Soundfall – Shooting To The Rhythm

An interview by Jack Boyles.

The rhythm game at one point was a profitable move. Drunkards playing guitar hero in pubs, Sing Stars own YouTube and Bongo playing fun; rhythm-based games were social gaming at its best.

Students in their dorms or families at Christmas were all jamming out on plastic peripherals. Like all gaming fads, rhythm games became oversaturated. People moved on and the peripherals found a new home in your local pawn shop or market. However, in the past few years, a resurgence in rhythm games has started brewing amongst a certain gaming crowd and one such game is brewing in a cauldron; that game is Soundfall.

Developers Drastic Games have set their ambitious busy minds on reinvigorating the rhythm genre. As Soundfall isn’t just a typical rhythm game, it’s a twin-stick shooting, dungeon crawler rhythm game where you blast enemies to the beat of the music. And it bloody well works.

In Soundfall, you must run around these Sci-fi/Fantasy procedurally generated landscapes, destroying enemies, staying alive and grabbing loot. Yet to get serious points, it’s all about blasting to the beat.

First, it all seems overwhelming; enemies chasing you, bullets flying everywhere and keeping to a beat seems like a lot to take in. Then composure settles in, you start to see the word ‘Good’ pop up, you get into the flow, now the word ‘Great’ and then before you know it, everything in its right place.

This was no easy feat, speaking with Nick Cooper, he and his partner Julian Trutmann had tough questions they had to answer themselves:

“In an action game like ours, there are a lot of things to manage. Like enemies spawning in, environmental hazards and exploration, and making everything smooth, and seamless by paying attention to that — and still paying attention to the music was a big challenge.

“How do we communicate that visually? How do we communicate that through sound? Also, a big challenge to communicate was ‘ohh, you hit your action onbeat not offbeat’, how do we make that clear and at the same time not making noise, in terms of both effects and sounds; not to see or hear what’s going on. To make that distinction whilst not being overwhelmed was a challenge”.

It’s that fine balance Drastic Games absolutely level. Looking at the game and playing is intense but you grasp it so suddenly that it just proves the talent of these two developers. Within a good minute, you’ll be running around blasting enemies away like some Colonel composing Moonlight Sonata with Navy Missile Launchers; basking in a sensory overload.

As ex-Epic employees who have worked on Fortnite and Gears of War; Drastic Games know the importance of quality and accessibility.

“[We want the game to be] easy to learn, difficult to master. We want to satisfy those hardcore players who want it to be crazy rhythm, bullet hell. But we also want to satisfy the player who want to pick up and jam out to their favorite tunes”.

Soundfall is a game beaming with life, from its use of colours, the environments, character and enemy design. This game art style is like a good fresh glass of juice; revitalizing. It’s tone perfectly complements the premises of the game. The main characters are instantly recognizable in their sci-fi body suits and giant swords. Enemies in the game dance towards you in a cute kind of way; it has the charisma of a Saturday morning cartoon.

Yet it’s how all of this works together that creates a sense of cohesion. Talking about these elements in the aesthetic, Nick said:

“How do we make it so everything in the world behaves in time with the music. We want enemies to act on the beat, we want trees in the background to dance on beat, we want other hazards to act on beat; we want everything to be all tied in with the sound”.

This pulsation in the design pumps you up — it helps you understand the beat. A small touch that’s nothing short of genius.

For demo purposes, only dance music was available, albeit a little inoffensive for me, it creates the perfect soundtrack to the concurrent presentation. It’s all energetic, capturing the essence of what Soundfall is, a pick up and play fun time.

When asking how they chose the music for Soundfall, Nick said:

“We found a bunch of up-and-coming artists we thought were a great fit for the game and art style. We plan on having a wide variety of music to play in Soundfall”.

The demo I played was nothing short of brilliant. I’m not much of a twin-stick shooter guy but here there is enough going on for me to want to play the game.

Soundfall is incredibly polished in every aspect. I found myself bopping along to the music and dispatching enemies as I went from segment to segment, zipping through lasers, collecting loot and beat-blasting enemies.

Above all, you can’t help but feel that this is something special and will be a hit among many a gamer. The title is already building some buzz, with YouTube videos of a family dancing to the trailer and people cosplaying the characters; a hit, I’m sure it will be.

To listen to the full interview click here.

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Backworlds – 9 Years In The Making

A lot can change in 9 years; I mean, 9 years ago I would have been 20 years old. I was a university student, playing Halo 3 online, being intoxicated 80% of the week and I was a smoker.

Now I have a job, rarely play an online game – unless its souls/borne or Titanfall 2, I’m lucky to be intoxicated 10% in a single month and I haven’t smoked in at least 3 years. I think of the person I was back then to the person I am now, and the pass self is unrecognizable; a mere fictious entity created by palpable imagination.

Therefore, when I had the chance to speak with Juha Kangas one of the two developers of the indie title Backworlds, I took the chance. You see beautiful reader, Backworlds has been in development for 9 years… 9 Years!

…I smoked 9 years ago.

Backworlds is a puzzle platformer where you play as this cat-like animal traversing luscious landscapes. To navigate the areas, you paint onto the world that reveals another dimension. This other universe will either exhibit hidden platforms or objects, alter the physics within the area or uncloak hidden pathways.

The game manages to adapt both lateral thinking puzzles with the unique painted dimension mechanic compliment each other, making both feel like one and the same. It’s credit to the game design, as complex as the mechanic sounds the game telegraphs the puzzles perfectly to you; never enough to hold your hand but never enough for you to feel lost, instead it gives you a wink.

Speaking with Juha regarding the concept of mechanics and puzzles he went on to say:

“We were in a game jam, it was about 8 years ago, where we got some art and based it on that. We wanted to do something with painting. We would try different concepts like drawing platforms yourself and stuff like that, and then we came up with this thing where you were drawing a mask to show a parallel world”.

Juha went on further to say:

“Other games came out during the making of the game that caused some big changes, for example the game use to be linear at one point but (games) like Fez and stuff like that came out and we was like ok we should make it more open, and now you can skip puzzles just by walking past them”.

But it’s not only the gameplay mechanic and puzzles that stand out. Backworlds art style is simplistic yet beautiful – in addition, it captures the imagination and essence of the game. Talking to Juha about the distinctive art direction, he told me:

“Early inspiration for us was an Irish movie called ‘The Secret of Kells’, an animated movie and that was a big inspiration for us. Then we looked some other things, like ‘Samurai Jack’ and these things that have, like a flat art style that purposefully don’t have a lot of depth to them and we adapted that to our own style”.

Juha also hinted that there may be more to the art style than we think:

“There is no explicit narrative, but there is something at the end of it, that will make you think about the game a bit more – after you’ve played it your like, maybe the art of the game had some more meaning to it”.

After my time with Backworlds you can’t help but think this could – and should – be one of the indie darlings. Those select few indie games that tear through the fabric and gain access to the collective conscious of the everyday gamer.

After a brief time with the game, you quickly realise: this isn’t just one of the best indie games made, it’s one of the best games ever made and I am most certain upon its release many will share the same thought.

I hit many eureka moments within the demo and I am sure there will be many more to come when the full game comes out. An excellently crafted game with a unique idea that is executed perfectly; an absolute sublime work of art.

You can listen to the full interview here and check out Jack’s podcast Drinking Games Podcast.

