Devious Gamers Independent Dev Interview for Kickstarter Game I Hate My Job
Most gamers know how important independent developers are, the new kids on the block so to speak. Without them, the ideas crafted by men and women, like us, wouldn’t see the light of day. Independent developers, just like their bigger counterparts, strive to make games they love and that others will love right along with them.
With the invention of Kickstarter, many developers have found a place to present their product and find even ground with the big budget companies. Successful project have been funded through Kickstarter, and coming in behind their success come new developers looking for the same results.
Devious Gamers is one such company, looking for success in the market to allow their brain child, I Hate My Job, to see the light of day.
I Hate My Job is a mobile game that taps into the inner rage of most minimum wage employees. In the game, you unleash your frustration on the unsuspecting masses of customers who don’t realize just how much hell they put you through. Tossing items off the conveyor belt at the mobs of customers will allow you to rack up points but be wary you must not to hit other employees as you will lose more points than you have gained.
There are many added bonuses, an episodic story mode, an arcade continual mode (allows for non-stop mayhem of intense grocery item slinging.) It also offers up motion sensor uses, aim by moving the phone, and the ability to move around the main menu’s “room” to see more of the ambiance.
While there are many things that are interesting about this game, I felt it was time to see what the game developers over at Devious Gamers can tell us about the game themselves. I contacted Gage Randall, Co-Founder of the company to get some more insight on this up and coming mobile game.
The Answers From The Source
JP: First, like I always try to do, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me about I Hate My Job.
Gage Randal: No problem. I love you what you guys do over at GameSkinny. The community and personality are unique and refreshing; it's exciting to be a part of it in this way.
JP: I have to say, it is a very interesting name for a game. While I understand where it stems from, and I know that feeling all too well, I was curious what made this the final name of choice?
We wanted something that's catchy, something that would stick in people's heads upon hearing it, and something that also conveys the very essence of the game itself.
GR: Johnathan Buie, the man who came up with the idea, and myself, were both working at Walmart together. We spent a lot of time devising how we could make the game's core concept and gameplay a reality with such a small team. Considering that mobile hardware is still pretty limited, and therefore gives way to small development teams, it didn't take long to make the decision to develop the title for iOS and Android.
The mobile market is all about simple and effective marketing, and a game like this is very relatable, as you mentioned. We wanted something that's catchy, something that would stick in people's heads upon hearing it, and something that also conveys the very essence of the game itself. Early on in the conceptual phase, John very casually spit out the name "I Hate My Job" and it immediately stuck. We continued brainstorming for a bit, but never found anything so simple, so memorable, and so descriptive of our project. The name essentially came from what we really felt about our old jobs and what, arguably, our "protagonist" feels.
JP: Where did this idea come from? Throwing items at people in games isn’t a new concept, Angry Birds literally had you throwing the protagonist at the enemies. What brought about the idea of the super market/customers angle?
GR: Like I mentioned before, we had a small team. On top of that, we had no game dev experience whatsoever. We had to choose a type of game that would be easy to develop, considering that a majority of the time spent would be learning how to do it at all. The mobile arcade genre is home to many simple games that are well loved by gamers. We also wanted a game like this to be something an actual employee at an actually shitty job could pick up and play on their break without having to dedicate large chunks of time to it, and without much of a learning curve for getting into it. With arcade titles, it's all about simple and addictive action.
We looked at games like Paper Toss, Office Jerk, and Angry Birds, and thought it'd be pretty funny to offer that kind of perspective from a more real and personal standpoint. So we went with a cashier throwing groceries, as it was the most relevant concept we could devise from the many choices of crappy jobs and ways to go crazy at them. We began with a pretty typical play style, sliding your finger on the screen to throw at customers, but it evolved into a much more cinematic experience by allowing the player to actually see their character in action, physically picking up and hurling the groceries that come to them. Being able to tilt or slide your left thumb on the screen to physically look around the store also offered a much more visually stimulating effect, allowing you to simply tap the screen to throw your groceries where you're aiming.
I urge anyone who's dreamed of making games.... just go do it. We've proven that you can.
JP: With this being your first project, what were some of the main issues you have found in development? Anything come easily to your team? Anything come overwhelmingly hard?
GR: We chose top-of-the-line programs so we could get the most out of what little expertise we had. It may sound counter-intuitive, but we were all aware that these programs are the best for a reason; once you learn them, they have the power and flexibility to make anything a reality very quickly. As you can imagine, opening programs like Unreal Engine 4 and Maya 2015 are extremely intimidating when you have no clue how to use them. We spent a good 6 months working on early prototypes of the game, focusing on one element at a time to understand the concepts and design principles behind them.
Surprisingly, 3D modeling in Maya clicked pretty quickly with me. The concept of taking simple geometry and morphing it to become more complex seemed pretty natural, as I have always drawn in a similar manner. The real challenge, though, was making an actual person, rigging it, and animating it. It requires a significant amount of devotion to get over the steep learning curve involved with such a process when you have no experience and no college courses to teach you. I spent a good 2-3 months on my first character. Once I got the hang of it, I deleted it, started over, and ended up with a MUCH better result in a single day. You face this weird effect when tackling something new and complex like this, where you learn and learn, and you realize what mistakes you've been making. It was easier to start over than attempt to alter fundamental mistakes I had made before.
