You Are Browsing ' Interviews ' Category

By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Apr, 2017 At 07:26 PM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, News, NINTENDO, Old School Otaku, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatar

I recently took the time to talk with Shawn Long of Nintendo Enthusiast, aka Youtube’s RGT 85. RGT 85 is one of the best retro gaming channels on YouTube and we talked about the retro scene and how his channel came to be and works. Have a read below.

 

JB: How did you get into retro game collecting?

 

SL: Retro game collecting was kind of a natural thing for me. I was born in 85 so I got to experience the golden age (in my opinion) of gaming as it was happening, but like most people my family couldn’t always afford to buy me the newest games and systems. So a lot of it is now I’m in a position where I can get the games or systems I always wanted to play when I was younger but never could, so it’s cool.

 

JB: What are some of the challenges with retro game collecting?

 

SL: The biggest challenge with retro collecting is by far the price. It used to be dirt cheap but as more and more people get into it the playing field is much more crowded. That pisses some people off, but it doesn’t really bother me too much. I like the challenge of trying to find a good deal or something you know? It’s a rush.

 

JB: You are a part of the Nintendo Enthusiast/Enthusiast gaming team and put videos up for them. What made you decide to start RGT 85 as a separate project?

 

SL: RGT 85 is a pretty interesting story. I used to do retro stuff on the Nintendo Enthusiast channel but it never got good views like most of my other projects so I kind of realized people didn’t really care that much about them that were subbed. I pitched an idea to Jason to kind of do more retro stuff anyways though, but we realized it wouldn’t make much sense to do stuff on like SEGA you know? Everyone else on the video team had a side project so I was just like “hey let me try one myself.” And the rest is history.

 

 

JB:  What goes into the planning process for your videos? Do you have a step by step plan for each one? Do you wing them?

 

SL: As far as making a video goes it just depends on the project. Most of the time when it’s a discussion or whatnot I’m just winging it, all one take. Feels more natural and organic and I think that’s why people like me, because I can talk forever and not lose my train of thought or need to do splices. Bigger projects like Hidden Gems or Reviews are more of a planned out process for sure though.

 

JB:  Your channel has grown significantly since you launched it. How has the experience of growing your channel been?

 

SL:  Growing the channel has been pretty interesting to be honest. Since I had done vids with Nintendo Enthusiast Jason and I kind of learned what works and what doesn’t, and I’m friends with a lot of other YouTube people who have been kind enough to help me along the way with tips about like SEO and Tags and stuff. People don’t realize how hard it is to “make a name” for yourself or whatever in the community, because I’d say making the video is only 25% of the equation. Your tags, title, and marketing are far more important.

 

JB: Is there any game you have wanted to talk about, but felt for whatever reason, you couldn’t?

 

SL: One thing I don’t like to do is talk about things I don’t know. So if I’m not well versed in a topic or game, I’ll either study it and make myself privy to it or just skip it. Luckily my brain is like 95% random video game stuff, so it works out. Haha.

 

JB:  What are some games that you feel are underrated 16 bit gems?

 

SL: There’s a ton of 16-Bit Hidden Gems. I’m actually doing a video on that right now for the Genesis, but I’ll mention one that no one ever talks about: Garfield – Caught in the Act. It was a later Genesis release, like 1995 I want to say, but the animation is some of the best on the system.

 

JB: Since you are a retro gaming fan, I must ask, at what point does a game system become retro?

 

SL:  When something becomes “retro” is an interesting question. To me, I think if a system is over 10 years old, that’s retro. I mean it’s certainly not modern right? I know some people have the cutoff around the Dreamcast or whatever but I just feel like 10 years is an insane amount of time when you think of it in terms of gaming trends and games, so that’s good enough for me.

 

 

JB:  What do you feel should be done to preserve classic games that are at risk of being lost forever?

 

SL: Emulation. There’s nothing wrong with it, you aren’t screwing over the people who made the game 20 years ago, so emulation is key. Thankfully though the theory that carts would stop working after 30 years seems to be a myth, and I think that “disc rot” is a bunch of BS too as long as you keep things nice and clean.

 

JB:  What do you think of the trend of modern revivals of classic genres and games?

 

SL: I like the “new retro” stuff. Some of my favorite recent games have been of that variety. It just shows that all these “AAA” graphic intensive titles aren’t really what everyone wants.

 

JB:  What are some retro series you would like to see revived?

SL: I’d love to see a vast majority of SEGA franchises like Shining, Streets of Rage, Landstalker/Timestalker, Phantasy Star (RPG style), Virtua Fighter, Vectorman, I mean there’s so many franchises SEGA just sits on and it’s like “What are you doing!?”
JB: Do you have anything you want to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

 

SL: Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for talking to me! You can find me on YouTube at RGT 85!

 

 

 

 

Shawn Long

Editor in Chief at Nintendo Enthusiast

www.nintendoenthusiast.com

http://www.metacritic.com/publication/nintendo-enthusiast?filter=games

 

Thank you again for doing this Shawn. You can follow Shawn on twitter at @ShawnLong85   

No Gravatar

 

Recently I had the chance to have a discussion with Brian Diamond and Stephen Froeber of the Materia Collective, regarding their upcoming project ZODIAC: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed. We talked about how the project came about and what was involved. Have a read below.

……………………………….

JB: This is a very interesting project, how did it come about?

Brian Diamond (BD): Stephen can probably answer this question more fully than me as a life long fan of the Tactics franchise. I came onto the project as an assistant producer a few weeks after it started, to help with organisational grunt work, though I quickly took on more responsibility as the project took shape. Tactics is a very popular game among members of The Materia Collective, with many chomping at the bit to put their musical mark on the world of Ivalice.

Stephen Froeber (SF): Final Fantasy Tactics was actually the second game that I played in the franchise. I was one of the “late bloomers” that caught the FF series starting with VII and the PlayStation era. I later went back and played all the originals.

