Welcome to another week of Interesting Interviews. This week we have the genius behind the Gunslugs game, Pascal Bestebroer of OrangePixel, take some time out of his day to answer our questions. For anyone interested in the OUYA device, Gunslugs will also be one of the games available at launch, so check it out! Also please follow OrangePixel on Twitter and Like on Facebook! Check out our other interviews with here! OrangePixel has also been kind enough to offer his 5 promo codes for Gunslugs. Check out our Facebook page for more information!
What is the story behind the name OrangePixel?
Very weird story probably, but I need to come up with a company name for my mobile-games business. Since I couldn’t come up with a good name, I decided to just see if I could maybe come up with a cool logo and take it from there. All I ended up with was a orange pixel on the screen.. and I took the name from that!
Can you tell us a little bit about your team? How many core members? How long have you known each other? What brought you all together?
OrangePixel is mostly me, I do the design, programming, graphics and sound effects. But luckily my girlfriend Aline takes care of many business and support mail, social media, etc. And I work with Gavin Harrison (http://gavinharrisonsounds.
What would you look for in new team members?
To be honest, I have no idea! I don’t plan on looking for new team members either, perhaps some internships later this year or next year. For that I really need people with creativity and inspiration because I don’t want to be one of those bosses that has to tell everybody what to do every morning. You would just need to come up with great stuff that can be used!
What inspired you to jump into the gaming industry?
Buying a Sony F500 feature phone and reading about how it could run Java games. Doing some digging on internet I found you could download all these free tools and just create your own Java stuff and put it on your phone! Obviously I knew how to do programming and graphics, but I never really did anything with full game development before then.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the gaming industry?
Just do it! Really, these days it is THAT easy. There are many tools you can use, most of them are free or come with a trial, and the internet is full of information on how to do it.
Obviously don’t expect it to be simple! Nothing that requires skill is easy, and you need to put time into it and learn it…nobody is born with the skill to create games, it’s something you have to learn. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to learn the basics, and you learn with every game you make!
How do you feel about the recent popularity and subsequent proliferation of game development schools?
I’m not much of a fan of the traditional concept of school to begin with. I think it’s limiting people and pushing people into the same paths of life. The most successful people in any industry often have very low or no education and decided to follow their dreams.
I understand the popularity of such schools, obviously since I love my job! but I personally don’t know any game developer that learned his skills in school, or would not have been doing the same thing without such an education.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Well I’ve been doing mobile games as Orangepixel since 2004/2005, so that’s already a nice background. Before that I did some software development at companies, and before that I was doing time in school.
What was the inspirations for Gunslugs?
To be honest? I have no idea! I just remember wanting to make a fast action game that had lots of things going on.. and with that in mind I kept adding more and more chaos to the game until it felt like the exact thing I was aiming for: controller chaotic action !
How long did it take to make Gunslugs?
From start to finish took 8 months, but I also did other stuff in those months, so I often had weeks without looking at the game. I actually think that made the game better tho, cause it gave me a fresh look at my own code every few weeks.
What is the most challenging part of making a new game?
I’d say coming up with a good name! Seriously, that’s very hard thing to do and I wonder why I haven’t been making more sequels to remove that challenge. Other then that, creating games can be as hard as you want to make it. One other big challenge is completing a game, the final stretch can be a long one.
The gamplay in Gunslugs could have been repetitive, but somehow each level and play-through remains fresh. How did you balance the gameplay?
In Gunslugs I really think the big amount of weird shit happening in those buildings helps keep the game fresh!
All levels are created randomly, so the height of the floors, placement of platforms, the placement of enemies, etc, it’s all done random. Which obviously helps keeping things fresh, and those buildings are also generated randomly and I kept adding new ideas and stuff to those sections. So there are a lot of them, and you’ll have to play a lot of times to actually see all of them.
What was your favorite game to make?
Gunslugs and Meganoid both rank up there. The problem with Meganoid was creating the levels.. that can really be a drag. It’s fun for the first 30 levels or so, but after that it becomes hard since the levels are small and there isn’t much room to create new and fresh ideas.. also I had to test all those levels! But still I had a lot of fun developing both games.
