Check out my interview with the team behind "Inertial Drift"

Ben: How long have you been working in the games industry?

  • "My first job was for my placement year in uni in 2013, so 10 years at this point."

What’s the story behind your game?

  • "Inertial Drift is an arcade racer with a unique twin-stick control scheme that gives you independent
    control over steering drifting. The goal was to create an old school arcade racer where drifting is your
    main tool for negotiating corners and each car has its own unique playstyle."

 What inspired the design of this game? Where’d the idea come from? Other games/content that
helped inspire it?

  • "I really just missed old-school arcade racers and I wanted to make something in that space and put my
    own spin on it. The idea for the twin-stick controls partly came from Skate. The way they totally
    reimagined the controls for that genre, I was thinking about what that could look like for a racing game,
    but where they were trying to make the experience feel more realistic, I was thinking more about just
    giving the player as much control as possible."

  • "The first game I worked on was a side-scrolling combat game where we'd spent a lot of time looking at
    things like Devil May Cry and I was a big fan of Demon Souls. The things that stuck out most to me about
    those games were how they tried to differentiate weapons by play style not just by stats and so I tried to
    bring a lot of that to Inertial Drift too when I was designing the car handling. I wanted each of them to
    be a little puzzle for you to work out and to have them feel as dramatically different as possible to drive."

What was your role in this game?

  • "The game was originally my spare time project until my friend Tom Mathews came on board. I did all the
    programming, most of the design, writing and a lot of the business stuff. Tom handled basically all of the
    art, we outsourced the audio work to a local company (thought I was still heavily involved in the
    direction there), but I did almost everything else."

Why this game - what made your team want to make this game versus games in other genres,
styles, etc?

  • "I just love arcade racers and I felt like I had something to add that other games weren't doing. Tom got
    on board because I had a decent playable demo going that already felt pretty good and we just refused
    to stop until it was done."

What has the reception of this game been like?

  • "The reception has been great. I really wasn't sure how people would react to it given that we were doing
    something relatively strange controlwise, but people seemed to get it pretty quickly and it was great to
    see so many positive reviews come in for a thing that I'd really just been making for myself in the beginning."

Any important lessons learned in the game since release?

  • "There's a thousand things I would do differently if we were to do it again, but the decisions I made I had
    to make because of budget constraints and just the reality of how hard it is to finish something so I don't
    really have regrets. I'm really proud of what we achieved."

Work life - what’s it like working at the studio?

  • "Feels weird to call it a studio when it's really just two of us. Most of the project we just worked from
    home, even before covid. At the moment we're helping out another local studio so we spend a lot of
    time in their offices which is nice. It's easier for me to focus when I'm not at home at this point, but I
    find that varies depending on what stage of a project we're at."

What does your day-to-day look like?

  • "I try to get to do as much programming as possible, that's what I enjoy doing the most, but often I'll
    have to switch over to deal with business-related things or directing other people, it really depends on
    the stage of the project. I think that's always the reality with a very small indie team where everyone
    basically has multiple jobs."

A lot of viewers also want to work in games, what advice do you have for those wanting to work
in gaming? Especially for your role?

  • "I think good advice on how to get into the industry probably varies quite a lot on where you live. Here in
    Northern Ireland we currently have some good funding opportunities for small projects that we were
    lucky enough to get to take advantage of. On the other hand we don't really have many studios and the
    ones we have are mostly small. If I'd lived somewhere else I'd likely have had a very different path."

    "Regardless though, I think these days, with so many free tools like Unity and Unreal available, the most
    valuable thing you can do is just to start building stuff yourself for experience. Besides that, if you can,
    having some understanding of other disciplines is also something that I've found to be really valuable. It
    just makes communicating cross-discipline a lot easier and that's a huge deal in games."

For people unfamiliar with this genre, what should they know about the game?

  • "The obvious thing is the twin-stick controls. That will be unusual even for avid racing game fans. It was
    something I was concerned people would struggle with, but what I've seen from people playing is that
    after a few laps people get used to it and then the level of control you get lets you do things you might
    struggle to do in other racing games."

Is it accessible for new players?

  • "Yeah, there are definitely difficult cars in the game, but the easiest ones were designed for players
    who've never played a racing game before to give them as gentle an intro as possible. There is content
    in there for people of every skill level."

What’s the best way to learn/master the game? In-game? Community resources?

  • "I think just getting in there and experimenting with different cars is a great way to go. There are cars for
    all skill levels and the story mode is designed to introduce some cars to you and carry you up through
    the difficulty levels. There's lots of people on our discord though who can dole out advice on how to
    tackle specific cars also."

Any cool community stories to share?

  • "It's been great generally just seeing people push the limits and smash all the times I'd set myself. There
    will always be people better than you and that can make balancing quite challenging. There's a great
    community on Discord organizing races and managing a cross-platform community leaderboard which
    isn't something I'd expected to happen."

How do you balance implementing community suggestions/feedback with following your own
design/vision choices?

  • "With this game, it was almost entirely built before anyone got their hands on it and given the budgets
    we had, there weren't really opportunities to dramatically change anything based on feedback, but that
    feedback has definitely helped shape the direction I would take another game in if we have the
    opportunity to make it."

Anything you can share about future plans for your studio?

  • "Now that we've wrapped up Inertial Drift with the Twilight Rivals DLC I've started thinking about what
    we might do next, but we have no plans yet."

Anything you want to plug before we sign off? Socials, Steam, etc

Bonus Questions!

What is your favorite game of all time?

  • "Ridge Racer Type 4."

What was the first real game you ever played?

  • "Ridge Racer (maybe?) I'm not totally sure."

Are there any Games you’re playing the most right now, when you have time?

  • "Ooblets
    Hifi Rush
    Gran Turismo 7
    Ridge Racer 2"

Is there one underrated game that you think more people should play?

  • "Rainy Day Racer."

Is there one overrated game/series that you never really got into?

  • "I love Demon Souls and Elden Ring was great, but I've bounced off Dark Souls so many times and I'm not
    sure why."

What element matters most to you in a game? (Competition, art + music, immersion, etc)

  • "Mechanical depth/variety and how the game introduces you to that depth."
  • Former M.
    Former M.

    The interview was excellent. Looking forward to playing this one.

  • Pretty cool!

  • Knowing that Ridge Racer Type 4 was the favorite, it explains why the game itself is so fun!

  • Very cool!

  • Awesome interview!