Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interview with Brody Brooks and review of Crazy Comet!

Today marks the first of what will soon become a regular feature: insider interviews! 

This first interview is with Brody Brooks of Pixel Sunrise. Brooks graduated from Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, California in 2011 and has been interested in game design since high school. His company, which he owns with college friend Amelia Davis, recently released a mobile game for Android, and he was kind enough to provide some excellent and insightful answers to the questions that I cooked up.

The game is Crazy Comet, and it is really quite fun!

The premise is simple: you control a comet roving around the galaxy and collect good asteroids to gain size, while avoiding bad asteroids which will diminish it. There are power ups suspended in space as well. It is reminiscent of the Katamari games, which is a compliment if you ask me! Gameplay lasts for 60 seconds, at the end of which you receive your score.

crazy cometThe graphics are simple and beautiful with a watercolor feel, and the music is pleasant and calming as well. Overall it is aesthetically pleasing, and players are rewarded with cheering and clapping whenever a new high score is obtained.

Crazy Comet is free to download and makes a nice addition to anyone's Android device. You can compete against yourself or try to beat your friend's score once you know how good they are, and it's great in short bursts while passing the time.

You can download Crazy Comet in the Android Marketplace, and be sure to visit Pixel Sunrise to see what new games they have in the works!


Tell me a little about yourself!

I’ve been passionate about games since an early age and decided to work towards a career in game development before puberty took its ravenous hold on me. I never really knew what part of game development I wanted to be a part of, so over the years I’ve dabbled in every aspect from design and code to artwork and late-night eye strain. In college, I was very active in the school’s game development program and culture. Predicting a tough job market, I decided to come out into post-academic life as an independent developer and start from the ground up.

In short, I’m quickly becoming an indie stereotype.

How long have you been doing game design?

I’ve been pretty passionate about tinkering with and postulating over game design since before high school, and started getting serious about it just before college. I remember by the time I was a freshman at Cogswell College I was writing out full pitch and design documents and getting anyone I could to read them. It got me some attention around school, and I think a grand total of six people actually read some of them. From then until now, I tinkered with making little prototypes in Game Maker, Unity, UDK, and Python.

How does it feel to have a game up in the Market?

It feels really great to take a project to a level of polish where you feel comfortable letting it into the wild, but it’s pretty nerve-wracking. It feels like I’m letting a small child into the forest hoping the squirrels don’t ravage it. I’m working on adding some extra features to the game, so it’s by no means a time to relax. But I’m having some of that first-time elation that I’m able to put a product out there with a short development time.

Was anyone else on your team?

This was the first collaboration between myself and my college friend, Amelia Davis, under our company PIXEL SUNRISE. I was responsible for the design and code, and she contributed the artwork. If she wasn’t around and suggested doing full-on watercolor artwork, the game would have been all in quick, dirty pixel art.

Where did you get the idea for Crazy Comet?

Amelia and I knew that with the resources we were starting out with, we couldn’t begin with a large months- or years-long project. So we began brainstorming ideas for smaller, casual titles that we could release quickly into the mobile space. I hadn’t done anything with mobile games before, but a bunch of my friends have been doing a lot of things with Corona, which lets you quickly code games across a lot of different mobile platforms. So I wanted to make something super simple to get ramped up on that.

I came up with an idea for a simple missile-steering game that takes place in a long winding cavern, and started coding it in Corona. But when I pitched the concept to friends, many of them didn’t seem to find the premise appealing. So I changed the concept around to something less destructive but using most of the same mechanics.

When did you start development?

I started development in the middle of December, but couldn’t put much time into it due to the holidays. I really only started serious work on the game in early January.

What were the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge for me was learning all the intricacies, nuances, and quirks of putting applications onto mobile devices. I’m used to hitting the “Compile” or “Build” button and having a working game I can simply share around on a thumb drive. With Android and iOS, there’s a lot of steps involved to get the proper licenses and certificates, get all the proper toolkits and packages installed, install your apps on devices for testing, work around quirks that each platform has, and finally submitting your app to each marketplace. While these aren’t a major deal once you know the process, there was certainly a learning curve the first time around.

Do you have any future projects currently in the works?

We have a couple games we’re in the planning stages on, but we’re not ready to say anything about them yet. Except that they will provide entertainment value. We promise entertainment value.

What (if any) other games have you made?

The only other game we’ve put out together previously was a simple co-op stealth game called Clark & Dagger, which we submitted into the Independent Games Festival Student Competition. That was a project done as part of Cogswell’s Game Development Club, and the production where Amelia and I found we worked well together.

Anything you’d like to add?

Crazy Comet is a very simple game in its current state, but we have plans for features and changes that will bring more variance and replayablility to to the experience. The plan is to add new features on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so keep your eyes out for updates!

Thank you!

Thanks for having me!

I hope you all enjoyed this insider interview and that you'll give Crazy Comet a try! For all of you iOS users, an Apple build is coming soon, so keep your eyes open.



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