Disparity Games’ Jason Stark Talks Ninja Pizza Girl

Disparity Games' Jason Stark takes time out of his busy game developer schedule to talk about their newest game, set to be released next March.

Disparity Games' Jason Stark takes time out of his busy game developer schedule to talk about their newest game, set to be released next March.

There’s only ten days left until the Kickstarter page for Disparity Games’ upcoming game, Ninja Pizza Girl, reaches its deadline. They’re just around $12,000 short of their goal, but Disparity Games’ Jason Stark, programmer and designer of the game, is hoping for the best and keeping positive about the development process. Stark’s oldest daughter inspired the game: she was taking a martial arts class and held a pizza delivery job. She would come home and tell interesting – and sometimes disturbing – accounts of her work day to her family, according to the video on their Kickstarter page.

See what Stark has to say about the development of Ninja Pizza Girl and what Disparity Games plans to do if the goal isn’t met, what else they have planned in the future, and his advice for aspiring independent game developers world-wide.

Game Skinny: Your Kickstarter page currently has 930 backers, $22,903 out of $35,000 raised, and 10 days to go before the deadline. If the desired goal amount isn’t met by the deadline, what’s your next course of action?

Jason Stark: Well first thing – we’ll feel mighty disappointed! And after that we’ll re-evaluate exactly where we’re at and how much of the original design of the game we’ll be able to achieve. Some features will be cut. Some platforms will probably be dropped. And we’ll consider other revenue-raising methods such as Steam early-access, as well as the possibility of doing contract work to pay for more Ninja Pizza Girl development.‏

Ninja Pizza Girl will be finished. It just would take longer and might not be as good. But the worst part about a failed Kickstarter would be what it says about the commercial viability of the project. If we can’t raise $35,000, what does that say about our future sales figures?

Game Skinny: Will there be a continuation or extension of the deadline for the Kickstarter page? Why have such a big goal set for only a thirty-day period? How will the funds that have been raised help or hinder the production of Ninja Pizza Girl?

Jason Stark: Kickstarter doesn’t allow deadline continuations or extensions. It’s funny that you call $35 000 a big goal. My friends formed the studio “5 Lives” and the first thing that did was run a Kickstarter campaign that raised one million dollars! $35 000, once you remove the costs of actually running the Kickstarter, will give us the extra time we need to finish off NPG to our original design spec.‏ I’m actually really REALLY hoping we’ll hit the “Includification” stretch goal which will let us add all the accessibility features.

Game Skinny: And how would that happen?

Jason Stark: Our funding target is $35,000. If we don’t hit that, no one is charged any of the promised money, no rewards are sent out and the campaign has “failed”. A stretch goal is a target amount of money above that minimum target. If we reach $40,000, the extra funds will be used for a unique soundtrack. If we reach $45,000, we’ll use that money to add features to support disabled gamers. And so forth.

Game Skinny: Ninja Pizza Girl is set to be released on the Android and iOS, PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii-U systems. Why the Wii-U? How will the gameplay experiences differ across the various platforms (console to handheld mobile device to computer)?

Jason Stark: Why the Wii-U? Because Nintendo is awesome! We showed NPG to a Nintendo rep at an Aussie game dev convention and they were really enthusiastic. They have been fantastic and supportive during the whole process. We think NPG is a great fit for the Wii-U with Nintendo’s focus on fun, friendly game experiences that differ from the typical triple A shooter.‏

How will the gameplay experiences differ? Not that much really. The main differences will be in controller method. On the Wii-U you’ll use a controller. On the PC / Mac you can use the keyboard / mouse or a controller and the touch screen devices will use virtual buttons. The game was developed with the hardest device in mind (a phone) so it’s got a very simple control system that’s easy to port. And a side benefit of having a simple control system means the game is inherently disabled-gamer friendly.‏ And kid-friendly.‏ And person-who-hasn’t-played-a-videogame-before friendly.

