Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Developer Interview: Retromite


(Further to RGCD's recent review of RobotRiot, Gregg and Kawe of the Retromite development team kindly took the time to answer some of our burning questions.)

As way of introduction, could you give details of your background and how/why Retromite was founded?

[Gregg] Unlike Kawe, I've thankfully perhaps never been part of the larger "mega corp driven game industry". Instead I was grinding away the last 8-10 years doing software development work for a mix of startups and corporations like Intel. At the same time I was also doing a lot of work in the Ultima Online emulation scene, and doing my own game development projects.

[Kawe] I've been in the industry for about 20 years. Retromite came to life because of my friend Greggg with whom I share a love for real games with. We met online when I was doing some pixel-art side-jobs to make some cash I needed for a trip back then. Now we're buddies for 6 years and we have never actually physically met.


What were the influences and inspiration for RobotRiot? What were the biggest challenges that you faced during its development?

[Gregg] Mega Man, Turrican, and being behind on all the tax returns due. Certainly the distance apart is the toughest factor of development.

[Kawe] Metroid, The Black Hole, current life experience and genuine boss-love in no particular order. The biggest challenge is certainly that Gregg lives on the other (bad) side of the world. He gets up when I finish my regular working-day.


As a small development group releasing on multiple formats, do you handle the ports inhouse or outsource?

[Kawe] All hail Gregg for he is Retromites tech-dept., level-building authority and lead-coder!


What development tools and hardware set-up were used to create the game and could you briefly describe the development process?

[Gregg] RobotRiot was actually my first time working with flash and AS3 which the game was coded in originally. We were interested in testing out the flash market, and were tossing around some rough platformer concepts, which ended up landing onto some scifi robot thing.

Things pretty much just iterated from there the whole way through development. After the flash version was done, I re-wrote the game twice, once to C/C++ which is used for iPhone/BlackBerry/PC/Mac, and to C# which was used for the Xbox release.

[Kawe] Our games start with proto-typing rather than a bright idea. Our pipeline is as simple as it can get. I prepare the graphics for Gregg, and give him a mockup or two so that he gets a better idea on how things are supposed to work. Obviously there's tons of tweaking, polishing and bitching inbetween but that's healthy and leads to good results in my opinion.



Retromite's previous release A.R.C.S. is currently available to play as an in-browser only flash game over at www.bigdino.com. Do you have any plans to release an enhanced standalone cross-platform version in the future?

[Gregg] We're certainly considering PC/MAC versions of A.R.C.S, along with some features like fullscreen support, lack of branding/ads, mouse wheel use, and so forth.

[Kawe] Not on a touch-screen device, but a PC version with more levels might really work well in both PC and Mac-land. I think the feedback on a flash gaming portal gives you a good impression whether a game could be successful outside of the casual world.


A.R.C.S and RobotRiot share many of the same art assets - were they developed in tandum? What's the story here?

[Gregg] I was throwing together some tech prototype for a castle defense fantasy game, and was using some GBA castlevania sprites as temp art while doing so. Somewhere along the line we decided to take the game into the RobotRiot universe.

[Kawe] The initial plan for A.R.C.S was to just skin some existing castle-defence engine with some assets we had in our dump. It seemed alright to reuse the already fully animated and ready to use bots from RobotRiot... Hard to get rid of something that works well afterwards. Anyway, Castlevania opened that door, RobotRiot just follows (in shame).


RobotRiot has seen one large content update since it's initial release on iOS - are there plans for any further expansions?

[Kawe] Might be nice to develop one level-ships with single boss-maps or some insane jumping-experiences. But "real" updates we can sadly only afford if game sales justify it.


Your website features a small box-out showing a screenshot of a game due for release in Summer 2012. Can you share any more information on this or other upcoming releases?

[Kawe] I think Greggg has a bit of a beef with it. We have a proper idea and a ton of neat assets, just the spark that jumps over is missing. This moment when you know that all you know about games, physics and fun really translates into you saying: "this feels right and good."

Anyway I'm not letting go of this one as it will be a game where you play a test-driver for new fantasy mounts. Different worlds, Monster chases, many mounts and a tragic 32x32 love-story. Want.



Do you follow the indie gaming scene, and are there any recent releases that have piqued your interest? What would be your current top five?

[Gregg] I don't get time to play games to much anymore, unless its just a quick look at something as a bit of research. Which typically tends to be games from the past, but there are a few indie games I've played quite a bit of. I really liked Cave Story, and it is probably the last longish game I've completed in the last few years. I've also been toying around with VVVVVV, as there is a lot of brilliant level design in that game.

[Kawe] I guess the only games that would qualify as indie (and that I play regulary) are Dwarf fortress and Sqrxz. I could think of a many others that I've seen and liked, but I haven't played any of them enough to make up a top five.


Retromite clearly has its roots fixed firmly in the past. If you could travel in time and work with any game developer or team, who would it be?

[Gregg] I'm a huge fan of old 2D fighters like Darkstalkers, Marvel Super Heroes, and so forth. I think it would have been really interesting to work some of those teams.

[Kawe] With exactly the same team I worked with back then. =)


Thank you for participating in this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add before signing off?

[Kawe] Does anyone has a mint copy of Panzer General?

(Visit the Retromite website for more information on their games).