AMA with Binx Interactive - The Answers!

Two weeks ago we announced that we would be hosting an AMA session with the team behind “I Hate Running Backwards”, Binx Interactive, who are also a part of the Croteam Incubator. And now we have the answers to your questions! We hope you find the questions and the answers as helpful and interesting as we did.

What’s the whole process of making a game? I know it first starts with an idea but what happens from there? What do you do first, what do you do last and after you finish the product how does publishing a game work?
Well there is definitely a lot of idea juggling going on. This is where we might go all out and just spit out ideas that might not even make sense, or ideas that we are well aware of being near impossible to work on. But the thing is we play and prototype as much as we can so we can see from the start what game mechanics work well. We will then try to improve the mechanics as much as we can so they fit really well, only when the mechanics are perfected and we fulfilled the vision we were aiming for - and of course, we're satisfied with it - then we will move on and work on content and other things.

Any plans for future free or paid updates to IHRB?

At this point, we are focused on future projects, so IHRB updates are not on our road map. But never say never...

Do you ever get burned out from developing? And if so, how do you deal with it?

Sometimes. It usually happens when we’re very near finishing a project. It’s when all the polishing is made and the progress is done in small incremental steps when viewed from outside, so you put in extra work to get work done. Trying to meet deadlines can be exhausting and there are always issues that pop-up that you simply don’t count on.
In our case, we were trying to push the game out an all major platforms at once. It was our first time developing games for consoles and we really didn’t know what to expect and we didn’t really know how long it’s going to take us. We ended up releasing the game for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in May, with the Switch version releasing in October.
It’s sometimes hard to be aware of you burning up because you’re so focused on getting the game finished you practically ignore everything else around you. But it is definitely something that you need to be aware of. If a “crunch” occurs, be sure to always take a day or two off and just get your mind cleared up. Take that day and just do something different, that is not work related. Go for a bike ride or a hike, do some physical activity to keep your body in shape, go meet up with your friends or family. Something that will clear your mind and recharge your batteries.
When you clear your mind up like that, there’s always a chance of new ideas or solutions to your current problems popping up in your head.

Why the cube-like design for enemies and environments in "I Hate Running Backwards"?

It allowed us to reiterate faster, create assets faster and it allowed us to get that cool cube like environment destruction. Our environments are fully destructible, and the lightning is real-time, so the simple 3D models allowed us to maintain the smooth 60fps experience across all platforms.

How hard is it to start a project? What level of knowledge is required to make games? I want a future in game development, so I’m asking if what I learn at my faculty (Fakultet organizacije i informatike, part of the University of Zagreb) will be enough, or if I should push myself further.

Well, it depends on the project. Finishing a project is the real problem. If you’re starting with little to no prior knowledge, eventually there will come a time where you hit a brick wall and just don’t know what to do next. This is where it might actually seems easier to start with a new idea than to finish with the current project. A lot of times, fresh teams can hit a wall where they don’t know how to continue, and simply scrap a project and start a new one. But if you didn’t overcome the obstacle the first time, you won’t know how to handle it the second time. And you will hit the same wall again. It happened to us and it happens to everyone.
And no faculty knowledge can prepare you for what’s to come. :) You will need to always push further because there are always bigger and bigger hurdles to overcome.

What inspired your team to create “I Hate Running Backwards”?

After joining up with Croteam in their Incubator program, we had a brain-storming session with Damjan - the lead composer from Croteam. At that meeting the idea to do a Serious Sam spin-off was born and we just needed an idea of what is going to make it different.
Then it popped up how players can trigger a one-liner from Sam when he shoots and runs backpedals at the same time. The one liner goes: “I HATE running backwards!”.
So it all just fell into place and we knew what we wanted to do. So this was our take on the shoot’em up genre. Only we called it a “shoot’em down”. :)
Sam and the other playable characters are overwhelmed by enemies and constantly need to run backwards so that’s why we went with that title.

Why did you support Linux? Many game devs say it's not profitable.

We have a huge Linux fan in our ranks so the Linux version simply couldn’t be left out. Plus we had a lot of people asking for a Linux version wondering if it will ever come out. And after evaluating if we would be able to do it, we decided on it.

If you could give a piece of advice to someone who's starting out with game development, what would it be? For example, something that you wish you had known when you started.

K.I.S.S., or “keep it simple stupid”.
Seriously. Don’t go wandering into game development with the idea that you’re going to do the next Dark Souls, GTA or the biggest MMORPG game EVER. It’s not gonna happen. Don’t underestimate the size of even the simplest of games, and don’t overestimate your skills. It takes a lot bigger teams of game developers with A LOT of experience years to make the game that you think you will make in no time. That’s not how it works. Start of with a simple game and finish it. It’s extremely important that you finish a game so that you have experience on a project from start to finish. Don’t go through a project with unrealistic expectations only to hit a brick wall and turning back to start a new project. You will hit that same wall again.
K.I.S.S. :)

How much game experience did you have prior to joining Croteam?

We worked on a few games up until that point, since we had jobs in other game development studios in Zagreb before joining up with Croteam. So we can’t say we came unprepared. But we were also working as a team before joining Croteam Incubator on our own projects and even released a game for iOS.

I am a college student working in game dev (all aspects) as well as music/sound design. My question is: I will be looking for jobs soon so, what are the most needed/most hiring jobs I should look out for?

Well, programmers and 2D or 3D artists are always needed. But level designers, music composers, game designers, producers are needed as well... although not in the same capacity, because a team usually needs one producer or designer, but you can never get enough of artists and programmers. All these positions are also needed but it all depends on the size of your team and project. Small indie teams of up to 5 don’t have a dedicated music composer. So there are a lot of music composers that work as freelancers and offer their services to teams that don’t have or need these roles in their teams.

What was the most difficult in your game development experience?

Crunch. And explaining it to your family, girlfriend, friends etc. Burning out is a serious problem that can happen easily. So recognizing that and battling it is something that can exhaust you. Keep in mind this is talking from our point of view. And our point of view is that of a small indie team.

Will you make hard-to-solve puzzles in your next game?

Maybe sometime in one of our future projects :)
We already played with an idea of a puzzle platformer before, so it is not something that is unfamiliar to us.

Have you ever lost motivation to continue making a game/project? If yes, then how did you fight with it?

Rest. Take a step back, take a day off, clear your head. Have you ever tried solving a really hard puzzle? Sometimes what would happen is: whatever you try you just can’t seem to make it work. No matter the approach you take. And then you come back the next day, and solve it like it was the easiest thing. Sometimes it’s the same with game development. But of course, there will be problems that will seem impossible no matter how many times you come back to it.

Do you have any tips for beginners? I’m in high school right now and I want to work in the game development business later on in my life. What's a good place to start if you don't know much about making games?

Well, it is probably the same as with any beginning. YouTube! Tutorials! Can’t go wrong with that. There are people sharing knowledge for free and there is more than enough material to go around. If you’re into programming, you can start with Unreal or Unity. Unity's site is full of great tutorials, and so is YouTube. First set a smaller project that you want to work on. But do everything you can to actually finish it.
This way you will acquire the following skillset:
  • You will learn the engine
  • Acquire the necessary knowledge and experience
  • Finished project
  • Learn everything that is actually necessary to finish a project
  • Acquire a great reference when you will be looking for a job
  • Did we mention you will learn how to finish a project?

What music do you listen to while developing a game?

You’re welcome.