If you haven’t heard already, YouTube’s TomSka has been working on releasing his very own video game for mobile devices, which involves fighting earth-invading alien cats.
KatataK has been a long-term project for TomSka and is being produced by an exciting new game production company called Pixel Spill,which was formed earlier this year by James and his friend David, who is the Lead Developer for the company.
I was fortunate enough to have a lengthy conversation with James Booth, Producer at Pixel Spill, about the Katatak project.
“I’ve known David for about 10 years, and we’ve been trying to work together for just as long”, James said.
“I studied Digital Media, not games production, at University. After I finished, I found out that David was completing his Masters Degree in Computer Science. After talking amongst ourselves, we started musing about how cool it would be to make video games professionally,” he explained. “It developed over a number of weeks, and it became less about talking through it, and more about actually doing it.”
“Two months later we decided on it, and we both took an office near Wembley in February this year.”
However, Pixel Spill wasn’t the original name for the group, James confessed. He told Tube Chum: “Back then we were known as ‘Reminiscent Interactive’. It was so, so bad. Who the hell was going to remember that?”
“Tom turned around and said, ‘you’ve got to get a better name’. After a couple of weeks scratching our heads, we came up with Pixel Spill.”
Despite only starting work on the game earlier this year, Tom and James have known each other for a while, and it wasn’t long before their business partnership came to life.
“Around the same time that we were thinking about forming a company, Tom pitched a project about shooting cats to us. We spent a few weeks discussing the concept and later shook hands on it. It was good timing, really.”
Right now, the big question for many enthused fans is over how the project is going.
There have been a couple of delays made to the release of the game, which was originally intended to become available in August. However, many of the set-backs have been unavoidable, such as coder David breaking his wrist whilst punching a man who tried to steal his laptop!
“Gamemaker studio, which is a piece of software similar to photoshop for game development, was what we were originally using to make the game. It’s an all-in-one package, and has been used for games such as Hotline Miami,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, we had unforeseen limitations that weren’t well documented. This resulted with unstable builds where the game was unplayable on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. It wouldn’t even play the video files for the cutscenes.”
However, James didn’t want to put the blame on the software, adding: “Gamemaker is definitely not a bad piece of software, it just wasn’t built for what we wanted to do. There was no way of us predicting that.”
“This happened 2 or 3 weeks before initial deadline. We decided that we needed to re-write it, so David re-wrote the code from scratch in about 6 weeks. 14,000 lines of code by himself. He’s done a fantastic job. We now have a better product, and we’ve gotten it working nicely on multiple devices.”
While the project was delayed, we feel we’ve got a better overall product with the extra time we’ve had to work on it.
So how much will we have to pay for the game?
“The game was initially free with in-game purchases, however, the reponse from fans was that they would rather have a premium game, paying up front.”
“The game will cost $1.99/£1.49 in the app store. You get everything included, so you don’t have to pay for anything else. You get new content by playing the game. If you want the best weapons, you have to play the game. The player is prompted to complete tasks, and encouraged to play more if they wanted to get things out of KatataK.”
Gamer producer James added: “We feel that it’s a good way to go, as players get rewarded for playing, rather than feeling they have to pay money to succeed.”
We want to entertain people, nothing more, nothing less.
I couldn’t end the conversation with James without asking an all-important question.
It has been documented on both TomSka’s vlogs and the PixelSpill blog that a great deal of Red Bull helped power the minds behind the project. So just how much Red Bull did the team get through?
“Enough that I can no longer drink it. It gives me heart palpitations. David literally has a twitch in his right eye, and he didn’t have that before. We had about 60 cans in the office before David started sleeping in the office. And that was about 4 weeks ago.”
My attention then turned to finding out just what working on a project such as KatataK is like for everybody involed.
“It’s been a fun experience working with so much talent. Todd’s music just fits the game very well, and it’s so epic. We’ve worked really hard on this project, and I just really hope people have enjoyed it. We’ve put a lot of passion into it.”
There’s plenty more to come from PixelSpill, according to James.
“We did a 48-hour charity game jam for #IndieQuilt, where we produced a game called Blopathon.”
“It’s a puzzle platformer with jumping mechanics (which you can play here) and was voted 3rd, out of 80.”
“After Katatak, we will be developing it into a full game for mobile and PC. We have a few other plans we’d like to bring to fruition, but I can’t talk about those yet”.
‘KatataK’ is a sidescrolling shoot em’ up where the player fights a seemingly never-ending swarm of evil alien space cats that are invading Earth. The game is split into two modes; a story driven Career Mode and a never-ending swarm of enemies in Survival Mode.
The support characters you play with act as turrets and you can swap them out, depending on what you want your team to be like.
I’d like to give a huge thanks to James Booth for taking the time out to talk about KatataK. Make sure you check out the game when it is released this month.
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