Tactics was special to me because of how much more mature it was. The storyline was much darker and more serious, and the gameplay itself was more cerebral.What ultimately grabbed me, of course, was the music. It was so atmospheric and really fit the world so well.

When Materia Collective started with the first album covering VII, I knew it was only a matter of time before Tactics had to be done. I was thrilled to be able to produce the album with Brian. 

JB:  How has the response been for the project so far?

SF: We’ve had a lot really positive feedback, to include a nice comment from Yasumi Matsuno himself, which was a huge, unexpected honor! 

BD: The response has been extremely positive, with many praising the size of the album, its eclectic mix of styles and high quality of arrangers remixes. Everyone has a different favorite and I think that’s a testament to the all the talented individuals who poured their hearts into this project. We even had Tactics Creator Yasumi Matsuno retweet and buy a copy of the album.

JB: Was there any special selection of the musicians for the project?

SF: Many of the arrangers are veterans of the Materia Collective’s previous albums, but we always have new people with each project that request to join. We are continually impressed with the quality of work that arrangers put into each piece.

Each arranger has discretion on using their own musicians for their song, and many times, that is how many people end up getting involved long term.  

BD: Not really, the process of the majority of our projects involves our would be arrangers pitching proposals for the tracks they want to remix. We often ask that they pitch multiple tracks in case they don’t get their first preference. As with all soundtracks there are really popular tracks and hidden gems, and sometimes we have 7 proposals for one track. In that situation we might allow 2-3 versions of a track but we give priority to the first to submit and make sure the multiple submissions are stylistically different enough e.g. (a) Dubstep Remix, (b) Solo Piano and (c) Full Orchestral. It’s important for us to try and cover as much of the original soundtrack as possible, so we try and keep the number of repeated tracks to a minimum.

JB: What kind of future projects do you anticipate?

SF: We anticipate many future projects. 😉 

If you take a look at our current discography, you can probably take some good guesses as to things that are in the pipeline. 

BD: I can’t go into details yet (mainly because I don’t know myself), but would love to do more Final Fantasy albums, maybe some remix albums of Indie Games, I’m really looking forward to Materia Collectives Kickstarted Hero of Time orchestral album – the art work and vinyl design for it looks gorgeous and the work that Producer Eric Buchholz has done with Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses is stellar.

JB: What kind of approval process was there for the songs recorded?

SF: We have a pretty wide variety of skillsets and experience levels within the Collective. It’s always a delicate balance between being inclusive, and keeping our quality level consistently high. 

We have periodic check-ins throughout the production process for us to give feedback on demos and mixes. By the time the final tracks were submitted, they were pretty polished. 

BD: Outside of the initial proposal process, we try and get our arrangers to check in periodically with updates on how their tracks are doing, whether they’re having any problems, making sure they submit stuff on time. The most important thing we strive for is making sure that everyone involved give the best that they can give and that they can look back on the project with pride.

JB: There are a lot of tribute albums to video game soundtracks, how will this one stand out?

SF: One thing that makes all of the Materia Collective albums unique is that you really don’t know what you’re going to get from one track to the next. We have such a diverse range of musical influences, and you can hear that front and center in the music…. and yet, in spite of that, the album stays surprisingly unified and consistent. There’s something musically for everyone. 

BD: One thing about Materia releases that I have always enjoyed has been the sheer size of them and eclectic mix of styles – ZODIAC: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed has 63 tracks and 4 hours long. And that isn’t even the largest one – our Undertale tribute album FALLEN that we released last September was 97 tracks 

JB: Have there been any difficulties in the making of Final Fantasy Tactics remixed?

SF: All large projects have challenges, and this was no exception. Life still happens even when you’re making awesome music. 

We had some artists that had to drop out of the project, as well as some growing pains with project management tools.

We try to take each problem as a point of learning to bring into the next album.

BD: I found it surprising how smoothly it went considering Stephen and I were dealing with 60 odd arrangers and by extension 100+ musicians throughout the process. Sometimes working with musicians can be like herding cats (speaking from past experience) however I’m delighted that we had very few issues on this album and all the musicians and vocalists were wonderful to work with.

JB: What is it about the music of Final Fantasy Tactics that stands out the most to you?

SF: Tactics, more so than the other FF series, was much more focused on atmosphere. There are several ambient, dissonant, haunting tracks all throughout, as well as some large orchestral pieces. 

I initially thought that would make this a challenging album to cover…. but when I started hearing the renditions of each track, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It breathes new life into an already amazing soundtrack. Many times, it put a unique spin on a piece that gives it a whole new meaning.

BD: For me it’s the rich and luscious scores of Sakimoto and Iwata, the interweaving themes, the tapestry of storytelling conveyed through their music. My first experience of Sakimotos wonderful composition style was with the music of FFXII – I grew up on Uematsu sans gorgeous arrangements from the mainline Final Fantasy entries of the 90s and early 2000s. I came late to Final Fantasy Tactics playing it more recently on Android devices, but I had heard the soundtrack long before playing the game, and it’s unique style has stayed with my ‘til this day.

JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

SF: The one thing that I really enjoy about the VGM cover scene is the deep passion for the source material. 

These albums give us a chance to connect with fellow fans of these amazing games, and (hopefully) add something personal to the conversation of how we experienced the music that other people can connect with.

BD: Even though we’ve just released ZODIAC: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed – Materia Collective has got a lot of cool projects coming out this year; so if you want to keep up with all our goings on – follow Materia Collective on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Bandcamp for updates on all our releases and general VGM goodness.

 

JB: Thank you again for doing this.

No GravatarRecently I had the chance to talk with Edward Di Geronimo of Saturnine Games and discuss the upcoming game Antipole DX. Take a look below

antipole 1

JB: Antipole was originally a game on the DS, the Xbox and PC marketplace. What made you decide to remake the game?

EG: I always loved the gameplay of the original, and it seemed to resonate well with the people that played the original. Unfortunately the original never looked as good as I would’ve liked, and I think that prevented a lot of people from giving the game a chance.

