In my ongoing bid to discover and bring to light up and coming independent developers and exciting titles for the future, a studio I came across at Play Manchester last year was Liverpool-based Space Lizard Studio who was showcasing their 2D side-scrolling shoot ’em up title Dragon Bros. A love letter to third and fourth-generation classics such as Contra and Metal Slug, it features wonderfully crafted 8-BIT visuals, as well as intense and challenging gameplay. After playing it in Manchester, I was eager to find out more about the game and the people who developed it, so I contacted Space Lizard’s Gabriele Caruso and agreed to answer a few questions I had about Space Lizard Studios and Dragon Bros. These were his answers:
What were the influences behind your game?
Given that the 4 of us were all born in the 80s, I guess pixel art games and retro action shooters are continuously haunting our thoughts. I am a big fan of Turrican as well as Contra, Metal Slug, or the epic Midnight Resistance (I loved the aiming on that one). We wanted to create something similar to what we used to play as kids, with PROPER difficulty and a “plug and play” approach, but we have also considered the modern twist and took inspiration from extremely cool games like Bro Force, Super Time Force, and Mercenary King (ah, and the roll system in Dark Souls too).
What has the developmental process been like?
This is our first game in Pixel Art and for our artist, well, it was the first time for him to draw at super low resolution. He did great in the end. We had hundreds of ideas during the development cycle on possible extra features to implement in Dragon Bros. A team could potentially spend unlimited time on improving a game. The hard part was actually to keep the focus on our goal and stick to our original vision.
How close are we to seeing the finished product?
The game will be released this Spring, we are just fixing few minor bugs and getting some paperwork done.
What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
People’s involvement in the project. We’ve been exhibiting at several game conventions and the most exciting part is when people try your game for the first time and have fun. The way how others experience the game is fascinating and listening to the feedback helped us making the final game more accessible and fun in general. Sometimes you just need to see things from a different point of view.
What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Being self-funded is hard, what gives you strength is people’s appreciation. Besides that, one of the biggest challenges we have experienced was the development of Adaptive Music levels. We had to design and implement a custom system to handle the synchronization between the music and the in-game events. Some traps and enemies move in sync with the soundtrack and that took some time to get it right (especially when the Audio guy is extremely picky :D). We are so proud of how it came out that now we are willing to make plenty of new rhythm games…maybe.
What do you think of the current state of video game development in Liverpool?
There is a lot of indies in Liverpool and in the UK in general. I think it’s a growing community and an amazing environment. I am sure some good stuff will rise and shine all over the world.
How well has the game been received so far?
I’d say not so bad! People love it, especially kids. Plenty of YouTubers have reviewed the game so far, gave us good feedback during the Steam Early Access and they still do right now.
What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
Xbox One for sure, but we don’t exclude porting the game to PS4, mobile, or even Switch. It all depends on how it goes after the spring release.
Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Be creative, always. Team up with others and start creating stuff, no matter what. As long as you enjoy what you do and have a strong passion for games you are capable of great things.
Where about on the Internet can people find Space Lizard Studio?
People can find us on either our Steam page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/506150/ or web page: http://spacelizardstudio.com/
If you feel like you want to drop us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, in your opinion, who would win in a fight between a grilled Bacon & Eggs Sandwich and a Hot Dog with Mustard?
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gabriele and Space Lizard Studio for taking the time to answer what questions I had and to wish the best of luck with Dragon bros upon its release in spring. And in answer to Gabriele’s question, there’s no doubt I’ve gotta go with bacon & egg sandwich
Scouse Gamer 88