Indie Spotlight: Interview with Hempuli.

We have a very special post for you here, for those long time readers you may remember we did an indie spotlight on an indie game that is in development a while ago which goes by the name of Environmental Station Alpha. Well today we bring you an interview with the guy behind this little gem, his name is Arvi Teikari or Hempuli on the internets. He’s a guy who makes games for the love of it rather than for any kind of monetary reward and an all round gent. Make sure you check out his blog on how the game is coming and also watch the trailer for the game below.

1) Environmental Station Alpha, you latest game under development, has a distinct retro feel to it and is somewhat of a departure from the style we saw in Officer Alfred. What made you choose this angle?
Mainly ease of use. I wanted to make a large game with a lot of areas, so it was clear from the beginning that I’ll have to use a very simplistic style in order to be able to work fast enough. I had experimented with limited palettes in order to achieve a very old-school feeling before, so I decided to aim for a similar feeling here. I made some mockup art with a 32-colour palette and tweaked it a bit before doing anything else in order to get a palette that is limited but still capable of creating varying aesthetics. As a general rule I tend to try to make my games differ graphically a lot, usually because when I get a game idea there’s also an artistic style that “fits” the idea from the beginning. I’m quite sure these “fitting” art styles come mainly from the games and works that inspired the game idea itself; for example, Officer Alfred was inspired a lot by Portal, and thus the “fitting” style was a clean, empty one.
2) E.S.A. looks to have been influenced by vintage platforming titles such as mega man and metroid. Are these the kind of titles you grew up on and What is it about this kind of game that makes them such timeless classics?
I definitely loved Super Metroid and Megaman as a child. Megaman games on the NES and Super Metroid are very different and there are several reasons why I enjoyed them so much as a kid. I’d guess that the biggest reason is nostalgia – I played them when I was younger and thus they had a bigger impact on me. They’re also very solid titles with very reasonable game logic and (in the case of Super Metroid) interesting aesthetics and environments. I don’t think they’re timeless classics, though.
3) Speaking of retro, what was the first console/computer you owned and what was your favourite game on it?
Depends on the definition. When I was 8, I got my own PC with Windows 3.11, so technically that’s my first own gaming machine of any sort (I played a lot of Commander Keen, Prince of Persia and Doom II on it!) However, my cousins owned both an NES and an SNES, so before playing games on a PC I had already played games such as Super Mario World, F-Zero, Super R-Type and The Adventures of Lolo. I’d say that the SNES had the biggest impact on me as a child.
4) When did you first get into making video-games and why?
I was on fourth grade (10 years old), and my friend asked me if I wanted to make my own game (I had dreamed of making a game before, after watching my brother experiment with Turbo Pascal and QuickBasic and using various level editors etc. to create my own worlds in other games), and introduced me to Game Maker. Neither of us knew anything about programming or scripting, so GM was rather limited for us, but nonetheless we made quite a few games together. Later on another friend told me about a “better” program called The Games Factory, which seemed much more user-friendly, so I changed to that and actually I’ve been using programs of the same family afterwards. In hindsight TGF was much more limited than GM and generally an awful product, but it fit my needs at the time very well. It took me quite a few years to get to actually finishing my games, anyway.
5) Is there any upcoming games, indie or otherwise, that you are looking forward to playing?
I haven’t been following the indie scene very intently for the past year or so, so I’m not sure if I can answer this. Papers, Please by dukope (http://dukope.com/) is the first one that comes to mind, at least. There are quite a few promising titles around at all times, but to be honest I haven’t really been interested in playing games for a while (I think the last game I really enjoyed playing was Maldita Castilla by Locomalito (http://www.locomalito.com/maldita_castilla.php)).
6) We here are really looking forward to E.S.A coming out, have you got a rough date that you are aiming to release it?
Nope. I’m trying to get it done this year but there are several variables to this, so I think I’d better not promise anything.
7) Whats the biggest challenge you face when developing games?
Staying motivated over long periods of time and actually starting a game. The former has been a serious problem for me before, but I’ve slowly learned to overcome it, mostly by planning my games better and trying not to start new projects haphazardly. I feel that these days the latter is much more of a problem. Working on the same project for a long time sucks the fun out of game development, so I periodically feel the urge to make a small side project (say, a one-week experimental game) on the side, but recently I’ve noted that it’s not quite so easy to just start a new project. I think this is mostly because of increased quality “standards”; I simply can’t just make a funny, stupid game anymore but instead want to polish them, increasing the development time and raising the bar to beginning their development. This is especially evident when it comes to graphics – I often feel unmotivated when I see a white frame and realize that I have to actually do some pixel art to get started.
8) Xbox One or PS4? -PC master race is not a legitimate answer 😉
Neither seemed to have any interesting games on them, sans the new Oddworld title that is apparently coming to both of them? I guess PS4 is the “correct” answer due to Xbox’s DRM, but to be honest the fact that I wont buy either makes me a tad indifferent about the whole thing.
9) What are your views on the next-gen indie publishing models from Microsoft and Sony? Will you take advantage of Sony’s self publishing policy? Maybe E.S.A for PS4?
Due to using a rather limited game-creation tool rather than an actual programming language, my options in those regards are rather limited. ESA will be PC-only, but my games after that will probably be PC/Linux/Mac -compatible and that’s it. I’m not hugely into marketing or selling my games, so I’m not really thinking much about those kinds of possibilities. Steam seems to be the safest bet right now (in case that I end up selling the game).
 