JB: The Nintendo eshop has been a very interesting place for indie games, some succeed and some do not. How have your experiences been with the eshop so far?

EG: The eShop isn’t that different from every other digital store front. Some games do well, while many games don’t. Making games is a tough business, no matter what market you’re looking at. If you’re a big developer, you can release everywhere and find your audience that way. If you’re a small developer, that’s not really a practical approach, so you have to pick your spots more carefully. My game design senses are heavily inspired by Nintendo, and I think it shows in the games I make. As a result, I’ve seen better results when I release games on Nintendo platforms than elsewhere.

antipole 2

JB: What do you think of miiverse as a means for developers to promote their indie games on Nintendo systems?

EG: I’ve been a big fan of Miiverse. Developer posts get very good visibility, and everyone reading the posts have either a Wii U or a 3DS. It’s a much more effective way of getting word out to my target audience than general social media is. I try to post a screenshot every week or two along with a short development update. The reception has been very positive. I think I’ve been able to build a good following on Miiverse.

JB: What made you decide to make the Wii U one of the target platforms for Antipole DX?  What do you think of the audience on Nintendo systems for this type of game? Do you feel they are particularly receptive?

EG: Nintendo has been developing high quality platformer games for decades. I think their audience is highly receptive to them. They also have a core audience that’s been gaming on their systems for decades. This crowd grew up playing pixel art platformers. I think the audience is going to be very receptive toward games like Antipole DX.

antipole 4

JB: Can you tell us a few of the new things and changes we will see in Antipole DX that are different from the original?

EG: There’s not a lot left that’s the same! The code is largely the same, but we’ve replaced all the assets. The graphics are all new, with a pixel art style that feels like a 16-bit era game. Last time around the audio side of the game suffered due to the tight space restrictions of DSiWare. The music and sound effects are all new this time around, and are much higher quality now that we don’t have to worry about space restrictions. Players familiar with the original game will still find plenty of surprises in the DX version. The levels have all been recreated from scratch. I usually tried to stay faithful to the original designs, but there are plenty of cases where I removed or changed sections that I wasn’t happy with. I made sure to add new sections to every level, and also included several all new levels. The DX version is on track to have about 50% more rooms than the original game did.

antipole 5

JB: Who are some of your biggest influences as a game developer?

EG: Nintendo is definitely the biggest influence on my design senses, with Mario, Zelda, and Metroid being the games I look at the most. NES/SNES era Capcom is another big influence, with games like Mega Man and Duck Tales standing out. In general I tend to look toward the 8/16 bit era for the basics of gameplay, and look at more modern games for ideas on how to create a nicer experience.

JB: What are some of the biggest influences and inspirations for Antipole DX in particular?

EG: The core gameplay is heavily Mega Man inspired, although you’ll certainly find some hints of Metroid in there. The speed run challenges are inspired by Metroid’s rewards for beating the game faster. The fast speed of the character was originally a nod to Sonic. I was never as big a fan of Sonic as the rest of the team though, so that aspect of it got downplayed over time. I found that Sonic style wide open levels didn’t work well with the gravity mechanic.

antipole 3

JB: What are some of your biggest concerns for this game?

EG: I don’t think my concerns are any different than they are with other games. I worry about how much time I put into the game, and if it’s worth it. The industry is always changing, so I wonder if the assumptions I made about the market are right. I think everyone gets afraid that other people won’t like the game.

antipole 6

JB: Is there anything you wanted to do differently with Antipole DX that you have not been able to?

EG: Coming into this project, I had a list of things I wanted to add to the original but wasn’t able to. I made sure to get those things in. While there’s always room to add more, I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t get in that I felt strongly about. I do have a list of things that would be a better fit for a sequel though!

antipole 6 antipole 7

JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readership of Real Otaku Gamer?

EG: We went all out to include as much as we could in this game, and make it as great as we could. We’re extremely proud of how it’s turning out. I hope you give it a shot and enjoy it!

……………………………………………..

You can see a trailer for the game below

You can follow Saturnine Games on twitter here and you can follow Edward on twitter here.

Thank you again to Edward and Saturnine Games for the interview

By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Jul, 2016 At 02:13 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Indie Spotlight, Interviews, News, NINTENDO, Previews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI recently had the chance to talk with Ezekiel Rage, developer of Citidale: Gate of Souls, and discuss the upcoming indie game. Please have a look at our conversation

 Citadale01

JB: Where/How did you get the idea to make your game Citadale – Gate of Souls?

ER: It actually started as a Castlevania fangame. I wanted to do a remake of Castlevania Legends. It was my first time using the engine I use and as such I figured creating a remake would teach me a lot about the program. And as development kept getting more complex and different from the original, I decided to make it its own thing instead of a remake.

JB: Obviously Citadale takes influence from the Castlevania series, but are there any other game series that Citadale was influenced by?

ER: There is a rather obscure NES game called Faxanadu that inspired me greatly. Another influence was the SNES game Demon’s Crest.

JB: Konami’s reputation has taken a beating over the last while. Do you think that will help you with promoting a game that is essentially a spiritual sequel to the classic Castlevania games?

ER: To be honest, I have no particular thoughts on that subject. I hope that the game will be doing well but whether the success of the game is influenced by Konami’s decisions or not is not something I am concerned about. I suppose this discussion would probably be worth having after the game has been released.

JB: You have some interesting ideas for this game, such as it being primarily played on the gamepad, while the TV screen shows a bigger map. What made you decide to do that?

ER: When I decided to port it to Wii U, which was in 2014, I thought that it would be an interesting way to play the game. Of course you can switch views at any given time or not use the GamePad at all, and we do support most input devices on Wii U. The main idea I had was a boss fight that would take up more vertical space than the TV can give you. I realized this boss fight in Stage 3, by the way.

Citadale03

JB: Besides Castlevania, what were some of your favourite games growing up?

