J. Kyle Pittman
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What kind of stuff did you do at gearbox and what made you decide to leave and make games on your own?


Back when I was first hired at Gearbox, they were mostly interested in generalist programmers, so I never technically had a specific role or title beyond "Programmer," but the majority of my tasks tended to be in the gameplay and UI spaces. On the Borderlands games, I did some work on weapons, vehicles, HUD, status menus, and...too many other things to name, honestly.

During my time at Gearbox, I was also working on some indie/hobby stuff on the side (notably You Have to Win the Game). At some point, that work began to turn into my primary interest, and this coincided with being financial stable enough to take on the risk of starting my own company and make that my full-time job. My brother David was in a similar position with his role at 2K Marin, so we both left our jobs around the same time and formed Minor Key Games.

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Will Gunmetal and Super Win share a universe connected by the Arcadians?

Trey (AppleSupport)

Super Win's Arcadians were the model for Gunmetal Arcadia's Tech Elves, and I've been imagining they do share a universe, but it's probably one separated by a great length of time, with Super Win being set in the far future of Gunmetal Arcadia. I'm not actively pursuing any hooks or references between the two (at least not any more than I already have), but I wouldn't be surprised if more of those creep up throughout development.

Fun side note: from very, very early on, I've been planning to include the Wayfarer as a secret unlockable character in the roguelike Gunmetal Arcadia. It's too early to say for sure whether that will ship because of the balancing issues he might introduce, but I've had test content to support it for a while. http://i.imgur.com/CyU0lRj.gif

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does "you have to win the game" take place in arcadia?

Not by conscious intent, but I do like to think it takes place in the same universe. I can say for certain the elves in Gunmetal Arcadia came about because I liked the design of the Arcadians in Super Win.

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Will "you have to win the game" work for windows 8?

Yep, I've successfully tested it on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. It should work on 10 as well but I haven't had an opportunity to test it there yet.

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Any chance on multiplayer for Gunmetal Arcadia?

No chance, sorry. As both a player and a developer, singleplayer is where my heart's at.

I do think it might be fun to do an arcade-y local multiplayer game someday, something in the vein of Towerfall or Samurai Gunn, but Gunmetal Arcadia isn't that game.

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What languages are both of the Win The Game games written in?

They're both written primarily in C++ using my own proprietary engine. I use DirectX on Windows and a combination of OpenGL and SDL on Mac and Linux for rendering, audio, input, etc.

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Hey, I'm also an indie developer, I've really liked everything by you and Minor Key Games that I've played, and I was wondering what a few of your favorite coding languages are. -Teneven

It depends on the application. C++ is my default for most game programming tasks. If I'm writing command line tools, I'll usually go with Python since it has so much built-in support for string manipulation, file management, etc. Most recently, I started learning C# when I was building the level editor for Super Win the Game, and I've really been enjoying it. It's a nice combination of familiar C-like syntax and lots of pre-existing libraries to handle almost anything you could throw at it.

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which Console commands are available and how do i use them?

A lot of them are just for debugging and development, but some of the more useful ones are:

"quit" - Closes the game immediately. Same functionality as hitting the X on the window.
"clear" - Clears the console.
"set" - Sets configurable variables. Same functionality as editing the game's Config.ini except without having to restart the game. Format is "set variable value" or "set section variable value" for variables in a config section. E.g., "set audio musicvolume 0.4".
"reset" - Resets a configurable variable to its default value. Format is "reset variable" or "reset section variable" as above.
"show" - Displays the current value of a configurable variable. Format is "show variable" or "show section variable."
"listconfig" - Displays all configurable variables in a particular section. Format is "listconfig section."
"listconfigsections" - Displays all sections of configurable variables.
"listconfigdeltas" - Displays configurable variables that differ from the default value.
"setres" - Changes the window size or display resolution depending on whether the game is running windowed or fullscreen. Format is "setres widthxheight," e.g., "setres 1280x720."
"dumpstrings" - Exports the string table to a folder for translation. I've documented this process here: http://steamcommunity.com/app/310700/discussions/0/613937306626569922/
"dumpcontent" - Exports all game assets to a folder.
"slomo" - Adjusts time dilation, e.g. "slomo 0.5" to play at 50% speed.
"platformtests" - Displays information relevant to the current platform, including the path for storing local user game data (saves, config files, etc.).

