Interview with Play! Zine
Hi Uroš, we’re glad that we finally have the chance of doing this interview. For starters, can you tell our audience a bit more about your project – what is Rick Henderson?
In short, Rick Henderson is a horizontal-scrolling endless shooter. Five factions, five bosses, loads of guns, perks, great music and beautiful pixel art graphics. When you get to the end, you go on – until you leave your bones in space.
How did the whole story start and where did the idea come from? You’re not really into game development business, this basically started out as a hobby, right?
In 2013., unhappy with the direction my career is going, i got enrolled into Java course in a small software school hoping that i’ll change the course of my business tenure towards programming. It seemed logical to me, i was in front of the screen since C64 and i am more than average Joe in that regard. I have to admit i was totally lost, abstract thinking was really not something i was good at. After finishing another course, this time a year long one, things were much better, but i still didn’t get that „click“ in my head. I was always pragmatic and decided to try out Unity because it’s using C# which is quite popular and you can see the result immediately. I realised i liked it, the things i did started to get the shape of a real game and i decided to follow the path that was getting laid in front of me.
Are you working on the project by yourself or do you have associates?
Besides me,only (paid) associate i have is @lighterthief, great Dutch artist who does pixel art. I found him via Pixelation forum. Game was supposed to have very simple graphics, but cooperation with him gave birth to something new, wonderful art full of colors that revives memories of old shoot ’em up from golden era of home computers of the nineties.
We know that making music is one of your passions. Are you having any plans of making some of your own music for the game and what kind of soundtrack can we expect in the game?
I’d really love to, but when you work alone, time is an extremely limiting factor so i decided to pass that satisfaction to others this time. I contacted a lot of musicians on Bandcamp and managed to strike a deal with two of musicians (for now), Mlada Fronta and Cryocon. Mlada Fronta is Rémy Pelleschi from France and Cryocon is Dan Exton from USA, great guys. They agreed to lend me their music to use in the game, and i’ll be giving them all the proceeding from soundtrack and part of the funds that will be gathered via IndieGoGo campaign (if all goes according to plan).
You can expect a lot of good synthwave and electro. You can listen to the 9 tracks that will appear in the game here with more to come soon.
What technical skills did you need to possess before venturing into this project? After all, this is a one man job, what does one have to know to start working on a game like this?
For individual engagement in the world of game development you need great organizational skills and rational approach to work. Only after that tech skills come in, which are not hard to learn. C# is a simple language, Unity itself has an uncomplicated API and web is full of tutorials which can help you learn anything. If you don’t know how to draw or make music, you can always pay someone to do it, which i wholeheartedly recommend, people that know how to do everything are a rare sort.
What were the greatest challenges while working on the game, what is hard, what is dull, what is simply boring?
I wasn’t really expecting that, but a lot of things are uninspiring and tedious. Finding and squishing bugs is on the top of the list, and testing is not any less mind-numbing, while waiting for compiler every time you hit the play button on a 10 year old CPU. Greatest challenge is to be consistent and do at least one task every day. Feeling of progress is very important because there’s a lot of work to do and motivation is an easy thing to lose if you don’t have a sense that you are reaching towards something.
On the other hand, what part of work is enjoyable for you?
Actually, i really enjoy the marketing side of the production lately which requires as much time as a game development. Positive reactions and a good-natured, quality critique are beneficial for motivation and work quality.
What 2D side scrollers were inspiration for you? What do you consider good in the genre, where do you see room for improvement and innovation and how does that fit in your game?
Galaga Deluxe, Project X, Xenon, Raptor, Steredenn, U.N. Squadron, R-Type, Z-Out. This genre exists for more than 30 years and it’s hard to reinvent the wheel, but from time to time some shiny gems appear like Rival Megagun or Enemy Mind and really surprise me. I can’t say Rick Henderson is revolutionary, but it combines several elements that i still haven’t seen together in one game.
What would you highlight as the main characteristic of your game that should attract the target audience to fall in love with this title?
Non-stop action with fantastic music and gorgeous graphics, challenging bosses and different game every time.
How would you describe your experience for the past few yours during the tenure on the game? What did you learn and realize, how did it help you in your professional and personal life and how did you come out from the whole process?
I certainly got out older 🙂
It was painstaking, lots of sleepless nights, ups and downs. I have a family and a full time job and it is extremely hard to fit everything and remain sane and healthy. I learned not to rush things and that there’s no amount of passion that can speed up the complex and time-consuming process that is game development. Actually, good work-life balance gives the best results, which i learned the hard way. There’s still a lot of work to do, but now i’m taking it easy, step at a time.
Idea behind the whole game was very ambitious. When you first shared your project with us in May 2017., there was a few game modes including Story mode. Fast forward, does everything still seems doable?
Of course not! Like every beginner, encouraged by quick progression and vast Unity possibilities i bit of more than i can chew. Rick Henderson was first imagined as a complete experience for one player that we are used to in this genre: level, boss, weapon store, level again and so on. However, as the unwritten rule dictates, cut the game you imagined in half, the cut that half in another half and the you get something that you can really finish in a reasonable timeframe. Rick Henderson is still a great challenge, but doable for a one man show.
One of the reasons we’re talking about your game right now is because we want to emphasize that your game has an active IndieGoGo campaign in the moment we are writing this, so everyone who is interested in the project can help directly. Tell us some more about the campaign, what are the goals, how long will it last and what can potential players expect.
Campaign is in the pre-launch phase at the moment, which is used to gather e-mail addresses if a person is interested in supporting the project. You can find the pre-launch page here and leave your e-mail for news and announcement when the funding phase of the campaign starts. The goal is 3.000,00 USD, which is how much i need for one more faction, backgrounds and additional graphics works, translations… Perks that a backer can expect are beta access, early access, Steam keys, soundtrack, involvement in creating new enemies and having your name on a space blimp that will appear throughout the game.
With your current experience, what would you recommend to someone that wants to make his old idea reality in a similar manner? What would you advise?
Start with small, short games of different genres so you can learn as much as possible in the short time frame. Don’t be shy, publish them on the websites where you can do it for free, like itch.io. When you finally decide to work on something more serious, start with marketing immediately – indie games market is incredibly saturated and it’s hard to strike through the noise. Of course, if it’s not working out, don’t be afraid to ditch the project, you will do yourself a favor.
Thanks for the conversation, we wish you luck with IndieGoGo campaign and we can’t wait to review Rick Henderson on the pages of Play! Zine!