Co-Optimus: What’s the one, or two, feature(s) of Retrobooster that you felt like you really had to get down? Like, “without ____” you knew you just would not be able to make the game the way you wanted.
Terry: You do two things constantly in Retrobooster: fly and shoot. The controls had to feel like butter and every explosion had to be a treat for the eyes and ears.
The controls turned out better than I hoped for, but they get mixed reactions. It seems like people who have played thrust ship games understand them immediately and can become competent quickly, while people who have missed out on thrust ship games are often daunted by the difficulty level. Some of the latter are patient enough to get the hang of it, but not all of them. I am still searching for ways to make the controls more approachable for everyone, such as more refined flight training tasks in the tutorial.
Retrobooster can be controlled with keyboard alone, mouse and keyboard, or any USB game controller. It was a wonderful to find that all these control methods are viable, so a player who doesn't like one method might like another. This, probably more than anything else, opens up the game to a wider audience.
The particle engine and lighting system are working out well, so everyone who sees the game seems to be pleased by the shooting, explosions, and other eye candy. Some decent sound effects help out too. I have had a great time learning to mix several sounds together to get just the right final effect.
Co-Optimus: What’s been the greatest success you have experienced thus far? How about the greatest disappointment?
Terry: The biggest success has been the marketing push that I did with my recent demo release. I tried to follow all the suggestions from the press about how to talk to [you guys]. As a result, I have met a lot of very welcoming members of the press who have helped me immeasurably in getting the word out about Retrobooster. This interview is a perfect example. There are a great many more eyeballs on my game now.
The biggest disappointment was seeing my Steam Greenlight rating remain the same, even after doing this marketing push. I guess very few indie games become popular overnight. If mine is to find its audience, it will probably require a long, slow-burn marketing effort.
Co-Optimus: Why make a cooperative game? What drew you to include that?
Terry: Honestly, my game was originally imagined as a single player experience. But this game is so much about how you move through the environments, it felt wrong to always do that alone. Split-screen multiplayer, both co-op and deathmatch, sounded like too much fun to pass up.
Co-Optimus: What are some of your favorite cooperative games to play?
Terry: Sadly, I do not find anywhere near enough time to play games... I'm sure other indie developers are as busy and know how this feels. The best co-op game I think I have ever seen is Portal 2. The level design simply oozes cooperation.
Co-Optimus: So once the game is released, what’s next? Where do you hope to go from here?
Terry: Business experts always say you need to know your next steps, but I have been mostly evading that responsibility. Right now I'm focused on finishing Retrobooster and learning a lot about the indie game scene and marketing along the way.
If Retrobooster is successful, the obvious next steps are to port it to OS X and maybe add some big new features, such as a co-op level pack or even a level editor. Features like that are hard to predict as they would be shaped by audience feedback.
We'd like to thank Terry for taking the time to talk with us and tell us about Retrobooster. If you're interested in checking the game out, a demo for it can be found here on the game's website. If you want to support the Steam Greenlight for Retrobooster, you can check out its page here.