Accessibility In Indie Games

Infernium Developer Highlights Importance Of Accessibility In Indie Games

The need for accessibility in games is not exactly a new discussion. AAA titles regularly implement basic accessibility features such as contrast controls, subtitles, and multiple control scheme settings.

However, the need for further improvement in the industry has recently come to the forefront.

Everything from the need for exhibitors at conferences to take accessibility into account when setting up booths, to the need for controllers that can be used by gamers of varying abilities has demonstrated that while efforts are being made, the industry still has a ways to go.

This is especially true for indie developers. As indie titles become more important for the long-term future of the gaming industry, accessibility will become something indie developers will need to begin to take into account.

Of course, with all the financial and time constraints on small developers, this is not an easy task.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Carlos Coronado, developer of recently released indie survival horror, Infernium.

Carlos Coronado
Carlos Coronado

Carlos currently teaches at the University of Barcelona. He began his journey into the gaming industry by making the Warcelona mod for Left 4 Dead 2. He dove into indie game development in 2014 with his award-winning MIND: Path to Thalamus. After that, he developed Annie Amber for Gear VR and then started Infernium. He is also a scuba diving and sailing enthusiast.

Following the recent accessibility update for the Nintendo Switch version of Infernium, we decided to ask Carlos about his interest in accessibility in games: what made him interested in accessibility and what challenges it posed or benefits it brought as an independent developer.

We also got a brief description of what his next project will be after Infernium.

First off, before we get into the topic of accessibility, I have to ask you how you came up with the concept for Infernium? A PAC-Man inspired survival horror is definitely a unique premise.

What caused you to bring those two ideas together?

Well, I had always wanted to make a horror game but none of the ideas I had “clicked” with me. However, while doing my first-night dive in Apo Island (Philippines) I was amazed by how beautiful, calm, and at the same time scary the experience was!

I remember going out to the water and, even before putting on my scuba gear, I said to my diving buddy, “I know my next game is going to be a beautiful horror game where you see the enemies from a mile away!” So yeah, it was then when I had the idea, and the Pac-Man element came naturally while developing it.

The setting and concept of Hell are central to Infernium’s story, though it is certainly a version of Hell which has an element of beauty not commonly associated with purgatorial or eternal punishment.

Why did you choose Hell as a setting, and why did you decide upon this particular imagining of it as opposed to a more traditional, Dante’s Inferno version?

As I said, that diving experience was key. Aside from that, gameplay always comes first in my games, and I always try to think about settings that allow me to be very creative while generating cool gameplay mechanics. Hell was like a big sandbox for me, and the twist of making that Hell beautiful allowed for a greater level of creativity. The beautiful environments add an interesting psychological element. The game teaches you that the more beautiful an environment is, the more dangerous it is! This creates a contrast between what you see and what you feel that really drives players crazy, and I love that.

It is entertaining watching YouTubers and Streamers playing Infernium and witnessing them totally distrust the beautiful environments!

Now, onto accessibility, something you have been very vocal about. I have seen you discuss it with fans on your Twitter account and you have highlighted Infernium’s accessibility features on the game’s Steam page.

Even before your last accessibility update, Infernium offered not only sound but visual cues indicating a nearby enemy, as well as from which direction that enemy was approaching; a feature that is not incredibly common.

With the update, you have allowed more intermediate accessibility settings, including slowing game speed by decelerating enemies, or removing them altogether.

What made accessibility so important to you as an independent developer?

Yes! I must say I had no idea about video game accessibility before meeting Kait Paschall. She moved to Catalonia with her husband and while they were searching for a place to live they stayed in mine. During those months she got really interested in the development of Infernium and she introduced me to accessibility for video games.

She made me see that with a little effort on my part the player base would be much wider, and therefore I could sell more copies! For example, she explained the game would be 100% playable for deaf gamers by simply adding the red screen visual alarm when you start getting chased. This was the first one but the list goes on and on.

After the release of the game, I also experienced something that made me change my mind again and introduce even more accessibility features. For example, I saw my girlfriend (she is not a gamer) playing the game with the PC Mod “No Enemies” downloaded, and she was constantly telling me how great the experience was for her. She didn’t care about the challenge, but just walking in the game and seeing how everything was connected was a huge experience for her.

I also noticed the most downloaded mods for PC were all mods that made the experience more accessible for people, so I thought it was a good idea to make those options available to everyone, and that’s what I did with the accessibility menu. It basically adds 4 new options you can enable and disable anytime: No Enemies, Slower Enemies, More Tutorials, and No “Perma Death”.

Obviously, it is not how I intended players to enjoy the game but, hey, who the f*** am I to tell people how they have to play or enjoy!

After looking more into accessibility in games, I realise I took for granted how many features were already being implemented by AAA titles, such as allowing contrast controls, the ability to remap control schemes, subtitles, and making intractable objects obvious.

Do you think smaller, independent developers have a certain disadvantage when it comes to implanting these types of features?

In the AAA market, everything in terms of game-feel is sorted out. I mean, those are titles developed for really, really wide audiences! That’s why accessibility is taken for granted.

On the other hand, indie titles are more experimental and willing to risk more. I think that’s why most indies don’t think about accessibility features.

However I don’t really think introducing accessibility features is going to make your game ‘less indie’ or worse, and that’s something we all need to work on and spread. If indie devs realise accessibility features = money, more and more indie titles will introduce accessibility features.

Do you think smaller developers have an obligation to make certain their games offer at least basic accessibility features? This would entail at least some of the guidelines outlined here.

I think there is a thin red line between accessibility features and good game design. I think when you are designing good games and mechanics you don’t realise most of the time you are introducing accessibility features without even knowing!

That’s great, but we should work so that aside from good design, game devs also take accessibility into consideration.

What are some elements of Infernium that perhaps have not been mentioned specifically that you implemented to help make the game more accessible for players?

The in-game maps! I love those and no one is talking about them! Every time you visit a new area of the game you can search for a map sketched by someone in the past and if you take your time to read the map you can literally gather all the useful info: where the enemies are, where the light is, where the next map entrance is… It is super helpful if you are willing to invest the time to read the maps. Here is a guide made by a user showing all the maps.

Another “feature” I am really proud of is the crowdsourced Wiki! It’s literally filled with info, including a guide, tips, secrets and even the complete lore story in order. It is a way of getting yourself in the world of Infernium without even buying the game.

Where do you see yourself improving on accessibility in Infernium, or in future titles?

I’d say reducing the number of buttons/controls the player needs to interact with the game.

I’ve already been prototyping my next project. It is going to be a 2D sidescroller game about revitalising corals underwater. Think about Flower but in 2D with Limbo’s art style and controlled with only one joystick!

Where do you think the gaming industry as a whole stands regarding accessibility? Do you think improvements still need to be made and, if so, where do you see a need or needs that have not yet been met?

I see day by day more and more positive messages about accessibility are being spread.

I can say: “Hey! Put accessibility features on your game!” but few will listen. Instead, if I say: “Hey, In the first weekend after the accessibility update on Switch the game has sold as many copies as in all it’s life on sale”. Then more devs will listen.

In the future, I see accessibility features as something being taught at universities and eventually becoming common enough that it will be taken for granted in every game.

Final question: What advice do you have for aspiring independent game developers in general, and then regarding how they might make their games more accessible given the challenges indie developers often face?