Game Skinny: How many levels will the game have? Will there be an endless mode, time attack, etc.? Will there be achievements to earn throughout game progression? If so, what kinds?

Jason Stark: The game is currently planned to have 24 levels, although this might increase depending on stretch goals. There won’t be an endless mode but there will be time attack modes. The levels have all been designed to challenge competitive speed runners and to be just generally fun to replay. There will be online leader boards so I’m hoping some people get into the competitive spirit.

There will be achievements. We haven’t designed the specifics yet but they will reward all sorts of things. We want everyone to be earning achievements, not just the skilled gamers. So we might have an achievement for trying a level 10 times or an achievement for finding all the collectables in a level or an achievement for delivering the pizza with less than 10 seconds to spare. Ninja Pizza Girl is all about reaching out beyond the typical gamer audience so everything is designed with that in mind.

Game Skinny: When Ninja Pizza Girl is released, what do you hope gamers will take away from this game?

Jason Stark: I’m really hoping that it provides inspiration and hope for those who are being bullied. I hope it provides gaming girls with a role model. I hope it shows people a point of view that they haven’t experienced. I hope it made them laugh. I hope it made them sad. And I hope they had a really fun time! One of my favorite things is to watch 15 year old boys playing NPG. They seem to love it and I hope it shows them what life can be like for the girls in their life. If we can give some understanding to the world, we will be very happy.

Game Skinny: Do you hope to make a sequel to this game or a branch-off in the future? Possibly a multi-player game with a different yet similar concept?

Jason Stark: It’s not something we’ve planned but we’ll let the fans tell us what they want.‏ If there’s the demand I’d love to expand the NPG universe.

Game Skinny: What other projects do you have going on at the moment? Like ‘Dark Days’?

Jason Stark: Dark Days is an idea that’s always in the back of our minds but it’s so big in scope we’d have to build up to it. We’re currently really excited to be working with the Northern Territory library association on apps for Indigenous Australians. At the moment they’re only language apps but we’re hoping to get the funding to work on apps that gamify health care. Education and mistrust of authorities is a huge problem in Indigenous communities so we’re hoping to tackle that with video games.

We’re just very happy to be a part of it.‏ If we’re going to make games. We want to make games that help people. Yeah, which is strange as most game developers are pretty nice people. I think we’re just not used as thinking of ourselves as having the power to do anything.

Game Skinny: Do you plan to attend PAX Australia this year? If so, what do you plan to showcase there?

Jason Stark: And yes we’ll be at PAX Aus this year showing off Ninja Pizza Girl.

Game Skinny: How likely is it that Ninja Pizza Girl will make it to Sony and Microsoft? Will it be sold strictly online, like on Steam, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live? How do you feel knowing that Ninja Pizza Girl has been ‘green lit’ by the Steam community?

Jason Stark: We are still doing our special “we’ve been green lit” happy dance. 🙂 I know some people who have been on Greenlight for months and months. To get on after a few weeks is incredible. NPG will only be digital download only. We are talking with MS at the moment and things are looking very positive so an Xbox release is a definite possibility.

Game Skinny: Will there still be a way to support the game and get all the neat goodies shown on the Kickstarter page after the deadline?

Jason Stark: As soon as we reach our goal we’ll be setting up the ability to support us via PayPal and we’ll keep that going after the KS campaign is finished.

Game Skinny: A family that also doubles as a game development team is pretty awesome! What words of advice do you have to all the aspiring independent game developers out there?

Jason Stark: Dig Deep. Don’t follow the pack. Express yourself as honestly and sincerely as possible. Find out what you think is important and make a game about that.‏ Push boundaries.‏ And be nice to EVERYONE.


For more information about Ninja Pizza Girl, check out Support Disparity Games’ Ninja Pizza Girl on Kickstarter. Be sure to follow Disparity Games on Twitter and Facebook. If you would like to contribute to the development of Ninja Pizza Girl, visit their Kickstarter page today.

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