ER: I am a HUGE Zelda nerd. I have a Zelda shrine, so to speak. I own all the games with packages and manuals, lots of merchandise, and I even have a Zelda tattoo. There was also game on Super Nintendo (and Sega Genesis, but the SNES version was better) called Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow – I love this game. Terranigma and Lufia are among my favorite games, along with the aforementioned Faxanadu, the classic Mega Man series and of course the Metroid series.

JB: What Castlevania games influenced this game the most? That is, besides Legends, what other games inspired the design and gameplay?

ER: Well the very first NES Castlevania was not only hugely influential on this game, but also on my younger gaming self. I also took some inspiration from Dracula X on SNES (yes, I know, Rondo is better), in that you can’t upgrade your main weapon for example.

Citadale02

JB: What were your favourite Castlevania games to play?

ER: Obviously I love Symphony of the Night. I am also very partial to Legacy of Darkness and Simon’s Quest. Super Castlevania 4 and Portrait of Ruin also rank among my favorites.

JB: With regards to the last question, what were some of your favourite game genres growing up?

ER: I love action adventure games, really. I like to explore interesting settings – be it old castles or intricate dungeons.

JB: Making this game focused on the Wii U could be considered risky at this time. What led you to that decision?

ER: I have been a huge Nintendo fan growing up. I always wanted to create a game for a Nintendo system so this was really an easy decision to make.

JB: What do you think of the indie scene on the Wii U?

ER: It is far bigger than most people think, and from what I can tell quite popular. Of course there are positive and negative examples but overall most Nindies are actually very good games.

JB: Do you have any plans to integrate Miiverse into this game?

ER: We actually do support Miiverse. We also have stamps in the game.

JB: What are your hopes for this game? Would you want to make a sequel if this does well?

ER: My hopes are that it does well enough to warrant a release of story DLC. I could do a sequel but I’d much rather release the continuation of the story as DLC – a sequel would use the same graphics and graphical style anyway, because I am a one man development team (well, one and a half, I have an amazingly talented programmer/publisher friend) and creating complex graphics is simply not within my field of expertise.

Citadale04

JB: Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

ER: Well, obviously I hope you check out my game and my upcoming projects. I would also like to thank you for taking the time for me and I wish you all the best 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and good luck with the game.

………………

You can follow Ezekiel Rage on twitter here and check out his website here

No Gravatar1920_ScrewAttack

 

I recently had the chance to speak with Austin Harper of ScrewAttack Games and Sam Beddoes of FreakZone Games. We discussed how some of their projects came to be, what the future holds and more. Please take a read below.

JB: ScrewAttack is best known as a gaming website. What led to you guys deciding to make your own games?

AH: We are all gamers at heart and we’re really passionate about video games; we decided to take that passion for games and apply that to design. I think all of us at some point in time have daydreamed about being able to make a video game. It’s kind of a childhood dream, you know? We were just very fortunate in having a platform and a great community to support us in trying to fulfill that dream.

JB:  ScrewAttack came out with a rather interesting mobile game a few years ago called Texting of the Bread. What was the inspiration behind that?

AH: Haha, it was very much inspired by the Dreamcast game Typing of the Dead. Essentially we were sitting around talking about how cool Typing of the Dead was, and wondering why nothing like that had been done in the mobile market. We really liked the punny name we came up with, so we decided to take the theme and run with it — hence the main character with a cow strapped to her back and the hordes of gingerbread men.

JB:  What lead to the Nerd being a character in the game? Was it a test run to see how he would be in his own game?

AH: Honestly, we were just really happy that we got to make a game, a real game, with our name on it and wanted to share it with our friends.?

JB:  How was the reception to Texting of The Bread? I understand that one mobile version of the game itself was cancelled?.

AH: The reception was actually pretty good, and we wanted to bring the game to Android, but at the time the ShiVa Engine we built the game in just didn’t have Android support. Our developer made a few test builds anyway, all of them had really ridiculous bugs, like not being able to close the application without removing your battery… Long story short, we parted ways with the developers before we ever got the build completed. Though, you may hear something about our mobile titles in the near future.

JB:  Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is probably the most well known of the games ScrewAttack has produced. How did it come about?

AH: We were talking about making a new game, specifically considering the Angry Video Game Nerd franchise, but we didn’t have a developer in mind. Around that time, Sam Beddoes of FreakZone Games reached out to us, asking us to do a review of his game, Manos: The Hands of Fate. We really liked the game and got along with Sam pretty well, and he happened to mention he was a big fan of the AVGN series. The rest just kind of clicked.

JB: Sam, how did you come to be the developer that worked on AVGN adventures? Did ScrewAttack reach out to you? What was the experience like to work on an officially licensed game based of a reviewer of crappy games? Was it intimidating?

SB: A few years back I made a similar project “MANOS: The Hands of Fate” – A retro-style adaptation of the infamously bad movie of the same name. It was a pet project which did pretty well. The idea was to adapt the movie in the way movies were adapted to games back in the 80s on the NES, and a lot of my research involved binge-watching AVGN, who I had been a big fan of for quite some time, to try and capture that “LJN” feel. Also being a big fan of ScrewAttack, I approached them to try and get MANOS some coverage, and the retro style impressed them, at which point they allowed me to pitch a collaboration to them – that pitch was AVGN Adventures, a game I’d dreamed of making since before I even started MANOS. They liked the pitch, and my life was changed!

JB:  You brought to AVGN Adventures some elements from your game Manos the Hands of Fate, based off that infamous movie. I’m curious how that game came about, being based on a notorious film from decades ago.

