The last time I visited Charlie Knight and his Scoregasm project was just over a year ago when I saw the game at Eurogamer Expo 2010. Since then however, everything had been pretty quiet, until recently when Charlie Knight re-emerged with his beautiful bullet-hell arena shooter. A game that GamePro describe as nailing “all the elements that make an arena shooter fun and exciting while offering incentive to dive back in over and over again for more space pummeling”.
Now that the game’s been released, I thought it was high time to catch up with its creator – Charlie Knight – and find out as to what took him so long to make Scoregasm.
Now that the game is out, how do you think Scoregasm has been received by gamers and press alike?
Yeah, pretty well I guess. It’s been nice reading comments by folk who’ve enjoyed it even though they don’t usually get much out of this sort of game. I’d hoped that the game would surprise people, and I put a lot of time into making it more enjoyable for non-shooter fans.
Scoregasm was originally meant to have been released late 2010, but didn’t actually come out until October this year. Why do you think there was a delay in releasing the title, and how do you think the game’s production cycle could have been sped up?
Actually, I started the game as a summer project in 2009 with the intention of releasing it that year. In terms of development time, I guess 2.5years is a while for a project, especially considering my previous two titles were both done in a couple of weeks, but I let the game evolve as I wrote it, rather than stick rigidly to a plan. It would have been nice for it to have been finished sooner, but I don’t regret spending the time on the game.
In wanting to attain that elusive goal of seeking perfection, every developer has to make compromises during the development of their game. Are there any aspects of the game that you aren’t totally happy with, and what do you think could have been done so as to allow Scoregasm to play closer to your original vision?
I’m genuinely pretty happy with how Scoregasm worked out to be honest. As I didn’t really have an original vision aside from colourful and explosions, I can’t really say if it’s close or not to how I wanted the game to feel when I started. In terms of what I might have liked, I guess I’d thought of how I wanted the menu/map screen to look before I started the levels, as I could have made the transitions between menu and game much smoother by having them occupy the same scene. A few super hardcore players have said the game is a little too easy for them, and that’s fine, the game isn’t really designed for them, but I’d like to maybe do a set of levels that are more difficult. We’ll see!
Are there any plans for making the game available on Steam, and do you have any plans for porting Scoregasm across to other (console and mobile) platforms?
The game will be out on Steam in the new year. I’m not planning on porting Scoregasm to consoles/mobile platforms, at least not myself. I’ve got my work cut out with the platforms I do support, and I really want to be pushing on with new projects and not investing more time in rewriting this one.
By looking at your development history, I’ve noticed that every game you have ever released has tended to be a 2D shooter. Why is this, and have you ever thought about branching out and exploring other genres?
I’d like to maybe try some different sorts of games, but I’ve yet to come up with something interesting enough for me to want to carry through to completion. My disks are full of little experiments, but they never get much further than my dev folder. On the other hand, I like shooters, and they lend themselves well to the more abstract visuals and animations I like playing around with.
Of all the games you’ve ever worked on, which is your favourite and why?
If you ask me in a year, I’ll probably say Scoregasm, but I’ve been so close to it now for so long that I struggle to get into it as much as I can my older games. I like playing through Irukandji and unlocking all the ships every now and again, so I’ll say that one for now.
Any idea as to what your next game will be about, and will that also have a two and a half year development cycle?
I started on a sequel to Irukandji earlier in the year, and also a 3D project where you pilot a little ship around various planetoids, so I might finish one of those up next. Or combine the two! Who knows!
Even though Scoregasm is an arena shooter, to a certain extent the game is still a continuation of the 2D shooter, a genre that has declined in popularity in recent years. Why do you think this is, and how do you think developers can can go about reigniting the genre so as to make it appeal to modern gaming conventions?
I don’t know really. I think the mass appeal of games like this is pretty much gone now, and it’ll take something pretty special to regain the footing they once had.
Scoregasm was coded and designed by yourself, and you were also responsible for creating all art assets. Although you received some assistance from John Marvin and Doug Livesy, what challenges do you think a lone developer (such as yourself) faces in working in an industry which favours multiple personnel working on its games, and what are the advantages and disadvantages for continuing to operate as a one-man operative today?
Working by myself lets me work on what I want, and I’m free to approach that in whatever way I like. This is the good bit! Where it’s not so good is how much work it can be, and how easy it is to get into a mess if you can’t think things through objectively and see where you’re going wrong.
I’m not totally convinced that the “industry” prefers multiple personnel to create games. Mostly I suspect it’s a case of needing them, rather than wanting them.
Lastly, what games have you enjoyed recently, and if you could pick just one game to chew over this holiday season, which game would it be and why?
Errrr… I’ve been playing Binding of Isaac a bit, it’s pretty moreish, and I like that even though I’ve played through it a few times now I’m still finding new stuff. I’ve also been playing New Mario Bros. Wii, which is, well, not exactly the cream of the Mario crop. It’s very close to the DS game, which I also didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. I don’t really know what exactly I think it’s missing, but maybe I just expected a little bit more. It irks me that they keep reiterating the original NES games, rather than the superior Super Mario World on the Super NES.