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