In this week’s interview with an indie developer, we catch up with developer/designer Chris of Batterystaple Games, makers of Echoes of Eridu. Their studio got together in July 2013, decided that they wanted more great co-op experiences and more Megaman and set out to kill two birds with one stone. Here’s what they have to say about their first game.
What got you into game development and how was Batterystaple Games formed?
Batterystaple Games came about when Chris scoured Reddit’s /r/gamedevclassifieds in 2013 and found Batterystaple’s artist-to-be, Zach. Zach stood out as the best fit for the project immediately, and we got to work.
I imagine lots of small developers have similar origin stories. We got into game development because we’re both creative types who’re passionate about games and wanted to give something back to the communities we love.
Where did the name Batterystaple Games come from, how did you go about choosing it as the name of your studio?
With Randall’s blessing, we ruthlessly stole the name from an xkcd comic. No, it isn’t the password to any of our stuff (I hope).
When you aren’t developing indie games, what do you get up to?
When we aren’t making games, we’re playing them. Games are kind of our life. I’m pretty sure Zach would say the same thing.
Could you tell us a little about Echoes of Eridu ? What inspired you to make this game?
Capcom’s neglected poor Mega Man, so we decided to do something about it. Echoes combines classic Megaman X gamefeel with more modern design choices, like random levels, permadeath, and full co-op. We set out to make the kind of game we’d want to play, hoping there’d be enough MMX and roguelike fans out there to help us along the way.
What is your main vision of the game, and why will gamers fall in love with Echoes of Eridu over any other game in its genre?
There are lots of action platformers out there, and even more multiplayer roguelike action platformers. The homage we pay to the Blue Bomber is what sets us apart from those other games – we’re standing on the shoulders of the giant that birthed us, and hoping that we do it justice. Our goal for Echoes is to make groups of action platformer fans want to sit down with a beer on the couch and enjoy an evening or ten. Replayability’s a core goal of ours, too – between the different characters, modes, and randomly generated levels/powerups, we’re pretty sure it’ll last even die-hard Megaman fans quite a while.
Co-operative play in a platformer is pretty rare. We love seeing games which add co-op features, though. What was your motivation or reason for including this in Echoes of Eridu ?
Having co-op as an option has always been really important to us; as a studio, we want to make games you can play and replay with your friends. We never really considered making the game without any multiplayer options.
How did you go about designing and producing the game? Can you tell our readers a little more about your process and working methods?
It’s a very iterative process, for sure. For the most part, I (Chris) take the lead when it comes to mechanics/balance/design decisions, using Zach as a sounding board/sanity check for them. For the visual decisions and a lot of the enemy design, the roles are reversed; Zach has free reign, and I give feedback and help tweak.
We have a project roadmap that we follow pretty religiously. We avoid crunch time when it’s not necessary because we want to be fresh when it does become necessary. Because we’re a distributed team (Zach’s in Baltimore, I’m in Bethesda), we get together pretty frequently.
How are you finding the indie developer life so far? The biggest discussion we always have with indie developers is how hard it can be from a financial point of view. What is your solution?
It’s a roller coaster, for sure. During the good times, you feel fulfilled and free. During the down times, you feel like your work is garbage and that you’re wasting your time and money. The financial point is certainly the biggest limiter; run out of money, and you can’t continue full-time. We don’t have an answer for that. Batterystaple is running off of money I saved working as a programmer for other companies over the last 6 years. If we run out, there are a few contingencies, but no promises.
When it comes to staying sane, the most important thing for us as developers is to keep perspective.
When it comes to staying sane, the most important thing for us as developers is to keep perspective. There’s a chance that we crash and burn, and that’s very stressful. We remember, though, that we’re all 20-somethings without massive life commitments (spouses, kids, etc), and that failing as a team doesn’t mean our lives are over or anything. We’ll have to go get full time jobs, but hopefully we’ll be stronger for having had the experience. Case in point: a close friend had a baby shower the other day. She’s two weeks from being solely responsible for a tiny powerless human life. Imagine the stress that comes along with that, and suddenly our woes look a lot less severe.
Can you tell us a little about some of the other projects you have in the pipeline?
It’s a little too early to tell what we’ll work on next. It all depends on how well this goes!
If time and money was no object, what kind of game would you see yourself producing?
There are lots of old school game concepts that we think deserve modern makeovers. Given enough time and money, we’ll eventually explore them. If we actually had unbounded resources, though? Easy. We’d make a game called COWMANS, and it’d be a space farming MMO about cows who are also sometimes mans, but not always.
Thank you very much for your time, we’d like to wish you the best of luck and hope we’ll see your studio release some great games in the near future! Keep us informed!
Our pleasure! Thanks for having us and for the good luck – we’ll need all we can get!