Anthony and Adrian do like hunting down an indie game! Here’s Mana to tell us more about Ex-O Stars, a shmup for your phone. This interview was conducted early 2020. You can follow Mana on Twitter.
Mana, welcome to Arcade Attack! Tell us a little about your background in video games and your new project Ex-O Stars.
I’m a dreamer! I actually come from banking and had nothing to do with video games. At some point, I managed to enter the IT industry thanks to a friend and learned coding on the fly.
Then I went to a Ted Talk and got to talk with FibreTigre who convinced me that making a game was possible! It took 3 years, but when all the checkboxes where ticked I dove in!
Ex-O Stars is a Sci-Fi Pixel Art Shoot ‘Em Up that will first release on Android and iOS. It focuses on a fluid reactive gameplay and on customizing your own experience. Players will have the ability to create and tune their own Ex-O Crafts to explode enemies their very own way!
Other genres has evolved a lot adding very modern twists to classics. I’m thinking about Dead Cells or Into the Breach. But shoot ‘em ups, not so much. There are exceptions like Steredenn with Rogue-Lite elements, but not a lot has happened in recent years.
I also play a lot on my phone but I haven’t been able to find any mobile Shoot ‘Em Ups that hook me. This is mainly because of their game feels and controls. Ex-O Stars will be different and we’ll hopefully fix this!
What ingredients are essential for an amazing shmup?
Exploding foes needs to be satisfying and controls should be precise and reactive. I also really appreciate having a sense of progression. Not everybody agrees on that one. But this is the reason my son and I played more than 30 hours of Sky Force Reloaded… We wanted to unlock all the ships and cards! And we really enjoyed doing it!
Is it true that you resigned from your previous job just to create your project?
I did resign! Convincing my family was not easy and my personal situation didn’t allow it at first. It did take me 3 years to get here. The thing is I actually enjoyed my work in IT, it was such a contrast to my previous life in banking where I was literally grinding with no purpose. But I wanted to go and live it to the fullest, make my work my passion and create a video game that I hope people will enjoy! I am very grateful to have this opportunity!
When do you hope to complete Ex-O Stars and what platforms do you hope to release on?
We’re beginning with mobile platforms: Android and iOS for the end of 2020. And if everything goes as planned, we’ll move on to PC and Switch for mid 2021. It won’t just be a port, but a dedicated full screen version with local co-op.
What are your top 3 games of all time?
League of Legends: It has amazing gameplay and keeps on innovating. This is the game that stuck with me the longest.
Starcraft (1): It was revolutionary, three well balanced asymmetric factions with great campaigns and multiplayer modes which resulted in hours of LAN parties…
Risk of Rain: This one is odd and it might be linked to a period of my personal life. But when it came out, I was hooked for hours and hours. For sure, it wasn’t for the graphics but the pure satisfying gameplay with an excellent soundtrack.
If you had a chance to work with a fictional character, who would it be to give a helping hand?
Working with Winston from Overwatch would be great! He’s like a friendly ‘Planet of the Apes’ gorilla that would never turn rogue and who can actually help me develop Ex-O Stars… If saving the world can be paused…
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character, who would you choose and why?
Jinx from League of Legends, but the Odyssey alternate version of her. That last statement is important because of the greatly reduced chance of getting blown up while still keeping all the craziness and fun!
Adrian & Anthony