(His site is at http://www.revengeofthesunfish.com)
With Revenge of the Sunfish being called one of the weirdest indie games out there, Jacob is coming out with a sequel. I asked him some questions about the past, present, and future, and it turned out to be enlighteningly informative.
Here it is:
PicklesREvil: You have noted that you are already working on the sequel to
Revenge of the Sunfish. You have also implied that this game
will be packed with ideas. At the pace you are working at, how
many hours of gameplay do you think will be in the final
Jacob: Yes Revenge of the Sunfish 2, is packed with ideas.
For the last few years I’ve kept many notebooks. Whenever I have a good idea
I write it down. I try to incorporate as many of them in the game as possible.
I could go into detail about these ideas, I could even write many pages about them,
but I think I'd rather people worked
them out for themselves. Besides the game isn't released yet so I don't want to
spoil the experience for people by giving too much away.
In terms of game-play length, that’s very difficult for me to estimate.
I can promise that its longer to completethan the first.
I’m working on implementing a system where players
get a percentage of explored game levels and a map showing their progress once they complete
the game, also the ability to save and load their progress at the end. Once players get %100
other levels will be unlocked, there’s also side quests, which are very complicated
and obscure to find, and this is a big part of revenge of the sunfish 2
I'd like the tag line for the game to be:
Revenge of the sunfish 2, the game that’s mostly Easter eggs.
getting all the secrets will take more than one day, this I’m pretty much 100% certain of.
One example of an Easter egg that I’m a little bit proud of is this:
Sunfish 2 contains a mini-game where you solve mazes of increasing difficulty under a time
limit, playing it isn't necessary to progress through the main game, however If you can beat up
to level 50, you unlock another maze-like game with randomly generating levels,
if you can beat this up to level 1000, which can only be achieved though
finding an intentionally included bug and exploiting it
then you get a bit of information relating to
an action performed on another level in the game (for example kneel in front of the cat statue
etc.) if this is done correctly then you get access to a secret.
I’ve tested this and it's doable. I’m also thinking of adding a sort of side quest scavenger
hunt where secrets in the game will relate pieces of a map, that shows a spot in a real world
location where some treasure will be buried. Unfortunately for overseas players It'll probably
be a location in Australia. I like this idea because it sort of blurs the line
between reality and
Yes, actually that's one theme in the game, that is; the blurring between reality and games/dreams.
This has got a deeper
meaning for me. Some of the parts to the game I dreamed up and then made,
also sometimes I would design large parts of the game when I was really tired and not
actually remember creating them when I woke up, so sometimes it would seem like the game
was making itself, (of course it wasn't)
There have been times when i worked on the game so seriously that I would think about it all day
and dreamt about it all night. Sometimes things that I added to the game, appeared to happen
in real life, soon after I'd added them to the game.
I think the rational explanation for this was that after making
those parts in the game, the idea was lodged in my subconscious, so it was sort of a self
fulfilling prophecy. I can't give any examples of this because it's too personal.
This also kind of has a parallel to a pre-cognitive ability which some say I possess.
On several occasions
I’ve intuited specific events before they occurred, and verbalized
them to present company, events which shortly manifested.
To others present, there were no obvious signs that these events were about to take place.
However I attribute these instances to intuition.
PRE: The first game was definitely linear. How do you think the flow
of this next game will compare to rotsf1?
JWB: I would agree that the first game was linear, but it did have some dynamic
structure with a few twists and turns (there’s a level where you can go back to the
first level). By the way there’s a secret stage in sunfish 1 that I don't think anyone’s found
yet. In this stage your a one eyed octopus and you talk to a wizard, also
has anyone caught the subliminal message before the "you just got an intense craving
for dirt screen"? probably not, it only lasts a split second.
With the sequel I’m aiming for it to
be a bit more open ended. Ideally I want it to play significantly
differently every time somone plays it, although I don't want players getting stuck or lost,
(getting lost, is just a different way to get stuck).
The primary difference
between rotsf1 and rotsf2 is that the player will often have free access to go back
to previous levels or rooms, there’s also a few stages in the game which generate
random maps each time the games played. There’s also a bit more complex technical stuff
than the first, for example, use of layers :)
PRE: Most people know you best for your work on Revenge of the
Sunfish. However, your prolific work contains much more than
this non-sequitor-based game. Which of these lesser-known
projects are you most proud of?
JWB: Out of un-released games I’m probably most proud of Skiggy Zone, which is a 3d exploration game
(I will release it sometime), out of released games it's hard to choose, but maybe danger sprout, although I also
feel it's pretty flawed.
PRE: Which of these did you enjoy making the most?
JWB: I really enjoyed working on Skiggy Zone because I’ve always wanted to do 3d but I thought it was
beyond my capabilities, but then I found that many of the same principles from 2d are useful
for 3d design.
I’ve had a lot of enjoyment working on Rotsf2 but also large amounts of stress.
It wasn't originally intended to be a commercial game,
when people started expecting it to be commercial that stressed me, also when people
keep asking me when I’m going to release it.
I just wanted to make a longer version like the original, and I wanted to make it
more expressive. I wanted to make one game that I could play and enjoy for myself,
there’s a lot of things I want it to be about.
Things have sort of gotten out of hand, but that’s ok. I’ve spent so long working on sunfish2
that many of my friends and family expect it to be released as commercial.
It's a game I know I'd pay for if someone else made it, that’s because I genuinely
believe it contains a lot of great game-play and has an actually unique design.
I also think it's about comparable to a commercial game in terms of content, but more importantly
the content really means something, It's heartfelt and sincere.
