Interview with a young game development team: Vamped Games
Vamped Games started out as a senior project at the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media. But, as they had a functioning development team going the founding members decided they couldn't let their "gaming excellence" go to waste. So now the team is working on their first project Funk Unplugged. The game is doing well on KickStarter with over 30% of the goal met and two weeks to go; my fingers are crossed for this throwback title.
Andre Gracias Lead Producer of Vamped Games was happy to gather the whole team and answer a few questions about their Kickstarter, funding as student-developers, and the creation of Funk unplugged's mascot Ampy.
Lad Johnson: So the Vamped games team is all students?
Vamped Games: Vamped Games is a team comprised of equal parts current and former DePaul students.
LJ: Being students are you missing the resources that bigger industry names have? Does your university provide any of these?
VG: Yes, we don’t have most of the things bigger studios have. We mostly work using university resources and borrow work space and equipment from DePaul in order to work. However the biggest asset DePaul provides for us is guidance from their experienced faculty.
LJ: This is your team's first project. Do any of you have previous experience.
VG: Yes, everyone on our team has worked on other projects through DePaul’s game development program. Additionally we have all worked on personal projects in order to hone our skills.
LJ: Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to fund your project? Was online crowd funding your only option?
VG: Yes, online crowd funding was our only real option to start making a game on the scale of Funk Unplugged. Kickstarter was the most logical choice as it is the biggest platform for a project like ours.
Vamped Games is a team comprised of equal parts current and former DePaul students.
LJ: If you do not meet your funding goals what happens next?
VG: Our plan right now is to continue to work on Funk Unplugged and try again at a later time. That being said we believe in this project and will take it as far as we can.
LJ: The graphics are fun yet scaled back. What engine is the game built on? Is this the final version of the game we are seeing?
VG: We are currently working on Unity but we are still far off from the final version of our game. We have much more planned for the future but what we have is a good representation of where the game is going.
LJ: From the Demo and trailer gameplay doesn't seem very difficult. What is the games target audience?
VG: We’re hoping to make a game that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Specifically Funk Unplugged is being made with nostalgic players and younger kids in mind.
LJ: I think you've done a great job coming up with rewards. How did you guys come up with these?
VG: We brainstormed them for a long time and went through a lot of different variations before settling on what we have today.
LJ: For 1000$ someone can assist with the game's creation. To what extent could one utilize such a privilege? If I had ideas that were plausible would you accept all of them?
VG: Of course we will accept any ideas or requests that we believe are within the spirit of our game! We are a smaller team and so we have some limitations for scope but we have no problem working with our fan base to make these ideas work.
LJ: Would the night on the town be worth 1500$?
VG: We are a great group of gentleman and have a lot of stories!
LJ: The higher tier pledges have done well. Do you think this is due to them having limited availability?
VG: No, honestly those rewards have done so well mostly due to the quality of those tier. Having personal touches in the game and personal interactions with us have been very appealing to our backers and they have responded by backing them.
A game that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Specifically Funk Unplugged is being made with nostalgic players and younger kids in mind.
LJ: It's mentioned that the Nintendo 64 inspired this games gameplay. Any games in particular.
VG: We were inspired by all of the great 90s platformers. In particular Banjo Kazooie, Mario 64 and Ratchet and Clank have been big inspirations for us. We took a lot of inspiration from Banjo Kazooie for our world's feel and play style. A lot of our actions and art are inspired by this game.
LJ: Why the limitation to just Xbox and PC?
VG: We are a smaller team and porting to multiple systems takes a lot of time and energy. The PC port is the most direct and we are committed to releasing on the Xbox One in order to expand our fan base.
LJ: Who would you say your competitions is?
VG: Right now our biggest competition is Yooka Laylee, a game being made by the people behind Banjo Kazooie. Their budget is very large and they all have experience in this field but we feel that we are bringing a fresh take on the genre and introducing some new and interesting means of interacting with the world.
LJ: Are you planning any Expansions or DLC?
VG: Not at the moment. We are focusing on making the game first and will worry about DLC and expansions afterward.
LJ: When is the ideal time for this game to release?
VG: As of right now were planning for a release in spring of 2017. This gives us enough time to make the game we want to make.
LJ: A lovable square in a tropical setting? What inspired Ampy's creation?
VG: True Story, We were trying to create this character that changed the world with music, for the better. So we thought, why not make him actually create the music? Why not make him a speaker or a boombox… or an Amp? Then boom, you have Ampy.
LJ: Can we expect future Vamped games titles to be platformers?
VG: If our fan base wants platformers we would be happy to oblige. However we are a flexible team and have ideas beyond the platformer genre.
LJ: If Ampy was in Super Smash Bros what would his down-B be?
VG: We always imagined that he would blast himself downward using sound waves and slam into the ground. Sort of like Kirby’s brick, but faster.
LJ: How much time is spent working on this project?
We feel that we are bringing a fresh take on the genre and introducing some new and interesting means of interacting with the world.
VG: All of it. Every moment we aren’t working to pay the bills is spent working on Funk Unplugged.
LJ: Are there any side project currently in the works?
VG: Not at the moment, were focusing all of our effort on Funk Unplugged.
Every day now a low budget indie title is catching the eyes of gamers. But, becoming the next big hit overnight is not an unrealistic goal. Watch out for theses boys from Chicago; Vamped Games might be on to something with Funk unplugged's nostalgic gameplay.