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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Silas

Justin McElroy

How did you get started in game design?
I was around 11 years old when I first started programming 2D games. I was using an old program that made these top-down 2D RPGs. This was in the late 90s. After a few months of creating these really ugly tiles and sprites in Paint, I soon decided I wanted to work on 3D games. I played around with some different engines, and soon enough I was programming and making art hours a night. Some years later, the thirst then began to consume me and ordered me to make a game. So, I willingly gave in. While still in high school, I started the company, and started laying the foundation for Silas. It was a crazy idea at the time, and still is, but its all part of accepting risk and believing in your product!

Gallery: Silas | 12 Photos

Why be independent rather than try to work for someone else?
You have total control over your game, creativity and content. It's a massive challenge and undertaking, but is always a rush, and the rewards are plentiful. You get to work on your own schedule, which makes life easier in many areas. You can also make sure that you are releasing a quality product as there is no one breathing down your neck to ship. No rush hour traffic, and you get to go to work in your PJs!

What's your game called, and what's it about?

Silas is a kart racer/shooter hybrid. It is named after the planet everything is based on and around. There just happens to be an annual tournament on planet Silas, where the best compete in races and battle to the death. You can wield 18 different weapons, race and wage war on many different tracks and arenas. You can also go online or play on your LAN against up to 12 players in many different modes.

Do you feel like you're making the game you always wanted to play?

Oh yes! This is exactly why I started developing this game. Originally I started making an arena shooter, but soon realized there was zero chance of competing with the big boys. So I decided it was a better idea to do something completely different. I always loved shooters and kart racers and decided upon that. A hybrid was born, and I eventually added flight mechanics into the game.

"There are just so many dynamics and strategies while playing; it really feels like a sandbox of things to do at times." - William Sworin, Exalt Studios

I can still remember the first time I played against my friends in the multiplayer setup; it was an amazingly refreshing and addictive experience! I've been playing games regularly from about four years old, and you can only imagine that I've tried practically every type of game out there. But here it was, I created something with a different feeling, and all of a sudden while playing it I was thinking, "Expletive, now I need to invent new strategies to win!" That is something that I hadn't experienced for a long time.

How long did it take you to create?
It has been in development for about five years. However, the first couple years were mostly scrapped as I was really learning all the different aspects of development. As well, I'm not always afforded the opportunity to work on this full time, so there's always the other jobs through the years that take away development time. I am also committed to quality; this allows the release date to be pushed back a lot.

What are you proudest of about your game?
The multiplayer component. It's definitely the centerpiece. There are just so many dynamics and strategies while playing; it really feels like a sandbox of things to do at times. The ground-air dynamics, turret weapons, and fast action -- it is really fun. It took a lot of work to get it all working nicely.

What's next? After I catch up on a couple years of lost sleep (this is looking to be around 2012), then I will plan my next project! That is only if the world does not suddenly end! But more seriously, I've always got projects floating around my head, but right now I am so busy finishing Silas that I cannot really pinpoint anything. Although, before moving on, I will support Silas freely for quite some time with updates and map packs. The community deserves it!

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