My advice is that if they want to implement accessibility features, they need to do so early on in the development. It is easier and more elegant. It is way more complicated to introduce accessibility features once all the design is done and maybe even not worth it depending on the kind of game you are making.

In general, I would advise them to try to have short development cycles and never spend more than one year working on a single project. It makes you go nuts!

Indie Developers At The Forefront

While the gaming industry continues to evolve, concerns over making certain all gamers of all abilities will be able to learn from, play and experience more and more of what the industry has to offer will continue to rise to the forefront. There is always room for change and room to make things better.

If Carlos is any indication, indie developers may once again be at the forefront of the gaming revolution, just as more and more unique and clever content arises not from AAA titles, but from small developers with a passion to make great games that everyone can play.

I Fell From Grace Developer Deep Taiga Talks Motivational Practices, More

I Fell From Grace released on December 20th, marking the debut release from indie developer, Deep Taiga. Placing players into a rhyming narrative mystery, I Fell From Grace brings a unique twist to the retro 2D genre.

D-pad Joy recently had the chance to speak with Deep Taiga on topics such as how to stay motivated throughout the long development process, key trends in the industry such as VR, and advice for young developers just starting out as part of our interview series.

What inspired you to get into game development?

Funnily enough, my grandmother said when she heard I was making a game that this is something I had proclaimed I would do back when I was 8. I don’t remember that, but I’ve always enjoyed creative outlets, be it graphic/web design, poetry, CGI animation etc. I love telling a story and making a game affords so much in terms of creating a world for others to get lost in.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

I fell from Grace is my first creation, so I guess it’ll have to be my favourite!

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

You can totally do it! But it takes a lot of discipline, time and patience. You’ll feel like walking away from the project numerous times, especially in the beginning (at least I did), but if you stick with it, you’ll get there.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

I’m not a guru of any sort when it comes to the gaming industry, so I really don’t know. VR will probably see continued growth in 2018 – which is pretty neat.

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

I love PC gaming which is why I chose to make I fell from Grace a PC title primarily.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

The internet! Boy howdy can you learn a lot.

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

There’s a great vlog made by Burnie Burns where he talks about motivation – which I completely agree with. I don’t really believe in motivation. Or at least I don’t believe that motivation is what should be pushing you to do things. What you should focus on cultivating is discipline, which in turn, will often give rise to motivation as a byproduct. If I only worked on my game when I felt like it, it’d be nowhere near finished.

What do you think about VR?

Super cool! And it’ll probably be a major part of gaming going forward, but I don’t think there will be a time anytime soon where that’s the only way to game.

Games console of choice?

Can I only pick one? Goodness… I guess the SNES was pretty great. But then the PS1 had FF7. Maybe it doesn’t really matter… Can I pick two? I’ll pick two.

-END-

You can find Deep Taiga’s debut release – I Fell From Grace – available now on PC at the Steam store.

10tons Talks: An Interview With The Twin-Stick Developers

If you want twin-stick shooters, you go to 10tons. If you want puzzlers? You go to 10tons. The studio develops their games with a variety of platforms in mind so no gamers miss out. Odds are if you own a platform made in the last decade, you can find 10tons’ games available on said platform.

The Nintendo Switch, young as it may be, has recently been blessed with a number of 10tons’ games. Everything from their debut work, Crimsonland, to the recent cyberpunk-themed hits, Neon Chrome and JYDGE, are available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

10tons’ next planned release, Tesla vs. Lovecraft, looks to be another strong addition to not only the Nintendo Switch but also Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with 10tons in regards to their prolific catalogue, their involvement with the Nintendo Switch eShop, and their plans for the future. Our conversation is as follows:

10tons released plans earlier this year for a number of releases on the Nintendo Switch and has followed through with that plan. I’d like to talk to you about plans you may have for future releases on the Switch, how developing for the Switch has affected 10tons, and what it is that attracted you to development for the Switch in the first place. I’m a big fan of JYDGE so I’d also like to ask you about Jydge and some of your other games.

As a multiplatform developer and publisher, our plan is straightforward. When we start to support a platform like a new console, we support it with everything that makes sense. In the case of Switch, we’ll be bringing our entire console catalogue – as seen here – to the platform pretty much as fast as we can. We’re more than halfway through by now. From then on we aim to treat Switch as an equal platform to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That means our next brand new game, Tesla vs. Lovecraft, should be available for Switch simultaneously with other console platforms, in early 2018.

As for what motivated us to start supporting Switch, we’ve always dreamed of being on a Nintendo platform, and now that we have gotten comfortable with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and Switch coming up at the perfect time, it was the most natural thing to make the effort now. It’s also no secret that indie games are a tough business these days, and a new console storefront is well known to be one of the best business opportunities there is. As long as a new console is popular and the amount of available games is limited, everyone who gets on board early will reap outsize rewards. Our games have done really nicely on Switch, but more importantly, the reception among gamers has been awesome.

10tons’ first release, Crimsonland, was recently ported to the Nintendo Switch. How long ago did development begin on Crimsonland and how has 10tons’ philosophy behind game development changed since the initial release of Crimsonland? 

Crimsonland indeed is the first proper game 10tons, or rather the founders of 10tons, ever made. That was back in 2002-2003 when they were still university students, and as the shareware game gained popularity, they figured to give indie game development a shot as a career and founded 10tons. The next 11 years or so the company made casual games, as the shooter market just seemed very risky. With PS4 and Steam access via Greenlight, it was decided that Crimsonland would be remastered, which took 2-3 months with mostly two developers. 99% of the code is the same as in the classic version, the most notable difference being entirely redone graphics. The Switch port in itself took a bit over a week for one developer. I can’t even begin to think how much the original creators of Crimsonland have learned in the past 15 years, but I’d imagine a lot!

The Switch is still under a year old and 10tons has already released a wealth of titles for the young console. On a scale of 1-10, how exciting has it been to help support such a young Nintendo console?

It’s a 9. We’ve wanted to be on a Nintendo platform for a long while, and we’re super happy to have that come true. The platform has also exceeded all our expectations regarding developing and publishing, as all that stuff is just very good on Switch. The only slight kink in an otherwise perfect experience is that we’d have liked to get a dev kit sooner and to start our release barrage sooner. Well, if we’d have been able to start six months earlier, we probably wouldn’t have released our catalogue in such a hurry. We just saw that by the time we got there with Sparkle 2, there already were 149 games in eShop, and 19 games launched that week. I think it’s been about 10-20 per week ever since. So while it’s still kind of early, competition has definitely arrived. It’s still good though, our success with Switch will register for everyone’s Christmas bonuses.

What about developing games for the Switch appeals to 10tons?

The Switch is a really good fit for our games, as we’ve always, and especially nowadays, made games that work on desktop, TV, and handheld/touchscreen. Then again, we never think of any single platform. Multiplatforms are so deep in our DNA that we’re really platform agnostic. We just make games, and we make them in a way that we won’t exclude any screen sizes, input methods, or use scenarios. At least to the best of our abilities, obviously, something like King Oddball works ideally in handheld/mobile scenarios and can get kind of monotonous in a three-hour console gaming session on the big screen. Although we know for a fact that a whole lot of people have enjoyed that specific title precisely that way. Anyway, we don’t really target any specific device or platform, because we’re multiplatform developers.

