Help us get to know Fakepup. How many people make up this studio, and are the Fakepup projects their first experience in the videogame industry? How would you describe Fakepup’s creative vision and game design philosophy?
Miguel Rafael (Game Design): Fakepup is made up of five people but only three are actively working on Super Bit Dash. We all met – except for our sound man Miguel Cintra – while working at the same videogame developer, where we made mostly casual puzzle adventures.
As for the design philosophy, we created Fakepup so we could make games we would like to play but didn’t get a chance to develop. That’s our primary drive, to make games that satisfy everyone in the group creatively. To us that’s enough, we know we are not alone in this world and if we make games we like, somebody else will like them as well. Of course, a little bit of testing (a lot if possible) is always welcome! From the moment we decide to make a game, it’s no longer just ours; it belongs to the player as well.
Miguel Cintra (Sound Design): As a composer and sound designer I’ve only had one previous experience with a single unreleased game before working with Fakepup on Snowball Smash.
What’s the hardest part of being an indie game developer essentially during your spare time? Now that you’ve been at it a few years now, do you have any advice for new indie developers about effectively balancing life, work, and a game development schedule?
Afonso Cordeiro (Programming): The hardest part is really the lack of time. As for advice, I can tell you don’t overwork too much or you’ll just end up tiring yourself. It’s the kind of thing that can take a toll both in your personal life and your work – you might end up losing interest in the game because of it.
Miguel Rafael: My piece of advice – before you start making a game based on that super idea you have, make a list. I’m serious, make a list of all that you need in order to get the game in gamers’ hands. Not too detailed, but detailed enough that you can really get a proper scope of the project. If it has multiple characters, enemies and levels, list how many, make an entry for each and estimate the amount of time it will take for all of it. You’ll soon find yourself trimming down the game into something achievable.
Also take a weekend off now and again, you’ll need it!
Miguel Cintra: Well, when you like what you do, it becomes easier. Try to give as much as possible, even when it seems impossible. In terms of creativity, I produce more when I’m working with close deadlines. The advice I can give to other indie developers is, don’t give up! I never did and I’m on my way to becoming a freelance game audio developer.
Did you take away any lessons from Snowball Smash, Fakepup’s first iOS game, that have helped you in developing your current project?
Afonso: One important lesson was not to make schedules too tight, we had to cut a lot of features and overwork too much. That made us lose motivation to keep updating the game.
Miguel Rafael: If you have a day job, don’t overwork to meet self imposed deadlines. Eventually there will be some part of the game that will feel like a chore to make, you don’t need to prolong that feeling more than necessary.
Miguel Cintra: In general, I learned a lot about equalization and mixing, and this first experience really changed the way I approach game audio. When mixing and mastering music and sound effects for games that will seldom be played with headphones, you have to understand that all sound must be audible through small speakers that mostly play high and mid frequencies. Also, for a 3D game that’s 9MB in size like Snowball Smash, it became clear that the audio could never take up too much space. The issue of size vs. quality and the compression of the audio files were quite a challenge during its development.
So give us the lowdown on Super Bit Dash. Why did you opt for a side-scrolling game for your second project, and what will the controls be like?
Miguel Rafael: After the crunch on top of daytime-job-crunch that was Snowball Smash, we knew we needed something simple and 2D. At the time Canabalt was big, and we thought that it would be a cool type of game to make. We grew up in the platforming games’ golden age so it seemed like the kind of thing that we would enjoy. It came a long way since then.
In Super Bit Dash you’ll control the character with swipes and taps. A swipe can make you dash forward, down, up or slow the character down if done from right to left. Taps make the character jump. We wanted it to feel like a tough NES game, but with native touch controls instead of a clunky and screen-consuming D-pad.