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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Retrofit: Overload

Justin McElroy

Being a giant, beloved video game site has its downsides. For example, we sometimes neglect to give independent developers our coverage love (or loverage, if you will) as we get caught up in AAA, AAAA or the rare quintuple-A titles. To remedy that, we're giving indies the chance to create their own loverage and sell you, the fans, on their studios and products. This week we talk with Will Storer of WAM! Games.

Joystiq: How did you and your company get started?
Will Storer: Martin Stone and I were both working freelance after several years at large studios. We both worked together on MotorStorm for the PS3 and we used to chat about games a lot on the way home from work. We then went our separate ways into various other jobs and freelance gigs but kept in touch. We literally decided one night at the pub, lets make a game of our own, something simple, something small, just to see if we could actually make a complete game by ourselves. About five months later Pegzo was released.

Why did you want to make games?
I've always loved games. My mate had an Atari 2600 when I was a kid and from the moment I saw that, I wanted to get more "Involved" in games, beyond playing them. The scope to create anything imaginable just blew me away, no real restrictions beyond the limitations of the constantly improving tech. A few years passed, the real world kicked in, and I went off to study architecture at university. Studying architecture just cemented my previous fascination with virtual worlds, which eventually led me to games as a career.

After working on games that took two years or more to make, completing one in two months was a great experience.- Will Storer - WAM! Games

Why be independent rather than try to work for someone else?
Both Martin and myself had already notched up several years working for someone else. We both had worked for Evolution Studios and between us had stints at THQ and EA among others. Working for large studios is great, you get to experience development at the cutting edge, latest tech, best tools and a massive potential audience for your work. But personally, I always missed the smaller, more immediate games, and really fancied taking a shot at making one, from concept to sales.

What's your game called, and what's it about?
Our latest is called Retrofit: Overload. It's a fast arcade shooter inspired by the cabinet games of our youth, retrofitted with some new mechanics and a modern style, it feels old and new at the same time. The idea behind it was to strip away everything bar the base shooter concept and then to build it back up as if it had been made 25 years ago, but with today's tech. It's a very simple but immersive homage to the gallery shooters we love so much.

Do you feel like you're making the game you always wanted to play?
Retrofit: Overload is definitely going in the right direction towards that goal. Being able to experiment with ideas and concentrate on the aspects of games we feel are important is very liberating. With Retrofit: Overload, we spent a lot of time on balancing, trying to keep interest over a gradually increasing difficulty level within a super minimal set of design elements. It was a fun challenge.

How long did it take you to create?
Overall, it took about eight weeks development plus a few extra weeks to get it through the peer process for Xbox Indies. That alone was fantastic. After working on games that took two years or more to make, completing one in two months was a great experience.

What's next?
Rola Trooper! It's a 3D physics-based arena shooter where all the characters and vehicles have balls instead of feet or wheels. It creates an interesting play mechanic and allows us to keep the fast arcade based gameplay associated with 2D shooters. It's a bigger project than our previous games and we've been working on it in chunks between other projects. We're currently talking with publishers about making it a full console and PC download title and will hopefully have some news soon regarding that. We're also planning further small titles in the Retrofit series along similar lines to Overload, but they are at the very early planning stages.

Want to check out Retrofit: Overload? You can buy in on Xbox Live right here. If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email justin aat joystiq dawt com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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