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First things first, introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Gord Games. You are a one person operation, correct?

Hi, I’m Gordon Little, and Gord Games is just me.  I’m the design guy, the art guy, the ter­ri­ble SFX guy.  Designer Gordon is going to fire SFX Gordon pret­ty soon if he doesn’t get his act togeth­er.  I am def­i­nite­ly not a music guy.  I’m a “down­loads roy­al­ty free music from the inter­net and hope it fits the mood guy.”  I’ve been using Construct 2 for a cou­ple years now and have over a dozen free lit­tle jam games out there and two paid games, Spell Casting 101 and Starfighter: Research and Development.

Spell Casting 101 is a fam­i­ly friend­ly (but quite devi­ous) line draw­ing and mem­o­ry game.  Starfighter: R&D is a top down shooter + a research and unlock com­po­nents game.

I’m cur­rent­ly work­ing on my largest project to date, Magbot, which is a mix of clas­sic plat­form­ing and mod­ern physics.  Magbot is releas­ing on PC (Windows / Mac / Linux).  It’s is a metroid­va­nia style puz­zle game with a focus on explo­ration rather than com­bat.  The chal­lenges come from over­com­ing a hos­tile envi­ron­ment and occa­sion­al­ly run­ning into its pow­er­ful inhab­i­tants.  Magbot fea­tures mag­net­ic and grav­i­ty abil­i­ties to col­lect and use for envi­ron­men­tal manip­u­la­tion and explo­ration.  Each abil­i­ty unlocks new areas of the ship to explore.

I notice that your Kickstarter approach is different than a lot of others. You have the game development handled yourself outside the scope of it, and are only doing a Kickstarter for an improved OST (Orginal Sound Track). Care to tell us about the thought process behind that?

The music in Magbot start­ed off as a selec­tion of Royalty free music from Incomptech but I’ve been work­ing with com­poser Benjamin Burns and the kick­starter is specif­i­cal­ly to fund the pro­duc­tion of orig­i­nal music.  All the stretch goals were for MORE MUSIC. I inten­tion­al­ly did not want to add any goals that changed the game itself because I didn’t want any kind of fea­ture creep, or scope expan­sion.  There’s no “new area of the ship” or “2 new abil­i­ties” because I already have mapped out what I want to accom­plish with this game.  I also, very inten­tion­al­ly, didn’t want any phys­i­cal goals.  Being in Canada, and spe­i­cial­ly on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, ship­ping is expen­sive.  So instead I focused on spe­cial dig­i­tal things.  Like hav­ing your name in the game, or a small diary entry by a colonist.

What part of Magbot are you most proud of so far?

I actu­al­ly tried to cre­ate Magbot 3 times, and this was the suc­cess­ful time.  The first time I did every­thing using “plat­former” con­trols and tried to fake the physics part by mov­ing things around man­u­al­ly.  It was ter­ri­ble.  The sec­ond time I tried to do every­thing with physics.  Magbot’s body and wheel were sep­a­rate objects.  It kind of worked but sil­ly things like, it always fell over when you tried to move, required so much “hand hold­ing” code that it was unwieldy quite ter­ri­ble.  The third time, what we have here now, is a blend of both reg­u­lar plat­former con­trols (left, right, jump, duck, etc) and when you engage a physics based abil­i­ty, or move into a grav­i­ty zone, it switch­es to physics mode on the fly, turn­ing off the plat­form­ing con­trols and rely­ing on the physics engine.  When you leave a grav­i­ty zone it switch­es back instant­ly.

Playing through the preview of Magbot, so far, feels very solid already. With over a year left until release, what kind of features and aspects of the game are you currently working on? If you feel comfortable sharing, of course.

The release date is actu­al­ly the worst case sce­nar­io date.  I real­ly hate it when projects are delayed and delayed and every­one feels sad.  Instead I chose a date that I had 99% con­fi­dence I’d be done long before then.  I am hop­ing that I’ll be done in Q1 or Q2 2016.

What’s done right now is pret­ty much every­thing except the lev­els them­selves.  What I mean is that the core is done, the sto­ry is done, the map of how the game flows is done.  Saving / Loading / Options / Menus / UI are all done.  The game was built from the very begin­ning to sup­port key­board and mouse and also gamepad.  All con­trols are remap­pable.  Magbot has 7 abil­i­ties and they are all work­ing.  Early test builds had all the abil­i­ties enabled in a sand­box mode for peo­ple to try out.  I’m not going to give away any details, but if you watch the kick­starter trail­er, you can see a few of them in action.  They all (except for the light / scan­ner) revolve around mag­net­ic and physics manip­u­la­tion.  What is not done is a lot more art, more ani­ma­tions, more scenery, and bet­ter sound effects.

I’ve asked a couple of developers about this before, but what has your experience with industry bodies like the IGDA been?

I actu­al­ly don’t know any­thing about the IGDA and had to google it to find out what the acronym stands for.  Then I remem­bered I joined a local chapter’s Facebook groups a while ago.  I don’t know if that says more about me or them to be hon­est!  I feel like a small fry to be sign­ing up with some­thing like that.  I’m not sure what a lit­tle one man oper­a­tion like mine gets out of it.

What advice do you have for people who want to make their first inroads into game development?

