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Category Archives: Interviews

Venbrux

I recently had the opportunity to Interview one of the rising stars of the Indie Gaming scene, Jesse Venbrux. Jesse is the winner of the 2008 YoYo Games Competition for his creative platformer  Frozzd.

Check of the full interview below to find out why Jesse adores  Killer 7, loves the Gamecube Controller, and where he seems himself headed.

April 2010 Jesse Venbrux Interview

1) I know you have done some interviews before Jesse, but tell us a little bit about yourself and what got you into game development?

Hey. I’m born and raised in the Netherlands where I still live. Currently I’m studying “game design and development” at the Utrecht School of the Arts. As a kid I was very creative and always drawing comics and making board games. I also got an interest in developing computer games, but it wasn’t until I tried Game Maker that I really got into.

2)You designed Frozzd in 5 weeks in order to submit it for the YoYo Competition. What were those 5 weeks like?

They were hell-ish. Well, pretty intense anyway. I got rather excited about my idea and really wanted it to be the best game in the competition. Especially the last few weeks I worked very hard and planned everything out to the last minute. The competition deadline as well as my ambition to win really made me do my best. All the time I tried looking at my concept from different angles, imagined how it would come across to other people, trying to find any loopholes, anything people could critique. I really kept the public in mind and tried my best to make it a smooth experience from the start. It’s something I didn’t really do before Frozzd, so I think I learned a lot from that.

3)Frozzd won first place in the YoYo Competition. Does winning awards come as a surprise to you or is this something you are beginning to expect?

Haha. I haven’t won any other awards since so it’s really not something I expect. In the case of Frozzd I did.

4) Getting into the gaming industry has been described as “tricky” by some. What has your journey been like thus far?

People tell me I have a good portfolio, so I’m confident I’ll be able to find a job somewhere. However, the game industry here in the Netherlands is small and doesn’t interest me as much. So for my internship in 2008 (it’s part of my study) I contacted lots of small but interesting companies all over the world. I got an internship at Q-Games (Japan), which has been a great experience. I think my portfolio really helped there.

5) What are you working on right now?

Currently I’m trying to do a small prototype each week. I’m also looking into different programming languages such as Action Script 3 and the Flash Punk library. I hope to do a new browser-based game in the future.

Recently, I’ve made “They Need To Be Fed” which I’m very happy with myself. My main site needs to be updated but you can find it on my blog (www.venbrux.com/blog). It’s actually similar to Frozzd; yet very fresh.

They Need to be Fed

I love Orange!

6) Is your goal to work for a big budget studio or keep your independent gaming roots?

This is a tough question. I don’t know yet what I want to do, but I hope to get a job in the Japanese games industry after graduation (I also really like Japan as a country and culture). I want to get some experience working at an interesting company and maybe further in the future I can start something myself, but that’s hard to say as of now.

7)What is a challenge facing indie game design in 2010?

I wouldn’t know. I hope every independent game developer picks their own unique challenge to work with.

8 ) What are your favorite games? Console of all time? What game are you best in?

My favorite games are probably Killer 7 and Resident Evil 4. I think both are masterpieces, designed to entertain from beginning to end. It seems the developers really made every moment unique instead of repeating patterns to lengthen the game.

As such, my favorite console is the Nintendo GameCube. I love the controller design with the central A button.

I’m not very good at playing games. I’m terrible at first person shooters, be it console or pc. I could never get into fighting games, and always get my ass kicked in sports games. But I’m pretty good at Mario Kart, I think.

Thanks a bunch for your time Jesse. Check out Frozzd and all of Jesse’s other games at http://www.venbrux.com/

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I recently had the opportunity to interview Self Proclaimed Game Designer, Programmer, Artist and life-long gamer Keith Morgado.  Keith, who says the classic SNES title Earthbound inspired him to create games, has  been selected from a field of thousands to showcase his Rhythm-Puzzled gameTurba at next weeks inaugural PAX EAST Convention in Boston.  A demo ofTurba can be downloaded directly from popular indie sitehttp://www.2beegames.com/.  Check out the full interview below with one of the rising game stars in the video game industry!

2010 PAX EAST Indie Showcase winner Keith Morgado

LC:Tell us a little bit about your gaming background and what got you interested in creating games?

KM:Well I have been gaming ever since I can remember, my first game console was the NES with the Duck Hunt/Super Mario combo. The NES was great fun but my video game obsession didn’t come until I got a Sega Genesis. Sonic 2 blew me away as a kid, it was so fast and every level had multiple ways to get through it. But the game that inspired me to create games was EarthBound for the SNES. With its amazing story line and great writing it quickly became my favorite game. I wanted to make games just like it with diverse worlds and great characters.

LC:Obviously you are a fan of the puzzle genre. What titles if any inspired you while creating Turba?

KM:I really love Popcap and what they have done for the puzzle genre. They really know how to keep you completely addicted, and the games are so polished its hard not to be inspired. Another puzzle game that I think we have all played to death is Tetris which is really the root of all puzzle games.

LC:The Fusion of rhythm and puzzle genres coexist hamorniously in Turba. What were some of the challenges in mixing the two different game genres?

KM: The task of just getting beat information from a song file was one of the hardest things we had to do for this game. Of course there is no way to completely sync every song perfectly but we are happy with our current beat recognition. We wanted the puzzle to flow based on the overall speed and feeling of the track so we figured that if the blocks spawned with the beat it would work nicely.

LC:A really creative game-play mode in Turba is Descend mode. It truly separates itself from other games by stacking the blocks from the top. Was this originally the plan or did it transpire during development.

KM:Originally I wanted to have many different modes with completely different ways to play. Once we came up with the idea for Ascend mode it only seemed like the next logical step to flip it. But instead of just spawning one block at a time we slowly scroll the board down along with the beat. Sometimes during game development some features just get created by accident and they end up being the best part of your game.

LC:Some people might claim that Turba reminds them a bit of Lumines. What feature(s) would you say truly differentiates Turba from the competition?

KM:The most original thing Turba has going for it is that the player is in full control over the puzzle when they play. For example, in Lumines you place the blocks but they will auto clear with the timeline. In Turba the player is in charge of selecting AND clearing of combos. This gives the player tons of freedom to create huge custom combos. I really wanted to make a puzzle game that put the player in control over the whole board.

LC:You guys are showcasing your game at PAX EAST this year. How much time and preparation has gone into the big weekend in Boston?

KM:Well Turba has been brewing for over a year now and we feel its time to release it to the world. We’ve been prepping for almost 3 weeks now and the work isn’t done at all. When you create games you quickly learn that production will never end unless you stop it. There is so many ideas we wanted to put into the game that didn’t get in just because of time constraints.

LC:Were you surprised when you were selected one of the PAX EAST Indie showcase winners?

KM: Surprised? No. Excited? Yes! We have gotten recognition from other online communities such as 2beegames.com so we knew that Turba was good enough to win. It felt great to finally get to show it directly to the public.

LC:What are some of your favorite games, current, past… Favorite console etc…?

KM:Favorite Console hands down SNES

I’ll do a Top 5 for this generation of consoles and a Top 5 of past generations.

This Gen:

5. Dead Rising (Xbox 360)

4. GTA: China Town Wars (DS)

3. Braid (XBLA)

2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

1. Mass Effect (Xbox 360)

Previous Gens:

5. Shenmue (Dreamcast)

4. Katamari Damacy (PS2)

3. Harvest Moon 64 (N64)

2. Metal Gear Solid (PS)

1. Earthbound (SNES)