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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Interstellar Force

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 David Molnar and find out why his Interstellar Force is the fulfillment of a dream three decades in the making.

How did you get started in all of this?
I guess I've always wanted to get involved in game development. I'm an engineer by day so I already have a programming background. As for video games, I've been playing them since the late 70s (think Space Invaders) and have loved them ever since. Back in school my friends and I spent many hours at our local arcade -- we would only leave after we exhausted our supply of quarters. Flash forward to last year when I got my first iPhone and saw the games that were on it and thought -- I could do this!

Why did you want to make games?
Making video games is a passion for me now. It is both art and technology all wrapped up in a good time. As a developer, I can show someone what I've designed and they can understand it immediately, I don't have to explain what I've created to them ("like ... umm ... this is the main processor board ..."). It's also a challenge for me to learn new things.

Why be independent rather than try to work for someone else?
The nice thing about being an indie dev is that I'm involved in all aspects of the game project: The concept and design, the software, the graphics, the sound effects, etc. I didn't just want to write software and not have a say in the design of the game itself. The hardest part for me is probably the marketing effort.

What's your game called, and what's it about?
My game is Interstellar Force for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It is a retro side-scrolling space shooter that is inspired by the games of the 1980s like Defender, Scramble and R-Type. Each level takes place on a different planet or in a different region of space. One of the levels actually goes from regular graphics to old school 8-bit retro (think Atari 2600 or the early home computers of the 1980s).

Do you feel like you're making the game you always wanted to play?
Absolutely. When I was a teenager back in the 80s I tried to make games on my TI-99/4A home computer but the BASIC language on it was so limited (and slow) for what it could do. I wanted to make my own Defender or Scramble or R-Type so this had to be my first game for the iPhone.

How long did it take you to create?
It took around a year to make. I was learning Objective C and iPhone coding as I went along. Being and engineer, I already had a C programming background so that was a good start. It took extra time for me because I was doing it all (except for the music). I was creating all of the artwork and sound effects as I was writing the software. Don Cook of GrubWerx Music did all of the music tracks (being independent I can only do so much). The nice thing about having completed the first game is that the next one should take much less time to do.

What one thing would you tell someone to convince them to get your game?
If you even remotely liked video games back in the 1980s you should try this game. This game is for everyone who spent all of their hard earned allowance and paper route money at the arcade playing Defender and Scramble and Galaga. This game is for the person who mastered Parsec on the TI-994A or Repton on the Commodore 64 and Apple II.

What's next?
First I'm in the middle of creating some more levels for Interstellar Force (Including at least one more 8-bit level, the fans have spoken!). Then I've already got my next project to work on which is a game that takes place in an office where you the main character work for a large company -- it will be challenging and funny at the same time.

Want to check out Interstellar Force for yourself? You can find it 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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