Always always always start small.  No, even small­er.  Do game jams.  Those are fun, give you a set time and a mis­sion.  I taught myself how to use Construct 2 by doing a lot of game jams.  For each jam I picked some­thing I didn’t know much about and focused on it.  One jam game was a plat­former.  Another was a angry-birds cat­a­pult style game, etc.  Learning how to use arrays, ran­dom gen­er­a­tion, even lit­tle things like user inter­face and sav­ing and load­ing games.  They’re lit­tle things that need to be set in place for your first REAL game.

What has been the most challenging part of developing Magbot or other titles of yours?

Time & focus.  Since gamedev is a hob­by, not my actu­al day job, and the fact that I’ve got my wife and 3 kids who get atten­tion first means I usu­al­ly get an hour or two before bed to make the mag­ic hap­pen.  Some nights that means draw a sprite, or a few frames of ani­ma­tion, or make a sound effect, or block out a new lev­el.  The focus part is just as dif­fi­cult.  For me the REALLY fun part of mak­ing a game is cre­at­ing the sys­tems that make the inter­ac­tions pos­si­ble.  Figuring out how to code a game that switch­es between zero g physics and back to clas­sic mar­io plat­form­ing with­out the play­er notic­ing.  Making the dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties that the play­er can use to solve the envi­ron­men­tal puz­zles.  Once that’s work­ing, I find the actu­al lev­el design the hard­est thing to do.

How important do you feel is games media to the potential success of independent games? Do you feel more able to connect directly with fans?

Game media, at least the big guns, the mega sites, have the pow­er to expose thou­sands of peo­ple to your game.  If you can get their atten­tion.  I per­son­al­ly find the best way to inter­act with peo­ple online the­se days is Twitter.  I can chat with fans, devs, tubers and twitch­ers, post pics and gifs, get feed­back, all at once.  It’s so glob­al, so gamers with­out bor­ders, a giant com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple brought togeth­er by their love of the bleeps, the sweeps, and the creeps.

While I can sense the serious undertone of the plot in Magbot, I notice the thread humor involved as well. Are there any direct inspirations when writing for Magbot?

Magbot, at it’s core, has a very seri­ous sto­ry.  The mis­sion to col­o­nize a plan­et went very wrong when some cat­a­stro­phe hap­pened to the ship.  Now it’s up to you to save the lives of thir­ty thou­sand colonist.  Are they alive?  Where are you exact­ly?  Who are you?  Writing Magbot’s sto­ry is two parts Star Trek to one part Red Dwarf.  Not as much a com­e­dy as Spaceballs, but not as seri­ous a dra­ma as Battlestar.  The Engineering AI, affec­tion­ate­ly ref­er­enced as Scotty, is both the comic relief and a proxy for Magbot, as the lit­tle robot can’t talk.  It’s very inten­tion­al, Magbot’s silence, as you, the play­er, don’t have a clue as to what’s going on and nei­ther does the char­ac­ter you con­trol.  Or at least that’s what you’re meant to believe.

How hard is it to make 2D games stand out in a crowded market? What kind of challenges do you feel you have to be overcome and what is your approach to overcoming them?

I think it’s hard for any game devel­op­er to get their game noticed the­se days.  The ease of mak­ing games the­se days is a dou­ble edged sword.  The eas­ier it is for every­one to make games, the more there are.  The more there are, the hard­er it is for any­one to notice YOUR game.  I put togeth­er what I thought was a very hum­ble kick­starter and it’s still been very dif­fi­cul­ty to get the word out.  But as I’ve said before, Magbot con­tin­ues with or with­out the kick­starter.  The kick­starter was just a way to add some­thing I can’t eas­i­ly do.  But the Steam Greenlight cam­paign con­tin­ues and hope­ful­ly by the time the game is done, it will have got­ten through Greenlight.

Last of all, where can people find you and where can we find more information on your projects? Shameless self promotion time!

People can down­load the demo of game for free from itch.io here http://gordgames.itch.io/magbot and it con­tains the first 4 areas and the first boss.  If they like it they can sup­port devel­op­ment by pur­chas­ing alpha access which gets them the cur­rent build (7 areas and 2 boss­es) as well as the full game upon com­ple­tion.

I encour­age every­one to head over to Steam Greenlight and vote for Magbot here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=486453747.

For more infor­ma­tion about my games head over to http://gordonlittle.ca.

You can find Benjamin Burnes musi­cal awe­some­ness (work) here:  https://soundcloud.com/abstraction

I want to thank Gordon for taking the time to talk to us about game development and Magbot! We have an impressions video of what Magbot has in store for you here, or just click the video down below!

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Gord-Header.pnghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Gord-Header-150x150.pngJosh BrayInterviewsGord Games,InterviewsFirst things first, intro­duce your­self and tell us a bit about Gord Games. You are a one per­son oper­a­tion, cor­rect?Hi, I’m Gordon Little, and Gord Games is just me.  I’m the design guy, the art guy, the ter­ri­ble SFX guy.  Designer Gordon is going to fire SFX Gordon pret­ty…
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Josh Bray
Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a focus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­pher with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Leader of the crazy exper­i­ment called SuperNerdLand
Josh Bray

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