Recently I’ve been pretty busy with few activities. They were:
It came faster than I expected… after one week of sending emails, exchanging ideas and fixing problems… Ladies and Gentlemen, here comes the TRAILER:
It has been created by Michał Friedrich, who’s got much more experience with video editing than I can ever hope.
It made nice splash on polish social sharing site, Wykop. It got there 276 likes, 87 comments, almost 10 thousand views and was featured on the main page. Because of that, YT video also jumped to 4300 views. For me it’s a lot. That sunday I was constantly collecting my jaw from the floor. I love that Ninja Cat finally became exposed to more players.
Recently I’ve been interviewed by Bay A Pantoja, chemist and owner of Peurto Rican facebook gamer fanpage. Puerto Rico lies in Latin America, but what you won’t learn from Wikipedia is that they have a very strong gamers community there. Mostly Playstation lovers, but recently there’s trend toward PC. You can read it in spanish on their fanapge, and below is the english original:
Bay: Hi Hubert, welcome to our little Facebook page. We have over 2 thousands fans who plays on different platforms, from mobile to PC, and on behalf of them we appreciate that you are dedicating some of your time to us.
A: No problem Bay, I’m happy to participate and come into contact with Puerto-Rican game players. I’ve never been to Central America, so far travelling mostly around Europe. Unfortunately I don’t know any spanish, but my girlfriend speaks a little of it :)
Bay: Can you tell us a something about yourself? Of what motivated you to create games and be part of the game industry?
Hubert: My full name is Hubert Rutkowski, nickname Koshmaar, I’m 27 and currently living the life of indie game developer :) When I was kid and teenager, I was playing a lot of games, that was my favourite hobby. I was constantly imagining how I would change that game, what I would add, or was thinking of completely new ideas. In high school because of that I started to learn programming. The reason was: if you want to make games, graphic artist is not necessary, you can easily do without music and sound guy, you can do your own game design, marketing etc. BUT: you can’t do a game without programming. I wanted to be independent developer (not in the today’s meaning of the word indie), to make games from A to Z, that I would personally play, and have no shortcuts, no compromises.
So I started to learn programming. I was also making maps to other games, like Starcraft, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Liero, and I even made Total Conversion of the latter, called Liero TURBO. Because of the programming background I started computer science studies at technical university in Krakow, and I was participating in game projects as often as I could. I took part in completely amatour private projects, in over-the-internet collaborations, in indie startups, worked for a year in on AAA game using Unreal Engine 3. I’ve been mostly gameplay programmer, but I had also worked on tools, on engines, with different responsibilities and areas (like AI, camera, physics, motion input). It all comes together. Right now I can single-handedly design gameplay, code it and even add graphics to a game. Really great situation, my childhood dreams came true.
Bay: You have successfully accomplished a lot of things, can you tell us more about it? I mean, about the professional experience?
Sure, if that’s interesting to the readers, then why not. As I said, during whole high school I was specializing at programming computer games, that was my biggest hobby and passion. I was literally spending whole day learning everything about making games. At second year of studies I had first experience with commercial gamedev, through a internship. Then suddenly I got lucky offer of working on one of the first polish Wii games, Sadness (yup, that famous vapourware). Then another great offer: AAA game in Netherlands, using Unreal Engine 3. I took break from studies for a year and came back. Then did some Unity with indie startup Echo (2d top down tactical multiplayer shooter), started working at Reality Pump programming GRACE2 engine and finished studies. Last year I stopped working at RP and started indie carreer. Ufff, that’s enough for a short introduction.
Bay: Wow, that was a great introduction Hubert. Lets talk about one of your games, the one with a ninja cat killing dinosaurs! I played Ninja Cat and Zombie Dinosaurs, so far i have completed a few levels but im planning to play them all. The gameplay method based on words indeed surprise me. I really like the game. How you came to the idea of creating that game? What inspired you?
