Gunslugs Interview With Orangepixel's Pascal Bestebroer
If anything, developer Pascal Bestebroer lives by the old saying, keeping the dream alive. Said dream involves creating addictive video games with retro pixel art, which the talented designed has managed to achieve since 2004. His newest iOS and Android title, Gunslugs, pays homage to the glory days of side-scrolling 2D shooters. Programmed in eight months, it's off to a great start with fans and critics alike, so to learn more, we caught up with Pascal to see how it all came together, and what the future holds.
We noticed there's a paid and free version of the game for Android, but iOS users have to spend money regardless. How did you arrive at that decision?
We tried free games on iOS with advertising a couple of times, and for some reason it doesn't work for us, and possibly our type of game and audience on iOS. On Android it does. It's a strange thing, but I'm sure more intelligent people can show charts on how and why this works that way. However, on iOS, we often do price-drops and promo code giveaways, so we keep things fair for all our fans on any system.
Since you routinely release games on Android, what are your thoughts on Ouya and Project Shield? Any plans to support those devices?
Gunslugs was designed partly with the Ouya in mind (the 2 player co-op mode), and it will also be ready for the Ouya when the console launches. We love the concept of cheap consoles, especially running on open platforms like Android. We expect 2013 to be an interesting year in the area of TV-based gaming.
You obviously love retro games. What were your favorites growing up? Also, which inspired you to create Gunslugs?
Probably my most favorite will always be Turrican 2 on the C64. I completed it hundreds of times and eventually had it down to a science of completing it within an hour (guess I did speed runs back then). And the more obvious ones are of course Mario, Tetris and Pac-Man, which I still play often on the iCade+iPad to beat my high score.
You programmed this game in eight months. Is this something you do full time, or do you need another job to support development?
I'm a full time indie developer. I've been running Orangepixel since 2005, starting with feature phones (running Java games) and switched to Android and iOS when they got released. Thanks to a growing group of "Orangepixel fans" I can actually do this full time and make even bigger and better games with each release, so a huge thank you to everyone who's into retro games.
Getting back to the eight months, how much of that time was spent making sure the game ran on Android?
I actually do all my main development for Android. Once the game is done I need one or two weeks to have the complete game ported to iOS. But Android development isn't really difficult. The Orangepixel code base runs on 99 percent of the devices out there, so most of the time was put into designing, developing and fine tuning the game and drawing the graphics.
There are rumors that Apple will release at least three different iPhones this year, not counting iPad additions. Is this a smart idea? How can it help or hurt game developers?
If it's true, it's certainly interesting. They used to say Android was fragmented with too many devices, so it will be interesting to see how people talk about this. My point is simple: the more phones running my games, the better.
How many levels are in Gunslugs to allow for the random level generation, and what is specifically being generated? Enemies, beacon layouts or just everything in general?
The levels themselves are actually generated procedurally. So the variation in heights of the floor, where to place which enemy, the buildings, etc. It's all decided by the code. There are obviously rules to keep it a bit under control and playable, but even I have no idea how levels will play out.