This week we speak with Daniel Hall, one-man indie game developer working on Super Mega Bob. Daniel formed the indie studio Jenito Games and pretty much does everything when it comes to making games. He like bacon, games, and cool cars. So why did he decide on an indie developer career and why did he choose to developer Super Mega Bob specifically? Read on to find out!
What got you into game development and how was Jenito Games formed?
I’ve loved games my entire life. Developing them just seemed a natural step for me. My older brother learned how to program when we were young, and I learned most of what I know from him. I first made Jenito to focus on designing Christian video games as an answer to the huge void in that sector of gaming. Over time it just kind of evolved into a more “games in general” type thing, but I still love communicating what I believe and see about the world around me through my games.
Where did the name Jenito Games come from, how did you go about choosing it as the name of your studio?
I wanted something unique and just started playing with different sounds. I was studying Japanese at the time, so I’m sure that influenced things a bit. But overall I just kind of “came up” with it. Google searches didn’t come up with anything, so I went with the name because it sounded so different.
When you aren’t developing indie games, what do you get up to?
I’m a pretty diverse fella’! I actually teach Bible, Choir, and Science at a Christian school as my day job. When I’m not doing that I’m usually spending time with my beautiful fiance’ or getting ready to teach at my Church, where I work with children. Any other spare time is spent PARTYIN’ LIKE IT’S 1995 YA’LL!
Could you tell us a little about Super Mega Bob? What inspired you to make this game?
Super Mega Bob is a game all about trying to capture the glory of 2D SHMUPs and adventures from all throughout gaming history. But it also requires extremely precise strategy as the levels become quite difficult. Mega Man, Binding of Isaac, and Adventures of Lolo all inspired me, along with countless other titles. Really, when you get down to it, I just want to shoot lots of things and make them dead.
What is your main vision of the game, and why will gamers fall in love with Super Mega Bob over any other game in its genre? Would you class the game as a Platformer or a SHMUP. Or perhaps a cross of both?
I think gamers will enjoy SMB because it is extremely challenging but not frustrating. I really hate all these new “hard” games that are only hard because the game cheats and works against you with rage material. Spikes magically appearing and killing me is not difficult, it’s just stupid. With SMB, when you die you know it’s your own fault. . . and I really enjoy that feeling as a gamer! The game also has lots of creativity and moving lasers and explosions, and anyone should love that. It is totally a SHMUP. Totes.
Your Kickstarter promised over 200 upgrades in Super Mega Bob. How did you come up with so many different ways to upgrade what is essentially a tiny little blob?
Because I’m really tired of games that promise upgrades and superpowers and all you get are these crappy little boosts. C’mon! Let me shoot fire! And ice! And lightning! And let me do it all at once! With Bob I’m all about making him more powerful until he’s just beastly. Lasers. Balls of flame and fire. Multi-directional shots. That’s what I see in Bob’s future.
How did you go about designing and producing the game? Can you tell our readers a little more about your process and working methods?
For SMB I decided to use the now defunct XNA Framework and just pretty much hard coded the thing in C#. In retrospect I regret that choice as XNA can have a lot of compatibility issues. My process is always very direct. I like coming up with an idea and getting it on the screen. I’m not an elegant coder, but it sure does work!
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?
I love making indie games, but the life is difficult. Trying to communicate can be frustrating, and it often feels that if you don’t have just the most amazingly unique and off-the-wall concept of all time on your hands you can’t get much traction. But I love the community and love how supportive so many developers and press can be. Financially I just have to be realistic and work a job. Hopefully, through Kickstarter and small sales, I can boost my income enough to make it workable. Teaching small classes on video game design always helps too!
But I’m sure once I conquer the world from the privacy of my island paradise in about ten years it will all seem well worth it. . .
Can you tell us a little about some of the other projects you have in the pipeline?
I’m really excited about the new Unity3D project I’m working on! It’s still early, but I can say that it will look great and be a 2.5D point-and-click style adventure. The game will be much darker than Super Mega Bob or any of my previous projects, and will be themed around domestic abuse and the misuse of religion versus Truth.
If time and money was no object, what kind of game would you see yourself producing?
I have two dream games – one is a procedurally generated RPG that would be visually stunning and the greatest time waster of all time. Which is a good thing! The other is a series of games set in a somewhat post apocalyptic world and with gameplay similar to Metal Gear Solid. Those are my dreams!
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 :)
And thank you for being so supportive and approachable! All the best in the future for ManaPool!