I’ve read about plans to release Tesla vs. Lovecraft on the Switch. How would you describe this games to someone who hasn’t heard or read anything about it? 

Tesla vs. Lovecraft is a top-down twin-stick arena shooter featuring the two cult personalities, genius inventor Nikola Tesla and horror author H.P. Lovecraft. Science and metal clash with madness and tentacles in a big way! Twin-stick shooters are obviously one of our things, and with Tesla vs. Lovecraft, we’re exploring yet another direction within the genre.

It’s closer to Crimsonland than Neon Chrome or JYDGE, as we feel we’ve exhausted the cyberpunk vibe with those two titles for a while. Overall we feel like twin-stick shooters are somewhat more niche than we perhaps realized, and with Tesla vs. Lovecraft, we’re seeing if we could widen the audience a bit with the theme we chose and somewhat less obscure mechanics. We’ve also upgraded the graphical fidelity from Neon Chrome and JYDGE quite a bit, and it’s looking great! We’re really excited to have it soon in the hands of gamers.

Why is Nikola Tesla at odds with H.P. Lovecraft in Tesla vs. Lovecraft? How did this idea come about? Will Tesla vs. Lovecraft feature a spooky narrative full of inter-dimensional gods? Are there any game modes where players can play on the H.P. Lovecraft side? 

The game was actually originally prototyped as a mage themed shooter, but it quickly evolved into a game with scientists against monsters. Then we just realized after a little while that Tesla vs. Lovecraft is just the perfect distillation of that and a really cool name for the game too! We also learned quickly that Tesla and Lovecraft have already been combined in popular culture quite a bit, which is even better. There’s not many adversarial setups between them though, so everything lined up just perfectly.

As to what the lore of the game is about, it all starts with Tesla’s endeavour to provide free wireless energy to everyone, and Lovecraft is convinced the technology is actually based on really dangerous, otherworldly powers that Tesla doesn’t fully understand. And what happens next, you’ll just have to wait and see for yourselves…

When can gamers expect Tesla vs. Lovecraft to be available for purchase?

We’re currently aiming for an early 2018 release, possibly even January. The game’s practically finished, there’s just the usual final cleanup and console certification processes to go through. With the holidays messing things up, we don’t dare say January 2018 for sure.

Do 10tons have any plans for future Switch releases besides Tesla vs. Lovecraft? Ports? 

We plan on finishing our project of bringing our existing console game catalogue to Switch, and then to release every new game for Switch as simultaneously with other platforms as we can. We’ve learned by now that that’s probably the best way to go with multiplatform console releases, as few people actually like their console to be the second one or the last one to get a multiplatform game.

Do any of your planned titles focus on competitive, PvP gameplay? 

Online and PvP seem to be all the rage these days, and we’ve discussed it internally a lot. We use the same in-house engine for all our games, and we don’t have online multiplayer tech yet. We could create it for sure, it’d just cost a big chunk of money. We’ll see, it’s certainly possible. Although we can see a whole lot of games, especially twin-stick shooters, with online multiplayer or co-op, and it looks like it’s not at all a feature that guarantees any level of commercial success.

Will any of your future Switch titles include Switch-exclusive features?

Frankly, we try to avoid console specific features as much as we can. Firstly, platform holders by and large demand feature and content parity. So if we made one platform something exclusive, we’d have to make something else exclusive to other platforms. That’d be a whole lot of exclusive stuff! Secondly, we indeed try to treat all our fans as equally as we can, regardless of platform. Sometimes it’s just not possible, but at least we can try to make our games as identical on every platform as we can. We know it’s not a stance a lot of superfans of a specific console will agree with easily, but from our perspective, it’s a very clear case. All gamers are our preferred customers, not just gamers on platform X, Y, or Z.

Recent Switch releases, JYDGE and Neon Chrome are both set in the same universe, right? Are there any plans to expand upon this universe either through sequels, new titles, or other media?

With Neon Chrome we indeed got to fulfil a longtime dream of making a cyberpunk game, and it was great. While a lot of people really loved Neon Chrome in every way, we quickly learned of a subset of players that didn’t enjoy the roguelite aspects much but did like the core gameplay, the theme, the style, the world.

We still love cyberpunk, so the idea of an anti-roguelite Neon Chrome was pretty much there. And it became JYDGE just like that. We’re extremely happy it went exactly as planned, as all the people who had misgivings about Neon Chrome just loved JYDGE! What we didn’t expect, and which really made JYDGE the commercial hit it is, is that even the fans of Neon Chrome’s roguelite aspects loved JYDGE. That said, now that we’ve made Neon Chrome and JYDGE as the official prequel/spinoff, we don’t immediately see ourselves making a third title in the same universe. We still love cyberpunk though, so who knows.

I like how you brought a Robocop/Judge Dredd-esque figure into a classic cyberpunk setting in JYDGE. Is the title “Neon Chrome” itself an homage to writer William Gibson’s Burning Chrome? What else inspired the world and characters of JYDGE and Neon Chrome? 

Oh yeah, Neon Chrome comes very much from all the cyberpunk we know and love. Shadowrun, Gibson’s Neuromancer/Count Zero/Mona Lisa Overdrive trifecta, Bladerunner, Deus Ex, you name it. And then JYDGE is obviously a homage to all the future-cop stuff there is, probably more Robocop than Judge Dredd. Early in the project we discussed how on the nose we can or we should be about it, and how tongue-in-cheek.

We settled with very on the nose and tongue very much in cheek, all the way to the silly title and silly spelling everywhere in the game. It worked out fantastic, the recognizability and unusuality catch people really well and by far the most that end up buying the game are really happy with it.

Physical media is great unless you’re concerned about space. Do 10tons have any plans to release physical copies of games on the Switch in the future?

We don’t have any physical copy plans at this time. We haven’t studied it in detail, but as far as we know there’s a quite significant cost associated with it, and these days most indie games don’t sell tens of thousands of units anyway. The superhits may sell millions or hundreds of thousands, but that’s really the top 1%. By far the most, like us, sell some thousands or low tens of thousands of units of a digital game in a few years, including pretty deep discounts, so it’s really iffy if we’d be able to sell a few thousand units of a premium priced physical copy, or whatever the minimum print would be.

Personally I also really love digital, it just skips all the clutter and fuss of it. I appreciate some people’s desire for collecting physical libraries, however.

– END –

There you have it, folks! Check back for more 10tons news as it comes. In the meantime, brush up on Miskatonic lore in preparation for Tesla vs. Lovecraft.

Insane Code On Their (Kind Of) New Racer, 80s Overdrive

Outrun is one of the best arcade racers – nay, one of the best video games, ever made (and played).

Developed by legendary development studio, Sega-AM2, Outrun took early 3D arcade racers to the next level. 3D arcade racer releases since have been content following Outrun’s lead, but a new 3D arcade racer looks as if it may overtake Outrun’s decades-old pole position. 80s Overdrive is that new 3D (by way of 2D) arcade racer and it looks great.

80s Overdrive is described by its developers, Insane Code, as:

A 2D pixel art racing game, designed to take you back in time to when 8 and 16 bit consoles and arcade games ruled the world. Compete against opponents in career mode to unlock new races, buy new cars and upgrade them with state-of-the-art technologies! Try your skill in time attack mode and see how far you can get in this race against the clock! Create your own tracks with the built-in track generator and easily share them with your friends!