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I can't find any way to give you money. Please, how can I give you money?

Does jumping in YHTWTG make your horizontal move speed change?

Nope, the horizontal movement speed never changes. It correlates 1:1 to the input device. It doesn't change when you're jumping, and there's also no ramp-up when you start moving or ramp-down when you stop moving. That was a conscious decision made to help facilitate precise platforming and largely influenced by the Mega Man series, which has historically done the same.

Super Win the Game maintains this behavior in most cases. The two exceptions are when you're walking on ice or swimming. There's lots of ramp-up and ramp-down applied for icy surfaces (although it still doesn't change your speed while jumping), and you walk slower but jump higher underwater, again hearkening back to Mega Man.

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If I understand the Steam version's licence right, it's ok to redistribute that game, right? But what's about libsteam_api.so? Do the same license terms apply for it?

The SDK agreement states, "Valve hereby grants Licensee a nonexclusive, royalty-free, terminable, worldwide, nontransferable license to...reproduce and distribute the part of the SDK provided inside the folder named redistributable_bin (the 'SDK Redistributables') along with the Licensee Software in object code form."

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Congratulations on the YHTWTG, it's great! I've beat it 100%, am training for the Cat/YOLO run; is there a console command so that I can teleport to a specific room (say, "You Defnitely Shouldn't Go Left"), so that I can train it without passing through the others? Thanks in advance for any help!

There's no console command for teleporting, but if you're playing on Windows, you can hit Alt+E to switch to the editor and jump straight to any room. Hope that helps!

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I downloaded YHTWG from steam on Ubuntu 14.04 x64, and I hit play, and it says launching game... and nothing happens. What Do?

I've seen this reported a few times, but unfortunately, without being able to reproduce it on one of my test machines, any attempt to fix it would be a shot in the dark. I'll keep an eye out for anything that could help me track this down.

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Are there cats in Super You Have To Win The Game?

Not yet, but I still have a few months of development left, so...maybe?

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In You Have to Win the Game did you know about the "spike jump" during development, which is the ability to stand on the edge of a spike? And if not, how were you supposed to clear the "Nope nope nope" screen in extra spicy?

I knew it would be possible as far back as when I implemented collision because the surfaces of deadly tiles like spikes and lava are retracted two pixels from the tile boundary. But it wasn't until I saw some videos of players exploiting this to jump back up the "Abstract Bridge" / "Which Way Will I Go?" rooms that I thought about using it purposefully. The idea of a harder remixed campaign was something I had tossed around prior to launch, and when I finally began working on the Extra Spicy mode, it felt like a good opportunity to add some intentional spike jumps. So yes, that is the intended way to clear "Nope Nope Nope."

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Can we expect sequel to gunmetal arcadia to be outsourced to a no-name studio and resemble "spirit" of "classic" zelda cd-i games?

smoke fumus

I mean, I guess it worked out all right for Nintendo. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But now I kind of do want to make a CD-i-Zelda-like for a game jam or something. :V

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After Gunmetal, will you stray from the retro-style of your past 3 games? (I've loved them, just curios about game-next)

Yeah, I hope so. I have an idea for another retro pixel art action-platformer that I'm pretty excited about, but it's probably a little too close to Gunmetal Arcadia to be an immediate follow-up, and I'd really like to get back to 3D stuff at some point.

Right now, the top contender for my next game after both Gunmetals Arcadia is something I've been calling "Project Cadenza" as a working title. It's sort of an amalgamation of a variety of ideas I've had over the last decade or so and could take a number of forms, but it will probably have some elements of science fiction, exploration, and learnable sets of systems that are obscured or abstracted from immediate view. It might also be the first Minor Key Game that David and I collaborate on, depending on what our schedules look like as we're landing Gunmetal Arcadia and Slayer Shock.

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What specific games were your main influences in designing YHTWTG?

So many games. I suppose VVVVVV is the obvious one, even though I didn't ape its primary mechanic. But it was very much the reason I chose to implement named flip screen rooms, though of course that mechanic dates back to classic games like Jet Set Willy.

