Remember that scene in Along Came Polly where Sandy Lyle hired that crew to follow him around like a documentary? This is my take on that. At least he had recognition from Crocodile Tears. No one ever says to me, "Hey, aren't you that guy who created 'Bat Crazy'?" I hired myself to interview myself. Don't judge, it is all I could afford!
Okay, how and when did you start making games?
Thanks! Well, it was right after the Flappy Bird craze. We were talking at work about how much the guy was making every day. I said I could make a game like that and went home that friday and Bat Crazy was playable Monday.
You did it on a weekend?
Sorry, I don't think I properly answered your question. 2012 was when I created Bat Crazy but it was created for Windows Phone. My first actual game was before that around 2000-2003. I created a text football game in Excel VBA. Which will actually be one of my hyper casual games one day. Yes, I created it over the weekend. Everyone hated it, especially Germans.
Germans? Was it the success of Flappy Bird that made you get into game development?
*waves hands* Yes but also a resounding no. I had always been interested in creating games. I just never thought I could do it until Flappy Bird. In my early 20's, I wanted to attend this University in Ocala, Florida called Full Sail University. They had a game development program but it couldn't fit into my life as it was at the time. Anyways, I just never thought it possible to create a game as an indie developer until Flappy Bird.
What kind of games do you develop?
Mostly games that suck!
Is there a specific genre?
I think the suck pretty much covers it. Aside from the games sucking, three are my takes on minesweeper. Bat Crazy was just a ripoff of Flappy Bird but way worse. I have a clicker game because my youngest son encouraged me to create one. Balloon Traveler is another endless flyer type game. I just try to create what I can in my spare time. I always like to say I am the Ed Wood of game development but as I think on it, that is really sullying his name because he had way more success that I have. I think I will stop saying that because he failed up and I just go down.
This question isn't on my list but you mentioned Ed Wood. Is there a specific game developer that inspired you?
Mmm, tough one! I was always a fan of Richard Garriot but I am but a bug compared to him. Shigeru Miyamoto is a legend for my generation! I would have to include Bob Whitehead from the Atari days.
I should also include Makoto Uchida from Golden Axe. I was a huge Sega fan back in the day!
Okay, this brings up another question that isn't on my list. What gaming consoles did you have as a child?
I had an Atari first but I can recall playing Pong at my grandfather's house on SE 20th and Central. When the Nintendo came out, I wanted one so badly. My dad used to tease me about buying the box and giving that to me. I eventually got one and then went on to have a Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo.
What was your favorite game?
That is way too difficult! Could I give you a short list per system or if that is too much. I don't know if you have constraints on words or whatever.
Give me some of your favorites by gaming console
Awesome! Atari is easy! Baseball and Defender! Nintendo is harder! There are so many. Simon's Quest and Castlevania were always my favorites. Then I would have to include Kings of the Beach, Metal Gear, Karate Champ, Tetris, Dragon Warrior, Bases Loaded, Super Spike V Ball, Legend of Zelda, Kid Niki, and Bionic Commando for sentimental reasons. Oh, also Ninja Gaiden. It had such great music! Oh, also Batman. It also had great music. Sega Genesis had Altered Beast, Last Battle, Rambo III, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spiderman, Streets of Rage, Forgotten Worlds, Strider, Revenge of Shinobi, Mortal Kombat II and Golden Axe. Sega Master System just had Rocky. The Super Nintendo had so many as well. Street Figher II, Super Castlevania IV, which reminds me I didn't inclde Dracula's Curse in my Nintendo list but that should be there too. Anyways, Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, and Tecmo Super Bowl. I could probably list many more but I will stop there.
Can you expand on why Germans "hate" you?
They hated Bat Crazy because it was too hard! They could get a higher score on Flappy Bird.
You included Bionic Commando for sentimental reasons, it would be great if you could explain the sentimentality.
Sure, my dad was a huge sports guy. Sports were a large part of my childhood. I played soccer, baseball and volleyball. However, my passion was video games. My dad wanted me to be more athletic and be successful in sports. I sucked at every sport I played. I was told it looked like I ran in slow motion whilst playing soccer.