SB: MANOS is an interesting one. I’ve been fond of watching terrible movies with friends for as far back as I can remember, and when I caught Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie on TV I ended up obsessively watching that show on the internet (we didn’t have the show here in England, only the movie, which was essentially just a higher budget episode!), and through MST3K I discovered the film MANOS. Since I’d been making games as a hobby since the late 90s, my “bad movie buddy” Chris and I always joked about making a game of MANOS, how it’d be adapted, how it’d play. We joked around with the idea of a point and click adventure, for example. Whilst reading about the history of that film one day I found out that the film and everything in it was in the public domain due to the director’s failure to take all the necessary steps to copyright a work back in the time it came out (similar to what happened with George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, thus giving birth to the entire zombie genre), and I was amused to think that I actually COULD make MANOS due to this! I believe I was thinking about AVGN when I realized how much fun it’d be to adapt MANOS the way game developers adapted movies on the NES in the 80s, and so I went for it – The main idea would be to “celebrate badness with something good”; to include all of the tropes of bad game adaptations and bad movies alike, but without making the game itself bad! Not long after the release of the game, I was befriended by most of the remaining cast of the original film, so I suppose you could even say it’s the “official” video game adaptation at this point.

JB:  What is your philosophy to game design and what are some of your biggest influences and inspirations in gaming? I’m talking about both games and game developers.

 SB: I like to keep things simple, challenging, fun and exciting! My greatest influences on my platformers are Yoshi’s Island, Mega Man X and the original Sonic games, but I also find myself inspired by some modern indie developers like Edmund McMillan and the guys at WayForward. Of course not forgetting the masters themselves, Miyamoto, Inafune, Igarashi. There’s so much more, though. Games have been an enormous part of my life and they’ve never not been inspiring me, so it’s a tough question to ask!

JB:  What do you personally hope to Accomplish with AVGN adventures II? Will it come to consoles like the first game did?

SB: Regarding Consoles, that’s up to ScrewAttack to talk about, but obviously that’s something I really hope to see happen. As for the game itself, we’ve learned a lot since the first, so I hope not just to make fans of the original happy, but perhaps win over some people who weren’t too smitten with the first game as well!

JB: Austin, Disorder is an interesting game. How did that one come about and how has the reception been?

AH: Chad and Craig were walking the floor and checking out indie games down at SXSW Gaming when they came across Disorder. Both of the guys thought it was a really awesome game and spent the weekend hanging out with the Swagabyte Games team. After a night of playing games together and drinking, we decided to take on the project as the publisher. Disorder is a different tone than our other titles, it’s bit more serious in subject matter, but most everyone who has played it has responded pretty positively.

JB:  Jump ‘N’ Shoot is an awesome throwback to classic games but I have to ask, why is it on mobile devices only?

AH: Jump’N’Shoot Attack is kind of Sam’s passion project to try and bring a real platforming game experience to the mobile phone that gamers will enjoy.

JB:  Is there any chance there may one day be a Death Battle game? I understand it would be a licensing nightmare but you could use stand ins/obvious parodies for the real characters and even include Wiz and Boomstick (and Jocelyn).

AH: It has definitely been talked about, but at this point I can’t really say much either way.

JB:  Do you see ScrewAttack continuing to pursue video game production? If so, what are some genres that you would like to see tackled?

AH: I think, like with most things, we’ll continue doing it as long as it makes sense and people enjoy it. Being a super small publishing team, we try to focus on a limited number of projects so we can give proper attention to them all. I can say that I’m busy for the foreseeable future. I think one of the hardest genres to do well is horror.

JB:  Do you have any regrets about how things were done in any of the games ScrewAttack produced?

AH: Looking back, if we could do it over again we would have launched Texting of the Bread with a Free to play model.

JB: Have there been any games that ScrewAttack was producing that have ended up being cancelled along the way that people are not aware of?

AH: There have been a few publishing opportunities that didn’t pan out. One example was a small development team that disbanded before the contract was finalized. It’s a bummer, because it was an awesome game that will never see the light of day. I hope one day they reconnect and continue work on the game.

JB:  Do you have anything that you would like to say to the audience of Teal Otaku Gamer?

AH: Thanks so much for reading the interview! If you’re a fan of retro inspired games, we hope you’ll check out our stuff!

Thank you again for doing this.

 

You can follow ScrewAttack on Twitter at @ScrewAttack, Austin can be followed at @PotatoHound and Sam at @FreakZoneGames

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Feb, 2016 At 02:32 AM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarlogo_500x500_transWelcome everyone to Indie Game Spotlight. Today we speak with Warren Smith, developer of Dark Flame. You can read the interview below.

JB: Obviously your game takes a lot of inspiration from Castlevania symphony of the night. What else inspires your game and what is it that sets your game apart and gives it uniqueness? As well, how do you deal with the criticism that Dark Flame looks too similar to SoTN?

WS: Dark Flame comes from a natural blend of my favorite games. There are quite a few inspirations, but some of the big ones are Castlevania for the art style and “metroidvania” playstyle, Dark Souls for the theme and difficult gameplay, and Diablo for stat allocation and cosmetic effects from equipment. This game has many cool features that sets it apart from its competitors. Some of them are the dialogue choices to affect storyline, magic creation and equipment system, weapon/armor equipment and enhancements, various NPC interactions, secrets, treasures and much more

Honestly, I don’t get much criticism anymore for how the game looks. I believe that when I first introduced Dark Flame publicly, the game’s theme and playstyle wasn’t as profound. I personally would like to think that the game’s art style is comparable to that of a larger company – as that is what I’m striving for. As far as the comparison between the two games – one is inspired from the other but they are both different… Anyways, to answer your question, I would read the criticism, shrug my shoulders, and keep working on Dark Flame.

JB: How did you get into game development? That is what made you interested in and pursue a career in the field?

WS: I don’t think there was an exact defining point when I ‘got into game development’. This project initially started as many different learning tutorials and exercises that were self-motivated. I’ve always been interested in video games and have played them since I can remember. I’ve always thought it would be great to make my own so I just dove into it. Dark Flame is my first project. I’ve been working at it for about three years now and I love everything about it!

JB: What were some of your favorite games growing up?