Hubert: I’m glad you liked it :) The idea is not my original creation. It came by playing a lot of Typing of the Dead – Sega game from 2000. About 5 years ago I was starting to get RSI (carpal tunnel syndrome), which means my hands hurt because of using keyboard and mouse. So I switched to a Wacom tablet for mouse, and keyboard to a ergonomic, divided in half. Because of that I had to learn how to type almost from scratch, and I thought “if I have to do it, why not also learn the proper way of touch typing, so I won’t have to look at keys?”.
So I did that, learned touch typing theory at internet and simple games, and then needed to practice. And Typing of the Dead was the perfect game for that :) At the beginning it was really hard, but with time I excelled. I played it almost for half a year, I finished it multiple times at all difficulty levels. It helped me with touch typing, speed typing, but also it was generally fun in itself. I could still play it now and have nice time, even though I’m now very very good typer (ha! Ninja Cat testing also helped).
So when june 2012 I stopped working for Reality Pump, and was thinking what could I do, I had the perfect opportunity to pursue the idea I had for a long time. A game like Typing of the Dead, but instead of 3d fpp look and non-interactive film (think Virtua Cop or Time Crisis), do a 2d platformer, where the player is typing words at enemies, his avatar moves on a path, but he can switch that path and can do parkour jumps over obstacles.
Development started, I did first prototype, new ideas started flowing and previous were refined, did a lot of research when it comes to technology, already existing games with typing mechanics, and also on (warning, evil word) monetization possibilities. 8 months later, game has been finished. It’s not perfect – a lot of things could be improved. But I’m proud of it anyway.
Bay: That is a very interesting story you have there. I imagine that the game can be also used for typing classes and probably some kind of therapy for people with physical conditions on their hands.
Definitely if someone wants to learn quick typing, playing this game would help, and it would be much more interesting than using typical typing programs, which make you just re-type sentences, over and over. There’s no action, there’s no risk and no thrill – no gameplay. On contrary, Ninja Cat forces players to make split-second decisions “should I type this raptor close to me or rather more dangerous brachiosaurs which is farther, or maybe grab that health potion… and later should I change the path I’m on” – and every decision has to be performed by typing. I already got one email from women, who loved the game, beaten it on every difficulty and she claims that her typing really improved.
Bay: You know, i have played some Magicka in the past. In there to be able to unleash magic attacks you have to hit very precise key combinations -which are not easy by the way-. I will like to see another game similar to that one, but it will be cool to unleash the powers in a different way, it could be by writing words, like in your game. Can that system be implemented in a sequel of your games or in any other original game of yours?
A: I think I haven’t played the game you mention, but I have a lot of ideas for next parts of “Ninja Cat saga” ;) really a lot. Fore example: when player types really well, instead of katana, a spectacular attack by lightning or fireball would be used, also giving more points and perhaps damaging nearby enemies. During development I was writing every idea which could not be immediately implemented to a special text file under header “Ninja Cat and Zombie Dinosaurs 2”. It helped me to curb the feature creep, a situation when new features are constantly added to a game to a point when it hurts it more than helps, and development time dramatically increases.
So, the list has something like 50-60 ideas, ranging from simple ones like “more dinosaur types for standard enemies”, “boss which asks you question and you have to type answear”, “the better you type the faster” through middle ones like “upgradable Ninja Cat so that you could buy more health, faster boots, sharper katana”, “missions system” like found in Jetpack Joyride, to totally wacky ie. for some time giving player the ability to move like in a platform game, while the game automatically types the dinosaurs at the player’s average speed.
I would also love to play more with the words and sentences, ie. when player types the words in precise order, he’s given more points. And give ability to select the language version, so spanish or polish players could have localized versions. Or disable numbers and special characters, whilie enabling “adult mode” for offensive language – that was requested a lot. I could imagine system in menu where players can add their own words, or remove those that they don’t like. Really a lots of great ideas, if only I had time to implement them :)
Bay: In which platforms would you like to see your games available? For example, would you like to see the games on the PlayStation Network or on any PC DRM service like Steam or Origin?
