I recently talked with Redactem developer, Elliott Marc Jones, about his career as a game developer, his inspirations and motivations, and what the future might hold.
What motivates you to work on game design?
Game design is a very intricate and sometimes personal process, some developers pour their hearts out into their levels and when you play their games you can really feel it. 1001 Spikes is a perfect example of this, perhaps not on your first playthrough, but on your second or third you will definitely notice all of the things that the creators did to make the levels challenging yet personal and funny at the same time. As a developer, every time I play games that have been thought out as well as 1001 Spikes it gives me inspiration, not to copy their game but to make something that is as smart and intelligent yet at the same time has personality and wit.
What games are your biggest inspiration?
I have been developing games for a few years now on the side, for college projects and just for fun but it wasn’t until I started watching Jonathan Blow’s many talks and interviews that I started to realize and understand the art and emotion behind video games. After I stared to grasp that concept, I wanted to try and do something myself and although I completed a game (Redactem), I’m not sure if this one, being my first has quite the emotional meaning as a game like The Witness has. Saying that, Redactem has had a plethora of positive feedback from it’s players so I think that, for my ‘first’ game I’ve done a half decent job managing everything.
Do you have role models, in or outside of the game development community?
Other than Jonathan Blow, mentioned earlier, I’m also a big fan of Phil Fish, I must be the only person on the internet who does actually like him though as all I see about him online is hate. I don’t care about his personal life or what he says on Twitter, I just care about his skills as a designer, and in that regard he is one of the most talented individuals in this entire industry. I’d be honored to meet either of them one day.
Where did the idea for Redactem come from?
I was testing my skills and knowledge relating to game development to see if it was good enough to create a standalone game, and in doing so I had created a monster, tons of useless platformer features all stuffed into one small game, it was a mess. Wanting to salvage what I already had, I used the design by subtraction principle to remove all of the features that took away from the main mechanics and idea of the game.
What has been your favorite part of working on Redactem?
My favorite part about the process was watching other people play the game. When bug testing myself I couldn’t really enjoy the game because I was too good at it after playing through the same levels hundreds of times but watching other people play for the first time was very funny and I feel that after I send Steam keys out to YouTubers the game will be fun to watch there too and I hope will gain a big audience.
What have you learned from your work on Redactem?
I learnt about the importance of planning out code. When I first started Redactem I was just testing if what I wanted to do was achievable with my skill set and therefore didn’t consider how well the code was written. When I actually wanted to turn what I had into a real game I should have started over rather than use the old messy code. I feel that I am probably the only person alive who would understand Redactem’s code right now.
You have an important update coming to your game. What can you tell me about it?
The 1.2 update for Redactem is very big, and is being released via IndieGameStand at the same time as the game first releases on Steam, August 1st. It includes: eight new levels, redesigned graphics, a cheat code system and support for a lot of new languages including but not limited to Chinese, Spanish, Hindi and Polish. We are also removing one feature, which is the FPS counter as we feel it is not necessary for lightweight indie games. We have also ported the game over to Mac OS X and Linux for the 1.2 update and are currently testing out exactly which versions of Linux are suitable so we can let our players know before they buy.
What advice would you give to other game developers?
Before you start work on the game you want to actually release, learn more about the language/engine you are using. For example, if you are using Unity check out all of the available plugins and see if there is anything out there that could help you out. Just recently, with Redactem we discovered a plugin for the engine we are using which could have saved us around four-hundred lines of code and many hours of coding and frustration.
Redactem 1.2 is now available for purchase on IndieGameStand. Readers can follow Elliott Marc Jones and Redactem on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please let us know! We are also looking for other game developers for us to talk to either in a written or transcribed blog post, or live on Twitch. Please reach out to our Community Managers, Sam Adonis or Jacob Clark.