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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Ghost Runner

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 Danny Perski of mguniverse about his strategy arcade release Ghost Runner.

Hi there, Joystiq!

Who might you be?
I'm Danny. I'm 17 years old and I make iOS apps.

How did you or your company get started?
About a year ago I started learning iOS programming and eventually went ahead and bought a license so I could sell apps on the App Store. I'm not exactly a company and I don't really have a name for my company, but I go by mguniverse on Twitter and other networks so it's sorta become a label.

Why did you want to make games?
I've been playing games since I was a little kid and they have always fascinated me, so building games quickly became my ambition and dream!

Why be independent rather than try to work for someone else?
Right now making games is a hobby for me. I am still in school and I only build games on my spare time, so I don't plan on joining a big game development company any time soon. I still have a lot of time to decide where I want my career to go, but I very much enjoy being an indie game developer because I don't necessarily need to meet the demands of some higher authority and I can create whatever I want.

What's your game called, and what's it about?
My game is called Ghost Runner and its an arcade/strategy game for iPhone. You control a ghost by tapping the left and right sides of the screen, and various types of ghosts fall down the screen. Some ghosts will hurt you if you touch them, but others will give you points. At the end of the game you can submit your score to the Game Center leaderboards that i've implemented into the game. The game is super simple, but i'm proud of what it has become.

Do you feel like you're making the game you always wanted to play?
I'm getting there. I think once I learn to use more advanced development tools like Unity I will be able to build much more interesting games. I have been playing a lot of games with pixel art lately and I kinda wanted to build my own game with that style. I think I pushed that idea to the next level by also only using one color (blue!) which was a fun challenge.

How long did it take you to create?
A month or so. Like I said before, I built the game on my free time and i'm still in school. Even though all of Ghost Runner is pixel art, I spent a lot of time designing characters, buttons, and other art assets. I used an application called Paintbrush to design each of the characters and started each image at 30 x 30 pixels. After filling the image with black and designing the ghost pixel by pixel, I resized the image to 4x its original size. Then I would open it in Preview and cut out all the black border surrounding each ghost. If that wasn't enough I made sure to include even bigger versions of those ghostly characters so the game didn't look blurry on retina devices. It was a shit-ton of work, but designing the models like I did was very rewarding.

What are you proudest of about your game?
Finishing the game just feels great. To have something out in the world that I can tell people I am responsible for is pretty rad.

What one thing would you tell someone to convince them to get your game?
It only costs $0.99. if you have an iPhone I doubt $0.99 is too steep of an expense. Ghost Runner is the kind of mobile game that you can play anywhere at any time because the game typically only takes a minute or so, and i'm pretty sure most of the people who give it a shot will find it entertaining. Also I will love you forever.

What's next?
I'm not done with Ghost Runner. I will be adding a few more music tracks to give the game some variety and improving the leaderboard system. I also want to add a new mode to the game, not sure exactly what though.

Anything else?
The music in Ghost Runner was created by user Alexicore5000. If you like good music, go check out some of his tunes! Also thanks for featuring me on Joystiq, you guys are great!

Want to check out Ghost Runner 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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