Indie Spotlight is a series at Gaming Nexus that explores the origin and development of unique and innovative games designed and produced by independent developers. Each article includes a developer interview that focuses on examining the concept and design processes involved with each project. Indie Spotlight strives to showcase new and upcoming games that range from a variety of genres and development studios across the world.
The indie-game development scene has become as competitive as the AAA market over the past few years. Thousands of developers are taking their chances to make a name for their selves with hopes of capturing the hearts of gamer’s everywhere. It can be a long and interesting road in the development of such titles and each developer has their own unique story or tale that chronicles that adventure.
Recently, we reviewed
one such indie game in Chasing Carrot’s action-racer Pressure and were fortunate enough to track down one of the co-founders for an interview about not only their game, but also life as an indie developer in today’s market.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your various roles with the development of Pressure and at Chasing Carrots?
Hi everybody, my name is Patrick Wachowiak co-founder of Chasing Carrots, a small independent development studio from Germany. Having studied 3D animation, my main focus is art design, but I also do a lot of scripting, so my position is some kind of middleman between the worlds of art and code.
What's the history behind Chasing Carrots in regards to how it became formed and whom is involved with the team?
Our Chasing Carrots team consists of 7 members. There are also some musicians and sound designers as freelancers involved. Most of the team are old colleagues and they joined the team during the time we worked on “Pressure” as a side project.
Tell us a little bit about the idea / concept behind Pressure? Tell us a bit about the origins of the project and whether there were there any particular movies, games, or other sources of media that inspired some of the concepts behind Pressure?
We started Pressure in 2009 as a side project at our former day job, because our “need” for creating games could not completely be satisfied with 3D animation and serious games. So we began to work on a little “arcady” action game with cars, what would later become “Pressure”.
We drew much of the inspiration out of classic Shmup Games like Raptor or Tyrian. Also the Steampunk setting with it’s steam-driven machinery was a great source of ideas, but we intentionally set our art style apart from the Victorian “High-Steampunk” aesthetics and went more in a vibrant, cartoonish direction.
Has the project changed much throughout the course of its development? How close is the final product to what was originally envisioned?
I think in every development process your initial idea turns out different at the end. Initially “Pressure” was conceived as a more free roaming / exploration, vehicular combat game. But we quickly realized, that vehicles are meant for fast-paced driving action. So we decided to constrain the motion in one (road) direction and support the speed with the “Pressure” - a drain mechanic, which is like a classic timed checkpoint system. This urges the players to get to the next checkpoint as quickly as possible. And while still keeping the shooting and ramming gameplay we got the final form of “Pressure” - an arcade shoot’em up on wheels.
Also the art style evolved with a new concept artist from a more realistically, gritty looking one, where we used lots of dark and cold materials like steel wooden to something more warm and amusing.
What were some of the challenges and triumphs experienced during the development of Pressure?
The biggest problem was, that we had never worked on a project with such a scope. And we underestimated some aspects of the development, which lead to some delay in the end. But we managed to stay in the given time limits with methods like agile/scrum.
Another problem is to stay focused on the core of your project. It is astoundingly easy to get sidetracked because you can decide every little aspect of the game. In a small team every member is extremely important and has to share the same vision or otherwise your project may head the wrong way.
How was the experience of launching Pressure as being your first game release under Chasing Carrots?
We barely slept the night before the launch. It was very exciting to see our baby pop up on Steam beside Bioshock Infinite. But unfortunately the launch was a little bit rushed, so there was very little information available about Pressure on the web at release date.
What are your thoughts on Steam as a distribution platform on the PC side of things? Was there ever any consideration of going the Greenlight route?
Steam is great, we love it. As being our preferred source of games privately, we are familiar with the platform. And it was no question for us, that we have to release “Pressure” on Steam. Very early in the process we made a deal, covering marketing and publishing with TopWare Interactive. At that time Greenlight was not ready and “Pressure” went the traditional way.
Speaking of Greenlight, what are your thoughts on the program and do you think that it truly benefits indie developers?
I think the Greenlight project is a great opportunity to publish indie games. If you have a good concept and would like release your game without a publisher, Greenlight will be one way to do it. I think the community on Steam is always open for new games but they are crucial too. So you have to be very carefully what you present on Greenlight. Also during the development you’ll get feedback directly from your audience, that is a very big tool and a chance.
Can we expect any future downloadable content for Pressure in terms of new levels and additional gameplay modes?
We are currently looking into the possibilities for some future DLCs. We got many great ideas, which didn’t make it into the game, like additional settings, more bosses and a survival mode. But unfortunately we cannot make a definite statement at the moment.
Are there plans to release Pressure on additional platforms such as consoles and mobile devices?
Yes, we hope in few weeks there will be a release for XBLA and PSN. It is just in the QA at the moment and we will release it in the 3rd quarter this year.
We’d love to see “Pressure” on mobile devices like tablets, but the input possibilities are giving us headaches and we don’t think we could port the game 1:1 on mobile devices without sacrificing some of the fun. So, as long we can’t come up with a good input solution, we’ll have to pass on this opportunity. But watch out for our next game on your tablets.
With Pressure released on PC, what's on the horizon for future projects from Chasing Carrots? Are you ready to move onto your next project(s) or do you feel there is still life left in the Pressure project?
After two years of Pressure we decided that Pressure is finished for now, except a possible DLC. Right now we are working on another, very different game. We can’t tell you anything about it, because we are still in the early conceptual phase. But we would be happy to let you guys know, if we have some more information and footage to present.
Is there anything we missed that you would like to mention about Pressure and Chasing Carrots?
We are more than happy to have the opportunity to create video games as an independent studio and we hope you like “Pressure” (try to beat it on “absurd”) and watch out for our next game.
We would like to send out a special thanks to Patrick Wachowiak and the rest of the Chasing Carrots team for taking the time to answer our questions. Pressure can be found on Valve’s Steam store with both full and demo versions available.