Bubble Ghost was a big influence on the visuals and tone. It had a sort of creepy, unsettling vibe, not only because you were exploring a haunted house with some grim imagery, but because there was a sense that you didn't belong in that space. Its hazards operate autonomously regardless of your presence, and everything can kill you.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game was another big one for me. I used to play the DOS version of that game on a four-color CGA screen all the time. The first level involved exploring a cave, which is probably subconsciously why I set so much of YHtWtG in subterranean locales.

The "magic word" / "magic symbol" puzzle originated as a riff on the in-game copy protection mechanisms you'd see in classic PC games, where you'd have to look up a word in the manual or use some in-world secret code reader to find a solution and advance. This puzzle (if you can call it that) evolved a bit due to practical restrictions, and I had to change it once more when I brought the game to Steam, but that's where it started, anyway.

The feel of the wall slide / wall jump mechanic was inspired by Mega Man X and Super Meat Boy, as opposed to something like Super Metroid with its obtuse triangle jump. I also made some tweaks to help make the platforming a little more forgiving, things like allowing the player to jump a split second after walking off a platform or immediately jumping again if the button were pressed a split second before landing on the ground, after reading an interview with Team Meat in which they were describing similar improvements to handling in SMB.

I wasn't consciously setting out to make a Metroidvania, but the structured nature of exploration limited by abilities found in the world did evolve from those sorts of games, to include Zelda titles.

I wasn't consciously riffing on anything specific in the bullet hell rooms, but I am a fan of bullet hell shooters. Ikaruga first got me into the genre, and at some point I started collecting Cave shooters and Mushihimesama Futari quickly became my favorite.

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Did you know the "Abstract Bridge" skip was possible in You Have to Win the Game until speedrunners did it?

Nope, that was a surprise to me! My own abilities are pretty casual-tier, so a lot of those skill jumps are things that I assumed were impossible when I was building the game. Checkpoint skips / death abuse were kiiiind of on my radar, but mostly only insofar as making sure the player couldn't get stuck somehow if they hadn't checkpointed recently, so it's been fun seeing those emerge.

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SPOILER for Yhtwtg!!!!!: I really liked "You have to win the game", but how are you supposed to know, that you have to press the ^ key in order to enter the "Magic Word"

The "magic symbol" seen on the walls throughout the world is supposed to look similar to a tilde key (~), which is the default binding for bringing down the console. I realized after shipping the game that that binding wouldn't be the same on other keyboard layouts, which is why I changed the ending of the game for the Steam release. That's what I get for trying to be too clever. ;p

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Are people allowed to use your games/footage of your games in multimedia such as twitch and youtube? Are there any restrictions placed on doing so?

Matthew Roberts

Yes, we do allow our games to be recorded and streamed, and these may be monetized. Our standard license agreement is available here: http://www.minorkeygames.com/eula.php

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Is there any chance of releasing a physical collector's edition of both games?

I'd love to do a physical release of Super Win at the very least. I'm looking into a few options there. I can't guarantee when or whether it'll happen, but it's definitely something I'm thinking about. If you have any ideas on content you'd like to see in a physical release (e.g., old-school-themed instruction manuals, maps, stickers, etc.) or a format preference (CD vs. USB stick), I'm all ears!

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What is the license for the 2012 source?

Oh yeah, I guess I didn't include any documentation, but the game itself was released under an MIT license, so I'll say the source code falls under that too. Pretty much you're free to use it as you wish.

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Do you plan on releasing the source to You Have To Win The Game like your brother did for Eldritch?

I released the source for the original 2012 version a while ago. (http://www.piratehearts.com/files/VolverShared.zip) I may update the drop at some point to include recent engine changes, Mac and Linux work, etc., but it's not a priority at the moment.

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When does the in-game timer in You Have to Win the Game start and stop?

It starts as soon as the New Game menu closes. (If you wait through the "Pirate Hearts presents" intro, it adds about 12 seconds to your time.) It ends as soon as you touch the Win orb. It also pauses any time the menus or console are open.

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Ask @PirateHearts:

About J. Kyle Pittman:

That guy who made 'You Have to Win the Game.' Co-founded @MinorKeyGames. Making @GunmetalArcadia. Ex-Borderlands 2. Tweets about games, coding, cats, beer, etc.

Frisco, TX