Robson Paiva shared some details behind his indie game REDO! which he developed all alone with the help of GameMaker.
My name is Robson Paiva, I’m a solo developer from Brazil and I’m the creator of REDO!. I’ve been working as an amateur developer for some time, and I have a good list of small incomplete projects, but they were made just as a hobby. After I dropped college some years ago because of emotional problems I decided to start working as a solo developer for real. I started REDO! and I’ve been working on it for the past 3 years.
REDO!: The Start
As I said, back when I started REDO! I was suffering from some emotional problems, so I spent most of my time inside my house. With lots of free time, I decided to start something to keep my mind busy. I didn’t plan too much in the beginning as if I started worrying about the problems that might be faced I would probably just give up. So I just started and didn’t look back.
I had some experience with pixel art, so that was the art style I choose. I started studying coding while doing the project. GameMaker was a good choice because the Language (GML) is easy to learn, so I didn’t have much problem to learn the basics. The same happened with music and sound design. I had to work around my limitations and try to do the best I could with the tools I had. I’ve been a long fan of Metroidvania games, I love that feeling of exploring the unknown and getting new skills, but I didn’t want to just do a clone of Castlevania, I wanted to do my own spin on the genre. Instead, I looked for something slower-paced and methodical, similar to the feeling that games like Dark Souls can evoke. I want the player to feel afraid of the enemies sometimes. The enemies in the game are a real threat and you need to think about how you’ll deal with them. I planned to apply some resource management elements which meant you’ll need some bullets to use your weapons. You can recover your bullets in the checkpoints, but when exploring you’ll need to use it carefully.
I choose to use pixel art as the style of the game because I was more familiar with it in the beginning and I only had to improve it. A lot of times pixel art is mentioned as something of the past, but I have no intentions of trying to be retro. Of course, some classic titles are a font of inspiration, but I try to do my own thing without trying to emulate some old feeling. My main goal was to make a mysterious and melancholic world that tell a story about the people that lived in it.
To do my pixel art I use the program Aseprite, a very user-friendly image editor focused on pixel art. The imaginary that I try to evoke is something like a dystopian future where metal and concrete are mixed up. In the world of REDO! you have people living side by side with huge tubulations and electric circuits, you can see old traditions and high tech occupy the same space. At the same time, the world is very claustrophobic and gloomy.
GameMaker is an awesome engine! The documentation is very helpful and there are lots of tutorials out there when you need it! There’s a huge community and overall it’s been an amazing experience. The language(GML) is very flexible and easy to learn.
All the level are hand-made, including art assets. The game is divided by “rooms” that connect with each other and form a vast interconnected place to explore. It’s a very common level design format for Metroidvanias. You have non-linear exploration, but some paths will be blocked off until you can open it with a new gun. When you get a new gun, more paths will open and so on. It’s what we call guided non-linearity.
Enemies & Animation
For design, I tend to use a lot of horror reference for the enemies, J-horror manga and movies, as well as body horror in general. They all help me to create emotions for the enemies. As for the animation, I try to be as economical as possible and compensate the small number of frames with sub-pixel animations and some other techniques like changing the duration of specific frames to give more weight to the animation. My method for animation is first work on the keyframes and then make the secondary frames to connect them.
I think that balancing Health and Damage for player and enemies is a difficult thing to get right. I also find very difficult to have good pacing. You know, a game needs breaking points where you do different things. If it combats all the time the game gets boring, so you need to put some quiet moments, some rooms with lore, unique enemies and etc. Having varied level design also helps, nobody wants to walk in a straight line every time, so exploring vertical and horizontal space is very important. For the balancing issues, there’s no way around it, you’ll need to see people playing your game and see how they deal with enemies. After that, you can make changes.
Advice for Those Who Want to Start
Just do it. If you have the time and patience, you’ll get there. Don’t be afraid of critique, it will make you a better developer. Show your work and also be kind to other developers, they are in the same situation as you!
Robson Paiva, Developer of REDO!
Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev
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