Home > Articles > Interviews > A Design-Oriented Interview With S+F Software

A Design-Oriented Interview With S+F Software

This interview has not been published previously.

First of all, for those of our readers who don't know about you or haven't read the previous interview, introduce yourself and your teammembers.
My name is Steve Thompson – I pretty much tie all of the members together and oversee all of the projects. I’m also lead programmer on quite a few of them. Let’s see – then there’s Brandon Parker (our resident game engine guru and debugging pro), Andrew Bado (our pixel artist), Kyle Ward (brilliant conceptualist and programmer), Josh Deeb (our composer), Andrew Woodward (he’s responsible for our nice site design), and Paul Sawaya (another programmer). Whew – that’s a list. Heh.

Have there been any changes to the team lately?
Not recently, but there very well may be coming up this year when S+F is formed as a legal entity and we start producing actual commercial products.

Have you faced any problems as a team? How did you overcome them?
Well I suppose all teams face problems, but we’ve been lucky enough to not really face too many. However – back in September or so, Bado and I had conflicting visions of what Inhabitants should be like and he started working on his own version without really getting my consent. I was rather mad and we quarreled for quite sometime before I finally said he could continue work on his version and release it sort of as a DX version after my version was released.

What's been going on at S+F Software lately?
Internally, a lot of stuff has been happening at S+F Software. Several of our “new era” projects (projects that I feel embody the new vision of S+F) are in development such as Akuma’s YoYo, Inhabitants, Timmy R’, etc. While most of the core members of S+F have been around for over a year and a half, we haven’t really done much development other than brainstorming. We sort of needed some time to transcend into a full-blown team. The results are looking good though and I have to say the S+F members rely on one another for more than just artwork, music, and the like – we’re sort of like the S+F family. I’m the annoying, nagging patriarch.

Can you tell us a few things about your current projects?
Well – the current scope of our projects is very broad. Inhabitants is a remake of a puzzle game I did about two years ago and is definitely a lot of fun. Akuma’s YoYo (which has been in development for a while now) is our turn-based puzzle/adventure game feature Andro the platypus and Ned the dingo. Timmy R’ (short for Timmy Resurrection) is a remake of a graphic adventure done by S+Fer Kyle Robert Ward a few years back – we’re really anxious for this project seeing as how it is going to put some new, unique twists on the graphic adventure genre. Oh – I’m also currently working on a revamped special edition of Trevor III – Shadow of the Chipmunk. I’m looking forward to seeing how that game will be received today as opposed to the original release back in 2001.

What can you tell us about GBA development? How is it going? Do you still think it's a good idea? Does GBA development have a future? Is it a real option for indie game developers?
Development for the Gameboy Advance seems to be on halt currently. We all really want to port some of the classic S+F goodies to Nintendo’s handheld. Bado would love to see the Trevor series remade for GBA and I’m sure we all think a port of Inhabitants would be nice. I think Gameboy Advance is a great platform to develop for in today’s world. It’s kind of a shame, but it’s the only system where 2D games are still accepted by the masses. I really wish we’d see more 2D games in today’s world. I definitely think that GBA development has a future – er… that is, as long as Nintendo doesn’t decide to update systems on us all any time soon. The Gameboy Advance SP is a nice upgrade, but indie developers would run into some problems if suddenly the Gameboy “64” came out and they had a project mid-way through development.

Do you still think that Visual Basic can be used for game development, or have you changed your mind?
Oh – today VB is definitely a very formidable language. With the advent of VB.NET and the release of DirectX 9, VB is right up there with the other .NET languages. I think DirectX 8 really propelled VB along too.

What do you think about teams working together over the internet?
I can’t say for sure. I think it all depends on the people who are on the team. A substantial amount of the S+F team and I met over the internet and then continued the relationship into real life (so to speak), but not everyone will get along as much as we have. I really think that the way we work together is amazing. One of us may have an idea and think it is amazing, but then another S+Fer will manipulate that idea and add onto it and it will be even more amazing than it was before. We all have really good interpersonal relationships.

Do you think that there is some genre that most developers today are ignoring that could still sell?
Puzzle games seem to be fading out. Old staples like Puyo Puyo and Tetris are still being remade, but we’re not seeing a lot of innovation in today’s market. Puzzle games are generally two-dimensional and with the lack of 2D games in general on new platforms, we’re not seeing too many puzzle games. Also – Puzzlers tend to be simplistic in scheme compared to most of the other games out there. This could be another turn-off to developers.

What do you think about the current state of the indie game development scene? And what about its future? Do you have any particular idea of where you'd like it to go? What do you think the scene is missing right now?
A lot of indie developers do not finish what they start. If you want to conceptualize, then do it - but if you want to develop, then really do it. I think as far as S+F Software goes, we’d like to start making a dent in the community with some of our products. We definitely want to move towards development on platforms other than PC too – PC is a good start though since everyone seems to be connected to the internet these days. And as for what the indie scene is missing today – hrm – let me think: too much talk and not enough work. There are often games that are announced and demoed and soon after they just seem to disappear.

Do you think that it's possible for indie game developers to make enough money to live off their games?
If they can find the right publisher and they have a good idea, anything is possible.

What are your plans for the future?
On a personal level, I am currently earning a Computer Science degree. After that, I’d love to develop games. I’d love even more to develop games with the S+F team. If someone asked me what I’m most proud of in S+F, I wouldn’t necessarily say the unique ideas or the finished products, but rather the relationship between everyone on the team. If that wasn’t there, nothing would get done.

Any tips for other game developers?
Only do something if it feels right to you. So many times today, people do things for the wrong reasons. Be yourself and remain creative – that’s what sets you apart from every other developer out there and sometimes that’s all you have to be known by.

Thanks for your time. We wish you good luck.
It’s always a pleasure, Jonas

This article is © by Jonas Kyratzes and may not be reproduced without permission.