Welcome to TiC’s Indie Spotlight where we will highlight a different indie game on a regular basis that we think deserves your attention. This feature will also showcase the developers behind the magic that is put into the games that captivate our hearts. The indie game scene has seen a huge spike in support and success over the last few years. All well deserved, as indie developers have been putting their heart and soul into their projects to the point that many titles released over the past few years have arguably provided a better experience than many of the high profile AAA games being released.
So without further ado, let’s get started by highlighting this week’s game: Dynamite Alex and the developer behind this title, Ryan Silberman.
Ryan Silberman is a college student whose early exposure to game development has molded a man that is constantly working on his craft. When not working on school projects or video game nuances, Ryan can be found on The Inner Circle Game Network as an author constantly putting out articles on gaming news and reviews.
With Ryan completing his gaming project and now opting to put it out via Steam Greenlight, we found it a good a time as any to have a Q&A with the developer himself.
For our first question, I’d like for you to introduce yourself.
Hello, readers! My name is Ryan Silberman. I am a hardcore gamer that happens to also write and make stuff about games! Dynamite Alex is a Mega Man-esque platform-shooter I made back in 2014, but this year I’m intending to bring it to Steam (and possibly the Xbox One as well) via Greenlight. My general goal is to see how and where I can take my work ethics. Projects of mine can range from all sizes and in all contexts.
What is the influence of the game? What games did you take inspiration from and want to reproduce with your game?
Well, Mega Man is the more obvious inspiration, with the gameplay mechanics and all. However, there are some subtle influences from other games. Sonic helped inspire the level structure and the idea of dynamic environment settings (no typical grassland, desert, ice, fire world setup), and Mario convinced me that coins are fun to nab while running around!
Were there any challenges you faced in creating the game? What were unforeseen issues before the project took off? How did you balance regular life and working on the game?
The basic challenge usually revolves around making the level as enjoyable as it becomes in the long run. I tried to make sure the enemies were varied enough to keep the player on his/her toes whilst not being overly difficult. The level design also had to be able to complement the enemy placements and provide multiple routes the player can take. My regular life back then consisted of being in high school, but I set a personal goal to work on a level at least once per day after all the enemies were created.
What’s something unique about Dynamite Alex? Why should someone buy your game instead of some other indie game? What are you most proud of in Dynamite Alex?
Well hey, it’s only a dollar! Heh… On a more serious note, I like to think the uniqueness of Dynamite Alex applies to the kinds of level designs (and even environments) there are that flirt with the more familiar vibes people are bound to get.
What I’m most proud of is that it came out the way it did. It made me realize that I’m able to pull off games of its kind. I myself would even come back to play it every now and then for the fun of it.
Since you started this on your own, what are some things you had to learn from scratch? What’s a lesson in game development you would give others?
What I’ve learned can also apply to being results of having witnessed how others may perceive some things or how some games would play. It’s okay to not match the aspects of the NES or Master System perfectly, but pixel art does need to stay consistent so nothing sticks out like a sore thumb. Colors in various areas should also be complementary or else they would clash. Enemies can be basic and have simple patterns, but it’s how they are used and where they are placed that matter most. You certainly can’t have random enemies fly up into the player for cheap attacks. Most of all, I would say that if you don’t find your game fun, then that will reflect how others will find it.
What is the plot of the game? Why are you fighting a robot, regular people, and what appears to be red ghosts in the trailer. What is the main objective of the game? Reach the end of the level alive? Any different levels that add diversity?
The plot is that an evil man named Mr. Z plays the role of Big Bad and summons artificially-made “robbers”, robots, and other goons, using the technology of Dr. Tobynskii, Alex’s dad. Since Alex has been training in a simulator, she figured she could stop him from wreaking havoc. Everything else is rather straightforward, and the connection between Mr. Z and Dr. Tobynskii remains ambiguous. The objective is simply to reach the end of each stage, with every few leading up to a boss encounter. The levels may introduce some new hazards or enemies along the way; they will also gradually put Alex’s wall jumping, rolling, and general reflexes to use.
If Dynamite Alex does well, what will we see next of the IP? Any sequel ideas in mind? Any other devices you would like it to be on? Looks like it would be perfect for hand held gaming.
I’ve already been flooding my mind with ideas! Ha ha ha! A sequel idea in particular has been a thought since Dynamite Alex’s completion. It would bring more of a focus to story and bring in new characters while giving the existing ones more personality. I really want to aim for Wii U, 3DS, PS4, and Vita, and I even contacted Abstraction Games and intended to Skype chat with Ralph Egas (its CEO) about it. Unfortunately, we each went on vacation at separate instances, and when we finally got to be on Skype simultaneously, he revealed they’re shifting away from indies, making 140 their last indie game port. I’ll try and see who else I can chat it up with.
What’s next from Ryan Silberman besides Dynamite Alex. What’s a game you would like to create in the future? How would it play? What genre would it be? How would it improve from Dynamite Alex? What would the story be about?
I could write a novella on what I want to do next! Missileman Origins is a game I’m currently working on (and it already did make it through Steam Greenlight). Hopefully that’ll be done by the end of the year. After that, I’m actually going to collaborate with somebody (she hasn’t developed her own game, but she does know her stuff on story and character) on a kinda-sorta-RPG that isn’t destined to last a million hours long. Either after or during that, I’ll be trying to conjure a Parappa/Paper Mario-inspired idea I’ve had since January 2015. Oh, and there are random small projects I may sometimes sprout from my brain in between that stuff.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now in terms of game development?
This, I’m never sure about. I don’t know if I’m the kind of dev that would either stay put where he is or hop around sporadically from one indie studio to the next. What I do know is I will continue to put out games!
Final question, what are you playing right now? What’s currently your favorite game? What’s a game you will never forget and why?
I’m checking out the new Hatsune Miku game for PS Vita; it’s my first time playing an entry in the series. My favorite game will always be Super Mario World for the SNES. Everything about it just seems perfect to me. It may as well be that game I’ll never forget. I remember literally everything about it as it is, and I’m bound to replay it at least a few times a year!