Deliverance: The post apocalyptic pizza delivery game

In a post-apocalyptic world where every store’s shelves have been raided and every farm has been destroyed, what is there to eat? Pizza, of course! At least that’s what’s for dinner in Deliverance, the latest mobile title from Ellicott City-based developer and UMBC graduate Paul Tschirgi. Following the release of his first major title, Tschirgi shares with BaltimoreGamer his biggest inspirations as an animator, his experience with working on the game, as well as what the future holds for him as an artist and developer.

DL: What was your biggest inspiration in becoming an animator? Did you always have a specific interest in video gaming?

PT: I always loved movies, especially ones with twists and in-depth characters and story. As I grew up and played more games I realized that the really big games made by huge studios were the ultimate media/entertainment medium. A combination of cutscenes and storyline and characters that you actually get to know in an episodic way through missions and levels where you interact with other characters.

paul_tschirgiWhen I was in high school I made short films in 3d animation and focused on special fx in live action movies. By the time I got to college I realized that in a movie you have about 2 hours to tell the story you want to tell, but in games you can make the story personalized to the player and explore characters and twists for 10 hours or even more at levels of depth that you could never get to in a movie. Combine that with working with beautiful soundtrack compositions that play themes throughout and the most important element: what the player does from jumping and fighting to persuasive dialog options and puzzle solving. 3D animation quickly became my favorite way to make characters and tell stories. I wasn’t limited by anything in the virtual world and I could make much more fantastic things by myself on a computer than with a bunch of friends, a green screen, and a camera.

DL: Having finished school at UMBC, and staying local to the Baltimore area thereafter, does the area in general or work by local dev companies like Big Huge Games or Mohawk Games, both based in Baltimore County, influence your work in any way?

PT: Big Huge, Mohawk, and Pure Bang and a few other smaller local game developers influenced how I decided to pursue my goals in a big way. I saw the rise and fall of Zynga with Farmville and many other In App Purchases. It was really great luck to be able to go to local meetups of the studios and hear their insight on what kind of game they most want to make, which games they can build with what kind of team, and what kind of game the players want. They all cared so much about making something they could be proud of that brought fun or happiness to someone else. That core goal has stuck with me and I really try to find out what makes the games I make fun for other people. With any luck I share a lot of the same tastes in fun and stories as the people who buy my game and the process for making it fun is also making it fun for myself.


DL: On a big game like Deliverance, how is the work divided amongst your team? You are an animator and artist by trade- do you also have input on other aspects of your games such as storyline?

PT: I started Deliverance right after a programmer friend of mine landed a professional job at EA and I decided that I needed to learn coding for myself. I had been teaching myself 3D animation for about 8 years by that point and was confident I could make all the 3d models, textures, and animations I would need for the game. Thanks to the Game Developer’s Club at UMBC I had the perfect learning environment for picking up programming in Unity, the game engine I was using. The great joy and difficulty of the project is that I was in charge of everything. I wrote and re-wrote the story for the game about 4 times and I even scrapped whole animated sequences from the game when I felt like it dragged on too long and didn’t put the player in the action soon enough.

On my best days working on the project I would wake up write a daily journal about the Greece level I had finished making and how I had to paint it and then test driving around in it. On my worst days trying to boost my motivation to work on a project that took 3 years to complete, I would try to bribe myself with fast food or breaks if I could finish just one more monument for a level.

The first two years my organization was great, filling a whole 2 journals with notes about the project, how to make it fun and still tell a story I liked. The last year was haphazard. I became desperate to finish the game and move on. I had finished working on all the “fun” parts of the game like characters, weapons, and levels. I now had to make the game save and load properly, add more controls such as touch screen. I worked on a mini-game to make pizzas that was fraught with glitches and crashing. I used up all my savings to contract voice overs and music, which I absolutely love and never regretted, but I ran out of money all when working on the game became a chore. I had to figure out how to setup the game on the app store and google play store and fit all the required settings. It felt amazing to get to choose at every crossroads, but it gives me a great appreciation for projects where other people are involved and I don’t have to.


DL: Having played Deliverance, it is a great mobile game that has the feel of something bigger, like a PC game. As a developer, do you plan to focus on creating and releasing mobile games, or are there plans to develop something for PC or even a console application?

PT: I have always loved PC and console games. For their intense and sometimes complex controls/gameplay as well as their occasionally groundbreaking stories and cinematic experiences. I have one big console/PC game project that I started my freshman year of college that is too large in scope for me to complete on my own like Deliverance was made. My goal is to generate enough interest in Deliverance to be able to hire on a few people to pursue that game. In the meantime I want to write a novel based on the game’s story and find some way of financing this dream as a completed game in the future. I sell my 3d models online and also make youtube tutorials and videos, but so far I can barely pay my own bills. Forget paying other people on the side for now.

You can learn more about Deliverance and several other of Tschirgi’s projects here.


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