Welcome to another edition of the series where we interview and look to have an all round jolly conversation with an indie game studio or solo developer.
Today we’re speaking with Jamie D, the lead developer on Hellscreen, a project he’s been working on on-and-off for a couple of years. With more than 10 years’ experience within the industry and a CV including House of the Dead: Overkilland Killzone: Mercenary, Jamie’s work has also included stints at numerous Games Jams and teaching games art classes at London Southbank University.
Jamie describes Hellscreenas a “retro, 90s era, low-rez, Giger inspired FPS” and with it comes striking retro stylings akin to Doom and Quake with a cleverly implemented cyan on red color tone offering an enormous range of contrast. We’re rather taken by the pixelated graphics, the overall palpapble tension apparent in the trailer and also by Jamie’s use of a rear view mirror which by itself is something pretty darn cool. You can see a trailer for the game below:
We were lucky enough to catch up with Jamie a few days ago to discuss things such as where the inspiration to make Hellscreencame from, the challenges faced in making the game and a few other things of all round general interest. Without more waffle, let’s crack on with the interview.
Talk to us about your game and where the idea came from?
Hellscreen is a visually retro take on the old school FPS genre of the 90s with some more modern flourishes and production values. Players destroy enemies throughout various levels and earn currency doing so, which in turn upgrades the player. New weapons, abilities (like a rear view mirror) and access to new areas are granted as the Player racks up more and more kills.
Hellscreen is an evolution and combination of several ideas I have had over the last 15 years. I always wanted to do a riff on Doom and I always liked the idea of pushing a more Giger vibe to it. Some of that comes from covers of albums I was listening to at the time as well. More recent ideas which made its way into the game come from grinding gameplay from idle clickers as well as the push forward feel of Doom 2016.
In your opinion, what are the main characteristics of a great indie game?
I think all of the good indie games I have played recently are visually distinctive, have really tight gameplay and have great game feel. A recent example fresh in my mind is DownWell. It stands out when you see it and every action in the game feels really satisfying.
So far, what has been the greatest challenge in making your game and how did you overcome it?
There are SO many challenges day to day but I’d say the greatest challenge is that because I am building it all myself, it is hard to stay motivated with so much to do.
To keep the motivation going, I work in bitesize chunks, try to get out of the house every day and make lots of time to NOT work on the game. Downtime is super important and more often then not, my best ideas come from when I’m not working on the game.
I also post GIFS of the game to Twitter to get some positive reinforcement, which also has the benefit of being an early form of marketing & engaging with people.
What indie games do you take inspiration from and enjoy playing?
To be honest, I play more retro stuff then I play indie (and that’s when I play games, which isn’t that often!). I have been playing many of the recent 90s FPS revivals which have been coming out, like Dusk and Midnight Ultra as they are super relevant to what I am doing.
In terms of inspiration, I am going to mention Downwell again as the simplicity of the main mechanic being useful in multiple ways is something I am running with in Hellscreen.
Do you have any advice for newcomers / beginners looking to get into making indie games?
Start small, make something polished and make your game visually stand out. Collaborate with people and try to come up with new ideas. Don’t try to make your dream project right away, instead, experiment, play around.
All in all, keep making games and make them all the time!
When and on what platforms is your game launching on?
Hellscreen will be landing sometime in Mid-late 2019, initially on Steam/PC with aspirations For Nintendo Switch & Sony Playstation 4.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this, the second of our indie game developer interviews and please let us know in the comments if you would like to see more like this. You can Find Jamie D via @uk_resistant and @Hellscreen_Game
With that, thanks for reading!