Sean: ‘How’s the milkshake?’
I’m sitting in Sean’s house with a white chocolate flavoured milkshake in my hands. I didn’t even know that was a thing that existed. Against all odds, it’s surprisingly tasty.
Tom: ‘I’ve had better…’
Sean is preparing for his first ever interview as a self-proclaimed indie developer. Conducting the interviewer is none other than myself, Tom. Full disclosure, yes, I’m also someone who is working on this game, but do you really think we have the time or motivation to get an external party to do the interview? You should know us better by now.
Tom: ‘Shall we… uh, get started then?’
Sean is slumped back in his chair, having his face slurped by two toy poodles. They are admittedly rather adorable.
Sean: ‘If we have to.’
I glance at my screen. On one top are my interview questions (copy and pasted from a much more credible interviewer), on another is a blank Google Doc with which I intend to hastily type notes. No microphones here, I’m not that savvy.
Tom: ‘What was your first games console, and what did you like and dislike about it?’
Sean: ‘Oooh… Brent mused…’
(Sean quickly explains this was a reference to The Office.)
Sean: ‘My first console was the Sega Master System. I liked it because you could plug it into the TV and play games on it.’
(I gesture Sean to expand on his point. At this rate, the interview isn’t going to be particularly insightful.)
Sean: ‘It had lots of great games; The Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald Duck… Alex the Kidd in Miracle World...’
(Alex ‘the’ Kidd is what he insists on calling it. I’m putting it down to the Mandela effect)
Sean: ‘I could go on - The New Zealand Story… Asterisk…’
(In my notes, I type *)
Tom: Asterisk what?
(Sean then clarifies that Asterisk is the name of the game.)
Tom: Right. Ok, that’s enough games, what about the things you don’t like?
Sean: Nothing, it’s perfect. Well, I mean, the controllers would wear out. Nobody likes that.
I prepare to ask another question, but Sean is acting out some kind of suppressed memory.
Sean: ‘Mum, the controller’s not working. Get me a new one. Ok, thanks Mum… Sorry, carry on.’
Tom: ‘What was your favourite or most inspirational game growing up?’
Sean: ‘It has to be The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The atmosphere, man. The atmosphere…”
Tom: ‘I’m getting a lot of Link’s Awakening vibes from Supermarket RPG.’
(It’s true, from the intro sequence I was asked to animate, to the presence of an omnipotent guide-like character who says ‘Hoot’, I’m not surprised by this answer.)
Sean: ‘I was really young when I first played Link Awake. Before I played it I read bad, I write bad. Afterwards, I read good…’
Tom: ‘You still write bad.’
(Sean does not correct me because he knows I’m right.)
Tom: ‘Let’s move on. What is your background like? Did you always want to make games?’
Sean stares wistfully at the wall.
Sean: ‘That’s a big question.’
Tom: ‘I remember that time you played the original Dead Rising which made you decide to do a photography course at college.’
Sean: ‘Oh god, don’t tell that story.’
Sean: ‘I dunno, I’ve always wanted to be creative. Art stuff. Content creation. Post production. Uh…’
Sean indicates he doesn’t like the way the conversation is going and the interviewer is making him uncomfortable. We’ll move on.
Tom: ‘So not games, specifically?’
Sean: ‘Always wanted to make a game. A lifetime of game making? Maybe…’
Stay tuned on that one, folks.
Tom: ‘What made you want to make a game about a supermarket?’
Sean: ‘I worked at a supermarket for 1 year and wanted to get it out of my system…’
Tom: ‘By dedicating 3 more years of your life to making a game about a supermarket?’
Sean: ‘Yes, exactly. I also always wanted to make an RPG.’
Sean burps and stands up to go and check on his dogs. They are fighting over a sock.
Tom: ‘Well, Sean’s not here so I might as well elaborate on this point. In January 2016, Sean discovered RPG Maker and started poking around, seeing what he could do. I still remember the earliest demo he made at that time - an empty map with a flying trolley that you could get in and out of…’
Sean: ‘Who are you talking to?’
Tom: ‘No-one. Well, anyone. This is going online.’
Sean: ‘Not on my watch. Remember who’s calling the shots here.’
Tom: ‘You’ll come around…’
Tom: ‘Can you say anything about what happens in the story of the game?’
Tom: ‘What will the gameplay be like? Will there be puzzles? Will it be different to other games in the same genre?’
Sean: ‘Yes is my answer to that one.’
Tom: ‘What inspired the retro-looking art style? I feel like this is a pretty redundant question.’
Sean: ‘It is, thanks. Obviously the games that inspired this are pixel based, but mainly I chose this style because it’s easier than 3D.’
Tom: ‘So you’re lazy.’
Sean: ‘No comment.’
Tom: ‘What game engine are you using?’
Sean: ‘You know this already!’
Tom: ‘Of course I do, but the people reading this don’t.’
Sean: ‘Yes they do, you already mentioned it.’
Sean: ‘RPG Maker. But in terms of other tools, well, there’s Photoshop, Beepbox - that’s a great tool for making chiptunes. We can probably do a whole blog on that, can’t we?’
Tom: ‘I'll jot that down… Now, what is the most rewarding thing about being an indie game developer?
Sean: ‘Don’t call me that. I’m just a guy. Sitting on a computer. Drawing things. And being eaten by dogs.’
Tom: ‘What indie games are you playing at the moment?’
Sean: ‘The last one I played was Golf Story on Switch. It’s really good.’
Tom: ‘I need to get on that. Okay, big question: What do you feel is so special about video games in comparison to other art forms?’
Sean: ‘Uh… You’re a bit more involved.’
Tom: ‘Anything else?’
Sean: ‘Interview over. Bored now!’
Sean leaves the room. I guess that’s a wrap! Join me next time for more fascinating indie insights buried among lengthy paragraphs of useless fodder… if I can ever convince Sean to do this again, of course.