I accidentally happened across 80s Overdrive’s Twitter account a couple months ago and I was immediately gripped by a childlike excitement. However, being a huge fan of Outrun and the racers it spawned, 80s Overdrive sounded to me almost too good to be true. I began to wonder whether or not 80s Overdrive was real or some variety of illusory, retro-flavoured racing oasis in a desert-themed fever dream.

Questioning my grip on reality, I decided to reach out to 80s Overdrive developers, Insane Code. Fortunately, Insane Code informed me 80s Overdrive is real, and they were also kind enough to answer a handful of questions I had regarding the game and their history as developers.

The following contains my questions and their answers:

What’s your development studio’s name and how long have you all been
developing games?

For a long time there was no studio name, as there was no studio! We just started to mess around with game mockups and an engine prototype. Me, I had my design business running and Krzysztof had his programming business. So, it was more of a B2B cooperation. Later on, Krzysztof gained rights to develop and publish for the Nintendo 3DS eShop so we decided to go under his label – Insane Code.

Later on, a second programmer, Marcin, and a tester, Sebastian, joined to help. When it comes to our game development history, we all had over 5 years of experience (including on the Nintendo 3DS), but 80’s Overdrive is our first self-developed and published title.

What games have you developed and for what platforms?

None as of yet. Separately, we worked on mobile, iOS/Android, Sony PSP, PS3, Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS and Wii games. For example, I worked on Rage of the Gladiator, Hazumi, League of Heroes and many, many more.

Arcade racers aren’t as popular as they once were. Why in 2016 did you begin developing a racer inspired by and modelled after classic arcade racers like Outrun, Rad Racer, Road Rash, and Cruisin’ USA?

Somewhere around the summer of 2015, we had a talk about ideas for games we would like to see and develop. We used to play a lot of 2D racers when we were kids. We loved them and started to wonder if this kind of game made any sense nowadays. So, to bring the memories back, we returned to playing: Outrun, Lotus 3, Crazy Cars/Lamborghini American Challenge, Top Gear Series, Cisco Heat, Jaguar XJ220 and found something interesting. Most of them aren’t arcade games even.

As you play old games they often don’t match what your brain remembers about them. After replaying them nowadays, you often feel disappointed about the frustrating gameplay, graphics, sound. But, there is still something that works. The simple but addictive gameplay mechanism, precise controls and overall feeling of the game which is lost in modern productions. We try to match the good things of the old and minimise the bad.

Are you excited or afraid to release a game the likes of which hasn’t been released in a while?

Both. Anyway, 80s Overdrive is our part-time project. We do have day jobs and our lives don’t depend on 80s Overdrive, so we just took the risk. From the creative point of view, it was worth it. We did fulfil our creative needs. When it comes to success, we will see, but it wasn’t the most important part.

Why the 80s aesthetic? Why not something aligned with more modern tastes?

That’s easy. Modern looking game wouldn’t be “something new”. Isn’t that ironic? We would end up with another NFS or some F2P racing. Also, our creative needs wouldn’t be fulfilled and our nostalgic feelings wouldn’t be satisfied.

One of 80s Overdrive’s trailers features text dialogue and character portraits. Is there a story mode?

Well… I can’t say. There will be a treat for dedicated and patient players. Anyway, too much story in an arcade racing game isn’t a good idea…

What are other gameplay modes available in 80s Overdrive?

There will be 3 game modes:

Career mode in which racers are competing against each other on various, point-to-point style tracks or complete special missions. The player can be also chased by the police.

Time-attack mode (“Outrun Mode”) in which  the player is fighting against the clock and tries to get as far as they can until the time runs out.

The Track Editor in which players can race on their own tracks. Tracks are be made by editing parameters. This generates the track code which can be shared with friends.

Many people on forums have been wondering what the green bar graphic seen on the left side of the player car in trailers is?

You mean green, rounded bar on the magenta background? In Time-attack mode, the player will be able to gain extra time by doing risky overtaking! Depending on how close the player passes traffic, they will be able to get an extra 1-3 seconds. It could be life-saving if you’re running out of time and a fork (junction) is still far away. But, you could also crash into the traffic if you aren’t careful.

What cars can players expect to drive? Is the soundtrack original or will it feature licensed tracks?

6 retro-supercars: Aggressor, De Loan, Intruder Turbo, Penetrator Turbo, Testosterando and Tensor V12. When it comes to music, some tracks are licensed, some are made especially for the game. There are 13 synth/retro wave music scores in total.

Are there any secrets or cheats you want to reveal before release?

No… But be sure to watch Facebook and Twitter carefully… and also please do complete the game 100%!

Will there be any DLC in the future?

If that’s what the audience desires, we don’t see any problems with that. Adding a new car or a visual theme won’t be that problematic. Also the Nintendo 3DS eShop supports updates so… who knows.

Are there any plans to port to Switch or other platforms?

Honestly, we don’t know that yet.

When can players expect 80s Overdrive to be released?

The game was sent to Nintendo Lotcheck. I think that December 2017 is very probable.

END

There you have it. Are you a fan of 3D arcade racers? If so, keep an eye on the 3DS eShop this December for the release of 80s Overdrive.

Until then, check back here at D-pad Joy for news and updates regarding the game.

Joan Ginard From Indie Brain On Being An Indie Developer

We got the chance to sit down and speak to indie developer Joan Ginard from Indie Brain. It’s here we discussed indie game development, wider trends in the games industry and much more.

Joan Ginard is a passionate indie game developer and student. He makes video games in his free time – he’s been in love with them since he got his hands on a Game Boy when he was 3 years old.

What inspired you to get into game development?

One day, while having lunch, I saw on TV that they were making this coverage about people that worked making games and I was like: “WAIT WHAT!? You can actually work making games!?”. Prior to this, even though I had been playing games my entire life, I hadn’t thought about the idea. Next, in the coverage, they were announcing the release of a master’s degree right in my city (Barcelona)!

At that time I was in 11th grade (4 years from now so 2013) with 16 years on my back and couldn’t have any other dream. In fact, this idea of making games is what has kept me from not dropping off school nor college. Right now I’m in my 3rd year of a “special”, you could say, computer engineering bachelor’s degree. So, since I entered college I have been making plenty of games.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

My favourite game I created was in a 4-day game jam called The Odyssey to School. It’s an endless runner about a boy trying to reach school on time with obstacles in his way and every time he gets hit he loses life which is his timer to reach school on time, haha. It’s very small and simple, you can beat it in 5-10min, but I worked hard on it, created my own little engine using Javascript and HTML.

Why not, you can find it here: https://joan-ginard.itch.io/theodysseytoschool

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

My advice would start by telling the truth from the beginning. If you want to be a game developer and make big games that’s going to be a long-term goal (we are talking about 5-10 years) and it’s going to be extremely hard, making games is NOT playing them (like most people think).

This mentality comes from many AAA companies that have accustomed us to release a new Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Fifa, Battlefield every year, so we think it’s very easy to make games (from a gamer’s point of view), but the reality is that in these titles there are normally between 700-1,000 people working on it 12h/day during 1 full year. So, you got to be realistic about your capabilities and if you aim is making big titles like this you’ll need the skill only years can provide and a big team, not just yourself or a few friends! Although I feel like these companies never innovate so even if you make a small game, innovation yourself is better.

