Interview with The Indie Stone’s MashPotato

To start off the official launch of we have an exclusive interview with The Indie Stone’s MashPotato! Enjoy!

Adric: So Mash, being the only member of The Indie Stone from North America, how did you first get started with the team?

Mash: A few years back, there was a community called CGEmpire, which was focused on game creation and getting into the industry. It was run by a few people, including Chris, Andy, and Nickenstien. As time went on we became friends, and I found out that Chris and Andy (at that time, working at a game company) were also Lemmy and Binky, indie devs. I eventually began working with them on games, but we only became the IndieStone later on when CGEmpire was taken down and we began this site :)

Adric: What is your role in the development of Project Zomboid?

Mash: Dev-wise, my main job is inventory icons and environment tiles, although I kick in some design ideas from time to time too :)  I also maintain the @theindiestone twitter feed.

Adric: Project Zomboid has only been around for a relatively short time, but it is already getting a loyal fanbase. What do you think the reason is that the fanbase of PZ has grown so much in such a short time?

Mash:  I think there are a few factors.  A zombie game that focuses on survival fills a niche that gamers have been wanting for a while, as lots of people have their own plans for a zombie apocalypse, and not all of them involve shooting ;)  In keeping with that, having the community involved from the ground level allows people to voice those ideas and influence the project.  Reading the suggestions forum, you can see a passion for where the game should be going.  Having early modding support also allows the community to stretch its creative legs and have fun with the project even when not playing :)

Adric: There was a large amount of complaints during the confusion while waiting for the update to be released. When the promised time came and went a vocal minority voiced their displeasure at the lateness of the update. There were some fairly negative phrases being tossed around. Obviously the fans of Project Zomboid care deeply about the game to have such anger leveled towards having to wait for updates. Aside from the vocal minority, what is your take on the current playerbase?

Mash: The community has been great, overall :)  The vast majority have been very supportive and patient, and it’s really a pleasure seeing people enjoy what you’re working on.  On the other hand, while reading negative comments is not fun, it also indicates a positive in that people care about the game so much.  We really do appreciate the PZ community, and all that comes with it :)  Also, I want to give a shout-out to our lovely forum moderators, who help keep the community humming along.

Adric: What is your favourite thing about working on Project Zomboid?

Mash:  Seeing it come to life!    That has always been my favourite thing about working on games.

Adric: What is your least favourite thing about working on Project Zomboid?

Mash:  Hehe, once in a while I have to curse iso, but it’s getting better ;)

Adric: Since the ability to mod was released, there has been a wide range of player-generated content. Do you think user mods are going to be a large part of the future of Project Zomboid?

Mash: Oh definitely.  As you can see from reading the forums, there are lots of things that people disagree  about; some wanting a feature very strongly, while others DON’T want that feature just as strongly.  A good example of this is whether the player should have to deal with bathroom issues.  In the end, we make the decision as to whether it will appear in the vanilla game, but people will be free to mod the game to create the game experience they want :) 

Adric: Out of the mods available now do you have any favourites?

Mash: I must confess I haven’t played any mods yet!   Hopefully when I get some free time :)

Adric: As a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry, has that ever given you any problems?

Mash: This is a bit of a tricky question because I’m not really in the Industry (capital letter ;) ) perse.   I consider the Industry to be what Lemmy, Binky, and Nick left before becoming Indie, so from my viewpoint, I’m not so much in an industry as I’m working on a project with friends (who are as lovely as pie) :)  In keeping with that, I haven’t come across any problems due to my gender yet, and hopefully I won’t!  However, I’m still new at this and don’t have much experience; the only other indie dev that I’ve met in real life and worked with is Dan Marshall of Size Five Games (also as lovely as pie).  I’m not so naive as to think that it would be like this for all female developers, especially in a situation where you can’t choose your co-workers, as would be the case in most non-Indie situations.

Adric: Do you have any advice for women who would like to break into the game industry?

Mash:  Just keep at it!  I really do think lots of the current imbalance is due to demographics.  Compared to the previous generation, this generation of young females has grown up with video games, and a lot more will be wanting to make game development their career in the future.  I think the industry will be better for it, as diverse viewpoints can only lead to more diverse games.  Also, it’s my hope that having more females will bring changes to the negative working conditions that seems to be prevalent across the industry.  It may sound stereotypical, but whether they’re working or stay-at-home, women are usually the primary caregivers to their children (again, not in all cases).  Would they stand for situations where they’re working 70+ hour weeks?  Of course, it might go the opposite way and just lead to more women leaving the industry.  I hope it will be the former, and not the latter!

Adric: I know you can’t tell us anything about an eta for the upcoming patch, but do you think it might be possible to see some of the new inventory items or environment tiles you’ve been working on?

Mash: How about a nice filet of salmon? :)

Adric: Thank you very much for your time Mash, I know you have been very busy lately! Is there any last things you’d like to say to the community or about PZ that I haven’t covered?

Mash: Thanks to everyone for all your support and enthusiasm about PZ! We’ll try our best to fulfill your lofty expectations :)