Tucked away in a corner at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, at The Indie Games Arcade stand, was a wonderful indie PC twin-stick shooter by the name of Scoregasm. Developed by Charlie’s Games, the game beared more than a passing resemblance to other twin-stick shooters (such as Geommetry Wars and the Mutant Storm games), yet managed to convey a sense of style all of its own by having new experiences that weren’t necessarily confined to square boxes. In this way, Scoregasm managed to differentiate itself from the competition by having differently designed enemies and bosses for each level.
With the intention of blasting alien baddies into outer space, Scoregasm was able to garner quite a bit of attention at this year’s Indie Games Arcade, and managed to be one of the most action packed titles that I played during the entire event.
So as to learn a little bit more about the game, Charlie Knight – the creative force behind Charlie’s Games – was able to sit down and talk me through the reasons as to why he decided to develop Scoregasm, and as to why he enjoys creating levels containing coleslaw.
How long has Scoregasm been in development for?
About 18 months.
Is the game a solo effort, or are you working on the title as part of a team?
I am responsible for all of the coding and design.
Who is in charge of generating art assets, and what was the inspiration behind the LSD-inspired visuals?
I do the art assets. I guess the inspiration came from a general lack of artistic talent, so it was quite easy to come up with over the top effects using code – which is how most of the animation has been done.
It seems that Scoregasm has been heavily influenced by games such as Super Stardust, Geommetry Wars, as well as bullet-hell games such as what were popular during the 2-D era, and what Cave are famous for now with regards to their own manic shooters. So with that being said, what kind of shoot-em-ups do you play in your spare time?
I play PC Engine shooters as well as a few PC indie shooters. However, I mostly just play Super Mario Brothers (laughs). I like Super Mario Brothers.
Why did you decide to devote 18 months of your life to make a shoot-em-up, as opposed to a platformer, or another type of game?
I don’t know. I enjoy the games that I make, and if you develop anything on your own, you have to enjoy what you do. You have to concentrate and maintain motivation. I didn’t know if I could maintain the motivation in order to make a platform game, so that’s why I opted for a shoot-em-up in this style.
I was able to make each level do something slightly different – change the shape, the enemy designs… Some of the challenges are alternate versions of levels present in the game. There’s also some silly stuff, like coleslaw making when you fire vegetables into a shredder. There’s one where you can shape a guy’s face. One where you have a disk chasing after you. There’s all sorts of things.
What inspired you to come up with eclectic ideas like the ones you have just described?
Aside from being slightly eclectic myself, I guess you could say that they were just fun. It’s a top-down game as much as it’s a shooter, and there’s a lot of stuff you can do from a top-down perspective. I have this top-down game, and this extremely flexible system, so why not just have some fun and throw in some silly stuff in there as well.
With Scoregasm having been developed for the PC, would it be safe to say that the game is coming out on Steam?
It would be nice if the game came out on Steam, but I haven’t gotten in touch with Valve about it yet. However, Scoregasm is also coming out on Mac and Linux as well.
Do you have any plans for Scoregasm to be converted to XBLA or PSN platforms?
Not at present, but we’ll lets see what happens.
Is Scoregasm your first game, or has Charlie’s Games developed any other games in the past?
I have four or five games released so far. I’ve been developing games since 2005…
When did you start learning to program?
I learnt the basics of programming whilst at sixth form, but then I got a job as a full-time gardener. After about two years, I felt as if I was ready for a career change, so I decided to train as a software engineer.
Coming back to Scoregasm, who did the music for the game?
There’s this chap in Sweden called John Marvin who does the music. I met him about five years ago whilst being a judge for a shoot-em-up making competition. One of the people who entered was Cactus with his Cleanasia game, and I really liked the music so I decided to get in touch with John Marvin, the game’s soundtrack composer, afterwards.
Cactus is one of the more prolific auteurs within the games development community. As well as people like Kenta Cho, I think he’s an amazing source of inspiration for people who want to go it alone, and make their own games in the indie spirit.
Cactus makes some cracking stuff.
When is the game due out?
Maybe November or December. It’s not completely finished yet as I still need to add some bits… Visually it’s all there, but there’s still a few levels missing. However, it should still be out later this year.
Did you develop the game full-time?
How did you support yourself in the meantime, especially when you don’t happen to have the financial security of being employed by a big-name studio?
Well, I’ve got four other games already for sale. I also have been selling pre-orders of Scoregasm via my website.
Wow. It seems as if your reputation alone has enabled you to make a living, and forge a credible career as a bedroom coder within the games industry.
Yeah… That, and a bit of luck.