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Interview

Our interview with Defpotec Studios the creator of Shadō

Here we are, back with another developer interview! This time with Defpotec Studios the creator of Shadō: The Minimal Snake Game.

Before we start we’d like to thank the Defpotec Studios Team for participating in our interview and for answering all of our geeky questions! Thanks!

/// Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Shadō! Could you kick-start this interview by telling us a little about your studio, yourself, and what drew you into the gaming industry?

Defpotec Studios is a small 1 person (occasionally 2 person) game studio based in St. Louis, MO.

Working full time with two young kids it’s hard to find time to make games, but’s it’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I think it was in second or third grade that I found a book at the school library on computer programming, and it had a section on making games.

It was then that I realized that games were something you could actually make on your own. So I started designing and making simple little games.

In high school, they got a bit more complicated and in college, I was playing around with some of the different 3D game engines that were available at the time. I’ve never really felt like working for a big studio, so when mobile gaming became a thing, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally make and release something of my own to the world.

/// Ok, let’s start talking about Shadō. What are the highlights of your latest game?

The “snake game” genera has been around for a long time, but I wanted to do something a bit different with it. To make it more modern.

First off, it’s not really a snake, it’s more abstract using minimalist graphics. The main game mechanic is based around lights and shadows. You move fast in the light and slow in the shadows. The balls you collect in the game also “shadow” you, meaning they follow your every move.

Each section introduces new concepts, including switches, portals, and even the final challenge of navigating blindly through pitch-black shadows.

The big difference between this game and other similar games is that your “snake” doesn’t create a solid continuous “tail”. The balls follow you at a set distance from each other creating a gap that you can actually pass through if you’re feeling daring.

This especially comes into play later in the game where there are moving obstacles you must time just right to pass through.

/// What was the core idea or inspiration behind Shadō? And perhaps more importantly, where do you find inspiration for your games in general?

The inspiration for this game actually came from the Windows 10 loading screen of all places. I was playing around with a 2D dynamic shadow system and trying to think of a way to use it in a game.

When I saw the Windows loading spinner with the circles following each other around and around, I thought that combining it with the shadows might be an interesting look for a game.

As far as inspiration for the gameplay itself, there was a snake game called Nibbles that came with PCs in the mid-’90s as part of the programming language QBASIC.

The past is full of amazing ideas!

I was a high school student at the time and I learned a lot about making games by experimenting with that game’s code. I thought it would be cool to pay tribute to it so I combined all those ideas to make Shado.

For a lot of my game ideas, I actually draw inspiration from the past. I have a pretty large retro game collection and it’s always fun to re-discover some old game concept and think of ways to modernize it for today’s audience.

/// How long was Shadō in development for? And are there any interesting and/or exciting moments or experiences you would like to share with us from that time?

Working in my limited free time it took a lot longer than it should have. The initial proof of concept demo was created about 4 years ago, but it sat on the back burner for quite a while.

I really only actively started working on the game again about a year ago, which at its max would have been a couple of hours a night a couple of nights a week. If I had worked on it full-time, then I estimate that it would have only taken around 2 to 3 months to complete.

Probably the most time consuming (and frustrating) part was getting everything to work in sync.

I was using a modern coding approach where each ball that follows you had it’s own code to control it. But as you would collect more and more balls the gap between them would start to get noticeably wider.

It was important, especially in later levels, for everything to move in sync with one another, but nothing I tried worked. Eventually, I had the thought that if I was programming this game in QBASIC in the 90’s I’d handle it completely differently.

Instead of each ball having its own movement code, I’d have one block of code in charge of moving all the balls at the same time. So that’s what I did, and it worked perfectly.

/// What software, developer-tools, or black-magic(?) did you use when making Shadō: The Minimal Snake Game? Is there anything you would like to share with the developers who read Edamame Reviews?

Shado was developed in Unity and coded in C#. Audio editing was done in Audacity.

There are a lot of other free tools available to game developers that I often use such as Blender for 3D graphics and Gimp for image editing. But because of this game’s minimalist graphics, I didn’t really need to do much outside of Unity.

/// Is there any secret “developer-advice” you can give our lucky players who read this interview?

As far as secrets to playing the game, don’t be too afraid of passing through your own tail. It’s a pretty big gap.

It’s also helpful to know that all objects are on a grid, and all movement happens on that grid as well. So when you swipe to move, you won’t actually move until you’ve entered the next row of the grid.

One of the harder parts of the game is the later levels that have the constant stream of moving blocks you have to get through. The easiest way to do so is to move alongside them as close as you can, moving in the same direction. You want to be lined up so there is as big a gap as possible to get through.

The trick is to keep trying over and over again until you’re in position. Then simply move toward the blocks to go through that gap to get to the other side.

/// What can we expect to see in Shadō: The Minimal Snake Game or from Defpotec Studios in the not so distant future? What do we have to look forward to next?

I also plan on adding more control options such as a virtual DPad and gamepad support. I’m also planning on getting it translated into more languages. Currently, it’s just in English and Spanish but there’s a pretty big market out there in other countries. Brazil for example.

For future games, we’re sitting on a pretty big backlog of ideas and prototypes that will hopefully become finished games in the future. I just need to find the time!

/// Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our awesome team of Writers, Developers, and Supporters who keep Edamame Reviews up and running?

I just want to say thank you for supporting the smaller indie studios that other sites won’t cover. It’s really easy to get lost in the sea of other apps out there, especially without the marketing budget of a big studio, so any help is much appreciated.

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