How does it feel to have Gunslugs still being discovered and loved by new fans on the app store?
It’s awesome! That goes for most of my games tho, during launch week I keep googling for the game title and check twitter and it’s fun to see people swear at Meganoid, or explain the thrill of having a chopper crash into a robot blowing up another chopper in Gunslugs.. it’s really the coolest thing to have after releasing a game.
It’s a big part of why I keep creating my games, seeing that other people really enjoy them is worth it.
How does it feel when people you know are playing your games?
I’m not a big fan of that! At least not when I’m in the room while they play it. It’s great if people I know tell me they reached level this or grabbed that, etc. But seeing them play while I know every detail, trick, secret, etc.. no that’s not a fun thing!
Can you explain your process of making a game?
It varies a lot with each game. For example, with Chrono&Cash I had these cool character images and designed the game around them.. but with Gunslugs I just had this idea of chaos and action and designed around that idea alone.
Most times I will start with getting the player code to work tho, it’s the most important thing to have the player and controls work as perfect as possible and have the “rules” for what a player can do set in stone. That makes it easier to design a good solid game around it (and saves wasting time redesigning stuff because suddenly a player can jump higher or run faster).
Since I can’t do music myself, that’s usually one of the last things I add to a game as I need to have the game running and then usually have Gavin play the game and let him understand the speed of how things run and what is required for the music style.
What programs do you use to make your games?
For Android I use the free Eclipse, I usually develop the Android version first, and then I port it to the iOS using Apple’s free xCode tools. For graphics I use the free Gimp… I really love free tools.
How do you feel about the iOS app store? Pros/cons, challenges?
I love it! It obviously has it’s problems, mainly discoverability and the rankings can be pretty messed up.. but overall it’s just awesome that we have these digital download stores available as developers.
How worried are you about other developers cloning your work?
It can be shitty, but I don’t worry about it a lot. I’ve seen clones of my games and even illegal copies of my game sold under a new name and developer. I’m just proud that I have a lot of fans who know where to find my games and support my original work.
Can you explain your thoughts on in-app purchases?
I’m not a fan of them. I also don’t think the “Freemium” model can sustain a complete business for a long time. There are so many articles on the topics, I don’t want to go into it. I personally just prefer paying a small fee for a game and having all the content available and the challenge being your skills not your wallet.
What apps do you enjoy playing?
Strangely I’m very much into apps like Wordfeud, Mindfeud, Ruzzle, and word on 🙂 I love action games, but on my phone I mostly play these word games with my family and friends.
What else does the staff play/ do for fun when not making a game?
All consoles are available in the house 😉 Aline mostly plays on the Wii, and I prefer the PS3 at the moment. We both still love Mario karts on the Wii!
What App companies do you look to as an example?
None really. I can be jealous of some of the hit-scoring companies, but I don’t see any company as example for how things should be done for example.
How do you see the world of App development evolving?
I think we’ll be moving our apps over to smart TV’s very soon. And of course having the Android consoles like Ouya and Gamestick makes for an interesting future !
At what point did you feel a game is ready to be put up on the app store?
When my head is empty and no new ideas are jumping around.
What is your dream type of game to make someday?
Being independent means every game I make is exactly the game I want to make!
What is your favorite snack when making a game?
I don’t snack a lot.. Having a job that requires me to mostly sit down on a chair all day means I better not put a lot of food into my body cause it will hang around for a long time. So yeah, I don’t really snack!
I’ve checked your Facebook and it looks like you are working on a dungeon game. Can you give us a little more info on that?
Sure! It’s my take on a dungeon game. Many dungeon games come with a lot of features that I really don’t like.. big statistic screens, a lot of bla-bla text, slow movement and long gameplay sessions.. but they also come with cool features that I do love! So I’ve taken those features (shops, leveling, random dungeons, character types, etc) and put my own twist on it with some faster action and gameplay.
Update: Since this interview, OrangePixel has released their Dungeon Game Heroes of Loot for the PC. Check it out when you get a chance!