Shaun Inman Interview: Retro Crunch Kickstarter


The Last Rocket

I first met Shaun Inman at a conference two years ago where he showed me an iOS game he was working on. Since then his NES style platformer The Last Rocket has become a hit on iOS, as well as contributing to several Lundam Dares. Shaun and his friends are in the final days of a Kickstarter project to build six retro styled games in six months. I asked Shaun to tell me a bit about the project and the motives behind it.

As of this writing Retro Game Crunch is only 60% funded with 8 days left. If you pledge now you will get to contribute to the design and plot, then receive an awesome finished game each month along with a variety of bonus goodies.

Josh Hi Shaun. Thanks for joining me. Before we get into the Retro Game Crunch can you tell me a bit about yourself? Where did you go to school? Where do you live now? What did you do before you got into game building?

Shaun Thanks for having me Josh! I'm an independent game designer and developer. I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design's Graphic Design program. I currently live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before I got into game design, I primarily designed and developed the web apps Mint and Fever.

Josh What drew you into game building? And how did you decide on retro vs more modern art styles and genres?

Shaun I've always played games. When I wasn't playing them I was reading about them. When I wasn't reading about them I was day-dreaming about them. One day I realized that I had cobbled together enough skills in the three core disciplines of game design: graphic design, programming, and music, to tackle creating my own game. When I use the word "retro" I'm referring to limited palette, resolution, and sound channels, and a focus on one or two gameplay mechanics. The limitations reduce distraction and force a designer to zero in on what makes their game fun and unique.

Josh What was the inspiration for the Retro Game Crunch?

Shaun Retro Game Crunch was inspired by other game jams like Ludum Dare. The thematic and time constraints promote the same kind of focus as the retro aesthetic. Usually at the end of these jams, you go back to your other projects. After the most recent Ludum Dare, Rusty, Matt, and I didn't want to abandon the momentum we had built up with Super Clew Land. So we kept working on it for another month. We think the resulting Super Clew Land Complete turned out great and decided we wanted to do it (at least) six more times!

Josh I'm a huge fan of the NES/SNES era Final Fantasies. I've always felt the are the perfect blend of story, graphics, music, and level grinding. Any chance we will see any RPGs from this game crunch or are you sticking with platformer styles, or even branching out to other styles?

Shaun We'll definitely be branching out. We love platformers as much the next guy but we're very conscious of not making the games too same-y. Rusty and I both love the 16-bit Final Fantasies too and would love to make an RPG. It's a tall order for 30 days but if a theme presents itself that would best be served by an RPG we might just have to go for it.

Josh Have you ever collaborated with others before on a game? How do you think these games will be different from your solo efforts?

Shaun Before Super Clew Land, Matt and I worked together on Flip's Escape and an unreleased iOS game. Neven Mrgan, Alex Ogle, and I created Millinaut during a previous Ludum Dare. Seeing what we were able to accomplish in such a short time made me crave collaboration—which is crazy because I've been working solo for more than seven years!

Josh After the six games are done what are your plans for them? Will they be ported to other platforms? Print up t-shirts? Start a Saturday morning cartoon?

Shaun Ha! We haven't really decided what to do with the games after they're in backer's hands. If any of the games seem well-suited for touch input we'd love to port them to iOS. I'd also love to have Ashley Davis, who did the illustrations for the posters, do illustrations of each character we create. An extended poster series? Who knows!

Josh I loved the Last Rocket. It has such a fun style. Any chance we'd see a sequel?

Shaun Maybe. I've already developed a plot and new gameplay elements. I just need to find the time to develop it!

Josh When we first met you showed me a prototype you were working on. In the game the character could switch from Game Boy era graphics to Super Nintendo. Whatever happened to that?

Shaun Mimeo and the Kleptopus King was a ridiculously ambitious project for my first real game. The tech demo was cool but couldn't support a full game (it was just too inefficient). I'd love to pick up the idea again once I'm a little more experienced. And maybe with a bigger team. Four resolutions means four times the graphic, music, and level assets!

Josh It seems that retro game building has gone from a hobby to your full time job. After the Crunch is over do you think you will stick with making games or you will be sick of it?

Shaun I'm looking at Retro Game Crunch as a learning and growing experience. I doubt I'll be sick of it. Rusty, Matt, and I survived the first crunch and are eager to start again. We'll probably weather the six months just fine!

update

Shaun let me know they just added something new. If you pledge Retro Game Crunch now you will also get a Bonus Jam Pack with Mac/Windows versions of several games by their indie-coder friends, including Fathom, Escape, and Midas.