To begin, my advice would be start learning the programming language C++ from the beginning – it’s the language all other programs and languages have been created from, so even though it’s the most difficult one, once you learn it you can program in any language for any platform to make any game and you’ll have the most opportunities for jobs. At the beginning, because it’s all code you’ll get frustrated because you’ll only make text games or very simple games. So, once you understand at an amateur level how everything in C++ works, start making games with GameMaker Studio using only code and you’ll get to create amazing 2D games easily with the expertise you have accomplished programming in C++ (just like what I did, haha, even though I still consider myself a C++ noob).

From this point on, everything will be easy on you, you will just need to adapt your syntax for any other language, but because you already know how to program in C++ it will be so much easier. It’s like playing soccer with a tennis ball and then actually playing with a soccer ball – because you are so good with a tennis ball, with the soccer ball you’ll be awesome too.

Next, just try the game engines out there (programs to make games) or try to make your own and focus on the one you like the most. For me, I’m more of a creative profile so I prefer using already existing games because I like to make games, not make programs to make games, but that just depends on every person, just follow your path and keep working hard.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

I think lately survival and open-world games have been trending a lot, so it will follow this line. Apart, from indie titles especially on Steam. Every year that passes we see more variety in indie titles that are hits with completely different genres and audiences. You just got to take a look at how ARK: Survival Evolved, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, The Forest, Rust, We Happy Few and other not so popular indie titles out there. I also feel that more on the indie side, specifically rogue-like titles are also a trend thanks to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Enter the Gungeon or Crypt of the Necrodancer and other smaller ones.

In your opinion, which is the best platform to sell your game on?

Right now, as an indie developer, the most comfortable and beneficial one I would say is Steam. It has the most customers in the PC market and most importantly, the highest fan base of indie games.

Oh! And why not Switch! There are so few rival games that if you make a good one, you will get noticed.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

At the moment, they would be GameMaker as a game engine, Adobe Photoshop as an image editor and Adobe After Effects as a video editor. Although I’m enjoying a lot of Unreal Engine, which I’ll use for my next game!

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

It’s not easy, you’ll eventually feel unmotivated. For me, it’s just the urge of making a name for myself in the industry, I’m just very ambitious I want to make the best game of all time! Apart from enjoying every last bit of it. I feel that’s the most important part of any goal. Normally I’ll be working for 10 hours look at the clock and say “What!? I just started working! It felt like 2 hours of work lol!”.

When I feel unmotivated I just keep working – you’ll thank yourself later. Also, one thing comes to mind that I heard Will Smith say in one of his interviews “While the other guy’s sleeping, I’m working. While the other guy’s eating, I’m working. While the other guy’s making love, I mean, I’m making love, too, but I’m working really hard at it!”

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

I would say start small in your city or nearby (just like I did), it will be cheaper and easier.

From this point on, move to more popular events, it all depends on how much you can pay for what you are willing to do. In an ideal case, I would recommend getting a booth at PAX, E3, Gamescom, Independent Games Festival, GDC and any other of the same type.

If you do it, even if your game is crap, you’ll get a decent fan base and exposure which is basically what sells your game and improves it. These type of events (even if small) are so important because you get plenty of people to test your game. This means you learn what people like and hate about your game, how to improve it, even gather new cool ideas, make friends, make contacts – I recommend it at any level – 10/10 – you need to get out there!

What do you think about VR?

For VR, the price is too high and since its launch, I feel like there are no “real” games yet, just prototypes. When have you heard about a release of any VR game apart from the VR release announcement? I haven’t – I have tried all of them and see plenty of potential, if everyone had one of these at home, people would stop going to work! The problem is that it’s too expensive, it makes you dizzy and there no games, so, for now, it’s just not worth it.

Games console of choice?

At the moment I feel that the PS4 is the best, mainly because of these games: Uncharted, The Last Guardian, Persona 5, The Last of Us, God of War. It’s a small box with little noise, many software functionalities, comfortable controllers, good PSN games overall, good servers, best exclusives.

I can understand people having another console as a favourite though – I respect that. After all, we’re not kids on a playground fighting over some plastic! I also own a PS3, a PC and a Switch.

Thanks for your time Joan. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you!

You can find our full review of Scarlett’s Dungeon here.

Kevin Giguere From Dragon Slumber On Being An Indie Developer

We got the chance to sit down and speak to indie developer Kevin Giguere from Dragon Slumber. It’s here we discussed indie game development, wider trends in the games industry and much more.

Kevin Giguere is a programmer with over 15 years of programming experience, and the founder of Dragon Slumber, an indie game development company set in Quebec, Canada. As an indie developer, he has created a retro JRPG called Arelite Core and a 3D runner racing game called Astral Traveler.

Kevin Giguere Indie Developer

What inspired you to get into game development?

I was always into video game creation, even as a young kid. My older cousins have multiple anecdotes of me drawing level maps and asking them to illustrate some aspects of them. As a teenager, I learned Basic and started making a few (terrible) games, as well as creating my own maps for Warcraft and Doom. I eventually went to college to get a programming degree, although anything gaming related I had to learn on my own.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

I have worked on over a dozen commercial games over the course of my career. During the mid-2000s, I worked as a programmer for a flash game development company. We made weekly promotional games for brands like Spongebob Squarepants and Avatar, so very small in scope, usually only a few weeks of programming.

As an indie developer, I am publishing my second title Astral Traveler on September 13th, 2017, but my first game Arelite Core will always have a special place in my heart. I worked on that one for over four years and invested about 50k of my own money into it. It was a long, painful project, but it also taught me so much about the industry and bringing a project like this to its full completion.

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

First of all, if you want to make a profit on your game, do your research. There are thousands upon thousands of games being released each year, so if your game doesn’t hit home, you’re likely to get lost in the shuffle. Everyone feels their idea is special, but really the right game at the right time, as well as a flawless execution, are the first steps that can lead the way to success.

Networking with other industry professionals is a key component as well. I think Arelite Core would have struggled a lot less in the market if I knew the people I do now who have helped me out on every aspect of development and promotion. It’s important to remember that everyone has a project they care about, so don’t just ask for help but actually, get invested in the community.

Finally, don’t wait until the last minute to put your game out there, start talking about it as early as possible. Communication is key and you need to talk with your audience, not at them. That means listening to what they’re saying and reacting accordingly.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

I think financial viability is becoming an issue for a lot of developers, both in the indie market as well as for AAA publishers. Gamer expectations are through the roof due to so much competition, so it costs more to produce games. However, game prices themselves aren’t going up that much, with bundles becoming the prevailing method to get new games for a lot of players. This is leading to more alternate ways of making money, from crazy premium bundles, to loot boxes, exclusive pre-order DLC, and so on.

On the indie side, I think outreach is being done a bit differently as well. For instance, I stream the development of my games on Twitch and I have a Patreon which greatly helps me out as well. I think for a lot of full-time developers, diversifying their approach is becoming necessary to be able to sustain themselves. For every success story, there are thousands of forgotten titles.

“I think financial viability is becoming an issue for a lot of developers, both in the indie market as well as for AAA publishers”.

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

Since I’ve only released PC games thus far, I’ll have to answer Steam. The ability to control your game and to update it at any moment makes a world of difference, I can put out a patch for a found bug within minutes, which I believe would be more difficult on other platforms.

