Category Archives: Developer Interview

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Q&A With Statera Studio

My second of two Q&As today concerns a quirky and diverse fighting game and its crowdfunding campaign. Pocket Bravery, under development at Statera Studios based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a fighting game reminiscent of the classic 90s fighting games such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and the works of SNK such as Fatal Fury and King of Fighters. Another example of the ever-growing indie development scene in Brazil, the game’s IndieGoGo portrays a game with a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, locations to fight, and single and online multiplayer. With 2 weeks left to go for the campaign, I reached out to the game’s executive producer Jonathan Ferreira to learn more about this game and how they hope to make the game stand out among the many classic fighting games it was inspired by. Here’s what Jonathan Ferreira of Statera Studios had to say about Pocket Bravery:

 

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What were the influences behind your game?

Games that marked the era, classics from the 90s like Street Fighter and The King of Fighters. And about the aesthetic part, it’s a mix from games like Pocket Fighter, KOF from Neo Geo Pocket Color, Scott Pilgrim, and Metal Slug.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

We’re a team with 6 full-time professionals and some freelancers. For a fighting game, it is a small number since the genre is one of the most difficult to produce.

 

We have tried to do our best and we believe that we are achieving good results. Everything is going as planned. We will soon focus on making the online mode, which will be via netcode rollback.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We have 50 – 60% of the game’s basics done, we still have to start making the online. We believe that in 15 or 16 months the game will be ready for launch.

 

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What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

I believe that is everything, as we are a team in love with the fighting genre, every stage, from the conception until its implementation is exciting. All the ideas come from the people passionate about what they are doing.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Finding a balance between what we want to do and what we should do. As much as we treat the game with all the care and passion, it is also a product that needs to be public attention, and not just another drop in the ocean.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Very well! And this has been fantastic for us. We were looking forward to watching people around the world playing Pocket Bravery. People’s reception and feedback were better than we could imagine.

 

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What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

 

It’s mentioned on the IndieGoGo page that one of the stretch goals is to introduce a story mode to Pocket Bravery. How would the story mode be structured compared to games like Super Smash Bros Brawl or the 2011 Mortal Kombat revamp?

It will have its own structure adapted to a 2D game. Mortal Kombat 2011 not only innovated but also renewed how offline content in a fighting game can be added. Our idea is to bring that into the 2D style, an experience that catches the player’s attention and makes him want to follow the characters’ story, interacting and evolving with them along the way.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

Certainly! This game came from a need to see that what we really want to produce is still a step bigger than our legs. With that in mind came the Pocket Bravery idea, which would be more simplified, bringing only a small fragment of what we want for the future, however, as the game was being produced, the affection grew along with the potential of not just being a simple game with SD aesthetics, getting deeper layers in its gameplay and focus on small details.

 

What is your opinion on the ever-growing development scene in Brazil with the likes of yourselves, 2ndBoss, and Orube Studios?

There are many talents in Brazil, as an example, many Brazilians work in great gaming companies around the world. That said, I am sure that many good new games will be created around here since the gaming companies in Brazil are getting more professional. We hope to be one of those exponents.

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

Although we have a lot of experience with fighting games, receiving feedback from players is always amazing, especially when it comes from pro players, since they have a detailed view of the gameplay that we haven’t yet achieved.

 

Has the team considered the idea of building a traditional arcade cabinet for Pocket Bravery, or has there already been one created behind the scenes?

Of course, this is something that crosses our minds, but to be honest, it is not in the plans. Would be a step much bigger than our legs could reach.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

As we said earlier, we are a team passionate about the fighting genre, so what marked us was the 90s. Street Fighter and The King of Fighters were the biggest references quality and innovation, work with any of these games and those two companies would be a dream come true.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Try to specialize in something of your preference and never give up! The difference between those who succeed and those who do not is that they achieved to not give up, even with all adversities. Life is not easy, neither is making successful games.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

People can find us on any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) by @PocketBravery, or on YouTube as Statera Studio. Will be a huge pleasure if you could follow us. We are always posting news about Pocket Bravery’s development.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

We thank you for the time and ask, if possible, to support us in our crowdfunding. Any amount will make a big difference to Pocket Bravery. You can access the campaign page here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pocket-bravery/

 

 

I’d also like to thank Jonathan and Statera Studios for taking the time to talk to me about Pocket Bravery and the promise that the final product hold for both newcomers and veterans of the classic fighting genre. There are now less than 2 weeks to go for the IndieGoGo campaign, so if you like the look of the game and want to play it, you can back the game via the link above. In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about Pocket Bravery, and are looking forward to playing the final game as much as I am.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Q&A With 9 Finger Games

