Do you ever feel like some indie devs are making a mistake when they try to establish their own little franchise by making a direct sequel, instead of moving on to a new idea? Statistically speaking the sales numbers tend to be weaker, as most people seem to have gotten their fill from the first one
Of course I do. Choices that seem sensible on the surface often aren't as solid as you think when you take a closer look. In the case of sequels, the question whether the game 'needs' a sequel is one half, whether it is economically viable is the other half.
Finally, there's the question of expectation. It's extremely hard to make an indie game that stands out enough to warrant a sequel, and unless you are rather certain you can exceed those expectations (with the 'nostalgia goggles bonus' that effectively says a sequel twice as good as the original will be seen as a small improvement), a sequel is an extremely daunting task. You're not just risking a game, you're risking an IP, and fond memories of one game with another.
That being said, sometimes a sequel *is* the right thing. I personally prefer to make games on a company brand, a studio fingerprint, more than in an IP. I always feel Supergiant and Capybara are great examples of that, and I always strive for and hope that Vlambeer evokes a similar ieeling with people.
Do you see Enter the Gungeon as a NT Clone? If so, why?
No, I do not. I have to add that the folks over at Dodge Roll showed me a very, very early build when they were just starting on the project, and they asked me what I thought. I gave them my full blessing, as the game already looked phenomenal back then.
Enter the Gungeon is far more contained, far less chaotic and has a very different tempo and flavour. I'm super impressed by their smooth bossfights (they've always been a bit rough in our games), their movement and cover mechanics (although it slows the tempo and rhythm down more than I'd ever choose in this type of game) and some of their more ridiculous weapons are gorgeous to watch. On the other hand, I feel the roughness is part of the texture that makes Throne so nice.
They got Doseone to do the music, and after his work on GUN GODZ and Nuclear Throne it should be no secret that I love the music. I love pretty much every single thing that guy makes, and while matching with Jukio seems to produce fireworks every single time, the Gungeon soundtrack proves Dose can stand on his own in a games soundtrack just fine.
I think that, while there is definitely inspiration from Throne, the 'Thronelikes' that have been popping up everywhere are an enormous honor. We're building on the shoulders of games like Hotline Miami, Spelunky and Action Fist, and they're building on hours. They're not cynical attempts at taking our idea and making money - they're genuine explorations and variations of what we made.
What do you do after you write your ideas down?, iirc you said that you write stuff down to avoid forgetting, but once you do that what do you with your notes?
If it's a small idea, I try and make it immediately. If it's a big idea, I try to summarize it into a few post-it notes. They're all over my wall and screen, and it's kind of a mess. Usually it's a little doodle and some words. If I can't remember what a post-it was about, it probably wasn't important, and I dispose of it.
Hi Rami, what’s the best thing I can do to prepare for #myfirstgamejam? I'm not ready for it but forcing myself to do it so I can learn and break the ice. Background: I’m a beginner programmer, know Unity fairly well and will be flying solo. Cam
Honestly, just show up and try to have fun above anything else. Game jams are made exactly for this reason: to experiment, learn and hopefully have fun while doing it. Sometimes, things don't work out and at worst, you've learned something about yourself, your team or your craft.
Also, props to you for doing something that is self-admittedly outside of your comfort zone. It's a good way to learn fast, if you can do that kind of thing. With that attitude, I think you're more than ready.
Best tips for learning languages? Been using Duolingo for some time now and was wondering what resources you'd recommend to get a better grasp of grammar and immersion into the language. Thanks!
Duolingo seems pretty adequate at teaching you basic vocabulary, and enough to get a basic grasp of a language. Go to a place where people speak the language, and don't use English there whenever you can. Find or make friends with native speakers and ask if they're interested in helping you out a bit. Read books you already know in your own language in the new language. Record & watch TV (with subtitles if possible). Listen to music. Use their media.
What do you think it is about Nuclear Throne that set it apart from any other roguelike? Do you think game feel can really change that much about it's reception that places it over any other game?
We're seeing a lot of interesting mixes between roguelike and other genres right now, and roguelike and fast-paced top-down-shooter didn't exist. As far as I'm aware, there's nothing that does what Nuclear Throne does as good as Nuclear Throne does it.
And yes, game feel is *enormously* important. My fellow Vlambeer J.W. gave a great talk about that.
