What is it about games that attracted you to the industry in the first place?
Games take me to another place and inspire me to be creative. As long as I can remember I’ve been making games or rule variations for existing games. When I was just a wee one my cousins and I made a game that was a combination of tag and hide-and-seek where we were all X-men with different powers. I love playing games, and good games make me think of ideas for games of my own.
What are your early memories of video games?
I remember being around 5 and my grandma came over (I want to say it was close to my birthday) with a brand new NES, the one that came with Duck-hunt and The Super Mario Bros. I was so excited, and as soon as my dad fired up that NES with The Super Mario Bros. in it I was hooked. My life was never the same after that.
You have a project up on Kickstarter at the moment: Metacell. What can you tell us about it?
Metacell, the first installment in an epic five-game saga, is an immersive 2D twitch puzzle shooter with a hard sci-fi plot. Each game in the saga has its own distinctive gameplay, tailored to its position in the story arc. Throughout the saga, our galactic hero and his crew fight to save the universe from devastation! There’s a lot more information on our Kickstarter page, for anyone who’s interested.
There are plenty of Match-3 style games out there. What makes yours different?
The twitch aspect of dodging traps and collecting pick-ups adds to the challenge of the circular gameboard that constantly fills with more genes. So I guess the biggest difference is that the game tries to kill you. There are a lot of match-3 games out there, but there are none except Metacell that excite me. Metacell also has a battle mode in the beta stages and if our Kickstarter succeeds, we’ll have a casual mode too.
Why did you decide to add a sci-fi plot, and what were your influences when designing the game?
I created a universe, then wrote a story in that universe, then designed the games to tell that story. As I mentioned before, Metacell is just the first installment of a 5-game saga and just the start of that story. As for the sci-fi, I grew up surrounded by bookshelves full of every work by some of the world’s greatest sci-fi minds like Asimov, Heinlein, Wells, Vonnegut and Verne, and they really had an influence in my storytelling and world building. When designing the game, I wanted a classic feel. I wanted to start the saga off with something simple and manageable, so I thought back to some of the games that inspired me in my childhood, specifically Tetris and Puzzle Bobble. I loved the ramping difficulty and urgency-inducing aspects of Tetris, and Puzzle Bobble was a great match-3 puzzle shooter (with cute dinosaurs!)
What were some of the challenges you faced when making the game, and how did you solve them?
Our biggest challenge has been that everything we’ve done to this date has been done with no funding, just the team sacrificing time with friends and family to follow our passions. We’re determined to keep going though, and we’re hoping for success in Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight which would help as well.
As an indie developer, what are your thoughts on the opportunities granted by the likes of Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter?
I think they’re great- DIY platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are essential in nurturing a movement towards the community in gaming, which fosters creativity by giving power to the creator and allowing the community as a whole to support creative growth in society. Greenlight is perfect for getting the gaming community excited about upcoming titles and gives us indies a soapbox to stand on without having to spend a ton of money. Three cheers for platforms like this!
Do you have any tips for upcoming developers on developing and advertising their games?
Never give up and don’t be afraid to fail. Every time you fail you find something you can fix and what you’re working on just gets better. As for advertising, Kickstarter and Greenlight can serve as advertising platforms, but it also takes a lot of time to build internet presence through sites like IndieDB and Destructoid or even Something Awful. Those are communities though, so you have to take the time to become a part of the community, you can’t just join and blast your project there.
Do you ever see yourself working on bigger budget titles? Perhaps across multiple platforms?
Definitely! In fact the Metacell saga shifts genres with each game and we’re writing our engine to port to every platform (we’re currently in early alpha stages of porting to iOS.) While Metacell is a 2D twitch puzzle shooter, Metacell II: Beyond the Gate will be a 2.5D shooter RPG, Metacell III: Adrift will be a 2.5D puzzle RPG, Metacell IV: Ascension will be a 3D action-adventure platformer RPG, and Metacell V: Origins will be an open-world 3D survival horror FPS RPG. The complexity of the games will increase throughout the saga, so supporting Metacell will lead to a whole lot of other, increasingly intricate and awesome games.
Is there anything you dislike about the industry at the moment? Anything you’d like to see changed?
I feel like no one knows how to make good games anymore. Video games are a form of art- one of the most complex and immersive pieces of art that humans have achieved so far. They shouldn’t be pushed like drugs. If publishers would look to the past, times like the Renaissance, they would realize that the world’s greatest works of art can be created if patrons support the arts and the artist and allow their creativity to thrive. If developers had the funding and freedom to create, they could make some incredible and mind-blowing games.
Do you have any plans beyond Metacell right now?
Tons! Metacell is just our launch title; I’ve been trucking for nearly a decade, writing and designing games, writing stories and building universes. I even have a tabletop RPG that I’ll be announcing early to mid 2013. To say that we have a mountain of awesome things lined up would be an understatement.
Where can people find you?
If you like the cut of our jib, you can follow us through various methods. Sometimes we say things on Twitter, we post updates on Facebook and our website is pretty. But most importantly, go check out the Kickstarter and Greenlight! Support us by pledging and vote us up on Greenlight so we can secure Steam as a distributor!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I just want to tell all of the indie developers out there who are just starting out: follow your dreams, they are the one thing in the world that are yours and no one else’s. And if someone is chugging that haterade, just ignore them.
Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=113126827
We’ve got more interviews to come, stay tuned.