Today brings not one, but two highly-anticipated Q&As that I’ve been particularly excited about doing; the first of which is on a game I’ve already covered that shows a great deal of promise from a new and innovative development team. Zapling Bygone, developed by 9 Finger Games based in Brighton in the UK, is a Metroidvania game centering around a mysterious alien being known as Zapling who has crashlanded on a foreign planet and resolves to make it his home. It’s a Metroidvania game with a heavy focus on exploration, storytelling and incorporating a very unique combat system inspired by the likes of Hollow Knight and Celeste. At the same time of writing my impressions article about the game:

Zapling Bygone: First Impressions

I contacted the game’s lead developer Stevis Andrea about the possibility of conducting a Q&A and for a chance to relay more information about what influenced this awesome-looking title and what challenges and obstacles have come with developing it so far following the game’s recent successful funding on Kickstarter. So here’s what Stevis Andrea of 9 Finger Games had to say about Zapling Bygone:

 

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What were the influences behind your game?

Initially, I was only inspired by Hollow Knight. I wanted to make a game that felt good to move about, while doing this I learned from Celeste and other precision platformers. I wasn’t really planning to make a game at this point, I was just making a prototype for fun. Eventually, I realized I was making a full game and remember watching a stream where T4coTV was playing Haiku the Robot demo. I realized that if Jordan could make a Metroidvania as a solo dev then I could too. So I started taking the prototype I was making a bit more seriously.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

The dev process is usually the same with me. I like to make things quickly and messy. Then iterate over them loads of times until I’m happy with them. That way I can get a feel for how something plays without committing too much time to it, then I can modify or scrap it without too many headaches. It also allows me to get feedback on things early on, I want people to enjoy the game. Having people play messy prototype builds before a mechanic is “set in stone”; allows me to ensure that it remains fun.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

About 30% of the way there, most of the groundwork, the overarching story, and core abilities are complete. Now it’s mostly getting my head down and making content to flesh things out.

 

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What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Probably watching people play my game, having someone play my game and enjoy themselves is a weird feeling. It's exciting to create something that allows someone to break away from reality for a moment and focus on something I have made. It’s also nerve-wracking because I want them to like it as much as I do, but that’s of course not always the case. So far the feedback has been super positive though!

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Marketing! Marketing is something you have to learn for yourself, what works for one project might not work for yours. Every game is unique and speaks to a different audience. Finding that audience and resonating with them can be difficult. I also hate feeling like a salesman, and when I’m pushing something I am passionate about I can worry that it can come off a bit too impersonal.
There was also a point in the Kickstarter that I found specifically challenging. There was a 5 day period where I only raised a few percent of the goal. That can be super nerve-wracking and stressful. It’s relatively normal for campaigns to have the mid-campaign dip, but it’s still no fun. I’m really happy with how it turned out though.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Surprisingly well! I’m always my biggest critic so I tend to focus on the parts I’m not happy with. When I watch someone else play it and genuinely have fun it puts a lot of my worries to rest. Loads of people seem to believe in the project and me, and that is really reassuring and heartwarming.

 

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What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC initially, and hopefully Switch shortly after Steam launch. The switch is super popular among Metroidvania fans, and it’s also the only console that my nephew personally owns. I’d love to see it on PS and Xbox too, but it’s not the focus at the moment.

 

Throughout your professional experience, which games did you produce or test, and how did they go on to influence you as a developer yourself?

I made probably a half-dozen prototypes and small games, I never really cared for them too much. It was a really good groundwork to use to build on though. I made a load of wacky things for fun. A small prototype where you play as a wheelchair-bound old man with a shotgun and a grapple hook, a frog-platformer that changes time according to what surface it lands on, a Risk Of Rain style game crossed with tower defense.

 

I have been meaning to make a website where I can dump all these old hobby projects for people to download, if I can find them all that is. Professionally, I worked in the gaming/gambling industry. I mostly tested and eventually produced digital slot games, I learned how much I dislike the online gambling industry. I also learned that simply because something is technically a game or “art”, it doesn’t mean there is passion put into it. I want to make games that I am passionate about, with honesty and love. I want a career that means something to me. I am financially worse off than I was working at my previous job, but I am way happier.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or
reworked?

Most of the stretch goals in the Kickstarter are mechanics/areas that I had to scrap in order to keep the budget as low as possible. Who knows, maybe they can be a free DLC if the game sells well enough.

 

You mention on the Kickstarter page that “I’m a solo developer, therefore I am a single point of failure for the project.” Have you felt the pressure that comes with the fact, and if so, do you find you work better under pressure or free of it?

