My journey takes me to an incredibly obscure but quaint part of town. I've been told to meet the guy near a post box. I approach the man with pre-discussed code.
BX: “The console is lacking in exclusives.”
Man: “That's because you early adopted.”
After shaking hands he takes me to a nearby house, “I don't like giving out my address,” he tells me.
The house is a complete mess, cluttered with old consoles and Knight Rider memorabilia... “They never should have remade that without Hasselhoff as the main character,” the man explains. Amongst this valuable debris sits two gamer chairs in the centre of the room, and stationed alongside, a personal system of gargantuan proportions.
The man tells me to sit. I can't help but admire the collection of self made game cases.
“I buy empty DVD cases and burn my games to disc” he sniffs; “sometimes I sneak then into gamer stores, they'll never catch me.”
After I take a set he offers me a ginger beer; “I make it myself in empty Cola bottles.”
I take a swig and immediately regret it, it seems a little too strong, I wonder if he slipped anything into it,“I'd offer you something to eat but the fridge broke down,” he utters.
The man I've come to interview is an indie-game developer/hobbyist under the pseudonym Retro-Wolf. Tension aside, and with the bitter taste now fading from my taste-buds, we commenced the interview.
BX: So, when did you decide to create your very own game?
Retro: I was doing a course in ICT at college, they introduced us to a programming language called Visual Basic. Rather than do the work I was supposed to, I'd lark about making balls bounce around the screen. It was a few years after when I randomly discovered software called Adventure Game Studio, an easy way to make games. This sparked my creativity, I'd never even considered making actual games before.
BX: What inspires you personally when you start to harness your creativity?
Retro: I'm a big fan of movies, TV and comics. These can inspire stories that I want to tell. As far as the type of game I want to make, It's normally the games I'm playing at the time.
BX: In terms of creating the actual video game, what are the key elements that are essential towards laying the foundations?
Retro: Ideas, motivation, know-how, where to go for the things you don't know. So say I don't know how to make music for my game, I find someone who can, or download something off of a developer asset site.
BX: For me, creating a game would take a lot of time, and I feel you have to be incredibly patient. Do you enjoy the graft and the time consumption that is so integral with games development?
Retro: Not really, I'm a bit hit and miss when it comes to motivation, and I don't have as much free time now days. What I enjoy most about game development as a hobby, is the final product; if people enjoy it, that makes me feel good.
BX: Looking up at your shelf, I see a few of your CD cases fully designed looking like said finished products. “Reality Check” at the end there really captures my interest, so I was wondering if you could give me the rundown of that for me, in terms of story.
Retro: Reality Check is a trilogy of short games set in the universe of Reality on the Norm. A universe that members of the Adventure Game Studio contribute chapters and resources to. Reality Check was the first game I released to the public, I got such a kick out of it I quickly made two sequels. They're point and click adventure games about a retail worker that has to save the universe.
BX: In the development side of things, did you have any trouble or issues in relation to sticking to the rules of that universe?
Retro: I just did my research, there's a lot of great games made by the community, I needed only to play a few. Plus there's plenty of material on the website such as character bios, FAQs, maps, and timelines.
BX: How was the feedback from the community in general after they played through the game?
Retro: It was good, at least if anyone didn't like it, they didn't tell me (I have made some bad games though); only five hundred people have played that game so far. I got a personal message from another user that was really encouraging.
BX: Do you have a favourite project that you've created, or one which is still in development that seems the most promising you've done yet?
Retro: I'm really proud of SpaceTwine, it's a multiple choice text adventure. It can be completed very quickly, but there are so many branching paths that it takes a long time to find them all. It's kind of a Star Trek parody, the Captain has an unrequited homosexual attraction to one of his officers. A game that I never finished was called Pokemon Defence Extreme 2000, it still exists in the bowels of the internet. It was a very early project with ripped pokemon sprites. A tower defence game. Like a hundred other projects, I'll never finish it.
BX: What are your plans for the future?
Retro: I've recently released a simple code cracking game on Google Play called Code30, it looks like crap, I should have spent more time on it. I'd like to make a real game for mobile devices, I know I can, it's just motivation and time is a problem for me.
BX: To anyone out there new to this, how would you go about persuading them to take up developing their own games?
Retro: It's easier now than it ever was, if you're interested in going to this hobby, find some software and give it a try! Having said that I just want to say that you're not going to create the next Call of Duty, simple short games.
BX: Is there anything you'd like to see happen in the world of Indie-game development which would make things simpler for you as a developer?
Retro: We live in a golden age of Indie development, just look at the top selling games on Steam, look at Minecraft! There's a large amount of tools available to get people out there making games, whether that be software or crowd funding; all they need is a good idea, and a little patience.
BX: Well, thank you for the interview... and the ginger beer.
Retro: Much appreciated, I use the ginger in my beard to give it that extra kick.
I left Retro-Wolf to his devices, clambering across his sea of technology. As I stagger from the building I hear a strange noise, I turn to see the house has disappeared. I hear a whisper in my ear “Believe in yourself...”
You (yes, you) can check out Retro Wolf's stuff here.