Conversely, I think mobile is the most dangerous platform because it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle. I’ve seen people work on games for years, release for free and only see a few hundred downloads. I think there is money to be made, but unless you’re Flappy Bird levels of lucky, you absolutely need the right market strategy and that takes a lot of investment.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

I’m really enjoying Unity, I find it really easy to use as an engine and it lets me accomplish a lot in not too much time. It’s not without its inconveniences, such as code optimization issues and requiring a very specific structure, without which games end up lagging really fast, but overall I would recommend it to most developers out there with a good grasp on programming, whether your project is 2D or 3D. And it’s free, can’t beat that price.

However, the tool I am known to use the most is Open Office Calc (or Excel), which really came in handy on Arelite Core to create enemy stats, inventory items, story segments and so on. On Astral Traveler, I actually use it to create levels themselves, setting the elements up in the spreadsheet and then converting them to a json file which can be read by the engine. Sometimes tools really can do a lot more than expected with a few tweaks.

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

When I officially became an indie developer in 2013, I decided to throw myself into them entirely, including whatever sacrifices would be needed. That includes 80 hour work weeks, reduced contact with friends and family, and investing tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket in the case of Arelite Core. Then, in January of this year, I quit my job to dedicate myself full time to my passion.

Because I invest so much into the creation of these games, I can’t really afford to not work on them and I think that really helps drive me forward, including in those stressful moments where nothing is working as planned. If I don’t release and sell games, I can’t afford a home and food, simple as that. I also think having realistic expectations can help motivate me, knowing what I can expect in terms of sales and reception, and learning to create better games moving forward.

Being an indie game developer is about making sacrifices, and I think a lot of people are not ready for that. But if you know what you’re getting into, I think it makes the process a bit more tolerable.

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

Depending on the scope of the game, events can be cost prohibitive. I went to PAX East 2016 to showcase Arelite Core, which ended up costing around four thousand dollars over all. I can honestly say that it didn’t drive enough sales to warrant the expense, at least not directly.

However, I did get to meet with numerous game industry people through the indie megabooth initiative, and I signed a distribution deal for my game as well. For me, that event was an opportunity to network and plan long term beyond the launch of Arelite Core.

I think the important thing is to understand what your goal is when attending an event. You can use them to test your game and get feedback or meet people, you can even make a few direct sales.

What do you think about VR?

I recently got an Oculus Rift and for the little time I’ve had to play it, I absolutely love it. I think the ability to use your hands in a 3D space provides a lot of opportunities, but like any other control scheme, the games need to be built around that. Robo Recall does a fantastic job at that, it’s a first-person shooter where you hold your guns and can throw them around, as well as grab robot enemies in front of you to tear them up. It makes the player feel like an action hero in a way that holding a controller couldn’t accomplish.

I’m glad that the costs are going down, and am really hopeful that within a few years, VR will be in more households, in a more customer friendly way. I don’t think it’ll replace the platforms already out, but I’m definitely looking forward to more high-quality VR titles.

Games console of choice?

The SNES by far my favourite console and it has definitely influenced me a great deal as many will have gathered from the look of Arelite Core. Games from that generation are so well focused, building upon the NES era into longer and more in-depth experiences without being any less approachable.

I also love that the time between powering up your console up to playing the game is almost instantaneous, as opposed to consoles nowadays which take forever both from the console booting and the games preloading so much information.

Thanks for your time Kevin. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you!

Our review of Astral Traveler will be up on the site shortly.

Sunny Tam, developer of Danmaku Unlimited 3, on dev tools, VR and more

We were lucky enough to sit down and speak to game developer Sunny Tam from Doragon Entertainment, the creator of the Danmaku Unlimited series. Just don’t mention loot boxes to him…

Sunny Tam.jpg

Gamer Credentials

A one man indie game development studio based in Vancouver, Canada, with a passion for old school shooters and Japanese robot animations. Or anything with a combination of jets, rock music, missiles, and explosions, lots of explosions.

What inspired you to get into game development?

Greed! But greed in terms of wanting to live and experience many different lives, like to be a fighter pilot or to be a spy and so on. Game development lets me satisfy that desire by crafting many different interactive worlds and adventures.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

I’ve created the Danmaku Unlimited series on PC and mobile plus various small mobile games. Is it cheating if I say Danmaku Unlimited 3 is my favourite? I feel like it is a culmination of the skills and experience I’ve gained from previous projects.

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

Keep a realistic scope and design something around your strength while minimizing your weakness. Being indie often means working with limited resources so it is important to concentrate them to create a focused, high-quality project instead of trying to do too much and ending up with a diluted game.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

Loot boxes, loot boxes everywhere…!

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

Logistically iOS as it has a limited amount of hardware configuration one needs to keep track of and support.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

I use a custom in-house engine for all of my games but recently I’ve been looking into Unity3D. It is fast becoming my favourite for how quickly you can throw something playable together!

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

I’d say it comes down to making a list of smaller manageable goals each week, that way you don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of the project and you’ll feel like you are making tangible progress as you check off items as the week goes on.

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

I don’t think I’m a good person to make this recommendation as I have not showcased my games at events before, but more exposure for your game is always good. Even small local events/meetups can be beneficial as getting real life feedback is a good way to gain perspective on where your project is at.

What do you think about VR?

It’s getting there! Price and ease of use is a limiting factor now, but I think once prices come down and developers figure out how to optimally control movements in VR space, it’ll really take off. Why? Because it offers a leap in immersion that we have not seen before.

Games console of choice?

PS4 right now, but once I get my hands on a Switch I think that will become my go-to choice!

Thanks for your time Sunny

Thank you very much, guys!

Danmaku Unlimited 3 launches on iOS and Android on August 10th. It’s also available now on Steam with the Nintendo Switch version arriving later this year. Our full review of Danmaku Unlimited 3 will be posted on the site this week.

Interview: Anamik Majumdar From Amaxang Games Talks Key Trends in the Games Industry, More

We got the chance to sit down and speak to game developer Anamik Majumdar from Amaxang Games. We discussed indie game development, the latest trends in the games industry, and much more.

Anamik.jpg

Gamer Credentials

Anamik Majumdar is an independent game developer from India. NightmareZ was his first major game project when it was released on Steam last year. He is currently working on a new indie title called Keatz: The Lonely Bird, an upcoming action platformer for PC.

What inspired you to get into game development?

I started my journey in gaming when I was 14 years old and I used to watch my friends play Mario and Sonic games on our school computers. This was when I got interested in PC games. I was a gamer for years and played various kinds of games. But all of a sudden, a thought popped up in my mind that I wanted to make a game. Next, I started looking for a tool or engine so I could learn the basics of the game development process.

At the age of 16, I started making games along with learning many new features of the engine in order to improve my skills.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

I have created many freeware and commercial games to date. My first game on Steam was NightmareZ. This was the game on which I spent more than a year developing – which was really a long time compared to the time required to make my previous games. So, NightmareZ is my favourite one because I have learned a lot during the development of this game.

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

Always start small and make a simple game at first. Make some small games with simple mechanics and then move on to more complex projects. In this way, you will learn a lot and you will eventually get better at making games.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

The game industry is growing every year at a rapid rate. The quality of indie games will be improved and it’s expected that there will be more hit indie titles in the market this year.