Hubert: I would like to see the game on other platforms, including the ones you mentioned, if only the game can be ported without re-writing it from scratch, because the amount of code necessary for that would be equal to a totally new project. And if they would accept my game :) because they’re closed ecosystems.
As for the other platforms: unfortuately in Nina Cat’s case typical smartphones are hard to port, because of the lack of keyboard. However, friend told me that this kind of typing game could be a good match for BlackBerry Q10, which has a physical keyboard, can run flash games through AIR, and whose players really would like more games. So after finishing my current trip I’m going to do some research and maybe, perhaps, do the port.
Bay: As somebody with plenty of knowledge on the videogame market, what did you think of this new console generation? How mobile games and PC games will benefit from them?
Hubert: For a long time consoles were the only way of getting quality games – thinking about the times of SNES/Pegasus. Maybe except Amiga. Then PC came, but still consoles had the edge in certain areas. I had Nintendo 64 and was playing it for years – Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye… those were the titles. I bought my sister Wii and we’ve been playing it together… Super Mario Galaxy was nice, but those were already different times. However, I’m not planning on buying any of the PS4/Xone/WiiU anytime soon. Why? I have too little time to play games, I’m very busy making them ;) and too little money to pay for single games – yes, typical beginning indie game developers situation (and of a rather young person coming from not so rich country).
Also, there are a lot of alternatives.
A lot of free2play games available, on the internet and on mobile. I just don’t feel the need of having a console, because if I want to play something, I can easily and quickly fill that need. I think a lot of people are like me, and we’re spoiled with choice. Next-gen consoles are going to have a tough time competing for money of casual players. Hardcore fans will always buy living room consoles, but they’re the minority.
Bay: Same in here. I don’t think i will get a console anytime soon. For me there is just more options in the PC platform, like for example: more indie games.
Exactly. Generally, it’s so easy theese days to find entertainment (well at least for me, I’m never bored) that I really couldn’t justify the decision to buy a $400 console, and then games $40 each. I’d rather type in “flash games” in browser and select from bazillions of free games (sometimes suprisingly good and addicting), or grab Heroes III bought 10 years ago – I was playing big map recently with my girlfriend, and we’re still not finished :) But my situation might not be representative for a typical player who wants to play modern AAA hits – in that case consoles are really good.
Bay: One last question. How do you foresee the future of the game industry? Would it become more realistic in terms of physical experiences? like VR headsets? Or for example, something like a huge E-Sport thing? What gamers can expect of game design in the future?
Hubert: I think in next years the trend will be towards more convenience and easier access to games. People will expect to be able to easily play new games on their computers, without going through the chores of manually downloading and installing anything. This is partly the strength of Steam (and other digital distribution platforms), which is doing this in background, hidden. Player just presses Play, and the rest is automatic. This has been always the case with browser games, what means they should remain popular, with Flash and also a rising star of HTML5.
But what that conveniance trend also means, is that mobiles will get an upper hand at traditional consoles. Smartphones already are very fast, they support pretty advanced 3d graphics. Everybody has them, and they give easy access to apps and games. Why would anyone buy a dedicated $300-400 console when they already have one always in their pockets? At least for some people that will be good enough. Also, that’s even worse situation for dedicated handheld consoles, like Nintendo DS. There’s also one more contender, Ouya. Few days ago it oficially started, and I’m curious how it will go. Aso for the VR headsets like Occulus Rift – interesting idea, but I’d say – again, limited to hardcore players. Very interesting times, nobody knows for sure what’s ahead of us.
Bay: That is a very interesting view that you have about the future and tendencies of the industry. Hubert, we thank you for dedicating some of our time to us, i hope that we can have another interview in the future, so we can learn about your future projects. We wish you the best for you and your games.
Thank you for the opportunity, and sorry for talking too much ;) it’s too easy for me to just ramble on some topic. Again, too much Ninja Cat ;) I’d be interested in getting feedback about the game from your readers, in the comments below. And good luck with your page, wish you a lot of nice, polished, original indie games to play. Thanks again!
Bay: lol, dont worry we like to hear stories and perspectives from developers. Thanks!