In this edition of Developers Insight I talk to Kyle Pulver from Retro Affect. Retro Affect are the developers behind recently released indie game, Snapshot. As usual we discuss how Kyle got into the world of game development, how you to can become a game developer and where the gaming industry can go in the future.
Q) How did you get into game development?
A) I started off when I was really young. At first I was just drawing out game ideas on paper, but then I found this software called Klik & Play that let me make games without needing intense programming expertise. I didn’t really take it too seriously, but I messed around with Klik & Play and its future versions over the years until I finally released a full game when I was in college. After that I somehow ended up on the path of indie game development after a trip to the Game Developers Conference in 2008.
Q) Where would you advise people who want to become game developers to start?
A) Make some small, short form games. Find some software like Game Maker, Unity, Multimedia Fusion, Stencyl, RPG Maker, etc, and get familiar with it enough to make something. If you’re already into programming and feel comfortable enough to make a game through that avenue, then find a cool framework to work in like Flixel or Flashpunk. The idea is to get something done in a short amount of time. Many people want to start off by making their dream game which can lead to a lot of problems… it’s just best to start off in a low pressure environment where you can experiment and make some short form games instead of a huge project that can potentially crush your soul.
Q What is the most essential skill to a game developer?
A) At this point I would say programming. It’s incredibly valuable for anyone on a game making team to know how to program at least a little. If you’re going to try and do the whole solo indie thing, then programming is obviously a must. Programming skill means that you can prototype ideas into workable, playable things.
Having an idea on paper is good and all, but being able to quickly throw together the idea and play with it in a real environment is amazing. You can find out a lot about an idea through a quick prototype, and just playing around with a prototype can let you know immediately if the idea is worth it or not, and can also lead to new ideas too. (I count being able to work in software like Game Maker or Multimedia Fusion as programming skill.)
Q) What engine would you recommend someone starting out to use?
A) I guess I kinda already answered this before. Game Maker, Unity are two big ones for 2d and 3d. Just start off researching those two, and if you find something else that suites you better than go with that. Work in whatever you feel comfortable in, just realize that every engine has its limits and you’ll need to work around them sometimes.
Q) How did you come up with the basic idea for Snapshot?
A) The original concept of Snapshot was thought up by Peter Jones. He had a dream about a camera that could absorb monsters into its photographs. The two of us took this idea and formed it into a playable prototype that was nominated for an IGF award in 2009. After that, David Carrigg joined forces with us to make the prototype into fully featured game.
Q) What engine did you use for Snapshot?
A) Dave rolled a custom engine for the game out of nothing but 0s and 1s. It’s mostly a C++ engine with openGL for drawing. Box2d for physics, lua for scripting, openAL for audio… it’s a stew of various libraries all working together on the pipelines laid out by Dave.
Q) What limitations did you find using that engine?
A) The biggest limitation was Dave’s time and energy. With just one core programmer on the team, we couldn’t get every feature we wanted so we had to cut and scale back a lot of ideas to compensate for that. The advantage was though we didn’t have a lot of limitations that other engines would have, especially when it came to getting the game to run on consoles and handheld devices like the PS3 and the PSVita.
Q) How did you combat those limitations?
A) With a time machine. Actually we just had to scale a lot of our ideas back and work with what the engine could provide with us at the time. Originally Snapshot was going to have twice the amount of content that it ended up with, but then we realized that only 3 people were making the game and we had to have a reality check.
Q) How long did it take you to make Snapshot?
A) Too long! The very first prototype of Snapshot was created in early 2008… oh boy.
Q) Where can the industry go in the future?
A) I’m not sure! Hopefully more in the direction of open platforms available for anyone to create things on. Although I’m a little worried that some companies are going in the opposite direction of that ideal.
Fancy winning yourself a copy of Snapshot? Well your in luck! All you have to do is a post a comment below telling us what impossible thing you’d most like to take a picture of, if you could take a picture of absolutely anything. The closing date for entries is Friday 14th December 2012. Please read our terms and conditions before entering.