If you haven’t heard of Twinsky, it’s time that you look them up. They’ve already developed our favorite runner ever – Indiana Stone the Brave and the Boulder. We were super excited that Twinsky took time out of their busy development schedule to answer some of our questions. Please be sure to follow them on twitter and support this awesome development team. We can’t wait to see what comes next from these guys!
Tim can you tell us a little about yourself?
Oh, hi there. I seem to have this problem where I can’t stop making games no matter how hard I try. It all started when my Mom taught me how to program in BASIC on the Commodore 64 at the tender age of six. After Windows came out I grew fond of a program called Klik & Play. For a long time I was a hobby developer and released tons of games for free online under the name “TatsuSoft.” Today I develop in Unity and work to make games good enough to justify selling for real cash monies.
What inspired the name TwinSky Games? Can you tell us how TwinSky Games got started?
Once I was writing my name in a hurry and I forgot the “im” in “Tim.” Now that I had a suitable studio name I knew it was time to get my very own limited liability company and start making things.
What inspired you to jump into the gaming industry?
My last job was at a litigation software company, which is about as exciting as it sounds. It actually wasn’t bad at first, but within 6 years my job devolved into a thankless, stressful mess. Clearly, the best option was to quit, coast off of my savings, and make videogames until I die of starvation.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the gaming industry?
Hang out with blunt creative people you respect. Always improve in every skill that’s required to craft a fun game. There’s no such thing as being just an “idea guy.”
Did you go to school for game design?
Yep, though I can’t say it prepared me for much. I learned a bit about how a Roomba works in an AI class…
What inspires you when making a game?
I get inspired when I hand a work in progress to a random person and see a big, goofy smile grow across their face. That’s when I know I’m on the right track.
Can you tell us a bit about Indiana Stone and its creation? How long did it take, thought process behind it, funny stories, etc.?
When I first started learning Unity I wanted to make a simple “hello world” game that let me test player control and basic 3D collision so I made a scene with a bouncing ball that busts apart cubes. I thought it would be funny to swap the graphics to a boulder busting up a bunch of “Indys.” After messing around with this idea it turned into a pretty fun game but the humor didn’t make much sense and it was poorly suited for a mobile device. I stuck with the “boulder-crushing-someone-who-looks-remarkably-like-Indiana-Jones” theme but designed a brand new game with mobile devices in mind.
This version of the game took me around a year and a half to piece together. I still had a full time job during much of its development.
What is the most challenging part of making Indiana Stone?
Technical issues. Making design compromises so the game will run a little better on a mobile device is like pulling teeth. There are times that the game was stalled for months because of some low-level efficiency issue within Unity that I had no control over and eventually had to work around.
What were your thoughts and feelings after you started reading over the first batches of user and web reviews after it was released?
It was very reaffirming! I wrestled with a lot of conflicting ideas to make this game fun and the first batch of reviews were extremely positive. They all pointed out the exact things that make this game fun for me to play which helps me to believe that I haven’t completely lost my mind yet.
Can you explain your process of making a game?
I’m a fan of “designing around limitations” as a way to spark creativity and keep an idea focused. Specifically, my games always start with a good pun and I fill in the design from there.
How hard is it to submit a game for approval in the iOS app store?
I got rejected by Apple because the color gradient in the word “Indiana” was too similar to the one used in “Indiana Jones.” You can see this if you compare the logo on the game’s promo website (indianastonegame.com) with the titlescreen that ended up in the live game.
Other than that, the process was smooth. I like to think they were only nit-picky with the logo because they were planning on featuring it.
How do you feel about the iOS app store? How does it compare to other virtual game stores you have worked with?
I have a few Apple gripes, but I like the standardization and structure of the iOS store. Players on iThings know exactly where to go to find new games, and Apple does a decent job promoting the games that stand out.
Any thoughts on the evolution of tablet/ phone gaming and its effects on the larger game industry? You mentioned on your about page your feelings about the gaming industry, do you think the app store’s success is helping to change it in any way?
I’m actually not sure what to think yet, to be honest. The landscape of game development is changing so fast that it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen in the next few years. It’s great that more and more avenues keep opening up for small teams to get their work out there, but at the same time I’m not a big fan of a lot of the successful trends that are appearing.
How do you feel about in-app purchases & Freemium gaming?
Freemium games are awfully manipulative. When a game takes me out of the experience in order to remind me that I can pay real money in order to overcome this intentionally frustrating situation that they’ve designed, I stop playing in disgust. I’m a little surprised that more people don’t have this reaction or that so many people are willing to tolerate compromised enjoyment in the name of a free barrier of entry.
We live in an interesting time — thanks to digital distribution — where there’s no manufacturing costs associated with the sales of games. This should lead to some kind of change in the way players are charged for their games but getting them hooked on a free version that amounts to a daily grind and then charging so that they are required to play LESS of the game certainly isn’t the answer! Unfortunately I feel there’s no going back since many of the worst-case-scenarios are shockingly successful.
What else do you play/ do for fun when not making a game?
I generally bounce between my retro game collection and modern indie games. There are a lot of valuable games around; ones that feel rewarding to get good at, aren’t trying to be just like a movie, and aren’t made up of soulless “todo lists” like “kill 100 enemies.” I end up having a lot of fun and also get inspired for my own work.
I also enjoy playing strange musical instruments from time to time.
What video game companies do you look to as an example?
My favorite game designer is probably Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby Superstar, Smash Bros, Meteos, Kid Icarus: Uprising). I can tell that he puts a lot of thought into all the design decisions he makes. While the end result isn’t always perfect, I really admire his drive to experiment.
What is your dream type of game to make someday?
I sure have a lot of ideas, but I’ll need more skills and an experienced team to pull some of them off. I’d like to eventually make new kinds of multiplayer games.
What is your favorite snack when making a game?
I make my own cheese crackers out of goatcheese that I call “Goatcheez-its.” They’re so good.
What is your favorite advice you have been given?
“Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.”
Can you tell us a little more about what else we can be expecting from you?
Short-term I will definitely be making more silly games rooted in humor. I’m working on some ideas now that personally crack me up.
Any possible content updates coming for Indiana Stone?
Indiana Stone was really created to be a complete package. A minor 1.0.1 release recently got published that fixes a few minor problems.
I’m now hard at work at my next project. I hope you will look forward to it!
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Thanks a bunch for taking the time to write about my game and for your interest in its development. When people enjoy my work and make themselves heard it pushes me to continue making the best games that I can.
Want to learn more about what makes other artists tick? Check out our other interesting interviews.