Recently, I had a chance to talk with Mikael of Wide Pixel Games about the release of his latest game: Twin Tiger Shark. He’s a fascinating person. He’s the type of person who is always seeking the next challenge, always trying to test himself and his skill as a developer. That was how he approached so many of his games, trying to do as much as he could with the limitations of the system he was working with. It’s impressive.
So a special thanks to Mikael for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s been a pleasure.
Press Start To Begin: Hello there and thank you very much for this interview. To start off, what inspired you to become a video game programmer?
Mikael: I started doing games because I saw what Andrew Braybrook did to the Commodore C64 and then when Capcom released Gun.Smoke, I wanted to play it at home. Did a few versions of it back in the day.
Press Start To Begin: That’s very cool. Did you have a favorite genre growing up?
Mikael: Shmup/STG. I think it was Toaplan and Capcom games in general, actually.
Press Start To Begin: Capcom was a favorite of mine too! But back to the topic at hand. Twin Tiger Shark is an amazing game. What are some of the features of Tiger Shark that you would like everyone to know?
Mikael: Apart from the nifty online hiscores even for XBLIG everyone should know that the game is bigger than stated in the feature list.
Press Start To Begin: What sort of gamers do you go after? I mean, do you find your games fit a niche market, or do your games have wider appeal?
Mikael: I target old-school gamers that are looking for a real challenge.
(Interesting note: the first game Wide Pixel Games released was called Knight’n’Grail. They released it in 2009 for the Commodore 64!)
Press Start To Begin: Not a lot of people are aware there are developers still releasing games for the Commodore 64. What is it about the older system that appeals to you so much?
Mikael: The limitations forced upon you. There is only so much you can do with the heavily limited CPU time during a frame. Also, you can’t cram endless resources into a DVD, the disks just take 170KB.
Press Start To Begin: How do you challenge yourself as a programmer with your games?
Mikael: I bite the sour part of the apple and refactor at least one part of the engine for each game.
Also, I make sure to have a set of, self imposed, limitations before I start. Like the amount of gfx resources and the like. For Twin Tiger Shark the gfx limitations was one 512 x 512 pixel sprite sheet for the whole game, for instance.
Mikael: After release, it was seeing the global hiscore list get some unbelievable scores as well as reading all of the positive feedback. During the project the most thrilling part was when I first saw the tanks go under the palm trees getting a shadow cast over them.
Press Start To Begin: What do you look to for inspiration with making your games?
Mikael: Many times it’s either just playing a retro game or seeing a poster of an old retro game that inspires me to create another game. But sometime, as with X S.E.E.D, it was my 5 year old kid who came up with the idea of planting seeds to grow attacking flowers.
I felt that an original idea like that can’t be passed upon.
Press Start To Begin: Last question! What is your dream project?
Mikael: A RPG/shmup hybrid where you level up doing shmupping instead of turn based attacks. Would include grinding, shops, world map, story etc.
If you take any Final Fantasy and replace the turn based fights with s shmup-stage you get exactly what I would do. I would probably be the only one to play it when it’s finished, but anyway. :)
Press Start To Begin: Thank you very much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
You can find Wide Pixel Games on the Ouya and XBL. To purchase them, just head to their website by clicking here.