that color the experience?

Smith: Thinking about the mechanics of the world while you play can often spoil the experience, but I can also appreciate the effort and talent that goes into my favorite games. Even if there is something frustrating in a game, I try to think about WHY it’s that way rather than just cursing too much. From past experience, it’s usually a pretty reasonable production issue, not just somebody being lazy.

GB: In a single sentence, convince anyone reading this why, if they haven't, they should play Combat.

Smith: Sometimes if you sneak up on somebody and lock your tank into theirs, you can throw them through the screen.

Staff
Posted by Morningstar

Neat stuff!

Posted by skinnyluigi

hi

Edited by dekkadekkadekka

Retrofluential? I dunno, I got nothing.

Retrobates?

Posted by Deathpooky

You could just do what the Food Network did - give up being clever. The Best Game I Ever Played.

Posted by Doctorchimp

What's in a Game?

Posted by zameer

Totally support this feature; this is why I'm glad Alex & Patrick are on news.

Posted by zockroach

Awesome feature!

Posted by mrfluke

good shit patrick, will be interesting to see if you can keep this up weekly, and more interesting to see who you get to do this, im sure people like  jaffe and tim schafer would be down to do this

Posted by Airickson

This is a great feature -- especially if it remains short and to the point. I enjoy hearing what inspires game developers.

Nostalgia Corner

Inspiration Corner

Posted by Rasta_Zergling
Posted by Sporkbane

Nostalgia night? Patrick's Passions? I dunno.

Cool feature!

Edited by umdesch4

Yeah, keep doing these, Patrick, and I'll keep reading 'em. Great idea!

PS. If, occasionally, you happen to get a video response, I'd watch that too...

Posted by TheHBK

Damn Patrick has game! Hittin on game industry chicks. WOOOOO!

Step yo game up!
Posted by samsara

I don't think you need to categorize and name these different features. As far as I'm concerned they're all called "Patrick has an Open Conversation with Somebody Interesting". Maybe there's a subtitle of "A Strangely Rare Phenomena in Gaming Media".

Posted by BitterAlmond

@TheHBK said:

Damn Patrick has game! Hittin on game industry chicks. WOOOOO!

Kelly Smith is a man. Pay attention to your pronouns, sir.

Posted by BisonHero

@BitterAlmond said:

@TheHBK said:

Damn Patrick has game! Hittin on game industry chicks. WOOOOO!

Kelly Smith is a man. Pay attention to your pronouns, sir.

Indeed.

Posted by MrGtD

Patrick, just call the feature "Playing Favorites" and be done with it.

Edited by mnzy

Video Game Antics with your host: Patrick Klepek.

Online
Posted by White_Silhouette

Interesting feature, look forward to more.

Posted by EatBolt

Good stuff!

Posted by Yummylee

Should of asked him how he reacted to the Tank Combat homage in Saints Row The Third.

Posted by JerseyDriver

What is a game?

A miserable pile of secrets!

Posted by bushpusherr

I would refrain from calling it anything to do with nostalgia, because it doesn't necessarily have to be a play on nostalgia for it to be their favorite game (even though most of them probably will).

Edited by I_smell

I wish this was a video or podcast feature, cos then I wouldn't have to do as much reading. But then-- I want everything to be in video or podcast form. It's 2012!

Patty P's Quickfire Quiz-Time Bonanza Starring Patrick Klepek: Videogames! Videogames! Videogames! Chapter 1

Posted by BisonHero

@I_smell said:

I wish this was a video or podcast feature, cos then I wouldn't have to do as much reading. But then-- I want everything to be in video or podcast form. It's 2012!

Patty P's Quickfire Quiz-Time Bonanza Starring Patrick Klepek: Videogames! Videogames! Videogames! Chapter 1

Your suggested name made me think of a more serious suggestion: "Oh Video Games, with Patrick Klepek". It's becoming Patrick's signature phrase, so he might as well use it for something.

Posted by Scratch

@MrGtD said:

Patrick, just call the feature "Playing Favorites" and be done with it.

I approve.

Posted by Rox360
@Doctorchimp said:

What's in a Game?

EA Sports.
Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

The name needs to be original....hmmmm

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Posted by Tan

"No game no fame"

Posted by bayushi

Combat is probably my favorite Atari 2600 game of all time. Followed by Warlords.

The combat tank mini game was AWESOME.

Posted by thanosrules

This game is awesome! Very challenging, but also entertaining and cute. :)

Edited by buzz_clik

@mnzy said:

Video Game Antics with your host: Patrick Klepek.

I totally support VGAs hosted by Patrick Klepek.

And yeah, Combat is totally one of my all-time favourites as well. Tank Pong is still such a blast.

Moderator
Posted by TheHBK

@BisonHero said:

@BitterAlmond said:

@TheHBK said:

Damn Patrick has game! Hittin on game industry chicks. WOOOOO!

Kelly Smith is a man. Pay attention to your pronouns, sir.

Indeed.

Ahhhh gross! Kelly is a girl's name.

Posted by mdnthrvst

I concur with Playing Favorites.

Posted by demazin

I like Playing Favorites too.

What about?

"Developing a Favourite"

Posted by Xeiphyer

I agree with the smart people. Playing Favourites is a great name.
 
Playing Favourites: The Patrick Klepek story.

Posted by Strife777

I'm looking forward to seeing more of this. Good article.

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

Here you go, Patrick: Giant Bomb Plays the Oldies.

Posted by KaneRobot

Playing Favorites is dumb. No one is playing anything. If you get these guys sitting down and playing 'em while talking about it and make it a video feature, then the name fits.

DISCUSSING Favorites - now that's a name! Or not.

Edited by Rmack

@Dark_Lord_Spam said:

Here you go, Patrick: Giant Bomb Plays the Oldies.

Perfect.

I really like this idea, and as others have said, I would listen to it in podcast form if anyone wanted to do that too.

Edited by fishless

How about calling it ---> "What's your favorite game?" Or "Favorite games"

Posted by evanbower

I think "Nostalgia Trip" is a good enough name. To the point, like all GB feature names.

Posted by Gimpy

Developing Taste?

Posted by derakodouchebag

I'm pretty pumped to play this :D

Posted by plainplease

Was this a one-shot feature, or were there more of these interviews?