It's the sort of game you could play again and again and keep finding
new elements and keep noticing new details, that’s partially the point, you see.
I think that some other games that try
to be like sunfish are trying to be weird for the sake of being weird or for the sake of
I feel that the people behind these games don't seem to understand that the
revenge of the sunfish series
is at it's core, very personal to me, and that’s what makes it good, even if
most don't realize it.
Sure it's got lots of crude and silly jokes, but that’s
just a part of my personality (people who know me can confirm this), many people don't
see past the crude graphics and jokes, they just write it off as a joke or some acid induced
craziness (note that I do not take drugs to inspire creativity).
It's the meta data, the incidental
elements that cannot be replicated that give art it's real value.
What I’m trying to create with Revenge of the Sunfish 2, is more like writing a novel
than what most people
consider "games" these days, but
it's 100% a computer game.
Alot of games simply employ behavural science and try to get players addicted,
to make money, or for addictiveness sake. This isn't somthing that should be
aimed for in my opinion.,
With Sunfish I’m aiming for something different than this, I'm aiming
to express a truth that has resonance beyond the game,
that’s only visible if the game is viewed as a whole.
I’m aiming for what film maker Werner Herzog calls an ecstatic truth.
I believe there is such a thing as what he calls an ecstatic truth.
It's where there is a deeper insight, that comes about upon experiencing the work but occurs
conscious examination of the work. It happens at a pre-conscious level.
Perhaps I won't achieve this with my game, but at least I give you some
idea of what I’ve tried to achieve.
Digital media is capable of moving people though expression I believe, although I
think it's requires great dedication to accomplish this.
PRE: What is the inspiration for your games?
JWB: I draw my inspiration from Various sources, dreams, personal experiences, music,
I also have a few programs for personal use that generate random stories or try
to help me come up with ideas, they can help spark the creative process.
I like looking at weird wallpaper and trying to find patterns in it, also old carpets.
Human behavior and psychology also inspires a lot of my work, and social issues.
I try to respond to my feelings, in relation to contemporary society for example, with
I experience a lot of anger and frustration, especially with the biased media, and
the polarization of public opinion.
These are truly dark days
of pessimism, fear, ignorance, mass apathy and bigbrother.
Other inspirations for my work are:
talking to people. My
friends and family help solidify ideas. Sometimes
I host brainstorming sessions. I take constant notes.
I like to sit in a dark room, with no distractions and just let my mind wander.
Have you ever sat in a sensory deprivation chamber? I haven't but that’s the idea.
I come up with a lot of ideas, but I’m at my most creative when I have few or no distractions.
Also I like throwing things together randomly (as random as possible),
with as little thought as possible, and then looking for novel concepts in the mess,
or smart ways to connect things together.
experimentation is a big part of my work. Another technique is that I take game
ideas that already exist and remove elements, or switch them from back to front.
also to note that the game "tondemo crisis" or "the incredible crisis"
kind of served as an early inspiration for
revenge of the sunfish.
PRE: What are your thoughts on the shareware model?
JWB: I know it was popular with early pc game
companies such as apogee, id and epic and such. I’ve never used
it before so i couldn't say for certain, but my suspicion is that it would not work
very well today. I don't have much to say about it.
PRE: What is the best advice you can give to young software
developers (software being inclusive of games)?
JWB: It depends on what their trying to get out of it.
My advice is to just do what you want to do. Do whatever interests you personally, follow your instincts.
Design games for yourself, but don't be totally closed to criticism either.
Also there’s many self proclaimed "gurus" on the internet,
These people are all sociopaths. Learn to think for yourself.
PRE: I notice that many of your games include similar particle
effects (Danger Sprout and Pasta Master, for example), they are
almost signature to you. What do you attribute the consistency
of these effects to?
JWB: I’ve written a couple of programs that generate these particle effects,
they're always fairly simple, just clusters of sprites with a bit of variation
on each one and some physics. Since I use the same generators that’s
probably why they have a similar look. I like the way they look, but I also
think they're a bit of a cheat. I'd prefer a custom death or explosion
animation with fewer frames (but more character) over fancy particle effects.
My particle effects are actually more primitive than in most other games, because
they generally lack alpha effects.
PRE: What programs do you use to create your games (engine, art,
JWB: To build games I use Mark Overmarses Game maker, the games factory (mainly to test layout,
but I love using it for doing mock up layout) Multimedia fusion, and more
recently Z game editor. For game art I use Mspaint (xp version, very important since later versions have no way
to turn off anti alias) paint shop pro 7, photo shop and blender for 3d art. I also used microsoft
word, word art feature to design some 3d looking levels in revenge of the sunfish 2.
Also Iv'e written a couple of programs for personal use which do animation. One program
morphs 2 frames together using vector outlines, it was written in Game maker, unfortunately
it doesn’t give a realistic effect since it lacks a simulation of "bones", still I’m using
some graphics made with it in revenge of the sunfish 2 simply because I think the extended
process behind the art adds something to it.
for music I use anvil studio and bero tracer. I used to use sound forge but I no longer
have a copy so I’ve started using audacity (although I don't like it as much) occasionally I
use a commodore amiga tracker via emulation, i don't know what it's called, not octamed.
PRE:Can we expect a new game engine?
JWB: Assuming I continue developing games, which is rather likely, then yes, I’d say!.
I like trying new things.
PicklesREvil.com would like to thank Jacob for his cooperation in this interview. And for the fact that he prefers Windows Xp Paint.
(see my mspaint overview)