This talk very specifically focuses on action games, but it applies to each and every genre of games - because what J.W. is doing there is mostly improving feedback to player actions, rewards and failure. This is something that should be near or at the top of your priority list - in an RTS, your clicks should feel good. In a puzzle game, failure and success should be clearly distinguished. In a racing game, speed needs to feel great. Think about what *meaningful* interaction your player is executing most of the time, and what the supposed feeling for that is.
Usually the things you'll focus on are the obvious ones (muzzle flashes, anyone?), but the honest truth is that those are just a result of people not 100% understanding what game feel is. In a shooter, it's not just shooting - it's also in movement (and stopping to move). In puzzles, it's not just scoring the points, it's also moving the pieces. In racing it's not just the drift, but also the acceleration and brakes.
And then finally, there are things that (almost) all games use: camera and audio. Make sure that, whatever you do, you consider these things very, very carefully. They are such a huge part of your game feel - and they can very easily make or break a game.
Sorry if it's a stupid question but could you explain why putting a game like Nuclear Throne on sale could impact the community in a negative way? Side note: Hoping to see your games on Xbox One someday.
That's a good question! Basically, now the people that are buying Nuclear Throne need to spend $12 buying it, which means they're probably reading the store page, checking out the trailers and making sure they know what the game is, and that they want the game. If the game is discounted, a lot of people will simply buy it because it's discounted.
I have PC and PlayStation versions of Nuclear Throne, but I prefer PS because I'm really bad with keyboard. Why can't I play with gamepad on PC version if there's that option at control menu? When do you think PS4 and Vita Nuclear Throne versions could be patched? Thank you very much for answering. Archienemigo
You should be able to use a controller for the PC version, but depending on what type of controller you're using, you might need to set it up properly. Nuclear Throne uses Windows default input API on PC, so if Windows picks it up and the conroller is set up properly, that should work. If it doesn't, you can always use something like joy2key for your specific controller.
Because of the release of update 98 on PC, Mac and Linux, we're looking at the performance of update 98, and if it's stable we'll port that over to PS4 and PS Vita before submitting. Our apologies for the delay.
Will Nuclear Throne ever go on sale?
Soon? Absolutely not.
In six months? Probably not.
We like our current pricepoint, and we don't feel a discount is good for the game, for the community, or for us. As long as that's the case, we'll stay right where we are. Just because we can probably earn more doing a discount doesn't mean we feel obliged to - the game's community is too important to us.
You've probably answered this a ton, but where should I start?
By downloading some engine, no matter which one, and trying to make text appear on the screen. "Hello World" is step one. Pong is step 5. Take little steps, but never stop taking steps.
Are there any secrets that no one has reportedly found hidden in any of the games you've made?
No comment seems like the best answer here.
Nuclear Throne figurine release window?
No idea. We've never done this before, so your guess is as good as ours.
What are some of your favorite board games and what can folks learn from them?
Risk Legacy - board games can play with meta in interesting ways, and far from all ideas have been used. Innovate outside the box, but not necessarily by introducing new things. Use what's there in new ways.
BattleCON: Devestation of Indines - boardgames inspired videogames, what happens in reverse? Small core set of rules with a large number of small modifiers can create more interesting situations (also see MtG).
Camel Up: People have a hard time dealing with chance and probability, and randomness is an amazing element if it's presented in a clear and understandable way (also read: Zach Gage on dice in Tharsis).
When is the vlambeer.com refresh coming? Please soon, I need a new homepage.
It's going to be a while, but with how often I've been asked about this I've been considering just putting a landing page there instead of the (outdated) blog. I don't think a blog is right for Vlambeer anymore.
pick a dream team of 5 other developers, what are they making, who is in what role?
Ojiro Fumoto & Stephen Lavelle (design), Austin Wintory (Music), Devine Lu Linvega (Art & Narrative), Zach Gage (Programming)
It's a fast-paced arcade puzzle game for mobile.
If you could go back in time and cook yourself one meal, what would that meal be and when would you cook it for yourself (in the past)?
Koshary. I think I'd be really happy to know I can make koshary in the future, because younger me never realized how simple that recipe is.
What is your favorite memory?