Before Nintendo, I had an Atari and I would set up my fan and hang sheets over my bunk bed to simulate the cockpit of a space cruiser as I played Star Raiders. I did the same later when I had Top Gun for the Nintendo. I just loved video games and my dad saw it as such a waste. Mostly because it cost a lot of money and we weren't very well off. Anyways, that is the back story. I rented Bionic Commando from this store called Game Time on SW 89th and Western. I was playing it that evening and my dad came in, sat down on my bed and watched me. We then took turns playing. It was the first and last time he played any video game with me. I took it as a form of acceptance of me and my passion. It was a touching moment that I recall vividly to this day. He passed away in 2021 and it is my most dearest of memories with him.
You mentioned you have a fulltime job. What do you do?
I am a programmer for a local Healthcare company.
What made you get into indie game development?
Well, indie game development wasn't really a thing when I started but I would say my passion for video games, the ideation phase and just day dreaming about having huge success.
What is your most successful game to date?
Valentine Heartbreak has the most downloads
Are you working on any new games?
I have many almost complete. Not Dragon, Dragon will be out Spring 2022. Then the second game in my Hyper Casual series called Opna. Then I will hope to finish some that have been on the back burner for a while now. Not Ninja, Ninja, Crash Landing and one more that has yet to be named. I also have a Bingo game that is similar to Breaker of Ice. It is a companion app for people to play Bingo.
How much time do you spend developing a game?
It is hard to tell. I just do it in my free time and on my lunches.
Is that why it has been so long since you have released or updated your games?
Not really. That is largely due to being lazy. Also, much has happened in the last couple of years with COVID, my wife and just life in general. I just haven't been in a very creative head space for a while.
Anything you want to talk about?
I am easily distracted and can be extremely lazy. So lazy, I want a coke zero but don't want to bend down to get the coke zero out of the fridge so settle for water. True story! Couple that with COVID. Then multiply that with my wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring knee surgery, and struggling with depression. Then add in my dad dying last year. The result is not a great couple of years.
How is your wife now?
Every day is a struggle for her but she is so strong and has always been independent. It is hard to watch her struggle. She is cancer free, so that is one less thing.
That is good to hear! What is your budget for a game?
Again, I don't have a set budget. I purchase a lot of assets from Humble Bundle. I have more than I can use in this lifetime.
Do you follow a development process?
Everything starts as an idea and then I spend a few days plusing it until I feel like it may be a fun game. Then I storyboard the game screens. After story boarding, I will start creating the classes and methods to be used in coding. I gather the assets as needed in the development process starting with home page etc.
When will Not Dragon, Dragon be out and can you tell us about it?
It should be out June of 2022. It is another puzzle type game. It started out with just being two doors and you see how many doors you can open before you pick the door with the dragon. However, I received some early feedback and added an extra game mode. It is a puzzle game modeled after Crypt Quest and the others I have developed.
Great! How do you typically market your games?
I have tried everything. I made cards to leave around, I made a QR code to stick to my cars, I tried Apple Search, Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Nothing worked. They just took my money.
I am thinking about trying something new with these next releases. My plan is to give my marketing dollars to the users in exchange for referrals. I haven't worked out all the details but it will be something like you get an entry into a drawing for every referral. Then after so many downloads, I will select the top 25 referrers and then 25 random entries and they will each get $100 to start. This will repeat once that threshold is met again and again. An individual will be able to earn up to $500. Once they hit $500, their entries will be removed from the pool. That is my thought at this time on how it will work. However, if it never hits the threshold to where I have $5,000 to share then nothing happens which is the most likely outcome but I can dream you know!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, please download Sticker Funms or Not Dragon, Dragon when it comes out. Not because they are great products but more so out of pity. For less than the cost of one McChicken, you can save this miserly old soul. If not for me, do it for my wife. Give her hope in her suffering!! Thanks!