This month sees the release of Gunblitz, a side scrolling retro shooter by independent developer Rapture Gaming Studios. Founded in May 2011 by Zach Steinke and Josh Hovater, they brought together friends who had experience in gaming development. Hard at work they have been and it’s now they feel ready to let the world see the fruits of their labour.
Starburst had the opportunity to speak to Zach Steinke about his passion for gaming, the studio he founded and what the future may hold for his band of indie developers…
Starburst: In the spirit of the magazine, what are your favourite pieces of sci-fi, fantasy and horror and why?
Zach Steinke: Well I could start off by saying I grew up watching Star Wars my whole life. I absolutely love sci-fi and I played Final Fantasy for years. I am a huge fan of horror games such as Silent Hill and Dead Space. The companies put a lot of effort into developing those games, and did a good job at attempting to scare the crap out of me.
When did you discover your passion for gaming, beyond it just being something to pass the time?
My passion for gaming started at a young age, about the age of three I would say. I have always had that drive to develop games and play them, ever since I played Mario and Zelda.
What games do you personally think are classics?
Oh there are so many classic games out there, you could go for the obvious and say Pong but that is too boring. I would have to say the old school Mario, Zelda, R-type, Gradius, all the Nintendo classics from the eighties. Don't get me wrong I will throw down on some old school Pong anytime... (any takers?)
When was it you decided that you wanted to make games?
I have always been the creative type of person ever since I was young. I grew up playing with Lego and played video games a lot, so it has always been in my head that this was meant to be.
Obviously you can't know what people will like and as a fan of games you have your own preferences. Do you find it hard making games but not knowing if it will please gamers?
It is definitely an obstacle to overcome being a developer, but we have to take feedback from forums and other websites to get an idea of what gamers want. We have to kind of see what is out there in the industry and focus on what we are able to accomplish while still adding our own little touch to our methodology of game design, but keeping in mind that everything is about pleasing the gamer.
With that in mind how do you find balancing feedback and keeping to your creative vision?
I know that we will get criticism on our games, name a company out there that hasn't been criticized for making games. We just keep in mind that we are telling our story and letting you be the listener by playing through it. We do this so well that every story is unique and I believe that story driven games are needed, along with the retro ones; we have to keep building those.
The demo of Gunblitz reminded us of those retro games (particularly R-type), where fun gameplay was the focus. Do you think modern games concentrate enough on gameplay or do you think there could there be an improvement?
I believe that companies have been more focused on multiplayer games but keeping in mind that gameplay has to be balanced. Some games could use improvement but I won't say just to keep the peace.
What are the positives to being an independent studio?
I think it is nice to have your own team of individuals that just builds games in your own time. This has to be a big plus for us, being an independent studio. We don't have a huge publisher breathing down our necks to tell us to get this or that done.
Are you able to say what other projects your team is working on?
As of right now I am not able to say, I can tell you that we have some games being developed and yes that is plural for more than one and we have stuff that will be released in the near future. I can also say that we have things in development that hasn't been done yet for the industry.
What is your favourite game of the year so far and what is your most anticipated game of this year?
My favorite game this year right now would happen to be Borderlands 2, just because of how solid the game actually is, along with it being an awesome FPS/RPG. My most anticipated game is. Well I actually have two games. Assassin's Creed 3 and Halo 4 because of how much change is going into those two titles. I have a huge list of pre-orders though.
Gunblitz will be a launch title for the Ouya console but for now you can download the game from their website, www.rapturegamestudios.com. Get your trigger finger ready!