Scred is a terraformed section of Saturn’s moon, Tarvos – so it’s a setting. The name Scred comes from a need to find something that doesn’t sound like anything else (so it turns up in search results ok), but is easy enough to pronounce. I’ve always found that naming games after common objects (saw one the other day just called ‘Cube’) doesn’t really work in the modern world. Too hard for people to find your stuff if you’re using simple nouns.
In the past, though, I’ve used random name generators for other projects. Tarvos is actually a deity from The Pillar of the Boatmen, which I found pretty cool. It’s what I named the main codebase for my games after.
Just from my impressions of playing these titles, you appear to draw a lot of inspiration from retro gaming (particularly Atari 2600 games). Would you care to share with us any specific games that have inspired you in creating Quarries/Seas of Scred?
Yep, absolutely. Quarries of Scred is derived specifically from a game that my father, brother and I played when I was a kid named Emerald Hunt. It appears to have largely disappeared in the mists of time (sad that such a thing can happen to data when storage is astronomically cheap, but there’s a lesson in that). From a bit of poking around, I gather it’s a clone of sorts of Boulder Dash – when people ask for a description, I say it’s a clone of a clone of Boulder Dash, only with more stuff.
Seas of Scred comes from adding things to a game featured in an Usbourne programming book called ‘Computer Spacegames’, which was one of the first things I ever typed in/coded/played around with when I was much, much younger – so there’s a bit of personal history there. As I expand the game, I’ll be adding mechanics from other games I enjoy.
In regards to the development of Quarries/Seas of Scred: how many people do you have working with you in making these games?
Quarries basically comes down to: Myself coding, several people submitting graphics sets (Jay the Robot, CNIAngel and others), and CFX Music providing the intro tune. My wife is an excellent person to bounce ideas off, and she’s always in favour of making the game harder.
That said: Designs don’t just come from devs, if they’re willing to listen. Quarries was a distinctly different, simpler game when it came out, and has grown only through the assistance and devotion of the community behind it. Some of the best ideas have come from people telling me things they’d fear I would put in (and obviously, that means it needs to go in).
Seas runs on the same model, though there’s only graphics sets from CNIAngel just yet – though there’s plenty of time for more to go in. I’m not going to leave the game as it is, I like to add to it.
How’s the community feedback been so far in regards to them? Any particular comments that you would like to share?
Community feedback for Quarries has been overwhelmingly fantastic from Day -1 (meaning, when it was in the feedback stages pre-release). I’ve known for a little while that the folks behind the community were excellent, but that really shone through with PAX Aus 2014, where I had helpers like Stacey Borg & Ant Stiller helping put the stall together (fantastic lads, those two) and the people who stopped past with kind words (and to check on me and keep my anxiety low). It’s been incredible.
Seas has had a slightly slower adoption rate, but it’s important to remember: It’s only been a fortnight. A game can (if a dev wants) be a long-term project even after release, and I intend to keep working on it, adding to it and making it grow. If nothing else, I feel that’s the best way to say thank you to the folks who’ve already picked up a copy.
How long did Quarries/Seas of Scred take to develop?
For QoS, theoretically: Not long. The original goal was to push it out after approximately two weeks. I’d spent a long time (3+ years) on another project and was basically burnt out. Combined with being made redundant, I was not doing very well.
QoS was a project that aimed to ‘just get something done so we can say it’s out there’. After the basics were done I spent a few weeks making a multiplayer version (it was fun, but I don’t think my network code is good enough) but pared it down to what we have now. Again, though, it’s worth remembering that what you have now isn’t the result of those two weeks way back – it’s the result of a year’s improvements and lessons, and fan feedback.
As for Seas of Scred, I actually kept a timesheet so I know: 98 hrs. As far as ‘how long’, though the answer is months because I worked on it last year but had to shelve it due to PAX Aus taking up time (and other commitments).
How long have you personally been developing games?
Interesting one. Two distinct eras, actually. I had the good fortune to have a good ‘computers’ teacher, and a library stocked with the Usborne books I mentioned earlier, so I was actually making games in LOGO and Visual Basic when I was in high school. However, this largely disappeared when I went to university and didn’t surface again until I ended up working as an Engineer. The second era began when I was working at my job and realised I’d forgotten how to code… despite the fact I have a software engineering degree, I had actually forgotten – so the second era started as ‘relearn this skill before it’s gone forever’. This was about… 2010.
What inspired you to become a game developer?
*laughs* I don’t think it was initially something I wanted to do per se, as much as something I was just doing. I obviously approach it from a more serious angle now, but I suspect that’s from getting older more than anything else.
What’s been the most challenging for you whilst developing these games?
Mental health, absolutely. One of the reasons why I had to abandon my baby (Arnthak), was that I basically burnt out and winded up with depression & anxiety due to issues with my work life AND overworking on gamedev. It’s part of coder culture to work long hours and suffer for the project, but… I took it very much too far and ended up in a very, very bad spot. Don’t do it kids, once it happens it’s really hard to crawl back from the pit.
If you’re out there, and you’re suffering – if your bad days are outnumbering your good days – please, please reach out and talk to someone about it. Go see a doctor and talk to them. Please.
On a happier note, I’ve also met a lot of awesome folks in a similar state and formed a great support network – which is just a great way that things have been improving in the last year or so
What’s been the most rewarding thing for you whilst developing these games?
The ongoing support of my wife is number one, and impressing her is always a great thing. The fuzzy feeling I got when my father was helping me set up the stall for PAX Aus (we had an arcade machine he drove in for us and helped set up), and the flow on of having a bunch of people come over and help. There’s a lot of other really cool things, but I suspect the other big one is meeting so many cool folks that I now get to call friends (and get hugs from).
Any more future Scred projects we can expect in the near future?
Absolutely. *checks battleplan* There’s about 3 more planned, and I do need to go back and finish Fields of Scred (which was planned as the sequel to QoS but had to be put on hold). Seas of Scred is about Ruby, but don’t think I’ve forgotten about Bob either. I’d like to think there’s quite a bit more room for work to be done within this particular moon.
For any future independent game developers out here in Australia, do you have any encouraging words of wisdom that you could provide to them?
Absolutely: Reach out and talk to others. One of the key reasons I burnt out so badly on Arnthak was that I wasn’t very social at the time, and I was working in a bubble. Australia has a really oddly powerful gamedev scene, so get out there and meet people, talk to them and build on each others energy. If you’re in Melbourne, get in touch with IGDAM or other groups, there’s so many cool folks.
I would like personally to thank Noble Kale for taking the time to answer my questions
If you would like to check out some of Nobles games; head on down to his itchi.io page or follow him on Twitter!