JournoDevSwap: Dual shmup showdown

JournoDevSwap: Dual shmup showdown

By Mark Backler

October 5th 2012 at 10:30PM

Lewie Procter and Karn Bianco talk about their journey so far

[For their first challenge – Our developers-cum-journalists were tasked with conducting an interview with one of the development teams – You can find all the interviews here.]

As the dust settles from the announcement of the theme, “Swap”, at the JournoDevSwap, a 48-hour game jam taking place at UKIE HQ, two of the teams, headed by game journalists Rob Crossley and Lewie Procter have found themselves both working on Unity based shoot ‘em ups. How differently will they turn out and which will be the superior title? 

It’s a hectic atmosphere as four different games are developed simultaneously. Three hours into the jam, I caught up with Lewie Procter and Karn Bianco who make up the imaginatively titled: Lewie and Karn’s Digital Entertainment Software.

Lewie is the founder and managing editor of Savy gamer and is the section editor at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Karn was a games journalist in his youth, working on sites such as cube3 and gameworldnetwork.

After deciding he wanted to develop games rather than writing about them he went to Derby University where he studied computer games programming. He then scored an internship at Rare and later a contract job at Lionhead.

What’s your game about?

Karn Buanco: It’s a shmup that involves the theme of ‘Swapping’ by having multiple ships that you can swap between on the fly, each of which has different offensive and or defensive tactical abilities, and the swarms of enemies that you’ll be fending off will be trying to exploit the weakness in the relevant ships that you’re swapping between.

Was there any Lennon and McCartney type rivalry regarding the order of your names?
Lewis Procter
: I suggested Karn could go first but he selflessly let me go first because it has a better ring to it.

What tools are you using?
KB
: Unity, because it’s quick to get something up and running, in theory. The big thing about Unity is that you can change things visually without having to do it in code. I can expose things we can both tweak in the editor later. 

What progress have you made far?
LP
: We have a ship that can move and shoot and we have some concept art. 

KB: Not bad considering I’m learning Unity as I go along.

What has been the biggest problem so far?
KB
: We haven’t really hit a problem yet. 

LP: I don’t know what I’m doing. I suppose that’s a problem. I guess also, one of the other teams is working on a shmup as well. I’m pretty confident ours will be the best but who knows.

What do you think the secret is to making a game in 48 hours?
KB
: A genre that fits. Something where you don’t need a lot of content.

LP: I guess it’s scaling the ambition to the time you’ve got. And also not sleeping too much. If you’re sleeping too much you’re never going to get a game done.

Have you got any previous game jam experience?
KB
: Almost. At my university we had a 72-hour game jam.

LP: I’ve played lots of game jam games. 

KB: That’s pretty good actually as I haven’t so I never have any idea what people can achieve in that time. That’s what a like about doing a shmup as well, because once you’ve got the mechanics in place and a few waves you’ve got a game because it can infinitely repeat.

It’s not something where you have to build levels and content and stuff.

How do you feel about your game so far?
LP
: Confident. 

KB: I can’t foresee any major problems at this point. 

LP: I mean I’m planning to reinvent the shoot ‘em up genre, and so far that seems like a doable goal.

Excellent. Lewie, are you going to be leveraging your journalistic skills to do some writing for the game?
LP
: That’s a good idea. So far, I was thinking a game with no words. But maybe if there are any words I can pen them. 

KB: The thing is you don’t want to begin with a boring cutscene or anything. We could do a Bastion style voice over though…

How have you found working with each other?
KB
: It’s been good so far. 

LP: Promising so far – I’m just wondering if players are ready for what we’re cooking up for them.

How do feel about the similarities between your game and Rob’s?
LP
: I mean, you’re always going to get clones in a market like this. There’s not really much you can do about it. We’re really just focusing on our game, trying to make it the best it can be and trying to respect our players.

If people want to go for dodgy knock offs of our games, you know, they’ve got Rob’s team if that’s what they choose. That’s just a reality of today’s market. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how the two games compare at the end of the jam.

[Note - This interview was submitted after the 10pm deadline]

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