Heya, folks! Lumpz the Clown here, and I’m about to step WAY OUTSIDE of my comfort zone!
How, you may ask? Well, this is perhaps my most ambitious video project yet…a video game showcase where I show off EVERYTHING Locomalito! Who is Locomalito you may ask? Well, I’ll let him tell you himself:
“I’m a homebrew developer from Spain. I grew up during the golden era of arcade games, when each new machine was an adventure to live. I dreamed of making my own games back then, I used to sketch sprites and levels in my notebooks, school books and even tables. I played thousands of titles, but as the years passed those games gradually changed into something different, something nice but not that fun anymore.
Everyone agreed that these new games were better, but I still preferred the old feeling of danger in my controller, the tension of the last life, the need to get further next time… so I told myself that if those games did never come back, I myself would bring them back!”
Every single one of these games are available for download on his website (with the exception of Star Guardian and The Curse of Issyos at the time of this writing) , all of which are FREE! However, Locomalito does accept donations, so consider sliding him some funds so he can continue making AWESOME games like these! The “Donate” button is at the bottom of the page and takes you straight to his PayPal! :-)
And now, onto the Insanely Loco Locomalito Showcase, narrated by your favorite serial pixel killer, Lumpz the Clown! (All download links are in the video description and below)
Fun Fact: this video marks the FIRST TIME that I’ve ever utilized a script! “Why”, you may ask?! Because I could, dammit, and Locomalito and his team deserve it!
Alright… now that I got that out of my system… onto the almighty interview with the ONE, the ONLY….LOCOMALITO!!
When would you say was the time when games became “nice”, but not fun anymore?
If you think of videogames like some kind of self-challenging sport, then you can spot a change in the days when home consoles passed the level of production of arcade games (around the jump from 16 to 32 bits consoles). 32 bit games had impressive graphics, CD tracks and nice cinematics… but at their core, they were just games that you “play with.” Most of these new games weren’t as challenging.
Arcade games are always my main reference, mainly because they are carefully designed to keep a balance between game length (the shorter the better), difficulty (as hard as possible while trying to be fair), and content (many interesting things condensed into short levels). All of these things together create a sense of replayability, so you can easily find yourself playing games that are 25-30 years old.
That doesn’t mean games aren’t fun anymore, but rather, they’re fun in a different way and more oriented towards entertainment and less towards pure action.
Have games become too easy?
There are plenty of genres now, many in which skill is not an important thing at all. I do feel that action-oriented games are where the action has gotten too easy.
You know something is wrong when you can easily beat a giant metal demon that came out of Hell by simply pushing 3 buttons. Companies want to sell sequels, prequels, and stuff, so they need to be sure that all their consumers have beaten the previous game before releasing the next title. Then players get used to easier games and find harder ones frustrating because they can’t beat them before their friends. It’s a vicious cycle that can “turn videogames into movies”.
Luckily nowadays, the videogame scene is so big that segmentation is doing it’s magic. There are certain genres like shumps (STGs) that have became harder over time. They’ve come to a point where every new game assumes you have years of experience dodging bullets and shooting missiles (Google “danmaku” or “bullet hell”); it’s overhelming.
How do you balance being a family man with game development?
I try to think and plan every aspect of the game carefully before going to the computer, so when I have a break to develop something, I can do it like a machine and waste no time.
Also, I keep a philosophy of not pushing myself too hard. When I need a break, I just take it, recover my energy go at it again a few days later. I try to work on small daily targets: one sprite, one code action, part of a level design and so on… so yes, it takes a while, but this method of developing a game becomes just a question of time.
How did you meet Gryzor87 and Marek Barej?
The case of Gryzor87 is curious. He was dating my wife’s best friend, so we met each other during a dinner. Casually I showed him a game I was working on that had no sound or music yet: Grialia. Some time later, we learned about each other’s personal work, he imagined some precious soundtrack for the game and we started working together since then. That game in particular has been frozen for years, but we had made a bunch of other games already, and we still hope to finish it someday.
Marek Barej emailed me some time after the release of 8Bit Killer, just to share his positive experience with the game and drop a link for me to see his work too. At that time, I was about to create the first extra designs and arts for a game (the usual box cover, user’s manual, disc print, poster…), so I asked him if he would like to do some artwork for the cover.
He agreed and did some great artwork, and since then, he has done the promo art of almost every game I have released. We live thousands of kilometers from each other, but we have developed a good friendship over the years.
Both Gryzor87 and Marek understand my way of doing things, the need for creative freedom and self-directing, and that’s awesome. I feel pretty lucky having them around.
Do you feel that heart-felt collaboration during development shows in the final product?
Of course! When communication is fluid and sincere and there’s no pressure or hidden agendas, you can work carefully on things. Sometimes, I create a level, then I send some tests or screenshots to Gryzor87 so he can work on it, then when he have some shared idea, he sends it back to me, and return back to our respective tasks to make it works as a whole with the game. No matter how many times we need to change things in order for it to work, we both consider the most important part of a game: the game itself, so we work towards that.
There are times where I start making graphics inspired by a music idea. But in any case, both of us share ideas and comments about each level, we share inspiration ideas and everything else, so yeah, in the end, I’m pretty sure that it can be noticed by the players in some way.
In the end, it’s not like a company ordering the soundtrack for a game; it’s like working together on something we like. And it’s the same with the promo art by Marek. Some pieces (like the trading cards for 8bit Killer or Verminest) are actually something he imagined.
Is it possible for other game developers to break away from the stress of meeting deadlines and/or succumbing to advertising models to stay profitable?