10) All your games are evidently a labour of love and you can see that platformers are something you enjoy creating, what type of game would you like to make next? Another platformer or something else?
Haha, yeah, sometimes I feel kind of bummed-out about the fact that all the ideas I come up with are platformers! (Un)fortunately my next games will probably belong in that genre, as well. I really want to finally finish Officer Alfred (after 2 failed attempts), and I’m quite sure it’ll be my next larger project. On the side I have a ton of ideas varying from stupid to ridiculous. Currently I’m working on a flash remake of an earlier game of mine because I thought that the game had some potential left. I’d also love to make a plot-heavy adventure game at some point, but at the moment I’ve mostly just drafted some character designs so I wont be working on that for quite some time, still. As I said before, small experimental games are something I’d really want to get into again at some point as well.
A big thank you to Hempuli for giving us his time, again do go check out his blog and have a go on Officer Alfred or any of his other games that are free on his site
We hope you enjoyed this one, as we get more into the indie scene we want to bring you more of these type of interviews and perhaps inspire you to try your hand at game creation yourself. Sound off in the comments about anything you like about ESA or even other indie games you have discover, or if you are making a game we would love to hear from you. Cheers
-The Quim Ninja

TBoD Podcast – Episode 15 – Better Than Real Life.

Teabag Or Die Assemble!!!….Today we are almost at full force, with The Wach and Crinbot joining us for a chin wag.

We talk about Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Kanye and Kim’s Kid, a new gun shaped peripheral coming out which has some fancy features and the Occulus Rift getting Steroscopic 3D Video content!

Not only that but we talk about the Xbox One-eighty that occurred last week when Microsoft reversed their DRM plans. We also chat a bit about the PS4’s UI as seen in an advert and that was dissected by IGN.  Leave us a comment on anything we have discussed, we want to hear from you!

Right Click and ‘Save Links As’ to download episode directly from the site!

TBoD Podcast – Episode 14 – The E3 Corral

As the less than witty title suggests this is our round-up of E3. *groan*

We are joined by X Limitz Blackz to discuss what caught our eye and what impressed us most at this years E3 conference. Amongst others we talk about Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, Battlefield 4, Mirrors Edge 2, The Division, ESO Online, Destiny and Super Smash Brothers.

As Limitz and Quim consume more alcohol, the burning question over which console is greater than the other start surfacing. However at 2 hours and 30 minutes we had to draw a line under that, look forward to more on this next week.

What games caught your eye the most? Is there something we missed, Hit us up in the comments.

(Edit: – Sorry for the lack of links to what we discuss this week, I was kind of rushed to get this set up, if you want a list of sources, tweet us @teabagordie and will link you up. Cheers, Quim)

Right click and ‘Save Link As’ to Download the Episode straight from the site.

Or Search for us on iTunes ‘Teabag Or Die’

“This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Zombie Game!”

To add a twist to our regular review format, The Wach and I have decided to both write reviews of Undead Labs’ debut title available currently on XBLA, and soon to be released for the PC.  The Wach’s impressions are up right now, at Postgame Carnage Report!

Zombie games, are likely the most over-done, dried up, and most common place genre to hit the gaming industry since the proliferated side scrolling platformers of the 80’s and 90’s.  It seems that almost everyone has released a title cashing in on the zombie obsession which began a few years ago most notably with games like Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and later titles like Undead Nightmare (a 10/10) and Dead Island.

What is it about the un-dead appeal which encapsulates all our darkest apocalyptic fantasies?  A zombie scenario is easily the most impossible to survive, an end of the world scenario where it’s only a matter of time despite your best efforts to survive until you slip up, and turn into delicious nom-noms for a horde of salivating, slobbering, shit sucking zombies.  And I don’t care who you are, how many times you’ve read Max Brooks’ “Zombie Survival Guide”, you are either going to get  eaten, or owned by marauding survivors who want your food, weapons, and anti-biotics more than they want your heart warming company.  Just don’t bother arguing…you will get schooled eventually in any “real” zombie event.

