Hi folks, it’s Vipp here, you know me from the Retro Gaming Roundup forum, Stalking the retro podcast and for writing a few of my opinions for The GreatBitBlog. Recently I stumbled across the Blast Em! game on steam and fell in love with it, that led me to the game’s developer and the rest is history. Byron, the game’s developer, is extremely approachable and has time for a seemingly endlessly growing portion of Twitters users.
In this interview I managed to ask Byron a few questions including a closer look at the German game developer who recently stepped outside of the license agreement for the source code for Blast Em! (Currently on Steam as a DLC for anyone interested in looking at game code to learn more about game development). I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.
Martin Schultz (@DecaneGames) (deane.net) recently posted on his twitter feed:
“Jesus! My iOS game ‘Blast ‘Em! – The Final Frontier’ made a whopping eCMP of $200.44 on @Chartboost yesterday #holymoly #ecpm #happiness”
[Vipp] How did you discover this tweet and why did it get so much attention?
[Byron] Somebody pointed out the game on the app store to me and I followed the link to the company and in turn to the twitter handle of the owner.
A lot of your followers and interested parties advised a law suit against @DecaneGames but you stayed claim and filled a complaint with Apple Inc. How exactly does this process work?
It wasn’t his fault, he misunderstood the intent of releasing the source code on the Unity asset store and the license agreement posted in the source code. It allowed for derivative works and I would have been happy had he changed the name of the game and the graphics a little bit but as it was he changed a couple of buttons and that that was it – so people thought I had released the game onto the App store. He hadn’t even fixed the iOS related bugs. However, above all this, I remained calm because it was always going to happen. I knew that as soon as I released the source code to the game that somebody would just recompile it and release it. I fully expected it so it wasn’t a shock when it did. I just need to be able to distinguish between something I release and something somebody else releases and that’s why I had to take it down.
Has there been any response from @DecaneGames concerning these issues?
He tried to leave a really bad review on the asset store but when I responded calling him out he changed the review to a good one. That and a nasty email from him was about it.
Why was it important for you to release the source code for ‘Blast Em!’? Is it common for developers to share or sell source codes and does this open avenues for copyright infringement?
I just want to help people to make games. I’ve got this store of over 30 years of coding and making games in my head and I want my legacy to be that I spread that knowledge as much as I can. I want to see people being a success, I want to see them creating and I want to help them get to that stage in anyway I can. I know that when I was learning to code I would have given anything to see a complete game project so I decided when I started Blast Em! that I would release the full source code to the project as soon as I can. Ultimately, I just want to help people. It does open avenues for copyright infringement but that’s a risk you have to take on. I’m not that attached to Blast Em! and IP or money is not the only way to lose out in game development – I lost somebody I considered to be a good friend through it. They took offence to a flattering article written about me and told me so. I reacted badly to that and the rest is a friendship that can never be recovered.
The modern games industry is largely split into two groups: DRM supporters and DRM opposition. Which group, if any, are you most aligned with?
I don’t really give much thought to it, unless it gets in the way of me playing a game. It’s like DVDs – you used to have to sit through half an hour of being told not to copy it when somebody who had copied it could just jump straight in and watch it. So those of us being legal were being punished. So if a game does the same thing I’ll most likely just end up not playing it and avoid buying more from the same developer.
When you’re not concentrating on your own game development, you offer support and tutorials for your twitter followers. Can you tell us what Unity is and how easy it is for an “Average Joe” like myself to program a game following your guide?
Unity makes game development incredibly easy. It offers a lot of tools for you to just jump in and make a game quickly. You don’t have to be an expert from the start but it is powerful enough so that as you get more and more experienced the games you make will get better with you. I hope that through my “tweetorials” and the talks I am doing soon that I can show that getting something basic up and running fast is not that hard and serves as a starting doing to pique your interest to learn more. The first steps are always the hardest but once you make them the rest come easy.
I personally love ‘Blast Em!’ on Steam and the price is fantastic (£1.99). Can you tell us a little about your other Steam Greenlight project ‘Containment Protocol’?
Containment Protocol is a game idea I’ve had for a very long time and a mechanic drove its conception. The basic idea is that there’s a world out there but you can only see a part of it at a time and have to peek your head around the corner to see if it’s safe or not. I was always obsessed that this should manifest itself through some kind of holographic projection. I had made many different prototypes of the game but was never really happy with the holographic effect. Then December last year I decided to give it a try in Unity and with something like 10 lines of code was able to get the look I was going for. A couple of publishers showed interest, one of them ultimately rejected it but I wanted to self publish this one. It’s currently being assessed for funding. I doubt it will get it but I’ve still to hear on that one – which is why I’ve not done much more development on it at the moment.
If a reader wanted to find out more about you and your games where should they go?
That’s a good question – I don’t really maintain a centralized area of “me” but I suppose the best place now is to follow me on twitter as @xiotex
Last question Byron – If you were on a desert island, what three things would you take?
A laptop, a copy of Unity and a Nando’s chef.
Byron is currently working on a few projects well worth your time and attention, GreatBitBlog are very grateful to Byron for taking time out if his day to chat with us and we hope more of you will join his Twitter feed and buy/vote for his games on Steam Greenlight.
Also folks remember the GreatBitBlog.com will be attending Retro Revival 2014 this year and bringing you the best interviews from the expo including the expo owner Chris Wilkins.
Stay Tuned folks.
Vipp over and out.