Indie Interviews is Corecade’s series of interviews with independent developers. Birthed from the death of Steam’s Greenlight, Corecade listens to the innovative, lesser-heard voices.
Disclosure: Corecade is friends with Posho, the developer of Pik & Pok. Corecade has a strong belief in ethics and remaining transparent about any deals, agreements, or relationships we may have. Corecade remains dependent on Google Ads and does not receive anything from the Indie Interviews series.
Pik & Pok is an independent game developed fully by Rodrigo Gómez Maitret, otherwise known as Posho, inspired by retro classics like Bomberman. Pik & Pok is a 2-player arcade game where you “Pik” disks and “Pok” them at all your foes to escape from the fearsome Planet Zor!
[Corecade] You’ve worked on multiple projects in the past including dozens of game jams. What sets Pik & Pok apart from your older titles in regards to this project getting its own series of games as well as its own social media presence?
Well, I attend as many game jams and meetups as possible because it’s ridiculous how much experience you can get from them no matter how many times you participate, but I mainly do those to test random ideas I come up with. I have hundreds of concepts written down from random thoughts I get when I’m in the shower or when I can not sleep (;_;). But everyone can come up with ideas, and ideas are useless if you don’t make something out of them, so game jams are excellent opportunities to see if your idea sucks.
Now, even though I showed my first playable attempt for Pik & Pok as a game jam entry for the Ludum Dare 33 back in 2015, I’ve been idealizing this project since 2012 (or so).
Pik & Pok originated from my obsession with NES games’ simplicity and aesthetics, but what really pushed it was the sudden boom of indie “pixelated” games like 5 years ago. Pixels in indie games was a 2012’s equivalent to “doodle” aesthetics fad in 2009’s smartphone games: they were easy to make and looked cool. People were making “nostalgic” indie games with pixel sprites using unlimited color, sound or resolution limitations all over the place, often doing references from other games like adding Mario coins because Mario is retro or things like that. And that’s not bad -don’t get me wrong- there’s seriously talented people doing pixelated artwork nowadays, seeing all these games coming out made me think how hard would it be to work on a game title as if it was actually made in 1985.
It might not seem like it because of how overwhelmingly simple the game may look, but as someone who was not even born back in 1985 I had to do some extensive research to learn what the era was like. I wanted to make my game something of its own instead of Zelda with x thing or Mario with y thing -and that was the hard part- so I had to try to put myself in the era’s shoes.
In short, Pik & Pok is a challenge to myself, I wanted to create something of its own -as different as possible- like if it was really made in 1985 and this meant working with various layers of limitations. Every creator has their list of projects they have to do before they die, so the time and effort I put into Pik & Pok’s research made it earn its place in such list. That being said, Pik & Pok (as a series) is easily the least ambitious project from my games-I-have-to-make-before-I-die list. I’ve been making really small games since I was eight years old and I’m in College now, I figured I should take my next step as a “basement” developer and try to publish a serious game release sometime soon and see what happens.
Making Pik & Pok a mini series of games is relatively new. The whole purpose of this is just to hopefully hook a few players and let them witness how the series evolve. All this in the course of only one year.
[Corecade] What tools are you using to develop Pik & Pok and how are you using those tools differently from past projects?
I’m doing all the code in GameMaker: Studio. I know Studio 2 is out now but I prefer to use the tool I’m comfortable with already, specially since the release date is soon.
I normally do all my artwork in Adobe Flash to get the most of out of vector art, but since this time I’m working with pixel art I’m using Piskel which is a free online tool for drawing -you guessed it- pixel art. It’s super easy to use and it features a palette count system, so I couldn’t ask more from it.
Doing pixel art is fun but hopefully I won’t have to draw any more pixels once the year is over.
[Corecade] What struggles have you had to overcome while developing Pik & Pok and how has that helped you grow as an independent developer?
The hardest challenge I got from working on Pik & Pok is definitely trying to make the game and characters as accurate to the 80’s style of things as possible. A little example, a major reason to why Pik & Pok look like they do is because I found out there was major fashion trend when designing astronauts or futuristic characters wearing a biker outfit in the 80’s. It may be one of the main reasons why characters like Mega Man, Dig Dug, Lode Runners look alike so much.
I also had to rush the game’s development quite a bit to because of the deadline being so close. I got like a month to make the game from scratch and inevitable College and life situations got in the way.
I am definitely learning how much I am capable to do in the small time margin that I got left and this won’t happen again for the second game release (I hope).
[Corecade] Are you planning on publishing Pik & Pok on Steam Greenlight before Valve closes the doors on the voting process or are you more focused on getting it on sites like Itch.io and the like?
The intended plan for Pik & Pok was to make a credible 80’s game to play with a friend on your browser, I’m looking for GameJolt and Newgrounds for release, then Kongregate and possibly Facebook afterwards.
Achievements and leaderboards are already intended for the browser versions of the game, though there’s plenty of room for improvement if a standalone Steam client version of the game would happen, such as: full screen (with swappable borders), controller support and possibly even online multiplayer support.
However this is something that will only be possible with the help of the players. I’d be willingly be up to selling a Steam version of Pik & Pok for one buck (or maybe even free) if I had the honor to have my game on Steam, but this would only be possible if I somehow get approved before Steam Greenlight stops being a voting process.
[Corecade] Thanks for agreeing to this interview, any closing words you want to say to readers and where they can keep up with updates on Pik & Pok and future projects?
Pik & Pok is a small project I’m happy to be working on at the moment. The game is due release this Spring Equinox (March 20) on our GameJolt page but there is more to come through the year so stay tuned if you are interested. You can follow me on Twitter and Tumblr, or the game’s Twitter account. Thanks for having me!