Indieview: JessL Games
Welcome to Indieview! Each week I post a series of questions and answers from indie game developers to show off all of the wonderful creations in the works. My aim is to highlight how much work goes into making something that we all want to play and to spread the word about the games included.
This week’s developer is: JessL Games
Introduce yourself/team and the roles your play
My name is Jess Lewis of JessLGames. I’ve been an indie mobile game developer for five years. My wife works with me to find resources, such as music and sound effects and she also does game testing. My son also assists with marketing, such as video promotion, and also game testing. I do the programming, graphics, marketing, and everything else.
Tell us about the current game you are developing
Our current game is called Backpack Billy, a 2D side-scrolling multi-level adventure game wherein the player helps Billy locate a treasure to be used to obtain his girlfriend’s freedom from kidnappers. Backpack Billy has been in development for over three years. It should be released on Android before the beginning of summer 2019 and later on Steam.
At what point did you decide you were going to start making games?
I began making games at 14 years old on a Commodore Vic20. My first full game was a simple Pong clone written in assembler language. I wrote several games in BASIC inspired by arcade games like Pacman, Berzerk and Venture. As I aged, I continued to create games as a hobby, but it wasn’t until Android smartphone gaming became popular that I decided to begin releasing games.
What are the main inspirations for your game?
Backpack Billy was inspired by games like Venture, Pitfall, and Super Mario Bros. Besides running and jumping, Billy can acquire other skills such as rope and ladder climbing, and crawling. The rope and ladder climbing mechanic was inspired by early platform games like Donkey Kong. However, the crawling mechanic is inspired by movies like The Goonies.
How different is your game now from the original concept?
Although Backpack Billy has been in development for 3 years, the plot and mechanics have not changed. I really wanted a 2D side scrolling game that would feel like an adventure. Billy would travel through deserts and forests, like many adventurers, but he would also travel through temples and underground. The only difference in the original concept is in the environments.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
The biggest challenge in developing Backpack Billy has been the graphics and artwork. I learned to draw cartoon characters so that I could create the game, but then I quickly learned how time consuming creating artwork can be. Creating artwork can be very rewarding, but it is a lengthy process. As a result, I was even more inspired to find other sources for artwork.
What are your favourite parts of the development process?
My favorite part of developing games is in the programming and solving the puzzles that occur as a result of creating a game. Creating a game is basically a series of puzzles. Of course those puzzles are determined by the choice of engine such as Unity, Unreal, Libgdx, or others. Backpack Billy is being developed on Unity. Three years ago, 2D support in Unity was quite different from today and it has improved greatly.
When are you looking to release your game?
Backpack Billy should be released on Android by June 2019 with a release several months later on Steam.
Where can people find out more and get in touch?
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