OrangePixel have set their sights on PlayStation Vita, and their like willing to miss. Merging the roguelike nature of Spelunky with the intense action of a side-scrolling shooter, the quality of budget-priced title Gunslugs took many a Vita owner by surprise when it made the jump from mobile earlier this month, firmly placing the Dutch developer on the metaphorical map. Next up, the studio has already planned to bring over yet another one of their games to Sony’s handheld, a Gauntlet style dunge0n-crawler by the name of Heroes of Loot.
Needless to say, things are going well for the small team, but that isn’t to say that success hasn’t come without challenge and, perhaps, a few hiccups along the way.
Though maybe not a household name, yet, OrangePixel has been making games for various platforms since 2004; making this “console” debut a long time in the making. Moreover, the developers from the Netherlands saw their Vita launch momentarily spoiled with the premature release of Gunslugs on the European PSN Store. But nobody ever said creating games is easy, and as such OrangePixel continue to push on and produce content with a design with a uniqueness that is signature to their creators.
I sat down with Gunslugs programmer and pixel artist Pascal Bestebroer to talk about the studio’s journey from devices held in hand, to a gaming handheld.
Brian Sharon: First off, let me congratulate you on releasing Gunslugs on PlayStation Vita. How do you feel now that the game is available on for download on the PlayStation Network Store?
Pascal Bestebroer: I feel excited! It was received pretty well by the Vita gamers and reviewers, which is always a little nerve wrecking when you release a game on any platform.
Despite starting as a mobile title, Gunslugs is a game that feels at as though it was built to be played with a traditional control scheme. Do you feel that the game has benefited by moving away from touch inputs?
PB: I actually built Gunslugs with physical controllers in mind. On Android there is a huge collection of bluetooth controllers available, and the game was also designed to be a launch title for Ouya and Gamestick. Even though the touch-input has always been a solid way to play the game, many people prefer the physical buttons and sticks, so it mostly benefits those gamers.
The release of Gunslugs could be described as a bit bumpy, as an internal error on behalf of Sony saw the game release early, if ever so briefly, in Europe. What was going when you first got wind of the slip-up?
PB: I was surprised! I received messages on twitter and in my mail box about the game, I contacted the guys at Abstraction Games asking why the game was live and at first they didn’t understand either and thought I was tripping until I showed them the game on the PS Store and then they flipped and sorted things with Sony. It was pretty weird, slightly upsetting, but eventually it worked out fine.
The reason it was pulled quickly was because we were still working on marketing efforts and having reviewers playing the game without having to rush their judgement.
OrangePixel has been making games decade and yet this is your first console title. Could you walk me through how you formed this partnership with PlayStation?
PB: Even though I’m, what’s considered, an “Indie developer” I still love the big bad AAA game titles and consoles. So it has always been a dream to get my games on Sony and Nintendo hardware (sorry, not much of an Xbox fan). When I noticed Sony was actively looking for great indie games, I contacted them through twitter and they pointed me towards Abstraction games. Since Abstraction games and OrangePixel are both Dutch it was very easy to communicate, agree on how we would proceed, and just do it! They have the technical knowledge for console development, and I have the games, so a win-win situation!
So it has always been a dream to get my games on Sony and Nintendo hardware (sorry, not much of an Xbox fan).
What does it mean to have such an accomplished studio in Abstraction translating your creations for other platforms?
PB: So far I found the cooperation pretty smooth. Like I said, they have the technical ‘knowhow’ to port games to a lot of different platforms, and OrangePixel has the games that can benefit from that experience.
You’re currently working on OrangePixel’s latest project Grounds Keeper 2 for mobile and PC. Is there any chance we will see future titles from you arrive on PlayStation Vita in the future?
PB: I sure hope so, it will probably depend on the success we have with these first couple of releases coming to PS Vita, but yeah I don’t see why not!
It is clear that as developers, Pixel-art is extremely important to both your games and your identity. How has this classic form of electronic expression affected and influenced you as a designer?
PB: My use of pixel-art really comes from the games I played when I grew up, but also the fact that doing high-res art or 3D renderings takes up a lot more time to create. Since I’m just a one-man developers doing both the coding and graphics, amongst other things, it’s also a case of being more productive doing pixel-art. Although people shouldn’t think that doing animated pixel-art is a lot easier or faster, it’s just fits my working methods better and thus makes it possible for me to create bigger games that look and sound great and have that OrangePixel identity stamped all over it.
When can we expect a Johnny Rumble sequel?
PB: Haha, well, that might take some more years.. I think he might first show up in another Gunslugs project before he goes solo again.
To see our review of Gunslugs – click here.