Sunder Islands is a mysterious mind-bending exploration game on a dangerous alien gas-like planet featuring physically based structure building and lots of things to uncover! Solo indie dev Niko has been crafting the project since late 2018. Visit the official website for details.
Q: What is a shortcut you love taking (any aspect of development)?
Since its not possible nor recommended to reinvent the wheel, especially in a complex software project that contains visuals, sounds, music, programming, level design, a story
(you get the idea) I am glad to be able to have access to either payed or free assets for raw sounds, textures, some shaders and scripts, 3d models and a 3d game engine I do not have to programm myself (talking about Unity3D). To get those game assets I use sites like Git, the Unity Asset Store, Quixel Megascans, Boom library, Freesounds.org, etc...
My knowledge, skills and talent also has its limits, especially in the composition part so I teamed up with a composer that helps me create awesome soundtracks for the game!
Another weakpoint of mine are small icons and logos. This might sound unexpected but its pretty difficult to create a icon or logo with almost no details and still has the power to say what it is while looking good and memorable! For that reason I used fivver to find someone who has the knowledge and experience in that field and I am glad to have some designer friends knowing this stuff aswell :P. I might get back to fivver a few more times in the future...
Q: How do you deal with negative feedback about your game?
First of all it depends on what kind of negative feedback that is. It can be targeted to a specific feature or design, it can be constructive or just pure nonsensical "hatred" as our friend palpatine would say. If its constructive and-or targeted to a specific part of the game like an animation, a look of something or a feature on its own I first let it sink in to think about it. Initially I try to justify my progress but then realize that I am biased as the creator of the game so I try to collect all the feedback to sum up the general opinion on the subject.
I also ask people I know for an honest opinion about the targeted thing (mostly afterwards, since the timing is off). After that's done I decide on what's to change in a new "feedback" task that I store in a management tool called "Trello" and answer the critic with all the pro and contra points regarding his or hers feedback and thank him or her! As for the classical "hater" feedback I don't interact with it or give it any attention to flourish since there is no point to it...
Q: What is your engine? Why did you choose that game engine for your project?
For my case the Unity3D engine was the best way to go since I started tinkering with it in a young age (around 14-15 years old) and got job experience with it later on. When I was around 16-17 years old I released a workout planner app to the google playstore entirely made with the unity3D engine but decided to remove it later on for various reasons. So all in all I feel very comfortable with Unity due to my experience with it and love the big community that helps each other out!!
Q: What are some of the fondest gaming moments from your childhood? Where did this all start for you?
When I was a small child (around 8 years old or so) I started playing video games on the Playstation 1 partly on my own and partly with my friends. Some of my favored nostalgic games on the ps1 are: Rayman, Kula World, Croc, Spyro, Tekken, Need for Speed and so on. This time of exploring video-games opened an amazing gate to other worlds and the amazing combined interactive artform of movies, music, sounds and stories called video games. It makes me especially mad when this medium is still not seen as an artform on its own and the first thing that comes up in some peoples minds is just a senseless shooter. There is more to it, heck even movies and books can be bad! But enough of that :P
What I miss the most nowadays is the lack of split-screen games. Some of my fondest memories go back to playing split screen games with my friends like: Halo 2, Tekken 2, Burnout Paradise, RE5, COD5, etc. If not playing split screen games we would play single player games and swap the controller when someone died or a level was finished. The most emotional game I played was Metal Gear Solid 3 on the old XBOX (I think it was the XBOX). I kind of enjoyed and hated the wacky controls at the same time and loved the gameplay mechanics where you had to collect food, heal yourself and change outfits to adapt your camouflage. The best part though was the story and its emotional ending!!
Q: When was the defining moment that made you decide to become a developer?
I always wanted to develop an entire game and ship it but was not ready for it until now. The current job situation and day to day life didn't feel right to me so I made the decision to at least try making a game and see how everything will tie up together in the end. I want to express my crazy fantasy to the world and let it free! The defining moment to execute the decision was triggered when the company made a decision my partner and I did not agree with and so we moved on. Since I still need to pay my rent and eat like everyone else I did not go all in and continued my job as a part time software engineer at the same company to this day.
Wishlist IWOCon 2020 here.