The following interview is with Kyle Pulver, developer and publisher of Offspring Fling, a puzzle-platformer which was released a little over a week ago. Follow him on Twitter: @kylepulver
Hey Kyle, thanks for doing this with us. Why don’t you start off by telling the readers a bit about your history with game development? How you got started, inspirations, previous games you have worked on, etc.
Well that can be a pretty long story… but I’ll try to make it as quick as possible. As a kid playing games I always wondered how games were created. I always tried to make my own games on paper, and on white boards. I would draw characters on a piece of paper and then cut them out and move them around on my “levels” and play my own games all the time.
Eventually when I was 11 or 12 years old I got a copy of Sim Tower for the PC. Sim Tower actually came with a demo copy of Klik & Play, which was published by Maxis at the time. That demo copy of Klik & Play changed my life forever. I would make game after game with that demo copy, and because I couldn’t actually save any of my work in the demo, I had to make a brand new game every time I opened the program.
I continued down the path of using Clickteam software for game making and I made a lot of really terrible games. After high school, I went to Clarkson University under the Digital Arts & Sciences program, which is pretty much like a mixture of art and programming. Through a strange sequence of events, I found myself working on a new game called Bonesaw: The Game using Multimedia Fusion. A year and a half went by, and I finished Bonesaw as my first proper game release.
Later I went on to make some games for TIGSource competitions. Everyone Loves Active 2 for the Procedural Generation Competition, and Verge for the Commonplace Book Competition. I won a Ludum Dare competition one time with a prototype game called Gaiadi, and maybe some folks out there have played depict1, a flash game that I originally made at Global Game Jam that eventually went on to win Game of the Year on Newgrounds. I’m also currently working on Snapshot with Retro Affect.
As far as my inspirations and influences go, I’m heavily influenced by the Genesis & SNES era of gaming, as this was the time where I was probably playing games the most. It’s really hard to pinpoint any sort of specific influence, as most of it is just a giant melting pot of all the games I loved as a kid, and all the games that I love now.
On top of being a game developer, you’re also an artist?
I guess so! I like to doodle from time to time and I post those doodles on my website, but it’s not something that I’m totally focused on. I feel like my game making skills far surpassed my drawing skills awhile ago, so I started focusing on game making a lot during college, and kind of let my drawing and art skills fall to the way side.
Do you use your artistic skills in your games? Or do you have a go-to artist friend, for that?
Usually in all the games that I make I do my own art. I grew up making games on my own with no outside help so that’s what I’ve always done. I try to better myself in all regards of game making so I can eventually become an unstoppable one man army, and right now my challenge is to get good at music.. which might take awhile.
I think I’ve only made one game so far where I didn’t do the art myself, and that was Jottobots which was an ARTxGAME collaboration with another artist.
Before becoming a founder of Retro Affect, had you worked with the other Retro Affect developers on previous projects?
I worked with Dave and Pete only a little bit on one of their projects at Clarkson. I did work with Dave on a game for a class using Virtools which was… an interesting experience. We ended up making a game where you roll a marble around using the Wii Remote, but we never really got it to work quite right so you could just swing the Wii Remote around and fling the marble into infinite space… but it was the most complete game out of all the projects in the class!
Retro Affect’s, Snapshot, was recognized at PAX10 this past year, how’s the development process coming along with that game?
Slowly but surely. Snapshot development as been a big challenge for all of us on the team. It’s Dave’s biggest programming challenge yet, and my most challenging project I’ve ever had in regards to design, art, and the little bit of programming I’ve done. Making a game for console release ended up being a lot more work than any of us could’ve anticipated. The team is always working away at it, and we’re always getting closer to competition, it’s just taken a little bit longer than we thought it was going to. (As most games do.)
Why did you ultimately decide to develop Offspring Fling before Snapshot?
Offspring Fling started out as a side project that was developed during a game jam about a year ago now. Eventually it became a project that I would work on during weekends. After a few months of this, Offspring Fling had become a full fledged game. Since the game was relatively simple compared to something like Snapshot, the process of making Offspring Fling went a lot faster. When Offspring Fling got to the 95% completion mark, I did take a few weeks to really push it through completion just to get it done.
I think a good way to explain it is Offspring Fling is a game that just sort of slowly leaked out of my brain and instead of fighting against it I just rolled with it.
What was your initial idea for what turned into Offspring Fling? What did you envision the project to be when you first started sorting out the concepts for the game?
Offspring Fling started out as a game jam game that took place over Mothers Day weekend in 2011. Originally my idea for the game was just a puzzle platformer where you have to pick up and carry children around the level and get them safely to the exit, and there would be various hazards along the way. Picking up the children would make you taller and heavier, which would affect how you played through the level.
A few hours after getting this working I tried out the idea of throwing the children, and that turned out to be the best idea ever. I originally didn’t plan for this to be in the game, and it ended up being the core mechanic. I think after that, the game ended up turning out a lot how I envisioned it, which is pretty awesome because usually I have a hard time actually getting my work to match my imagination.
Alec Holowka, composer of the Aquaria soundtrack, as well as game developer, has produced the soundtrack to Offspring Fling (buy it here)and a number of your previous titles. How did you and Alec come to collaborate?
I originally met Alec at GDC, I think, but not really. I think at GDC 2008 we sort of crossed paths but didn’t really interact due to weird social awkwardness probably mostly on my side. Eventually I played through Aquaria, and talked a lot about it with Alec as a gushing fan. Every once and awhile a bunch of indies would chat on Skype, and I joined in with those. I got to know Alec and a lot of other indie devs a lot better through the occasional Skype chats.
I think this is how the timeline goes… after playing Left 4 Dead a lot with Alec and a few other cool people, I started working on Everyone Loves Active 2 for a TIGSource competition. The builds I was making of the game were totally public and on the TIGFourms, and after talking with Alec about it, either he offered to do the music or I asked him if he wanted to do the music… I forget exactly who brought it up. He cranked out an awesome track for the game, and that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since.
Usually every game jam game I make, Alec is able to somehow magically crank out an awesome tune for it within the time span of the jam. Offspring Fling was no different. He cranked out the main theme to the game during the first 48 hours of the game’s life, and that defined a lot of the game’s feel right from the start. The rest of the soundtrack came much later, but even the rest of the tracks were made in a pretty short amount of time in a very jam like environment.
And if you had to describe Alec’s music in one sentence, it would be:
Alec’s music is the Harvey Fierstein to my Independence Day.
Where can players pick up a copy of Offspring Fling?
Offspring Fling is available to pick up directly from the website http://offspringfling.com or from Steam right here: http://store.steampowered.com/