Despite being just a small spec of sand in the desert that is the gaming industry, Full Sync Gaming has already managed to score its first exclusive Q&A. We got in touch with Carmine Fantarella of Games of Edan to discuss his studio, their latest game and got his opinion on a recent hot topic. Want to find out how we got on? Then read below…
Why don’t we start with you introducing yourself to our audience a little bit? Who are you, where are you from and what makes you tick inside?
I’m Carmine Fantarella, founder of Games Of Edan; born and raised in Adelaide, Australia. I’ve been sharing my time between making a video game, raising a young son and building a house for the past few years.
Everyone has their own reason for getting involved in the gaming industry. Some people are good with computers; others are often just inspired by childhood games. What was it that made you want to get into Game Development?
I was introduced to computers and programming very early in my childhood, writing text adventures on my Commodore 64 – in between building electronic kits from Dick Smiths and making my own board games.
I remember playing games like Impossible Mission, Spy Hunter, F1 Pole Position, International Soccer, and later PC games like Tomb Raider, Doom, Duke Nukem. I also loved the graphical adventures, especially from Sierra and Lucas Arts.
When I started programming tiny games and 3D engines in my teenage bedroom, no obvious path existed to becoming an ‘independent developer’; not as far as I could tell anyway. Shareware games existed and gaming magazines were big, but you still needed a publisher. Digital distribution chains were non-existent and websites were something new and exclusive.
So I decided to keep my artistic passion a hobby and followed a more traditional career path – studied Electronic/Electrical Engineering at Adelaide Uni, worked at the Department of Defence, then later as a private Software Contractor at places like BAE.
I then pivoted into buying, renovating and selling a few houses; all the while continuing work on software like 3D engines and database front-ends. My wife & I lived in each house for a year or two, renovating as we went.
Eventually, we built our own home and I project managed the entire build.
Nowadays, what’s most important to me, as an Independent Games Developer, is exposing myself to new experiences, enjoying my time and relationships, learning and making ‘stuff’ to be proud of, and being a positive role-model for my son. Everything else is a bonus…
Ok, so moving away from you personally let’s talk about Games of Edan as an indie developer studio. Where did it all start and how did you come up with the name?
I’ve been a Software Engineer and Contractor for many years and always wanted to embark on the creative pursuit of making video games. Initially, Indie Development felt like a risky proposition, especially 20 years ago when I graduated university. So I put that ambition on the back-burner for a few years and worked on other ventures. After the birth of my son, Edan, and the completion of our recent house build, I decided that the time was right… My son inspired the game studio’s name.
Is there anything that you would say sets Games of Edan apart from other indie developers?
I like to think of similarities rather than differences, and in that regard I feel like we’re all in this together. I’m often reassured by the welcoming, gracious, helpful and insightful people in our industry, especially in my local gamedev scene, and in that regard I’m confident that it’s our similarities rather than our differences that keep us strong.
If I had to pick something simple, I’d say Games Of Edan is one of a small group of South Australian games developers, and a proactive member in our local community.
For any student readers who are currently studying game development and other related courses, or maybe people who are just looking for a career change; what advice or tips would you offer them from your experiences about setting up an indie studio and getting involved in game development?
Most projects seem daunting at first, and games development is no different. Break the process down into manageable chunks with small objectives that are easy to approach. Weekly goals can keep your momentum up, and before you know it, you’re ticking the last ‘to do’ off your list.
So moving on; you’re currently working on a game called Icebox, can you tell us a little more about this title?
The Icebox is a Speedrunning 3D Platformer with an FPS twist. Use your Glitch and Jet boost to master its virtual labyrinth, your weaponry to vanquish its sentinels and your relentless determination to destroy it’s Central AI.
It contains 50 speedrunning levels in the main campaign. The player must unlock each to proceed, and perfecting a level will earn you a spot on the leaderboards. The game also includes over 30 bonus levels exploring other game mechanics and modes.
Where did the inspiration for the game come from?
The game draws inspiration from games like DeadCore and Mirrors Edge, movies like Tron, Bladerunner and Running Man, and evolved from a “Brain-in-a-vat” philosophical thought experiment.
Icebox was on Steam Greenlight and did quite well by the looks of it. What does it mean to you to know there are so many people out there who like your game?
The game was successfully greenlit in under 3 weeks. The support from the online community and the local gaming scene at conventions like AVCON are encouraging and heart-warming.
Times have obviously changed over the years with platforms like Steam Greenlight and also Kickstarter now available to help developers raise funds and interest in their games. What do these platforms mean for indie developers like you who are trying to forge their way into the gaming world? Are they fundamental to helping bring your game to life?
When I first graduated university online communities like Greenlight & Kickstarter didn’t exist, so funding an Indie Game seemed a harder proposition. Although I have not used KS, it seems not only a potential means of funding a game but a useful mechanism for building a community. So who knows, maybe I’ll use it in the future.
Getting back on track to Icebox; are there any future plans for the game? Maybe taking it to other platforms if it takes off?
Take things one step at a time. My focus is to initially release the game onto Steam/Itch.io. Hopefully, I’ll also get the opportunity to present the game at local Adelaide and Australian events like AVCON to personally say thanks to the gaming community.
Should the game succeed, or God forbid fail (I hope it doesn’t), what are your plans for the future following the release. Do you have other game ideas in the pipeline? Would you give up on the game development dream?
Again, I’ll take one step at a time. Support the game based on customer requests, and update it to meet player expectations. Plenty of half-baked ideas in the pipeline for future games, but I plan to spend a few months prototyping ideas and maybe releasing smaller projects. See where the wind blows, I guess.
Finally, we’ll finish with getting your opinion on a recent hot topic in the gaming industry. Hello Games recently released No Man’s Sky, a truly ambitious game which has taken some serious flack due to issues arising from its release, such as the hiccup with online multiplayer. What are your views on this? Were they too ambitious, were there areas they could improve on, or did they underestimate how popular such a game would be?
One personal takeaway is managing player expectations. Be realistic about schedules and features. Answer questions as best I can without hyperbole.