The creator of Boot Hill Heroes is back for the second entry, and it comes packed with all sorts of goodies, including a better knowledge of how to create it. We discuss the game’s development, the game’s inspirations, and whether or not there is a favorite rodent in his life.
While I have some background on your previous work, not everyone does. What experience do you have in the video game industry? What have you worked on, how long have you been designing games, etc?
No experience really. I worked on an iPhone game and then just started coding in my spare time, just to experiment with what I could come up with. I really enjoyed it and then decided to make a game. That was Boot Hill Heroes, which started way back in 2011.
Your newest game is Boot Hill Bounties. It’s a sequel to Boot Hill Heroes, which came out in 2014. It’s for fans of the original as well as people new to the series. Is creating a sequel as a standalone game while also continuing a narrative challenging? Does it change your development pipeline at all?
It presents a few challenges but also has some advantages. One of the criticisms of Boot Hill Heroes was that it was billed as a four player co-op game, but you didn’t have all four party members until late into the game. That’s not an
issue with Boot Hill Bounties since the party has already come together. Another advantage is that the story can start in a more interesting place: in the middle of the action.
If you had to explain Boot Hill Bounties to someone without images, how would you do so?
Boot Hill Bounties is a retro RPG set in the Wild West that supports up to four player local co-op. It’s a combination of the classic RPG styles from the SNES days with experimental new concepts.
What inspired this story to be told? Are there parts from your life interjected, or is this something you’ve been thinking about for a long time and have just now been able to create it?
It’s absolutely inspired by ideas and thoughts I have from my own life. There are some major themes that are important to me in the game.
How far along into development would you say you are right now?
It’s in a play-testing and bug fixing phase. There’s still a lot to polish!
What are you using to create Boot Hill Bounties?
It’s made from scratch so the only tool for coding is Visual Studio. The artwork is made in Photoshop and I use a body-kun doll to help me create some of the human battle poses.
What do you hope people get out of the game?
I want it to be memorable. I want some of the scenes to stick with people after they finish the game and they continue to think about them.
Also, I want people to recognize how much personality and detail went into the game. The most impressive thing I feel are the thousands of tiny little “easter egg” moments where the story line, setting and character details are packed into every aspect of the game in a way that I feel really hasn’t been done before. So the personality of all these things is constantly shining through.
Did your love for the games on the SNES have an impact on the aesthetic choice of your own work? Do you think you’ll ever create something that goes beyond this style, or will you continue to work in this manner?
It definitely did influence the aesthetic. But the art style has changed quite a bit as it evolved from an earlier, more similar style to other games. I’d like to try a new aesthetic in another game.
What was your experience with using Kickstarter? Is there anything you’d do differently? Would you use it or another crowd funding source in the future? Do you have an open line of communication with backers, or do you stick to minimal conversation except for updates?
In retrospect, I think it went pretty well and was very lucky to have achieved the success it did. I think that’s because
five years ago Kickstarter was still pretty new and kind of a novelty. If I did it again I would definitely think harder about setting expectations for backers and what I can deliver and when.
What are your top 3 favorite games of all time, and top 3 of the past 5 years?
Of all time – Final Fantasy 3/6, Silent Hill 2, Shadow of the Colossus. Over the past 5 years – The Last Door, Her Story,
Grand Theft Auto 5.
Are there any developers in particular you look up to, or were the likes of Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, and Final Fantasy all you needed to know?
I don’t really follow developers, but I like Akira Yamaoka and Hideo Kojima.
To expand on the previous question, in recent years there’s been a bigger push for knowledge of the developers opposed to just the games they create – people recognize the developers themselves. Do you think that’s a positive change, or should the games speak for themselves? For example, no one cared who Keiji Inafune was when he was creating Mega Man 2, but now he’s a name that holds a lot of weight with a game, be it negative or positive.
I don’t have a lot of thoughts about it but I think this is where indie games have the potential to stand out. Indie games have one or just a few developers, so a lot of their personalities goes into their games. Their voice is in their games. So it makes sense to follow these developers.
If someone were to ask for your advice in making games, what would you tell them?
Start small. And when you think you are starting small, start smaller. You can’t start small enough. Everyone has a dream game they want to make. I won’t tell you not to make it, but instead make a piece of it. Turn that piece into its own game. Then you’ll have made a game, and also a piece of your dream game. In other words, don’t do what I did!
If you could only choose one musician/band to listen to for the rest of your life, who would you choose?
Nobuo Uematsu. Not only because of his amazing talent, but for two practical reasons: as a game composer his
discography would have a wider array of musical themes, and game music in general is designed to be listened to repeatedly.
Do you have a favorite rodent?
I once had a pet guinea pig that I taught a lot of tricks like turning around on command and even fetching things. I’ve also had a chinchilla that could do the same. So I have a lot of experience with rodents.
Anything else you’d like to discuss that we haven’t touched on?
I wanted to mention how I tried to give Boot Hill Bounties an interesting pacing to its events. Usually RPGs are broken into battles, story and exploration. But I paced it so each of these things comes quickly after the other. So almost every battle is followed by a tiny bit of story that moves the action forward.
Thank you so much to David Welch for taking the time out of his day to answer these questions. For more information about him and his games, please visit the Experimental Gamer website.