Interview with Heartfelt Games
We would like to thank Heartfelt Games for taking the time to answer our silly questions!
Let’s talk a little bit about When It Hits The Fan. It definitely showcases the old school arcade shooter vibe, what led you guys to go down that road rather than anything else?
I had mostly dabbled in game development most of my life with no serious projects until I finally followed the advice to finish a small game. I did that a few times, spending a few years making some prototypes and dabbling on different platforms.
One day I noticed a post on /r/Shreveport on reddit by Shreveport Arcade calling for local Louisiana game developers who were interested in having their games put in arcade cabinets. I put it into the back of my mind until later when my wife told me about the same post and encouraged me to meet up with them. I did so and showed them one of my arcade-like prototypes, the prototype for what is now When It Hits the Fan.
From there I pushed on getting advice for how to make it better, showing it off in various online communities and locally until I endured finishing my first larger and commercial project.
In short, I made it more arcade-y because of the opportunity granted by putting it into an arcade cabinet.
Being an indie game developer can be a real challenge in the industry today. How was the process for you guys during development?
Development itself was mostly smooth as there was plenty of encouragement locally and constructive criticism in certain online communities. Looking back though, if I had to change any two things it would be these:
1) to use an engine like Gamemaker, Godot, or Unity, rather than a framework (we used libgdx + Java). While it was a good tool to use, engines are far quicker to produce content.
2) I had to make a budget decision early on with the graphics which lead to a top-down look rather than 3/4 side view which in my opinion could have made the game look better and maybe end up more successful.
What were some of the bigger obstacles you faced?
Inexperience with a lot of things probably slowed the project down, but that's okay because you learn things along the way. Money was also an issue so I tried a Kickstarter campaign which ultimately ended up in failure. A lot of this was probably a marketing problem (again, inexperience).
What was the expectation going into the project? It seems to have been received really well.
I expected going in to at least make back what I spend on the game. I ended up not even coming close. When It Hits the Fan so far has not sold well, but nearly every person who played it, seems to like or love it. I am content as long as people enjoy it, although I'd make me happier to be able to make games for a living.
Let’s shift gears a little and focus on Heartfelt Games. You guys have a few other games to your name, Blackout (which is available in the Google Play Store) and Spirit Orb Pets (in development). What’s next for you guys?
I would like to revisit Spirit Orb Pets one day as a side project, but right now I am working on a game called Alphaman. This game is a prototype which will act as a full-game prequel to what I am calling "Project Omega" while I practice my platform game making skills.
Alphaman and "Project Omega" are Megaman X-like in nature, but will feature an original story surrounding the origins of free-thinking androids and the first of their kind: "Omega" and "Eve" (working titles and names not final).
Do you guys have any plans or thought about bringing a game to console at all? Is that something that interest you?
I would love to bring "Project Omega" to consoles if there is enough interest. Godot (the engine I'm working with) certainly has the capability to export to some of them, but it requires support from others who have managed to do so. There are currently no plans to port When It Hits the Fan to consoles as it was made with Java.
As a company that has put a game out in the wild, what advice can you give someone trying to do the same?
Perseverance is one of the most important qualities to have when making an indie game. Discipline is more important than inspiration. Inspiration can get you started, but discipline will carry you past the finish line.
Marketing is also important. Don't neglect it.
We are excited to have you guys come to the IGD Expo and showcase your work! Do you guys go to conventions regularly to promote your games?
For the past two years I have shown off When It Hits the Fan at Geek'd Con in Shreveport and outside of it the years before that. I have only shown off locally because it is affordable, but I'd love to go to more if possible in the future.
Do you have anything you can tease us with about any of your possible upcoming games or projects?
I hope to complete Alphaman by the end of the year so I can start on "Project Omega" ASAP. Alphaman will release completely free of charge to promote "Project Omega" so spread it around to all of your friends. Word of mouth is the best form of promotion and every little bit helps indie devs out!