The Con behind the Artist

Con Artist

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Chris Condon, better known as Con Artist. But you can call me Con, everyone does. I live in Melbourne, Australia.

What sparked your interest in Flash gaming and, more specifically, how did you get into Flash development?
My first introduction to Flash was when I dropped out of my horribly boring Computer Systems course at University to join a web design company that my friends had started. The very first Flash lesson I ever recieved was from a 16 year old work experience kid (I was 20 at the time). I spent 7 years in web design doing everything from banner ads in Flash all the way through to multiplayer gaming portals for the Australian Defence Force.

What was the first game you made and what happened to it?
Depends how far back we want to go here. In terms of any sort of game, it would be a board game that was based on Street Fighter II, spent many hours coercing my little brother into playing it with me. First computer game would be a text adventure that I coded in basic on an old Apple II back when I was about 12. But my very first Flash game was a competitive woodchopping game for a state fair website. It was a button masher as you watched your burly woodchopping guy work his way through a lump of wood. Rivetting stuff, it even had multiplayer (two players on the one keyboard). Client loved it we thought it was really average.

What are some things you like about developing in Flash as opposed to development for other platforms?
Being able to do everything myself. While at university I worked as a contractor for Epic Games on a modification for Unreal Tournament called Infiltration as a level designer, the whole 3D game creation frustrated me. The amount of time it took to do anything was enourmous, especially when very few of us were being paid to work on the game. If I needed a smoke animation, I’d have to get the animator to do it, then get the programmers to implement it and then have to have the latest beta updated and then I could get at it. Now with Flash I can do all those steps myself, no middle people involved.

Flash is by far the easiest level of entry for any form of complete “game engine”. It’s flexibility and ease to do all sorts of games is just unmatched.

Your Zombie and War games are amongst the most played on Armor Games and the entire web. Where does your inspiration come from for ‘The Last Stand’ and the ‘Warfare’ series?
The Last Stand came mostly from my love of zombie movies, especially George.A.Romero’s “Dead” series. But the actual inspiration came from a combination of watching 28 Days Later and playing Defend the House. There’s a scene in the movie where the main protagonists have holed up in a country mansion with some remnants of the army. They’ve built a barricade and are manning it, slaughtering zombies as they come towards them. After playing Defend the House I figured I could do it with zombies and that’d be more engaging by having a physical character running around doing the shooting instead of the omnipotent gun.

Warfare came from an old idea of mine to make a First World War modification for Unreal Tournament way back in 2001. After the Infiltration project, the team were throwing ideas around and I was hell bent on us doing WWI, but no-one else was interested. So combine that with playing too much Company of Heroes and my new found aptitude for making Flash games and you get Warfare.

A high level of quality and attention to detail is apparent in all of your games. Is this something you pride yourself with?
I wouldn’t really call it something I pride myself with, it’s more something I obsess about. I spend a lot of time doing and re-doing things, just today I’ve done 3 different melee weapon swinging animations and scrapped 2 of them becuase I wasn’t happy with them. I think coming from a commercial background probably made me this way because the work I did was never for me, it was always going to be for the person paying for it. Everything I made needed to be top notch so as to avoid scrutiny from clients. Now that I’m making the games I want, I’m compelled to make them better than those old games, can’t have only those corporate clients getting all the good stuff now, can we.

Typically, how long is one of your games in production before it’s released?
The ideas for new games brew for a long time, months sometimes and generally before I’ve finished the game I’m working on at the time. But once I get started, I’ll spend 2 weeks or so in pre-production and planning (writing documents, figuring stuff out) and then 3.5 – 4 months of actual production. I’ve found that artwork and animation seems to be the biggest chunk of time, followed shortly by programming and sound design.

Which of your Flash games is your favorite, and what makes it your favorite?
That’s like asking to choose your favourite child! Out of all of them, probably Last Stand 2. I’ve definitely played that more than the others. I enjoy it because there’s not many other Flash games that are similar, it’s just a good old fashion slaughterfest with a bit of management thrown in. I think the thing that carries it though is that the theme is so strong. It’s definitely struck a chord amongst the fans as it seems every one of them has a zombie apocalypse survival plan. The Warfare games I haven’t played much since finishing them, purely because I played them so much during production.

When you are not developing Flash games, what are some things that you enjoy doing?
I play entirely too many video games, I have every console and platform known to man and I purchase pretty much every game that’s any good. I love film, television and metal. Give me something directed by Martin Scorsese, some Deadwood to watch, some Slayer to listen to and I’m a happy man. Besides that, hanging out with my friends eating / drinking / watching films, they’re a fun bunch of writers, musicians, teachers, gamers and generally clever people. They actually have a lot of input into my games too.

Could you tell us a little about some games you have in the works or planned for the future?
I’m currently working on the third installation in my favourite zombie series titled – The Last Stand: Union City. It’s a prequel set about 2 months before the first two games and has a more action RPG style to it. Think Fallout 3 meets Shadow Complex, with zombies. It’s early days yet, I’m looking at a first quarter of 2010 release. There’s some fact sheets on features and character info here:

It’s a fact: Guys are fascinated with Zombies, War, and Robotic Mechs. Are there any other themes you see Conartists pursuing in the future?
I’ve never actually looked at my games that way…I guess I was subconsciously tapping into something there. The themes I choose though do tend to dictate what games I make. I’ve got a few that have been floating around lately: Aliens, Medieval and Theivery. No plans for Ninjas, Pirates or Monkies at this stage.

Do you eat Vegamite?  (It’s Vegemite – Con)
I do. But, I prefer Promite, far superior product. Now excuse me while I go and hide from the Australian food police.

Thansk for answering our questions Con! If you enjoyed the interview make sure to leave a comment or stop by Con’s User Page and Thank Him for all the great games He makes.