During this generation of gaming, we have seen independent, or “indie” games rise in relevancy and popularity. Small development teams have made big noise with games such as Minecraft, Fez, Journey, and Braid. Indie games have become so relevant that indie developer support for next-gen systems is favored upon and has even become a factor in which next-gen console people are choosing.
Clearly, Indie games are a big part of the video game industry’s future but what does it take to get them there? How do indie developers come up with their ideas for their games and what are some challenges they may face? These are some questions I have wondered about the indie game industry, so when fellow Sheattacker Alexis proposed her idea about SheAttack featuring Candlelight, an indie game in development, I couldn’t pass the opportunity up.
I had the privilege of interviewing Rod Moye, the creator and 1-man team of Candlelight, thanks to Alexis’ connection with Melissa, Rod’s friend and play-tester. After watching game play trailers and trying out the game for myself, I must say that Candlelight is a “de-light” to play.
Here is the latest trailer made by Rod, showing you a unique glimpse of Candlelight.
It was a fun and enlightening experience learning more about Rod and Candlelight. Here is our full interview we conducted through email so that you can learn more too! Enjoy!
Erica: Briefly, can you explain what your game Candlelight is about?
Rod: Candlelight is a platform-adventure game. After a series of catastrophic events extinguish all candles in the land, a lone surviving candle sets out on a most important adventure to bring light back to the land. During each level the lone candle must find and reignite a dead candle while battling through natural and unnatrual elements that are bend on extinguishing its flame.
Erica: How did you come up with the concept for Candlelight? Were there any significant influences behind your idea for the game?
Rod: Candlelight is a game that was born out of both a true desire to create a unique concept and one that people of all ages could play. The idea came when I was looking for family-friendly game that also had a slightly serious tone. With so many mainstream publisher games being mostly about violence I felt it was time to create a game that was about survival but not in the typical way. I wanted a character that was cute and that people could relate to but also had a vulnerable element to it.
Eureka! The idea of a lone candle taking a long journey while trying to keep its own flame lit was born. The vulnerable aspects of the candle were based on its flame and how it actually consumes the flame to just simply live. The game play is a delicate balance of platforming mechanics and timing which give an overall dramatic feel to the game.
As for influences, I have always been a huge gamer dating back to my time on the Atari 2600, C64, and eventually PC gaming. Some definite influences for Candlelight would have to be games like Lode Runner, Jumpman, and Mario. All these games had a great feel to their controls, high levels of overall polish, and were able to communicate the goal of the game to the player very effectively. All these things were major goals of mine for Candlelight.
Erica: How did you meet Melissa and what is her part in the making of Candlelight?
Rod: Melissa and I met through my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She’s their troop leader and an avid gamer so we immediately had a common interest. At some point, I told her about Candlelight and she began to give me tons of feedback. She’s been a huge help with testing the game and throwing out ideas.
Erica: With indie games getting more and more popular, how do you feel Candlelight competes against other indie games? What makes it special?
Rod: The rise in the indie gaming scene is great thing for everyone. I worked in the industry for companies like EA and Activision for over 13 years in design roles and I will tell you that you will never see games like Candlelight made there. A game about a candle is simply not mainstream enough and this is exactly why I left for the indie gaming scene. Pixel Maverick Games was formed to create games for actual players and not solely for monetary reasons. Sure everyone wants their game to make a buck but you first have to genuinely believe in the idea regardless of the money.
I believe Candlelight is special because it brings a new idea to the table with familiar mechanics. Players will be able to pick it up and play very quickly while exploring a world that offers challenges they have not seen before. Candlelight also has a level of polish that you would expect from a AAA title, so at face value you feel like you’re playing a game with a bigger budget. Real-time lighting effects that have shadows bouncing around the environment, TNT that blows up blocks, lava that melts the candle more quickly when near it, smoke monsters, hot air balloon rides, rain clouds, dynamite guards, torches that open locked doors, I believe these things are what make Candlelight different from other games, not just indie games
Erica: When it comes to developing a game, what would you say is/are the biggest challenge(s)?
Rod: From a design standpoint, you just need someone, a single person, to drive the idea from concept to completion. This is where so many games fall short. The vision changes because there are too many influencers in the mix and this causes inconsistencies. Just like a movie where the protagonist does something out of character and you think “What? He wouldn’t do that!” Games are no different. Keeping the vision intact and consistent is a huge challenge even for one person much less multiple people.
The other big challenge is budget. How do you make a game on a shoestring budget? When your budget is low, like with most indie games, you better know exactly what you are doing and not mess around with too many major changes. Sure taking the time to iterate on ideas is a must for making any great game but the core idea must stay intact.
Erica: How long of a process has it been in the making of Candlelight?
Rod: Candlelight has been in production for about 8 months now. Since 90% of the work is done by just myself it takes a bit longer to get things done though.
Erica: And finally, when and where can we expect to play it?
Rod: I currently have no release date for Candlelight. For now though, you can go www.PixelMaverickGames.com to get the latest info on the game and to play the prototype build for the game.