Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Spy Chameleon.
I’m Marcos Torrecillas and I’m the designer and programmer of Spy Chameleon.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I have grown playing videogames and loving them. Since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a videogame developer. So when I was 18 I decided to study Computer Science and then a master degree in videogame development, because I thought it was the best way to get in the industry. Maybe I was right because after that I got a job at Ubisoft 🙂
Where did the idea for Spy Chameleon come from?
I can’t remember how exactly it came to my mind, but I remember I believed in the potential of the gameplay mechanic so I made a prototype in a few days that ended being a small videogame. It was released in Xbox Live Community Games (later known Xbox Live Indie Games).
What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Spy Chameleon?
The biggest success was to see that we were able to work on our own without bosses, external milestones and that kind of pressure. At the beginning I was a bit afraid of that but I ended being motivated and working fine.
The biggest failure came being a bit optimistic in what could be achieved with the working force we were at that moment. We lost some time thinking we could do some stuff that was cut at the end. We could have improved other stuff during that time. We still have a lot to learn!
In its current form, how close is Spy Chameleon to your initial vision?
It is very close to what I thought it would be. I had loved to add a lot of the ideas we have like crazy multiplayer modes and more levels with new mechanics, but the truth is that those weren’t really planned because we knew that we didn’t have the time and resources to make it right.
Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game. Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Spy Chameleon and if you faced a similar challenge.
I tried to do a challenging game, for people that enjoy games like Super Meat Boy. You can always skip a level or two if you get stuck. I know that there are some difficulty peaks at some levels in the game, I had preferred to have a smoother difficulty curve, but as you said, it’s very difficult to balance the game on your own.
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Spy Chameleon would run on the various PC system configurations?
We tried to make a game that would run in almost any PC since the beginning, as the game vision allowed us to do that, so we didn’t face any problems regarding that.
Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Spy Chameleon.
For the art and animation, we went for a cartoonish and friendly look that we thought it would fit better with the tone of our game. People can think that it is an easy and casual game, but nothing could be further from the truth! Being a RGB agent requires some good skills. At the same time we wanted the world to be believable and immersive, that’s why we chose a more realistic lighting approach. The level design demanded a modular art to be able to iterate fast but, in spite of that, we didn’t want to miss the variety of environments so, even if the walls are modular, we added specific assets for each mission. On top of that, we changed textures of all the modules every five levels to increase the feeling of variation.
For the menus and most of the mini-cinematics we went for 2D art, because we think it helps to “easily” add relevant information about the mood of the character, situation and atmosphere of the game. There are 75 levels with more than 10 gameplay elements, so all the elements are reused in different levels. I tried to make each level feel different from the others using those elements in multiple contexts and combinations. Some levels require great reflexes and skills, others require to stop and think a bit, others are a mix of both.
Regarding the music, I play the bass and I love the funky music and we thought it would be nice to add that kind of funny and catchy tunes to the silly missions of our spy. Our friends at www.oudu.es made the tunes for the game. I wanted to play the bass in a tune of the game so I went to their studio to record the main theme. Was so funny! 😛
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?
Money! I enjoyed a lot creating the game, for me that wasn’t a tough aspect at all. Getting money to allow me to make the game is the toughest part. I live with the fear of having to stop being an indie developer.
How did you go about funding Spy Chameleon and did you receive financial or emotional support from friends and family?
The game has been funded with our own money. Friends and family helped us emotionally and giving feedback, ideas and criticism. They are in the credits for a reason!
Tell us about the process of submitting Spy Chameleon to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.
At the moment we are selling the game through a Humble Widget. And we are trying to be greenlit. The comments have been very positive and motivating. We have contacted other digital distributions as Desura, Green Man Gaming and we hope to be there soon.
Did you research similar titles when trying to come up with the launch price?
Yes we did! And we tried to set the price according to what other games do and what I would like to pay for a game like this one.
How important is it to get instant feedback about Spy Chameleon from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
It’s nice to see what players think. The game has been released but without being in Steam or having big coverage, the game is not going to sell a lot. We need to check all the feedback and if there are big complains and problems with the game we will sure fix them as soon as possible.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Spy Chameleon professionally?
Hearing opinions is always good. I don´t like numbers to review games but I love the words that explain those numbers. You can get a lot of information that you can apply to the current or next projects.
How do you feel about the various indie bundle promotions and the “Pay What You Want” pricing methodology? Would you be interested in contributing to a project like that in the future?
Nowadays there are so many games out there that I think is a good way for people to discover and play those games. Obviously this is also good for small developers. And I love that most of those bundles give part of the earnings to charity. So, yes! Would be great to contribute to a project of this nature in the future.
What are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
I think if you like games and the prices are not abusive, you will buy a lot of games and spend money in the PC gaming industry. Most of the games in Steam are working great, also GOG is working great. Intrusive DRMs aren’t.
How do you feel about individuals posting videos and receiving monetization of Spy Chameleon?
I would love that to happen, would be great news for us. I think everybody wins.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
For me, Games and DLCs are good as long as they offer a good value. I remember buying Super Street Fighter IV hoping that that one would be the definitive and last edition. Ha, It wasn’t! But the value I got was well worth the money I paid. If Capcom releases new characters, new skins, new modes… that’s great! I didn’t buy the arcade edition or any DLC but a lot of people did and they enjoyed it. By the way, I probably will buy the next Ultra edition, the real definitive one…? 😛
How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Spy Chameleon?
I think it is very good. Mods usually increase the value of games without the developers spending time on it. I had loved to have a level editor in Spy Chameleon but once again, time and resources made it impossible.
What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
I still have a lot to learn but I would say them try to stay motivated, open-minded and work very hard on it!