Indie gaming excites us, this is no secret. It excites us more when it’s inspired by Retro Gaming (see our feature on Ward) so when we started talking to Paul of Flump Studios, the creators of Horizon Shift, we simply had to find out more! Having played an early version of this game, I can guarantee that any fan of the old school shoot em up genre will love it.
Horizon Shift is available on Steam from 29 May 2015 for £3.99.
We sent Adrian to find out more from the main man himself:
Question 1 – How did you get into the video game industry?
Hmmm, I suppose I just fell into it. For As long as I can remember I’ve been making games. I think my first game was made when I was 8, on the Amstrad CPC 464. It was a really crappy football manager sim. Since then I’ve just kept going.
Question 2 – You are currently working on Horizon Shift – an explosive single screen space shooter – How did the initial idea for game come about?
You know, it’s kind of hard to remember. It feels a bit like it’s made itself. I remember just putting a ship on the screen, then moving it to the middle and adding some asteroids and thinking ‘This could be cool’. Then I remember thinking a 2D tempest would be cool, then I kind of just kept adding stuff until it made something I thought was worth finishing.
Question 3 – What can we expect to see in Horizon Shift?
Lots of stuff blowing up, lots of jumping around and the occasional bout of breakout…also probably a lot of swearing, it can get pretty hard (we like a challenge! – Ed).
Question 4 – What exactly goes into making an indie gaming title?
A lot of time! Even though Horizon Shift is relatively simple in its design, being 2D and single screen, it still takes ages to get everything right. Especially when you’re trying something new, a lot of time goes into making sure one game mechanic doesn’t fall over another. I think that’s why there’s a lot of devs who go for straight clones because then they don’t have to worry about whether a new mechanic will mess the rest of the game up.
Not much at all for this one, the only software I’ve used was Construct 2, Paint.net and audacity. So pretty cheap really.
This is actually the first time I’ve used a 3rd party engine and it’s been fun but I do miss the coding. The original idea was to use Construct 2 to prototype and then make the game in C# and Monogame which I was most comfortable with, then I guess the prototyping just didn’t end (I’ve had a little go with Construct 2 myself, worth checking out… – Ed).
Question 6 – Horizon Shift seems to be inspired from classic space shooters such as Space Invaders, Xenon and R-Type. Have you always been a fan of these types of games and did they help influence Horizon Shift?
Hell yeah!!! My favourite genre. Horizon Shift is basically a mix of all my favourite shooters.
The enemies attacking the line is from Tempest, the bosses are inspired by Donpachi, the bonuses are Breakout and the enemies are based on stuff like Defender and Asteroids. My favourite reference is the 5th boss, which is based on the UFO from Phoenix, you have to break through its defences with a breakout ball before being able to kill it… I love that one.
Question 7 – How exactly did Flump Studios start?
I actually started it with a mate of mine, Nick. I just remember playing Fifa with him and he said it was stupid that we were both making games but not really selling them, so we decided to start working on some Xblig games. About half way through the first game he moved on to better things and I just stuck with it. I think that was 5 years ago now.
Question 8 – Are you targeting Horizon Shift to the retro gamer?
I’m targeting it to everyone I can! But yeah, kind of. My intent has never been to make a retro game but that’s what people like to call it. I suppose because I’ve always played games like this they don’t actually feel retro to me.
Like Jeff Minters TxK, everyone calls that a retro shooter but to me that’s just a shooter, a bloody amazing shooter too. Show me a retro system that could handle TxK graphics! Just because a genre existed 30 years ago doesn’t mean every game in that genre is retro.
Question 9 – What platforms will Horizon Shift be available on?
Just Steam at the moment, if it sells well I would love to look into consoles. Especially the Vita… I love the Vita (other consoles are available 🙂 – Ed).
Question 10 –When is Horizon Shift available and where can we purchase it from?
It will be available on steam from the 29th of May for £3.99 or $4.99.
There’ll be some kind of launch discount too, just not sure how much yet.
Also the soundtrack will be available separately for £1.99/$2.99.
The OST is really awesome actually, I was lucky enough to work with Jason Heine from All Gen Gamers who turn out to be a bit of an audio genius (we find it hard to disagree – Ed).
Nah, that was about my 25th game I think, although it was only my 3rd commercial release. That one took about 9 months, it would have taken a lot less but my wife thought it would be a good idea to give birth half way through development. That slowed things down a lot.
Question 12 – Do you have any other games being developed in the pipeline?
Yeah, in fact I think I’ve committed to too much actually. My next project is a remake of my old xblig game Pester.
Whilst I was making Horizon Shift, Pester somehow got greenlit on steam, looking back I really don’t think it’s good enough for a steam release so I plan on remaking it from scratch, the idea was solid enough but the execution was terrible.
After that I’m supposed to be working on a front end for custom arcade machines, which will be designed for arcade style indie games. After that I’m not sure, but there’s still loads of ideas floating around in my head.
Question 13 – What is your favourite retro gaming title of all time?
Jesus Christ that’s a hard one!!! At the moment I’m loving Defender and Berzerk but the one I always go back to is Galaga. There’s something really special about that game. No game sucks me in quite like Galaga, it just feels like the perfect game to hammer buttons to.
Question 14 – Which video games / consoles do you play today?
I don’t play much in the way of modern AAA anymore, I bought an Xbox one a few months back but don’t really play it, love my Wii U though. At the moment I would say about 90% of my gaming is done on my MAME cabinet.
I got a bartop cabinet made up for Horizon Shift because I thought it would be good for shows, but since I turned it into a MAME cabinet I can’t stop playing it! At the moment I’m mainly playing Defender and Berzerk on cabinet and a lot of Phoenix on the Atari 2600. If I get a bit of time I like to bang out a couple of hours of Mario Kart 8.
Dreamcast, without a doubt. The Dreamcast came out the same year I got my first proper job and I remember going crazy on it, buying everything I could for it. I really love that system, I still love the controllers, I love the VMU’s and I think it’s still the nicest looking console. For me it felt like it had real personality, in contrast I think the PS2 and xbox felt really stale and corporate. That might just be my Dreamcast fanboy coming though though.
I think that might be why I love my Wii U so much, it feels really similar to the Dreamcast, just awesome games being pumped out but no ones buying it and all the games are just pure fun. Stuff like Dear Esther and Gone Home prove that games can be more than just a a bit of fun but sometimes a bit of fun is what you really want.
Question 16 – What are your views on the video game industry of today?
I think it’s absolutely amazing, it staggers me how much selection and diversity there is. When you compare it to the early years of the xbox360 when everything was an FPS or racing game now if you can think of a game you can probably buy it.
There’s really never been another form of media this eclectic and diverse, it’s very exciting.
Also, like most people I find VR really exciting, so far I’ve only played VR stuff from indie developers and it’s blown me away. I can’t imagine what’s it’s going to be like when the AAA’s get their heads around it.
Question 17 – What tips/advice would you give to any budding video game developers who are thinking of making their own indie games?
Just start making something, doesn’t matter what. Think of a basic game idea that excites you, search for the easiest way to make that idea come to life and just make it. It doesn’t matter what you make it in, just make it. Your first few games will be rubbish so the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll fail and the sooner you fail the sooner you’ll start to get good.
I don’t know if I’ve gotten any good yet but I know I will one day.
Question 18 – If you could share a few pints with a video game character who would you choose?
Mario, definitely. I want to get to the bottom of why a plumber from Brooklyn, New York decided he needed to start talking in a fake Italian accent. Dragging your brother into the deception isn’t cool either…