Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Fred "Trunks" Wood educates us on that thing we all need with his 8-bit inspired platformer, Love+ -- read on to learn how Trunks makes Love.
[Fred "Trunks" Wood could use some Love (left), and James Bennett's music station.]
What's your game called and what's it about?
My game is called Love+. It's a stylish indie platformer with a retro visual style that comes straight out of the 8-bit generation, a clever checkpoint mechanic and a smooth soundtrack by James Bennett. The idea of the game is to get from the start to finish of each level with as many lives intact as possible.
The first game I ever picked up a controller for was Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and I guess since then I've always loved platformers that were a true challenge. As a game-designer-hopeful, it seems like the right place to start.
What's the coolest aspect of Love+?
That's difficult to answer, but I might have to say the scoring mode. The game doesn't have a traditional ending so much as a grade, and that grade is measured based on how many lives you lost -- you start with a hundred, and you'd best believe you need them -- how long it took you to complete the game, and how many times you dropped a new checkpoint. You can post your score online, along with your name, and it's a very streamlined "Who's the best in the world?" kind of feature.
Anything you'd do differently?
Definitely. That's why I am working on the third iteration. The first version, simply titled Love, was buggy, slow, tiny and quite simply, not very good. That's why I made Love+, a smoother experience with more features. Now I'm looking at taking it to the next level, bringing it to multiple platforms, upgrading the 3-colors per-level motif, and finally adding the story I've always wanted to. The third, currently untitled, iteration of Love will be, as far as I know, the first 2D Platforming Dating Sim.
Intriguing -- tell us more about the third Love title.
It's third iteration of Love, one that I hope will be the fully realized product that I've been toying with for the last five years or so. My hope is to make a very visually interesting atmosphere with more than three colors, bring in some of the expected features of today's games -- achievements, for one -- and bring it to new platforms. Also, with the addition of the original intended story, I'm proud to say it'll be the world's first Platforming Dating Sim. Also, James has gotten himself a brand new Commodore 64 rig, so he'll be pumping out even more fantastic tunes.
You released Love through a middle-man company that ended up eating your funds--what was that all about?
I had originally used FastSpring to allow users to pay what they want, as long as it was a dollar or more, but the problem with it was that the company ended up getting more than half of the funds when it came to sales. Now the game is free, and if people feel like paying for it, the proceeds go to me instead of some faceless corporation that had nothing to do with the creation of the game.
Did you feel that players pay fairly with the pay-what-you-want model?
I'm just happy that people are playing, and hopefully enjoying, something I spent time on. The money is a nice and very welcomed bonus.
It's hard to sit here and scold anyone who only paid a dollar when that's what I established as the minimum, and I'm not even going to scold anyone who pirated the game from scurvy internet sites. I'm just happy that people are playing, and hopefully enjoying, something I spent time on. The money is a nice and very welcomed bonus.
If you paid to play Love+, what would you throw down?
I'd absolutely pay $20 for the soundtrack on its own, but as I'm a struggling webcomic creator and game designer, I'd probably throw down the more reasonable $3 to $5, depending on how much Ramen's stocked up in the kitchen.
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
For one, I was in my second year of college when I made the first one. And it was awful. No one would've wanted me. For the second version it started as a pitch kind of project, and when I showed it to one company, they challenged me, saying, "Why work for someone else when you can do it all on your own?" So I did.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
Honestly? Not yet. But maybe someday I'll join their ranks.
Sell your Love+ in one sentence:
Love+ is a free, 11-level experience with challenge, views and a smooth, seductive soundtrack.
I'm working on two projects right now, and hope to bring both to fruition. One is the third iteration of Love, and the other is a joint project with Chris Torres, the man behind LOL-Comics and the internet-famous Nyan Cat.
Love and Love+ are available for free, and you can follow Trunks on his Tumblr, ThatsMyTrunks.com, or on Twitter, @ThatsMyTrunks, for updates on the series' third installment. He's already made the Love; all you have to do is spread it.
If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.