I don’t know, my games are not profitable at all :-)
I have a job away from game development that helps me pay the bills, then I do games as a hobby for a few personal reasons. I get small donations occasionally, and sometimes, I also produce small batches of physical games for people who want to support future developments.
But if you just think of making free games in terms of work/money, it’s far from being profitable.
Have ads become too invasive?
A single ad is too invasive in my opinion, so imagine my answer there :-/
But sadly, ads are often the only way people can earn a profit from their games, so I don’t hate ads, I just feel sad for them.
Can these other developers remain profitable and not be at the mercy of a corporation only motivated by profit?
I think so. The videogame industry is a hungry monster that only targets the habitual masses, so I’m pretty sure that there are niches out there that smaller devs can exploit…
Can games still be relevant and profitable without succumbing to an advertising model?
That’s in the hands of video game journalists right now. Can they go beyond their habitual work with big names and marketing stuff to search for gems between thousand of obscure little games daily?
I hope so!
Because it could be cool for them to say “Hey, I found this secret gem for you my reader” ;-)
You offer a lot of excellent extra content for your games, such as CD covers, soundtracks and manuals. Do you feel that these are lacking in the majority of releases today?
Totally, and precisely why today, releases are always trying to create a world of content around the main game.
In the past, even silly simple games came out with a detailed user’s manual, with illustrations and detailed information about items, enemies and levels.
The first part of playing a game back then was to open the box, grab the users manual and read the story before going to the TV. Sometimes, there were even in-game hints within the users manual.
So yes, I think games are smaller experiences without that non-soft content.
What inspired the name “They Came From Verminest”?
Old movie names, of course, like: Them!, It! The Terror from Beyond Space or The Thing from Another World. Verminest is just a name spawned between the words “vermin” and “nest”.
Are there any games that are currently in development that you would like others to know about?
I have a few projects in the pipeline, but I’m mainly working on two games.
The first one will require a lot of work before the release, and I don’t think it will see the light this year… It’s an action arcade called Star Guardian. It’s all about fighting space creatures through many planets with a giant metal goddess, with pulp sci-fi visuals and intense action.
The other one is The Curse of Issyos, a smaller project, but not necessarily a shorter game. It’s a linear action platformer in the vein of classics like Rygar or Vampire Killer, themed in ancient Greece and with simpler 8 bit looking graphics.
How did your visit to Global Game Jam go? What happens at these events?
Game jams in general are all awesome, but this last one has been a rich experience, as I was there to support different teams with tips and tricks. It’s been amazing to see how people who don’t know each other are capable of establishing a work method, storm out some ideas and just work until they have something nice done in just 48 hours.
People get so immersed in their projects that they even forget biological functions, like eating and drinking! XD
It’s a great excercise for both the professional, amateur and hobbyist developer, as there is no time to waste with production, and only the good ideas and core mechanics stand out from the rest.
In the end, game jams are like a creativity party, where the important thing is to just create stuff and share the moment with like-minded invidivuals.
I’ll always defend that jams are the most healthy part of videogame creation.
Are there any useful resources for developers like yourself that you would like to share with new developers? Are there any communities that they could join to help them get started?
The main site I always recommend to start looking is pixelprospector.com. There, you can find links to resources, tools and guides, all of which are explained and sorted in categories. It’s ran by a guy who has been gathering and analyzing information for many years now.
Secondly, gamejolt.com is an amazing site to start publishing games and sharing experiences with the community. For people who want to see their games working on a console with a user base open to small games, I recommend publishing for the OUYA. You always have constructive feedback from other devs, as many of the users there are devs as well.
How can the community help you to continue developing games?
Well, I don’t need to say the most direct method is by donating. Every single coin goes into a fund that I can use to produce upcoming projects. But there are also other ways, like just spreading the word about my released games, so they can reach more people who can enjoy them.
I’m not especially interested in reaching the masses, but in reaching the people who understand my games and philosophy. Those people that can only be reached by personal recommendation, especially because I don’t buy ads or promotional stuff.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Just open your mind to games that are outside of the mainstream marketplace. Don’t limit yourself to the current “hot trend”, as there are tons of true gems waiting to be discovered in the underground and in the past.
There you have it, folks! A developer whose got his shit together, loves what he does and knows what he wants! I am completely enlightened and inspired! For any other devs out there who feel that they are under the oppressive thumb of some godless, money-grubbing executive that doesn’t give a damn about innovation, THERE IS HOPE, and I strongly urge you to take back your creative control!
What happened to going to the arcade, dropping about $20 into a cab, getting your ass TOTALLY STOMPED, and having fun doing it, vowing you’d do better next time?
Locomalito’s right! Games today have gotten too easy and tend more towards entertainment instead of skill-building! I’d rather be tossed into a DOOM Demon pit armed only with five bullets at 5% health than be spoon-fed an in-game tutorial on how to launch a goofy-looking bird into a flimsy tower full of shitty green pigs! If it were up to me, in-game tutorials would completely disappear, difficulty would be ramped up about 10 FUCKING TIMES, and arcades would become a viable part of the economy!
So throw your damn phone in the trash, strap up with some coin, and hit your nearest arcade today, or the closest thing to it… Locomalito’s games! Lumpz the Clown OUT!
About the Author:
Lumpz the Clown, Gaming Rebellion’s Community Manager
Aside from the thousands of pixelated corpses that lay at his feet, Lumpz the Clown STILL hasn’t racked up any IRL murders! Lumpz has also started dabbling in infographic creation, having made ones for Manhunt and Five Nights at Freddy’s! Chat him up on Twitter or Facebook! He won’t bite…HARD! :-)