WS: Well, the first game I ever owned to my name was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. I played other games on the NES before that, but I was really into the Sonic series growing up. My absolute favorite game is Final Fantasy VII, as it was the first RPG I’ve ever played and I got totally sucked into the story. I’m also a big sucker for the Souls games and anything with a great story.

 

ScreenShot 2016Jan25 11-39-05

 

JB: What is your main goal with Dark Flame?

WS: Initially, it was a learning experience for me. Now that I am where I am – I want to make the best possible game I can make. Something that is enjoyable and memorable. I want people who play it to have an experience than to just run through another game…

JB: Do you feel there is a healthy market for a game like yours in the industry today?

WS: I do. Then again, I’m incredibly biased towards metroidvanias. I’m not a marketing expert, but I do believe that if a game is good enough, then people will want to play it (as long as they know about it).

JB: What are some challenges you have faced as an indie dev?

WS: Ha! This question should be more like “What are some experiences you’ve had that were NOT a challenge?” Every day is a challenge. On top of just designing the game, I have to deal with multiple failures and struggles with stress on a daily basis. Though, this game wouldn’t be where it is right now if it weren’t for those failures. I have to have these failures to keep me working hard.

JB: The music in Dark Flame’s trailers have been amazing, who is the composer of the music?

WS: Bryan Delerson is the music composer for Dark Flame. He’s created some wonderful pieces for the playable demo that is out now. I’ve also heard some of the stuff that he has in mind for the future of production and it sounds completely wonderful!

 

ScreenShot 2016Jan16 17-30-07

JB: The story of Dark Flame that you have revealed so far is very intriguing. What was your inspiration for it?

WS: The inspiration behind the Story of Dark Flame comes from a number of different games. As I said earlier, I love a game with a great story. I also like the dark themes of the Souls games. I’m not the best writer so I’ve sought out Brian Lee and Tom King to do much of the legwork in it. The story will be a great decision-based immersion that will cause you to think about your choices pretty hard… if you like dark stories, then you’ll love what Dark Flame will bring you!

JB: What advice do you have for other indie devs out there who are just getting into game development?

WS: Be prepared to be let down and put way too many hours into something in hopes that people will like it. Game development is something that you need to be absolutely passionate about to pursue. If it is, then listen to feedback from players and don’t give up!

JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readership of Real Otaku Gamer?

WS: Yeah – thanks for reading this! I’m really just making Dark Flame because I want to give you a fun and enjoyable game. If you think that Dark Flame might interest you and you love Castlevania and Dark Souls games, then you should play the demo for yourself! Also, I love to hear feedback on this project as well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see what’s missing because I’m working on the same thing all day every day.

Here is the Kickstarter trailer.

I hope you all enjoyed this. You can visit the website for Dark Flame here and you can follow Warren on twitter @BorishDugdum.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 4 Feb, 2016 At 01:25 AM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatar

going indie

1. You are well known now as an indie game advocate. How did you start down this path, that is, what led to your interest in the indie gaming scene?

I needed a hobby, and my boyfriend and family said I should get into blogging. This was June, 2011, when the annual summer gaming release drought was kicking off. Originally, the plan was to talk about movies, but we were going through my Xbox 360 library and stumbled upon a couple Xbox Live Indie Games I had previously bought. I was like “oh yea, I forgot there was an indie section in the Xbox market.” We went through the recent releases and tried to look up reviews for them, only to find all the sites covering them gave overwhelmingly positive reviews to every single game, regardless of its quality. Brian said “There you go, that’s what you should blog about.” We bought a few dozen XBLIGs, and I opened Indie Gamer Chick on July 1, 2011. By August, it was the most popular XBLIG site in the world.

2. You are quite the caustic critic when you need to be and frequently call others out, including me on occasion. Has this ever caused any major issues between you and developers? 

I don’t feel I “call people out.” I do challenge developers to challenge themselves. Indie devs will get  hundreds, or thousands, of people who tell them “good job, your game is perfect!” I say “good job, but here’s where you have room to grow.” That’s what developers want. The ones who only want praise and are too thin-skinned to accept feedback don’t last. But the stereotype of the thin-skinned, egotistical indie dev is greatly exaggerated. I’ve been doing IGC for almost five years and I can count on one hand the amount of developers who I would say were problematic. That’s after 550+ reviews. Most developers can be disappointed by my reviews, but almost all of them use them to get better. Game reviews are ultimately resources, whether you make games or buy them. The most common response a developer has to a negative review since the day I started is “I wish someone had brought this stuff up during development.”

 

3. There is some discussion that the industry in general is in a state of growing pains now, that change is happening. What direction do you see the video game industry and in particular indie games going in?

When I started IGC, only Microsoft was putting significant stock in the potential indies had as a revenue stream. They had created promotions like Summer of Arcade that featured indies such as Limbo or Braid in prominent roles, and they had opened XBLIG which allowed anyone of any skill level to make and publish games for a subscription fee and a 30% royalty on the games sold. Here we are, five years later, and indies are a major part of the console manufacturers’ business model. By supporting indies, they assure quality titles year-round, especially out of peak retail seasons, and that they have titles across more genres, assuring content for everyone. That’s not to mention that indies have changed the definition of what a budget-release is and the quality you can expect for a relatively inexpensive game. While this has lead to over-saturation, the really high-talent studios are gaining a foothold. In the near future, you’ll see more indie studios outright acquired to produce exclusive content for manufacturers, since the cost of acquisition will be much less than a studio that’s been around twenty years.

4. You have helped bring awareness of epilepsy and seizures to many in the gaming community, do you feel you have helped accomplish change for the better?

It’s amazing how far awareness for conditions like epilepsy as it relates to gaming have come in such a short amount of time. I’ve hardly been alone in advocacy for issues like epilepsy, but that I get so many developers approach me or Ian Hamilton asking about it and what they can do with their games to make it less risky (though risk will always exist no matter what) has been genuinely touching.