The exact same effect took place with designing the game in UE4; starting fresh with an improved skill set is exactly what led to the new look and gameplay.
Honestly, it happened with every aspect of our game. You could even say that the actual development for our final product began only a couple months ago, even though we have been going at this since June of 2014. Sound design, AI, texturing, physics, gameplay, animations, networking... these aren't exactly skills you pick up with a few YouTube videos.
But we've demonstrated something exciting to any wanna-be game devs out there who might have missed out on the opportunity to study game design in school: you can still do it. We did it. It takes time, patience, and immense dedication, but you end up with a deep understanding and personalized skillset. I urge anyone who's dreamed of making games.... just go do it. We've proven that you can.
Why aren't you getting fired for throwing groceries at customers?
JP: In the Kickstarter page, it mentions “an episodic story told in five hilarious installments” is there anything you can tell me about this story?
GR: You'll see a taste of it in the launch game. It'll feature the prologue of the story, with the intent of building interest so we can raise funds through popularity to develop the full experience. Don't get me wrong; the launch will have plenty of fun. We're not skimping out here. And the story will be completely free in the form of updates. But we have big plans for it that requires significant time using our new-found game dev "expertise."
I'm not really answering the question directly, am I? That's unfortunate. I can feel your frustration. That's good. That means our game will be just the stressball of mobile apps you'll need to hold yourself over.
Maybe I can give you a tiny, tiny hint, though: why aren't you getting fired for throwing groceries at customers?
JP: With this game already running as it is, have you considered with your story travelling from Supermarket to Supermarket or is there going to be more depth?
GR: We are currently developing several more locations! Fast food, amusement park concessions, and an office, are all slated to be included at launch. Each location will feature the classic "endless arcade" mode where you try to get a high score as it gets harder and harder, as well as some individual levels with specific objectives that hint at the upcoming story.
JP: If your Kickstarter reaches its goals, how quickly will you and your team get to work on finishing I Hate My Job?
GR: The Kickstarter is scheduled to end a few weeks before launch, so we would use those funds to quickly implement multiplayer and add as many more levels and characters as we can manage. Until then, we are hard at work polishing the core game and developing new locations. Without a successful Kickstarter campaign, our game won't be able to see its potential realized.
We plan on doing TONS of updates to the game, constantly adding more levels, characters, and multiplayer functionality. That can only happen with money, though. And since we are committed to retaining our personality and creativity through private ownership, we need the gamers themselves to help us out. We don't take that for granted; we plan on giving back as much as we can to provide awesome and unique games like this one, as well as a journalism and social media experience that gamers will enjoy and feel connected to.
JP: Going away from the game just a bit to talk about your company, what was the main goal behind Devious Gamers in the beginning? Did you know making a mobile game would be a focus point when you started or did that idea morph from the original plan?
GR: Originally, we were just an MMO guild network that wanted to offer expanded connectivity between games. That evolved into the idea of a full-fledged journalism website. However, we had all always wanted to make a game. Instead of choosing a direction from there, we said "why not just do it all?" We figured a big way to exclaim this to the public was just to launch right into game dev. We have several game ideas in the works, but going with mobile for our first one was pretty obvious; easy development, and booming market. It's a great way to get your game to millions of players without any effort on their part.
Devious Gamers Dev Team (Left to Right): Gage Randall, JJ Dunne, Syed Anwar, Zach Nickwell
JP: If I Hate My Job is successful, will Devious Gamers be crafting out any other games in the future?
GR: Of course! We have 50,000 words so far in a draft for an RPG, several mobile titles waiting in line, and a few PC/Steam ideas currently in the conceptual design phase. If we are able to experience even a moderate amount of success with I Hate My Job, we will immediately begin hiring more gamers to get to work on simultaneous projects.
JP: And finally I always like to try to lighten things up with a bit of humor. With I Hate My Job being about throwing grocery items, will some of the merchandise or a collector’s edition include a collectable Milk Carton or action figure of the main cashier posed to throw a carton of eggs?
GR: Haha nice. We do have a special figurine planned.... but you'll have to see the launch game to know who the character is. He's related to the story. We will also offer lots of merchandise and in-game unlockables over time to make sure gamers never get bored with our game.
JP: Once again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. I’m wishing you all the best on the game’s Kickstarter.
GR: Happy to do it. We're all about staying connected to the gamers. If anything, this is the most important way to spend time; just talking about games and loving games! We appreciate what you guys do and for this opportunity.
Inspirational and Fun
This interview opened up a lot of new avenues of information about I Hate My Job, though I will say Randall has certainly raised as many questions as he has answered. We certainly have a new perspective on the game development as a whole, and can see the Devious Gamers is an ambitious group of gamers looking to give back a bit of what they have enjoyed from other developers while growing up. Randall has also succeeded in giving faith to those up and coming game devs who are afraid to test the waters, the interview spoke a little like an inspirational poster during a few questions.
I Hate My Job is on Kickstarter, trying to gain steam and reach its goals. To see more about the game and what the guys over at Devious Gamers wants to offer you and even if you want to contribute to their cause, visit the Kickstarter page below.