The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Offspring Fling

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 believe they deserve a wider audience with the Joystiq Indie Pitch: This week, Kyle Pulver's Offspring Fling is the best PC and Mac game you could ask for in the week approaching Mother's Day. Or any other day, really.


Pre-pitch-post-gray-intro note: Offspring Fling launched on Steam today for PC and Mac, and it's 20 percent off through May 18. It includes the Mother's Day Update, which has a level editor, replay and sharing features. Go make momma proud!

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

It's called Offspring Fling, and it's a game about a poor forest creature that has misplaced her children in a mostly happy but sometimes spooky forest. She'll have to make her way through more than 100 levels of baby throwing, puzzle solving, button pressing, bee-avoiding action if she wants to get them all home by dinner.

What inspired you to make Offspring Fling?

May 2011: I went to a local game jam in the Phoenix area. The theme: Motherhood. After an hour or so I had an idea of a puzzle-platformer game where you have to get a bunch of babies safely to an exit, and you could use them in all sorts of ways to solve puzzles and platforming challenges. Forty-eight hours later I had a pretty solid prototype of the game with 15 playable levels, and I ran with it from there.

Is Offspring Fling affiliated with Retro Affect, your game-development studio?

Retro Affect is my team that I'm working on Snapshot with, but Offspring Fling is something that I did on my own, so it's not affiliated with Retro Affect.

How is your venture into full-time indie development going? What are the biggest risks, challenges and rewards so far?

Awesome! I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by fellow indies, which makes it feel less insane. I also got great sponsorships for my flash games depict1 and Verge, so I've been able to survive financially while I work on more games.

I feel like the biggest risk is the whole money thing. Making a game usually requires a pretty significant investment of both time and money, and a lot of indies make games by living off their savings. Sometimes it works out, but sometimes it doesn't. It's hard to make the whole "I'll work nights and weekends on my project!" idea work, so you pretty much have to quit your full-time job if you want to live the indie dream. Also, health insurance.

Keeping up the pace and maintaining motivation to work on a project can be the biggest challenge at times. When things aren't going right, motivation can plummet, and then you realize you're playing Starcraft 2 all day instead of working on your project. There are good times and bad times, and you just gotta learn to push through the bad times and finish your god-damn game.

Not having a boss, no set hours that I need to work, calling all of the shots, working on whatever I want: The rewards of being independent far outweigh all of the risks for me. One of my goals in life is to never have to work a "normal" 9-to-5 job, and so far I'm doing pretty well!


What's the coolest aspect of Offspring Fling?

The awesome ghost replay system that I put in because I thought it would be neat. I was having trouble improving my speed runs in certain levels, and I thought it'd be a lot easier if I could see a ghost of my previous run to know if I'm doing better or worse immediately instead of waiting until the end. A couple of hours of coding later and I had exactly that, and later I added the ability to save out and load in other replays, so you can compete with people by sending replays back and forth either as files or as text.

Who do you picture playing Offspring Fling?

I hope that I can get a pretty wide audience, ranging from people that like cute things to hardcore platformer fans, and everyone in between. There's a lot of content in the game for everyone, but for the hardcore players there's even more.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

"I enjoy the creative freedom of being the sole driving force behind a project, but I also value the feedback that a good team can provide."

There are a few reasons. I think maybe the most important one is that I follow an insane sleep schedule that normal humans aren't able to comprehend. This past weekend I was up for 30 hours, and before that I was going to sleep at 8am and waking up at 3pm. Sometimes I'm awake at 9am and asleep at midnight, but it seems most of my life is spent being nocturnal. Not many companies would understand my disease, and would probably just say I'm lazy. (As you can imagine this made school a hellish nightmare.)

I don't like the idea of working for a fixed salary. I've always preferred the freelancer or contract gig because it pays accordingly to the effort and work put in, and if something ends up requiring a crap load of extra work then I'm properly compensated for it. I feel like salaried employees at companies can be taken advantage of and get guilt-tripped into working unpaid overtime (crunch!). I know that's not always the case, but when I see it happening it bothers me.

I work way better by myself versus working in a big-team environment, which is mostly what I would encounter at an established company. I enjoy the creative freedom of being the sole driving force behind a project, but I also value the feedback that a good team can provide. I prefer the advantages of a game coming from a single vision instead of a vision of compromises spread across a large team.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

I'm not sure! I see myself just as some guy that likes to make video games.


Sell Offspring Fling in one sentence:

Offspring Fling is the result of all the games you loved as a child having a baby, and then throwing it across the galaxy.

What's next?

Making more games! I have a long list of games to finish... the most important one being Snapshot. (Coming soon!)

Anything else you'd like to add?

Alec Holowka made the music, yeah!

Also, somebody out there better 100% this game!

Offspring Fling is available now for PC and Mac via Steam or its official website. If "offspring fling" accurately describes your maternal relationship, buy it for yourself on the totally random day of this Sunday. Just 'cause.

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.