Max Parata spoke about the challenges and nuances of creating games on his own, shared details about Punk Runner's cyberpunk world, art style, and gameplay mechanics, and discussed his approach to promoting the game.
My name is Max Parata, and I have been working as a senior 3D artist in the digital marketing field for eight years now. In addition, I am a solo game developer. I began my game development journey when Unreal Engine 4 became free. I saw an opportunity to apply my 3D art skills and experience to game development.
To learn UE4's no-code programming language, Blueprint, I created small prototypes and gradually developed the necessary skills to make a game. Prior to Punk Runner, I released Embuscade, a short horror game that PC Gamer recognized as the best free game of 2017. Additionally, I created a voxel asset collection under the brand monogon, which is available on itch.io.
Peculiarities of Being a Solo Game Developer
Being a solo game developer can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, but it's crucial not to be completely alone in the process. While the project may be your idea and your commitment, having a network of supportive individuals can greatly aid in maintaining good mental health and bringing the game to fruition.
I am part of a creative collective called TORTOR, consisting of alumni from my 3D school (ILOI). Within this collective, we offer each other criticism, support, and even direct contributions to each other's projects. To create a game solo from start to finish, the most important skill is knowing how to be part of a network, whether by joining one or creating one yourself. Having people who share your passion and can offer help is crucial.
The inspiration for Punk Runner came from my fascination with the Unity Megacity demo. I saw the potential of creating a game with flying cars, and that sparked the idea for an off-ground racing game, in an open futuristic city. I was particularly influenced by my favorite racing game, NFSU2, and wanted to create a similar experience for players. I saw the challenge of creating such a game as an opportunity to bring my vision to life and pay tribute to one of my favorite games. So, I decided to bring my skills in 3D art and Unreal Engine to create Punk Runner.
Creating the Game's World
The creation of the cyberpunk world in my upcoming game was a journey. I started with the vision of a megacity, inspired by the Unity Megacity demo. However, creating a world that feels like a city yet with flying cars and racing gameplay was a challenge. I tried several different versions of the city, but each time I felt like something was missing. It felt like a dream-like mashup of blocks without any sense. I was frustrated for a long time and even considered changing the game's genre.
But I didn't give up. I continued studying level design and experimenting with different approaches until I finally found the right direction. I realized that I was too focused on the overall structure of the city, rather than its street-level view and art style. So, I gathered references from my cultural background and favorite sci-fi worlds such as Ghost in the Shell and The Fifth Element and incorporated them into my vision. The result is a megacity that feels real and ready for a racing game.
Punk Runner's Gameplay Mechanics
In Punk Runner, players can experience the thrill of open-world racing with a twist. Inspired by games like NFSU2, Punk Runner features both scripted and open-world races, adding to the game's replay value. In the open-world races, players can challenge other racers they encounter randomly in the city. The winner of the race is the racer who leads by 1 kilometer over their opponent. Scripted races follow a story and increase in difficulty over time, with the goal of completing them all to finish the game.
To add an extra layer of excitement, Punk Runner will also include a gang-war mechanic, similar to GTA SA, where players will race to control different parts of the city. Players will be able to choose to side with either the Punks or the Runners, and by winning races, they will gain territory and develop their controlled areas. The game's incentives for controlling territories are still being developed.
One of the key elements of Punk Runner's gameplay is its innovative car-driving mechanics. Unlike other flying car games, which often feature unrealistic driving mechanics, and operate like helicopters, drones, or spaceships, Punk Runner's flying cars drive like real cars, with thrusters replacing wheels. This unique approach sets Punk Runner apart from other sci-fi games and provides players with a fresh flying car driving experience.
Max's Approach to Promoting the Game
Promoting Punk Runner is a crucial aspect for me, and I have a clear approach to it. I aim to showcase the game in its best possible light, so I now try to avoid showcasing any work-in-progress materials and instead create polished marketing content like videos, GIFs, and images before I present anything to the public. My ultimate goal is to attract the attention of potential publishers or investors who will share my belief in Punk Runner and want to join forces to take this game to the next level.
Working with the community is also an important aspect for me. I've been more active in engaging with the community recently and have received great support from them. Many talented sound designers and musicians have offered their services and I've had the opportunity to collaborate with them on various occasions. The community's support and feedback have been invaluable in shaping Punk Runner into the game it is today.
Max's Future Plans
I am currently focused on securing funding for the game. I have a talented team of individuals who are helping me with development, but I aim to expand and establish a full-fledged studio structure where I’ll be able to hire them to work on Punk Runner full-time.
I am currently working on enhancing the car customization features and introducing thrilling vertical races. I am eager to showcase these additions to the audience.
For those interested in following the development process, I actively post updates and content on various platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Discord. I will continue to share short videos and
behind-the-scenes details about Punk Runner's lore, mechanics, and more. Additionally, I have a devlog on itch.io where I plan to publish in-depth articles about the game.