Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Geraldo Nascimento, I’m a game developer / programmer / game designer. My previous job was software engineering, its what I studied at University. My interest for games led me to start designing Gunkatana and now we’ve taken it to Kickstarter.
What is Gunkatana?
Gunkatana is a top-down, 2D, shooter & slasher. It’s all pixel art, gory, with pumping retrowave music to boot. A cyberpunk aesthetic with a coat of pixel art and the best game feel we could muster: we want people to really enjoy playing it.
Gunkatana is currently on Kickstarter. There are currently a lot of options available for indie game funding, such as Patreon and Steam Early Access, why did you choose Kickstarter?
I’ve been working full time on Gunkatana since September 2015, after several positive showings of it at game events convinced me to quit my job and complete the game. Kickstarter allows us to budget and plan ahead more firmly I believe than a Patreon or even Steam Early Access. From all the reading I’ve been doing, it’s not advised to use Steam Early Access as your sole source of funding. Our plans do include eventually releasing an Early Access version, but after we secure other funding.
When preparing your Kickstarter, what research did you do?
We researched a lot! Me and the rest of the team combed loads of Kickstarter projects, looking for how to present our game, what information is really important to get across, types of rewards, what works, what doesn’t. We spent three months at least researching.
Your budget for Gunkatana is quite low at £40,000. How did you arrive at that amount?
This covers half a year of expenses for me, CrazyArcadia, sound and music, with enough left over to pay for timely contracts with the rest of the team members, who don’t work on the project all the time.
Your tagline in your Kickstarter trailer is “Prepare to Grind”. This is obviously a play on the Dark Souls “Prepare to Die” marketing campaign. Having watched your trailer, there appears to be a lot of player death in Gunkatana. Is it safe to say players should “Prepare to Die” as well as “Prepare to Grind” when playing the game?
You definitely die a lot of times in this game, particularly in the local multiplayer mode we’ve got on the demo. But we do have a quick respawn time, so you can quickly get back in on the action.
Gunkatana appears to have quite a big team behind it. How did you go about building a team? What advice would you give to indies who are building a team for their game right now?
The team started off with me and CrazyArcadia, we did a number of builds of the game that I’d take to events around London. Eventually we got our friends Electric Cafe to make the music and after a chance meeting at GameCity 2015, we were joined by Joonas Turner and Niilo Takalainen for the sound design.
The rest of the gang comes from our friends, people who have seen the value of the game and want to help us out with skills we are lacking.
I often meet programmers who want to get in touch with artists to work on their game and vice-versa. Definitely get out there, in actual meetups, or use Twitter and #gamedev haunts in order to start building your team. One of the biggest difficulties is that a lot of people starting just want to work on their own game. Take the time to work on someone’s else’s game and see if you’re a good match to keep working together.
According to your Kickstarter bio, you’ve been a Software Engineer for a social gaming company. Can you tell us about your experience and how it impacted the creation of Gunkatana?
I worked three years at Plumbee, a social gaming London startup. Packed with ex-Playfish people, the level of talent at Plumbee is incredible, and I learned so much from them. Moving from Lisbon to London to work there was some sort of a level up for me, I grew professionally, technically and at a personal level too. I met a number of game dev legends there too! All of this influenced me into creating Gunkatana. It inspired me to keep making prototypes and builds until one of them stuck with me, and that is Gunkatana.
Why did you choose Unity to create Gunkatana? Why didn’t you choose another, more 2D friendly, game engine?
At the time I was experimenting with Unity to create a number of different prototypes. The first version of Gunkatana didn’t have any art, I was just testing out the mechanics, it could have gone 3D! But after getting in touch with CrazyArcadia, and much of the groundwork was done, I just kept using Unity to make the game, and it has worked out well.
What advice would you give to other indie developers?
Make sure that the core of the game is exciting and solid. And then polish the hell out of the game and the concept. There’s a lot of research and planning that goes beyond simply sitting down to make a fun game. In some regards, making a fun game is probably the easiest thing. The hardest is selling it to the public, and that is everything that you put out there: a trailer, screenshots, impressions, all of them are opportunities to sell the game.
What’s your favorite game of all time?
It’s hard to pick just one. I’ll go with Ultima 7. You can see some of the inspiration for Gunkatana there, actually. Right at the start you come across a grisly murder, blood splattered all over the stable, and all of it in a top-down, 2D, pixel art environment.
You can follow Geraldo on Twitter @Solivagant!