5. With regards to the last question, how does it feel to be held as an advocate for people with epilepsy and seizures?

It’s actually really flattering that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot with the issue. I’m really proud of it. It’s quite a legacy.

6. All 3 console makers have embraced the indie community in recent years, I’d like to know your thoughts on what the 3 console makers have done for the indies.

Well, they’ve made indies part of their business model. Saying you’re part of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate’s business model might not sound sexy or prestigious, but I can’t think of any better indicator that indies have made it. More over, the really great ones can go on to be so much more. Look at what Shovel Knight is for Nintendo now. They’ve included it in their Amiibo line. Microsoft bought the studio and IP to Minecraft for 2.5 *BILLION* dollars. That’s over half of what Disney paid for all ownership to everything Star Wars. The ceiling is so high on indies now that it stretches the boundaries of reality and crosses over into imagination. In today’s market place, the sky is the limit for indies.

7. You have made your views on Kickstarters well known and with the recent debacle of Ant Simulator, do you see crowd sourcing as becoming a major issue with indie devs?
I’m way in favor of crowd sourcing for indies. But there has to be merit to seeking funding. You have to have the talent and ability to pull it off. Making a game, especially a good game, takes patience and self-awareness. Your first games will seldom come out the way you envisioned them. So I don’t like to see too many first time developers seek funding. They should treat it as a hobby until they have the ability to make it something more. When used right, it’s a remarkable resource. When used wrong, it could set you up to be a pariah for life.


8. With regards again to crowd sourcing, how do you feel the process can be improved upon to actually get a positive outcome?

As unintuitive as this sounds, a campaign is about you, not your game. Developers using Kickstarter have to remember that. Games sell themselves. Make sure you put what makes your game unique, and then just leave it there for would-be backers to digest. You don’t have to oversell a game. A campaign is about your ability to deliver the game you’re pitching. Showing off your talent, your skills, your drive, your determination, and your resolve to finish what you promise. Developers using Kickstarter need to remember that and take the pitches more seriously. Less non-stop sarcasm, less wacky biographies that tell you nothing about their experience or talent, less wacky pictures of the staff. Have fun, but take it seriously. Treat it like a business. Because, if you’re asking strangers for money, you are a business whether you like it or not.

9. What are some of your favorite indie games? both in general and specifically for each console.

As it so happens, I have a list on my site. But for each console, it’s Axiom Verge for PS4 and Steam, Shovel Knight for Wii U, and although I couldn’t finish the game due to epilepsy concerns, Ori and the Blind Forest seemed like it was on track to be one of my favorite indies on Xbox One.

10. In your opinion what makes an indie game stand out?

I think it comes down to the amount of joy you have making your games transfers over to your work. So if you have fun making a game,
people will have fun playing it. Make the kind of games you want to play yourself. With stuff like Shovel Knight or Axiom Verge, you can immediately tell these are the games the developers dreamed of making since they were kids.

11. What do you see as the biggest game changer for the indie gaming scene?

In the not to distant future, indies will be targeted for acquisition by the console manufacturers, and all three manufacturers I’m told have big plans to put more money and resources towards landing top-tier indie devs exclusively on their platforms. We’re maybe months away from seeing an honest-to-God bidding war for the services of relatively modest indie studios. When that starts to happen, I hope the community at large takes a moment to smile and realize that they’ve arrived at the grown-ups table.

Thank you again for doing this interview.
Check out Indie Gamer Chick’s Leaderboard of Indie Games here and her editorial about epilepsy here.
Image courtesy of the book Going Indie.
By Jonathan Balofsky On 15 Dec, 2015 At 04:55 AM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatar

9unq2fgH
I had the chance to speak with Eric Kozlowsky recently and ask him a few questions about his time at Retro Studios.
How did you come to work for Retro Studios?
I was working as a Lead Environment Artist at Square Enix. Unfortunately the project I was working on was canceled and the entire team laid off. This was in March of 2011. I spent some time putting feelers into the open and when an opportunity at Retro came up I sent my stuff in and got an interview.
 
What was the work environment like at Retro?
Retro is pretty laid back and easygoing. They respect their employees to manage their workload and get their work done. Out of all of the studios I’ve worked for I think Retro has one of the best cultures. I’ve never seen so much inter-department friendships before. Normally The artists are friends with Artists, Designers with Designers and Engineers with Engineers. But at Retro this wasn’t the case at all!
Retro’s games are typically overseen by Kensuke Tanabe, do you have any stories you can share about him? Any comments on how he interacted with everyone?
Tanabe-San was mostly focused with Design. So I didn’t have much professional contact with him as art was pretty much left to the stewardship of our Creative Director. Personally every time I talked with him he was super friendly and easy going. He even signed my Hyrule Historia book (Tanabe-San was scriptwriter on Link to the Past, and he headed up development on Link’s Awakening.)
 
e07ba0b2-aa16-11e3-8a70-12313b0ef1fc-large 
What was it like to work on the Donkey Kong series? Did the series legacy intimidate or excite you in any way?
I have to admit that DK has never been a favorite of mine when it comes to Nintendo characters and game. I was a fan of the original DKC. Yet I never played any subsequent releases save for DKCR to prepare for my interview. However as I the project went on I gained a whole new appreciation for the big guy! There game design in the games is really something else. The way the levels can be attempted in a speedrun is really mind blowing.
Then there is the legacy of the art! I mean when DKC released back on the SNES it was a trailblazer for the coming 3D generation of games (even if it was 2d gameplay). So trying to live up to that legacy, as well as the phenomenal art in Donkey Kong Country Returns was very intimidating. As it stands now out of all the games I have worked on (over 10 at this point) I am most proud of Donkey Kong Country:Tropical Freeze!
I can definitely say now Donkey Kong is one of my favorite Nintendo franchises!
 
What would you have liked to work on at Retro?
I would have LOVED to have worked on Star Fox. I even pitched a proposal before I knew that Miyamoto-San was working on Star Fox Zero. I think I have the document laying around somewhere 😛
 I can’t wait to play Star Fox Zero next year.
 