Oof, that's a really tough one, because I don't really think I have a singular 'favorite memory'. I have favorite memories with people - with my mum, my dad, my brother, my sister, each of my friends, each of my (former) partners, each of my fellow industry members - there are very few memories that I cherish that are purely me.
I think there's a badminton final against one of my closest friends that I'll remember forever. There's running up stairs with a girl I'd just met at the conclusion of a MUN, and she turned into one of my closest friends despite us barely ever seeing each other. There's the roadtrip across the US with Adriel, my mother and sister. There's hanging out with my dad, talking about all sorts of things during Ramadan morning prayer. There's mischief with my brother, and the two of us fixing things together like brothers do. There's my Egyptian grandmother cheating at cards, and my Dutch one talking about the 1920's. There's darker ones, like waking up after a surgery that saved my life a few years ago. There's realizing everybody I know (including myself) wasn't hurt or killed in a mall shooting. There's work-related ones, like the first birthday of Vlambeer, and realizing we'd made something that survived a year. Or meeting Adam Saltsman, or being on the team organizing some of the first MEGABOOTHS (and meeting Adriel that way!), or realizing presskit() was getting big, or waking up to Ridiculous Fishing being a hit after a long fight against a clone. There's realizing I am traveling the world, doing what I want, inspiring and helping others to do what they want.
I don't know. Maybe I don't have a favorite memory. All of my life is filled with opportunities for great moments, even during the darker parts. I simply look forward to adding many more memories.
For fun, if you could choose any title, phrase, or word to describe your position at Vlambeer (instead of "Chief Executive Business & Development Guy) what would it be? Johnson 'Blue' Siau
I love using "50% of" as my title, especially on contracts. It'll just have my signature, then 50% of, and then Vlambeer. It works out perfectly.
You're a huge inspiration to me. How would past you react to you having fans and inspiring people?
I used to not really know what to do, and I'd often downplay the responses people had. They'd tell me how much they loved my work, and I'd tell them it's really not that impressive. At some point, I realized that's not humble but mean - you're literally telling people they're wrong - so I stopped doing that and saying 'thank you' instead.
Even younger Rami would've hoped my efforts would inspire someone. I look up to so many people, for so many reasons, and all I could hope for is to inspire one person myself. To know that I've inspired many is incredibly humbling, and I think young me would be really proud of me, and really thankful to all the amazing people that helped me get to this point.
Cara Ellison, who wrote the tremendous 'Embed With' book while traveling around the world, once tweeted that 'There's not a corner of the world I went that people didn't cite @tha_rami & @auntiepixelante as the reason they made things', and that tweet I still hold as my greatest achievement in life. All I want is to be useful. If I can be of use to anybody, that is genuinely all I can ask for.
Fans are a bit different, I guess, since younger me never really thought about the possibility of having fans. It's super nice to know people appreciate my work, and I respect and appreciate people who tell me that enormously (a lot of them tend to be a bit nervous, but they decide to step over those nerves and say 'hi' anyway!). They're definitely an uplifting and supportive part of what I do. I'm super thankful for them, and it's kind of overwhelming to know I have so many fans around the world.
What has been the hardest lesson you had to learn as a game dev?
As a developer, to take care of myself at least as much as I take care of my game.
As a business guy, to be less optimistic & more realistic about things.
As a visible person, that I can't respond to every request for help all the time.
Previously, we discussed your choice to avoid Kickstarter and opt for Early Access instead. You mentioned that Kickstarter, in some ways, does not represent Vlambeer's brand. What is Vlambeer's brand? What do you want it to mean/stand-for and why? Zack Bell
From our 2010 founding document: "Vlambeer is unorganized, strikingly unconventional, stubborn, perfectionistic and a chronic abuser of satirical humor."
"We established the following targets: [...], make better games, not more games, create an efficient workflow towards digital distribution releases, make Vlambeer a known presence in the (Dutch) independent game scene, support and expand the (Dutch) independent scene."
Vlambeer was always meant to be nimble, and to be paid for what we've created - not for what we promise to create. Nuclear Throne was within our control, including the parameters, expectations and delivery schedule. I feel some of that control is lost with Kickstarter, and as such, I don't feel it fits our brand.
It's more of a gut feeling than a perfectly considered choice, but the honest truth is that I tend to trust my gut feelings. They got a good bunch of experience nowadays.