Alright boys and girls, welcome to another exclusive Full Sync interview. This time we chat to Adam Jeffcoat of Pixel Trip Studios and discuss their new game The Videokid. Enjoy the read.
We usually start by introducing our guest, so why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Adam Jeffcoat and I am an animator, creator and game designer from the UK with a passion for story.
And what about Pixel Trip Studios? What is the story behind its creation and where its name comes from?
I formed Pixel Trip Studios along with Vincent Kamp in late 2013 with the intention to make games like the golden days where playability and fun were king! It’s all about AAA highly polished, realistic and insanely intense 1st person shooters these days so we wanted to go back simpler times when the pixel ruled the art style 🙂
Do you focus on any particular style of games as a studio? Or is it less of a case that you’re a key that fits one particular lock, and more a master key that fits into many locks?
So far it feels like we are making retro games with a modern twist, kind of like remaking classic movies but with a style that a modern audience can also relate to. I have always been heavily inspired by the Bitmap Bros of the early 90’s and their philosophy was simple fun playability, great graphics and great sound = great games!
And what games have you released thus far? With the exception of the Videokid which we’ll talk about shortly.
So far, The Videokid is our first release. A few years back, we did launch a Kickstarter to try to make a point n click adventure game called The Breakout where you have to escape from a POW camp in WW2. We weren’t able to reach our target so we decided to put the dev on hold for a while and focus on something smaller hence The Videokid was born…
Moving on to the Videokid then which you released not too long ago. Tell us a little bit about the game and what can people expect from it.
The Videokid was literally a homage to my childhood. From spending hours playing addictive games on my Amiga to all the awesome movies and TV from that time. I wanted to wrap it all up in one nostalgic game and see if it hit a chord with other gamers who grew up in that time. It’s a pickup and play game where you have to skate down the street, dodging 80s cars and pedestrians while delivering your pirate video round and reaching your girl.
And probably a silly question now, but what was it that inspired you to make this game? *cough* Paper Boy *cough*
Haha, of course, hours upon hours playing my trusty ZX spectrum while it screeched and screamed at me, praying that it would load. Paperboy fascinated me for some reason, maybe it was the fact that you were kind of a badass and could smash people’s windows and annoy the neighbours. It was also insanely hard but that’s what kept me coming back so this was our goal to recreate this in The Videokid.
We’ve seen a lot of Indie Studios that have remade classics or at least tried to modernise classic genres, such as Xenoraid which we reviewed a while back. What have you done to bring your game into the twenty-first century?
Well, firstly we decided to make it in 3d voxels, made popular by Crossy Road. They capture the pixel style of the early 90s but the game feels more current and has more depth even though it’s all shown in an isometric view. For the music, we also commissioned the well known retro DJ Savant to create an 8bit soundtrack but in his epic and intense style.
Were there any major issues during development? Maybe like repeatedly having to explain to younger people what the hell a video is?
Haha, that was one of them but we always aimed the game at people who grew up in the 80s and hoped that younger kids of today, who wouldn’t get the references, would just enjoy smashing windows, jumping cars and causing a scene!
By far the biggest issue was a lack of experience as to how much work a game like this is to make. The actual 6month production period was a lot of fun and went pretty much to schedule but it was the part that came next which we VASTLY underestimated. Testing the game, fixing bugs, incorporating feedback, getting ready for the platform release. That all pushed the production to almost 2 years in total and then the marketing is a whole other thing in itself. Be aware to new indie devs out there, making games is a real commitment and you have to be in it for the long haul!!!
Following on from that; does it make you feel old that you can still remember the days of video rentals and when you could pause a film to come back to it weeks later and it would be in the exact same spot where you left it?
Haha yea but there was something about those times that meant things were more of a treat when you played/watched them. I remember once having to rewind Return of the Jedi to watch it so I and a friend went out to play for an hour and when we came back in the tape was STILL rewinding. However, it felt like such a big deal when we finally watched it so you developed an appreciation for things. Nowadays we have instant access to everything at a click of a button so it somehow loses its value.
Back to the serious stuff now, how easy did you find it getting the music right for the game? Were there any classic soundtracks that influenced you?
Well, that was all down to Savant, we knew his music and that he already had the right blend of retro with modern beats so we explained to him what we wanted and boom… Within a few weeks, he had nailed it. We then sent him an early walkthrough of the game and he wrote the track to fit the level nicely, underground sewers and all 🙂
If it takes off, can we expect the Videokid to hit consoles or maybe see a sequel hitting Steam? If not, do you have any plans for more games to be released this year?
Yes absolutely, we have plans to both expand the game and to port to mobile and possibly consoles down the line. I guess it’s up the audience how far it goes.
Just a couple more general questions to wrap things up. We like to see what advice developers have for those wanting to get into Game Development, whether they be a student fresh out of college/uni or a 40-year-old father of three who wants to make his childhood dreams come true. What would you say to someone who is interested in getting involved?
Ok so this is an important one, don’t make the mistakes I did and try to make a big game right off the bat! Start small, make super simple games, that you can complete in a few months and test them out on people. Creating good gameplay is something you have to learn by trial and error and the ONLY way is to make games, fail and make more. Jonathan Blow was famous for saying that everyone thought he was a genius for creating Braid, yet little did they know that was like his 10th game and the first 9 went by unnoticed.
Do you think people may find it harder now that Valve are ditching Steam Greenlight? Or is it possible the replacement system they want to bring in will be just as helpful for Indie developers?
I am not sure, to be honest. I do think that greenlight was a good way to test the audience and see if your game is worth making but as I said before making a game is only part 1. Actually getting it out there – that’s the real test and this industry is SO crowded you need to find some way of standing out.
Whilst Steam Greenlight may be disappearing though there are plenty of other funding platforms out there such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe and for some others, Patreon. Do you think these platforms may see a rise in use by Indie Developers now?
Yes although I think the bubble may have burst a little on that one already. Kickstarter was amazing for indies about 3-4 years ago when games like Hyper Light Drifter and Broken Age were being funded but now due to overcrowding and a few disappointments, people are naturally expecting more so anyone doing a crowdfunding project has to do something seriously cool or unique just to stand out amongst the rest.
What about Social Media? It already plays a big part but do you think more people will rely on that without the Greenlight platform?
Social media is one of those catch 22 in that you only get lots of followers once you have made something. But how can you make something that sells well without the followers in the first place? The best option for me is to set up social media channels – twitter, FB etc and then release a demo or a trailer of your game and start to build up your audience WAY before release. Broforce executed this perfectly and gauged interest in their game with just a free demo that everyone loved.
And to finish things off a little random question, or two in this case. How many hats do you own? And can we have a picture of your best one? (Doesn’t have to be sexy, but our editor Laurence may prefer it if it were).
Haha, I have about 3 beanies to keep my head warm through winter. I’ll send a pic but it definitely ain’t sexy ;D
Well, that is all from both us and Adam. Hopefully, you all enjoyed the read and appreciated the pic of the very good looking Adam we managed to snag for everyone, I believe Laurence has framed it and put it next to his bed. If you want to follow any news on Pixel Trip Studios and the Videokid, as usual, you will find all the relevant links and details below.
Founded in 2013, The London based outfit, Pixel Trip Studios, create and produce retro-style indie games with a modern twist! Their goal is to go back to the golden era of gaming where playability, great graphics and fun were king 🙂
PLAY ON STEAM: http://store.steampowered.com/app/577700
LIKE US ON FB: facebook.com/thevideokidgame
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: twitter.com/PixelTripStudio