Good question! I worked as a game producer, so I wanted to be honest in the Kickstarter about the risks. Being a solo developer allows me to have complete creative control over the project, but it also means that if something ever happened to me, then nobody is around to finish the project. I wanted to be honest about that.

I don’t think I have felt more pressure because of it, in fact, I might have felt less pressure. I don’t have to rely on anyone else. If the project was to fail somehow it would be down to me. I always mention the definition of work stress. “Having responsibility over something you have no control over.” In this case, I have full control over the project and I am pretty certain I can deliver. So I don’t find it too stressful at all! Plus the ZB community is just so supportive, I always feel like they have my back.

 


How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

I’d say it has been the driving force for the project. Even the first builds I was sending to a friend (Hi James!) to get him to see how the movement felt, we probably went through a dozen builds until it felt right. After that, I was posting demo/prototype builds in the discord constantly with a few dedicated people (I’d say friends now) who would play every build. So player feedback has been hugely important, and I’m considering ways I can continue to have that level of feedback throughout the rest of development.

 

You also mention that you reached out to the Hollow Knight community for feedback. Have you tried to reach out to the developers of Hollow Knight for feedback as well?

I haven’t, I’d imagine they are way too busy working on Silksong. I did have the pleasure of meeting Matthew Griffin in a discord voice channel, and I had to suppress my inner fanboy. And no, sadly he didn’t casually mention the Silksong release date.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I honestly don’t think I’d like to work on any existing IP that I am a fan of, I would feel like I’m intervening somehow. I wouldn’t want my creative direction to influence their decisions, I’d rather sit back and play their games when they are released. When it comes to new IP, I really like working with passionate people, especially new startups.

After working in the gambling industry I really appreciate when people are passionate about their games and would love to share this journey with more people someday. I miss working in a team in a lot of ways. I like new worlds, new environments and fresh mechanics. So I’d like to work with any passionate indies that are making something unique.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

I find broad advice kind of hard because there are a million ways to do anything when it comes to development. I’d say one of the most important things in game design is to keep it consistent. Everything from art, music, game mechanics, fonts, vibe, whatever. It doesn’t even matter if the art is bad, because if it is consistently “bad” then it looks intentional. Same goes for nearly everything design-wise. And finally, have fun with it. Don’t set out to make a complex game right away, just make small game-jam size games. Or even just fun mechanics. Just because you don’t finish a project doesn’t mean it is a waste of time, build on that experience and make the next thing better. Eventually, you will get to the point where you are comfortable enough to make your dream game.

 

I also found the Scrabdackle easter egg in the demo. I interviewed Jake a while back; have the two of you had anything to say about your respective games or advice to offer?

Jakefriend Interview

Yes, a ton. There are a bunch of indie devs that I chat with via discord almost daily. Jake is in a similar boat to me, at a similar point in development. They say to surround yourself with people you admire, and Jake is definitely one of those people. Like I mentioned before, I love being around passionate people. Jake and the other indie devs that I chat to are so inspiring and motivating. I don’t know if I would have made Zapling Bygone without them.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?
Twitter is @9fingergames I’m pretty active there. You can wishlist Zapling Bygone on Steam here:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1489110/Zapling_Bygone

 

Do you have anything else to add?
Yes! Thanks for your time, thanks for having me, and thanks to every single backer that has
helped me reach my goal!

 

I also want to take the opportunity to thank Stevis for agreeing to our Q&A and sharing as much exciting information as he could about Zapling Bygone and what players came come to expect from this deeply promising Metroidvania title. Zapling Bygone is most definitely one of the most unique-looking Metroidvanias slated for release in the future, and it will be very interesting to see how the final game plays out upon release. There’ll be another Q&A coming later on today, but in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about this game, and I hope you’re looking forward to playing Zapling Bygone as much as I certainly am!

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Q&A With Warren Davis

Back at the 2015 Play Expo in Manchester, I was fortunate enough to secure the first exclusive interview of my career with Warren Davis. After being initially hired by the company Gottlieb to work on the game Protector  he, along with the character’s designer, Jeff Lee, created the 80s arcade sensation as well as other beloved classics of the time such as Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Following the development of the ambitious title Us Vs Them, Warren Davis also went on to work on other big-name games throughout subsequent generations of gaming,. such as Cruis’n USA, WWF Wrestlemania, and Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. After giving a presentation on the history of Q*Bert and how the video game character became a cultural phenomenon in America in the 80s on par with the likes of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong and the recent resurgence of the franchise with the release of Q*Bert Rebooted and the character’s recent appearance in the Adam Sandler film Pixels, I conducted my own interview with him regarding his retrospective thoughts on his career, his experiences as a developer during the Atari boom of the 80s and the subsequent video game crash, and what he believes the future held for gaming at the time. Here’s our interview: