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, Pascal Bestebroer of OrangePixel talks mobile development as a career and the draw of Ouya with Android and iOS action game Gunslugs.
What's your game called and what's it about?
The game is called Gunslugs, and it's all about over-the-top action, very much like the old action movies of the 80s. One man or woman taking down a complete army.
Gunslugs has a unique co-op system. Describe that and how important it was to have in the game.
The co-op is really like the good old days when you both grabbed a joystick and played together on a single computer. Or even worse, shared a keyboard in an uncomfortable way.
I also designed and added it to the game knowing the Ouya, an Android-based console, was coming. I figured it would be awesome to have Gunslugs on that console, playing it on your TV together with a friend. And since I'm a big supporter of another gadget, the iOS Game Dock, I made sure the iOS version of Gunslugs has the same two-player mode built in.
How big a role do you think Ouya will play in Gunslugs' success and in the indie market as a whole?
The Ouya is mostly a very interesting development. I have no idea if it will succeed in its first version, but the fact that their Kickstarter was such a huge success shows that people want this cheaper, and more open, console experience. Even in the last few weeks we've seen the Gamestick Kickstarter, which was also a huge success and far exceeded its funding goal, and even Nvidia introduced their Shield device.
I'm confident that we'll see more of these devices pop up during 2013 and any indie with interest in making a living out of it should not ignore putting some efforts toward Android games with controller support built in.
What inspired you to make Gunslugs?
Sad to say, but the Expendables movies had some influence here. Terrible as that movie is, it had all these childhood heroes of the big screen combining forces and doing what they did best back in the 80s: destroying everything with a smile and sense of humor.
What's the coolest aspect of Gunslugs?
You get to drive a tank? Hmm... maybe because of the jetpack – or wait. The huge sandworms and hellworms! Or, maybe the awesome surprises like princesses, wizards, Gameboys and train rides. My musician, Gavin, says the Megadrive-inspired music is the coolest aspect of the game.
You've been developing mobile games for eight years – how has the industry changed in that time?
I started eight years ago doing games on mobile phones. Great phones running crappy Java implementations. "Indie dev" wasn't really a term back then I think, or at least most people weren't aware of it. Now it's this hype word and this cool scene to be a part of. Basically just thinking about doing a new game is called indie these days.
'Indie dev' wasn't really a term back then I think, or at least most people weren't aware of it. Now it's this hype word and this cool scene to be a part of. Basically just thinking about doing a new game is called indie these days.
Also the current switch to smartphones and tablets, and even cheap consoles based on open platforms, is something I never expected back in 2005, but it opens up a lot of opportunities for indies.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?
Not really, to be honest. I love the indie scene, but I never feel like being part of it. Most indies I know and talk to are hobbyist, and for me it's actually my way of making a living. So in all the years I've been doing this "indie" thing, I've also had a more business point of view sneak into my games. This might set me apart in the whole "indie movement."
Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?
I'm a very creative guy, so I constantly have ideas floating in my head. A boss or publisher would never let me try those crazy ideas out so I just have to develop them independently.
Sell Gunslugs in one sentence:
Gunslugs is that game you played when you were a kid, pretending that your toy figurines were fighting a big war against evil, blowing everything up with a huge amount of fun, so buy it and save at least another indie dev from starving.
Prototyping; a lot of prototyping. I have some ideas, like a new take on the old-fashioned Gauntlet, but no clear plans yet. I'm also still busy porting Gunslugs to a couple of other platforms.