Can you share any funny workplace stories from your time there?
It’s tough to think of just one, after 4 years working there it starts to bleed together. Most shenanigans happened AFTER work! 🙂
What led to you deciding to leave Retro?
It’s tough being an artist in the game industry. It’s very easy to get comfortable and fall into habits that don’t push your skill. I felt I needed to try something new, to test my abilities and try to grow. Time will tell if that was a wise decision!
 
Are you personally excited for Retro’s next game, whatever it may be?
Of course! I can’t wait to see how it’s grown since I left.
Do you feel Retro can now do more than 1 game at a time or would they be best served the way they have been doing things so far…just your opinion.
Personally I think Retro will always do what is best for Nintendo. When I left it was one team, but I’m sure if Retro wanted to move to more teams they would produce the same stellar work they always have!
 
What was it like when you had the chance to meet some of the higher ups at Nintendo?
Meeting Miyamoto-San at E3-2013 is one of the highlights of my career. I got him to sign my gold NES cartridge of The Legend of Zelda, the very same one I had when I was 6! I even pushed my luck and asked him to sign my DK tie that we were wearing to promote DKC:TF and he not only signed it, he drew DK on it! MIND BLOWN! Easy to say that both Zelda and the tie are framed and hanged in my office.
My biggest regret was seeing Iwata-San at that same E3 but I was too shy to introduce myself to him. I was devastated by his passing.
Thank you for taking the time to do this.
By otakuman5000 On 13 Nov, 2014 At 10:37 PM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, NINTENDO, Podcasts, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

Well, Hello there! This is Andre Tipton aka Otakuman5000. For those who don’t know, The Fatal Frame series redefined the Survival Horror genre of video games.

By Sean Jacobs On 2 Jun, 2014 At 03:24 AM | Categorized As Company Spotlight, Featured, Interviews, PC Games, PlayStation | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarshadowgate-zojoi

Two years ago when a couple guys wanted to come back to their 1st love they created at the beginning of their careers, they decided to take it to Kickstarter and hoping that that the fans would help bring what they love back to life. After surpassing their goals by $17,232 Zojoi has cleared the path to recreating the game two generation of gamers loved and now so shall this current generation of gamers. Zojoi, thats right the studio behind the classic point and click adventure, Shadowgate from the days of NES has taken the time to answer a few questions about their upcoming title and the re-imaging of that decades old title of might and magic. These Questions were answered by Karl Roelofs, Design Director at Zojoi

 

 

shadowgate_title

 

 

What made you guys come back to this classic series; was there an outcry from your faithful supporters?

 

Dave and I always had the desire to bring back the original game and tell the other stories from the world of Shadowgate we have written. When we saw that retro-gaming was being embraced by fans again, we decided that the time was right to re-introduce the franchise. So we reached out via Kickstarter and found that fans of the original game (especially the NES players), as well as new enthusiasts, were excited about what we had planned.

 

 

When designing this updated version what from the past titles did you want to redesign and what did you completely scrap?

 

Well, we definitely did not want to do a port – we had done this about ten times before – so we spent a lot of time looking at each puzzle, deciding whether it was something we wanted to keep. I would say that 95% of the puzzles are either completely new or use the same location but are altered in some way to fit with the storyline better. There are a few puzzles from the original that we completely scrapped since they really didn’t fit into our narrative anymore. We’re pretty happy with the outcome.

 

 

What added features and or content have you added?

 

We weren’t constrained by a disk or a cartridge, so we were able to add some of the things that we always wanted to. New to this version of Shadowgate is an in-game map that tracks the locations you have travelled to as well as records the cryptic clues found along the way. We provide 45 in-game and Steam-based achievements that range from experiencing all the deaths in the game to beating the game within a certain amount of turns. We have several side quests and new creature interactions, a full-blown interactive soundtrack by Rich Douglas and three difficult levels that change the puzzles in the game based upon your skill level. Really, there is a ton of new stuff here.

 

 

When designing this game have you placed any Easter eggs of sorts giving a nod to your fans of the past games?

 

Absolutely! We pay homage to several things from original game that didn’t quite make it in this version. Players may get to finally find out what is behind that locked door in the well room and we also give a shout-out to fans of Déjà vu and Ace Harding. Also, should you choose, you can switch from orchestral music to the original 8bit NES music (composed by Hiroyuki Masuno). Additionally, we’ve elevated the role that death plays by scattering a number of hidden deaths throughout the game. These offer several particularly nasty yet humorous ways to meet your end.

 

Who from the original development staff came back to help with this iteration?

 

Dave and I are the only members from the original team (we designed the original game as well as created all the art). We then reached out to a team of folks, many whom we had worked with in the past and they were just as excited to re-imagine this game as we were. Our team is really an awesome group and for the last year and a half has been pouring their hearts and souls into making Shadowgate every bit as memorable as the original.

 

 

How excited was it for you to have the chance to have better orchestrated soundtrack for Shadowgate this time around?

 

We are ecstatic to have Rich Douglas provide not only the soundtrack for Shadowgate but an unbelievable sound design (sound effects, ambience, etc.) Rich took his inspiration from the original soundtrack but went way beyond that, creating both familiar orchestrated themes and brand-new epic compositions. Additionally, the game supports multiple tracks of instrumentation that can be added or removed to enhance the ambiance of a particular room or situation. This really amps up the intensity when you are encountering deadly traps and monsters throughout the castle.

shadowgate new

 

What do you think is next for your studios?

 

Well, from a Shadowgate perspective, we just made the game available for pre-order at www.shadowgate.com and should have the game out on Windows and Mac this summer. After that, we will release the game on iOS and Android before moving on to doing localization for other languages. We’ll then be looking at other console platforms and since we’ve built the PAC (point and click) engine, making developing other games easier, we plan to re-visit the world of Shadowgate very soon. In fact, we have the story-arc planned for the next two games.