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

Steam is the best platform out there for selling PC games because there are millions of users already present on it. However, itch.io is an indie friendly platform and I love it because it has a lot of cool features for indie developers. I think itch.io is the best platform for beginners.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

Game Maker Studio is my favourite tool for game development because I have been using Game Maker since Game Maker 8. Besides, it has an in-built graphics editor where I can create character animations also. With the launch of Game Maker Studio 2 in the market, the graphics editor has improved a lot.

So, it is really a handy tool for me and I have chosen it over other engines because it serves my purpose.

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

As a developer, I continuously experiment with codes and work with pixel art and other art forms. When I was working on NightmareZ I tried to release updates as frequently as possible. This is something which I love to do and I never get tired working on my games.

However, I often take short breaks every now and then. I think it is important to maintain a healthy working habit.

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

PAX events and gaming conventions can be useful for showcasing your in-progress games or your finished games. It might be a great way to spread the word.

What do you think about VR?

VR seems to be the future of gaming. With the improvement of technology, VR will hold a large part of the market in the future. It has a long way to go before that happens. As a consumer, it does not interest me.

Games console of choice?

Xbox One. It is hard to differentiate. I love them equally.

Thanks for your time

Thank you!

Anamik is currently developing his second major game project called Keatz: The Lonely Bird and new features are being added every week. A public demo is available to download from his website

Interview: Daniel Sun From Sun-Studios Talks Key Trends in the Games Industry, More

We got the chance to sit down and speak to game developer Daniel Sun from Sun-Studios. We discussed indie game development, the latest trends in the games industry, and much more. Enjoy.

Gamer Credentials

Melbourne developer Daniel Sun runs a one-man operation called Sun-Studios and is best known for his monochromatic hack ‘n slash series: Armed with Wings. The latest game in the series Armed with Wings: Rearmed spent 2 years in Steam Early Access before releasing completely on June 1st 2017. Daniel is also co-director and art lead at Dime Studios.

What inspired you to get into game development?

My passion for media is what drives me to create. I grew up playing tons of Nintendo and PlayStation, fostering my love for video games from an early age. Gaming aside, I’m also a huge fan of movies and animation. All these interests ultimately inspire the work I do. I’m most satisfied when I get to create things inspired by what I love, and I find video games to be the best form of media to do so as I take deep interests in all aspects of game development.

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

Besides the Armed with Wings titles – Zombie Mayhem is my favorite game developed by myself and a close friend. It’s a fast-paced, wave-based lane shooter available to play on Newgrounds.com.

Otherwise Armed with Wings: Rearmed is my favorite game I developed.

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

Participate in lots of Game Jams! It’s a great way to meet people while gaining rapid experience.

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

The overall indie game experience is getting better and better – at a rapid rate. The line between AAA and indies will become blurred as a flurry of super indie titles hit the market. The talent pool of independents is scarily good, and younger developers are more skilled than ever before.

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

Steam is both easy and worthwhile to sell your game on if you are professional. Itch.io is fantastic if you are just getting started – it’s even easier than Steam but has a smaller user base.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

I love using Flash/Animate CC and AS3 for desktop development. It’s essentially the same flash game technology that powered the web before the rise of HTML5 and WebGL. The advantage is being able to create graphics and animation directly into Flash, then using AS3 to program functionality for those assets quickly. There is rarely any need to transfer/parse any data from one program to another: graphics, animation and code all happen in Flash.

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

As a developer, Early Access is a great way to keep you on your toes – you must deliver frequent updates or people will get bored. I think 2 years of Early Access has forced me into a working-habit.

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

I think PAX is usually a safe bet. I showcased Armed with Wings at PAX Australia and it was a very positive experience.

What do you think about VR?

I don’t know what to think about VR. On one hand, it is the potential future standard of gaming. On the other, it seems really cumbersome and impractical. As a consumer, VR isn’t interesting to me. However, I don’t want to entirely disregard anything that has demonstrated potential.

Games console of choice?

I love them all equally.

Thanks for your time Daniel

Thank you!

You can find our review of Armed with Wings: Rearmed right here – we liked the game quite a bit…

Interview: Jose Pantrigo From Randomize Studios Talks Indie Game Development, VR, More

We got the chance to sit down and speak to game developer Jose Pantrigo from Randomize Studios. We discussed indie game development, the latest trends in the games industry, and much more.

Jose

Gamer Credentials

Born in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain, 42 years ago. Jose has been a game ‘freak’ since he was a child. He doesn’t know which word came out of his mouth first: “Mario” or “Mom”. After several attempts at working in the games industry, he decided to go full indie on his own when smartphones became the ‘thing’. He has developed and published Meal on Wheels, Space Deactivator and Diary Of Zombie Apochalypse.

What inspired you to get into game development?

I have always loved videogames. I felt extremely curious when playing them, constantly questioning how things worked to get them moving. I would think: what kind of sorcery is that? So I started programming simple games with the Spectrum in Basic – that’s how I fell in love with the Randomize command…

What games have you created and which is your favourite?

I developed Meal on Wheels, Space Deactivator and Diary Of Zombie Apochalypse – all of them for iOS. Now I’m working hard on Beat Crisis Up for PC and Mac. I actually started working on it when I was a kid. It has been my ‘dream project’ for my entire life, and it has changed a lot, but it’s finally getting some shape. I can’t believe that the Beta is finally out. It’s easily my favourite game. Space Deactivator is in second place.

What advice would you offer for those just starting out?

Tough. If you plan to get a job at a big company, get a computer science degree. If you want to go full indie, don’t think you’ll make money straightaway – you won’t, plain and simple. You have to love and learn, and learn and love the craft, and do whatever it takes to make your games good. Really, really good. Don’t publish something average for the sake of it. Make it good!

What do you think is going to be a key trend in the games industry this year?

It’s going to be VR, and 4K too. I think that graphically we will see some absurdly good-looking games. The graphics cards these days are amazing!

What’s your favourite platform to sell games on?

PC and PS4. Personally I love the Switch, but I can’t see my latest game, in which you beat-up pixelated politicians and bankers to death, coming to a Nintendo console. Ha.

What are your favourite tools for game development?

I used Game Maker, Game Salad and now Unity. I’ll go with Unity, it’s quite flexible. I haven’t tried Unreal yet, but I’m tempted…maybe for my next game.

How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals?

Staying focused is all about having a clear vision. Making a game can be a daunting task and usually there are no rewards besides doing what you love. You have to stay focused.

Which events do you recommend indie developers showcase their game at?

At the beginning it’s your local events with an almost-finished game. In Beta form at least. Don’t go to E3 just with a title written on a piece of paper! You have to start from the bottom…

What do you think about VR?

It’s awesome, but it still has some hurdles to overcome to become the ‘thing’; dizziness…headaches…and also there’s still a lot of people who don’t like to move a lot when they’re playing games. VR has to convince people to get their butts out of the couch!

Games console of choice?

I’m a Nintendo guy, I love their franchises, especially Zelda and Metroid. Sony usually has a very strong library on their consoles too, so PlayStation 4 and Switch for me. I think Xbox One is largely awesome too…but I’m not keen on Microsoft exclusives.

Thanks for your time Jose

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Beat Crisis Up, a 2D Metroidvania Beat ’em up, is coming to PC and Mac this Winter. The Beta for the game was released a few weeks ago. You can download and play it here.