Now, enter Undead Labs, and their debut title for XBOX Live Arcade (and soon PC) State Of Decay.  What is State of Decay?  It’s not a question with a short answer.  This game is many things, layered into a dynamic, and deep game of suspense, action, sociology, and most of all:  SURVIVAL.  And yes, there are zombies.  Lots, and LOTS of hungry, persistent, and determined zombies who want nothing more than to find you, and leave your consumed carcass rotting on the ground. Continue reading

TBoD Podcast 13 – Zed’s Undead, Baby.

In this creepy cast we talk alot about zombies and the many new or upcoming games that are rising from the grave to stalk gamers to the ends of the post apocalyptic world.

We get our brain hungry teeth stuck into a plethora of Zed inspired titles including,

Day Z standalone,

State of Decay,

The Walking Dead,

The last of us

and The Flock

We also cover the usual gaming news including;

Spartan Assault,

Shipbreakers,

Fuse and more.

In Xbone Zone we talk about the latest news from the forthcoming Xbox One.

Right Click and select ‘Save Link As’ to download episode,

Give it a listen and let as always feel free to make your case in the comments below.

eremenko

Welcome (back) to the Jungle

Zoiie and Cartoon Robinson are back in part 2 of their Tokyo Jungle adventure. In a near future Tokyo ravaged by …. something, a retriever and another dog type thing must find food and further their race in order to survive. Things are looking up this time out until a tragedy occurs…..

Like, comment, subscribe.

Also let us know what you would like to see us play next and we will see what we can do.

eremenko

Xbox One: To Kinect or Not to Kinect

In its first iteration, Kinect was a sorely underused and unnecessary peripheral, which seemed to be developed solely for children and fitness fanatics that didn’t mind flailing their arms in front of their television, and looking like a fool.

Xbox-360-Kinect-Standalone

Kinect’s only use for the average gamer – the one who sits there playing shooters, RPGs and any game that doesn’t involve movement, was its voice control… When it worked. Relatively few games were labelled “Better with Kinect”, and even fewer were truly better with the peripheral. The only example I feel being noteworthy for its voice control was Mass Effect 3, all other games that used it seemed to be gimmicky, or it was just plain easier and quicker to use your controller.

Microsoft announcing that Kinect 2.0 will be shipping with every single Xbox One (rather unsurprisingly) has stirred up quite a fuss in the gaming community. In fact, the majority of the Xbox Reveal did, but we’ll stick to Kinect.

Kinect 2.0 has evolved massively, technologically speaking. It now boasts a 1080p camera, increased FOV and processes 2Gb of data every second. But that isn’t what matters. Developers’ integration of Kinect into games and services will be the key to its success.Xbox-One-s-Kinect-Can-Be-Turned-Off-for-Complete-Privacy

On the plus side, developers will know that every single Xbox One user will have a Kinect. The fact that it currently isn’t exactly clear how many, say, Call of Duty players have a Kinect for the Xbox 360, limits its use in current gen. Why waste money and resources developing extra things for a game, if only a small percentage of users will use them? Now that is no longer an issue, and developers can add extra features like voice control with the knowledge that everyone can use it. That doesn’t mean to say everyone will, however. What is interesting is how developers will utilize the Kinect for their games in new and interesting ways, not just “x, move”. The only thing that is worrying is that perhaps the hardware has evolved, but the things Kinect can add to an experience have not.

The thing most gamers have on their mind is that the Xbox One is never truly ‘off’, is constantly connected to the cloud, and is plugged into the Kinect, which is constantly watching and listening. Microsoft have confirmed that Kinect can be turned off, but many people are still concerned about their privacy, and quite understandably so.

Many people are still very negative about Kinect from its lack of decent integration in the 360. Others, myself included, are optimistic that if developers use the Kinect well, it can be successful. All in all, the new mandatory Kinect does open a lot of doors and offers plenty of promise, but it remains to be seen if certain gamers can get past the always-connected Kinect and purchase the Xbox One in the first place.

Let us know what you think about Kinect 2.0 in the comments – are you optimistic or do you think Microsoft should abandon Kinect all together?

-InsaneCakes

@InsaneCakes

TBoD Podcast – Episode 12 – The Good The Bad and The Cutlery

Due to too much frivolity (read; drinking) during our long weekend we totally neglected to make a podcast last week, so to make up for it today we have a bumper 2 hour episode – you poor bastards.

On this episode you can hear patchy half thoughts on the following things occurring in games and stuff: –

We talk about the upcoming digital card game from Mojang called Scrolls

The new gameplay footage from Zenimax for the epic Elder Scrolls Online.

Bethesda is bringing back Wolfenstein in The New Order

Sega and Nintendo team up to bring us three new Sonic games

Our main discussion is all about the good and bad points gleaned from the info released on the Xbox One following their press release.

Plus we introduce a couple of new segments that hopefully we will remember to do every week.

Take a listen and leave a comment if you have anything to say on this whole charade. Thanks

To download episode, right click here then ‘Save Link As’.