Kunoi Kickstarter Interview
Kunoi is a game that brings back floods of memories from my childhood; the aesthetics, the soundtrack and the gameplay all remind me of being that seven year old kid sitting in his dining room on the NES, running through Super Mario Bros. and immersing myself in its charm. I’ve played the demo and it feels and looks very much like those old Nintendo games; the screenshots of the game are looking like they are taken straight from the golden age of gaming and I for one am looking forward to the finished project.
Jay Werner lives in Athens, GA and runs 7OSIX, his own games development company. It is clear to see from the screens and the demo that Jay has created something full of heart; the demo was a challenge but I didn’t mind playing over and over again because it was pure, unadulterated fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously—something that is lacking from many games in today’s market.
It is looking for backers on Kickstarter so if you want to check out the great work Jay’s doing, please visit his page here and donate what you can. There are some awesome perks for donating (the game itself, plush dolls, your name in the credits and a pixelated version of you in the victory cut scene!) and you’ll be supporting something that embodies what gaming is all about.
I was lucky enough to interview Jay and ask him about Kunoi, the inspiration behind it and why he wanted to make it.
WTN: Where did the inspiration for Kunoi come from?
JW: From the love of old school platformers. Growing up in the 90’s was all about Sonic, Mario, and Megaman. For me, those games were my childhood. I wanted to make a game that really captured the spirit of those, and put a twist on it. Plus creating something, sharing it, and connecting with others is just the coolest thing!
WTN: What has been the hardest challenge so far in the creation of this game?
JW: Mainly balancing my full-time job, (I’m a chef at a restaurant,) and my full-time band. Not many hours in the day to have two full-time anythings! So coming home and making the time to work on Kunoi is sometimes challenging, but if you love something enough and have the drive, you make time.
Also being your own producer. Throwing out something you worked forever on and love, only to find it doesn’t fit with the feel or pacing. Hurts so much.
WTN: Will you be releasing it on consoles or is PC where your heart is?
JW: I would love to release Kunoi on consoles. If I could, I would release it on everything! Hopefully down the road after it gets some traction, I will have the ability to do so.
WTN: What would be your dream game to work on?
JW: Being able to work on any game is a dream to be honest. BUT, my dream game would be a Sonic and Mario team up platformer. Classic style of course. Sonic with Mario power-ups, and Mario with Sonic’s, recipe for awesomeness I think!
WTN: What’s next for you? Have you got any more ideas that you’d love to see the light of day?
JW: I do have one that I will be releasing after Kunoi that I have been working on for about 5 years. It’s called Patch. Kunoi was actually supposed to be just a side game, to take a break from Patch, but it just kind of grew and grew into a full-fledged game.
WTN: The design seems simplistic yet original. Did you always want to make it in this style and are the similarities to other great 8 bit games intentional?
JW: Oh for sure. I think keeping it clean and simple is where the charm comes from. When it comes to this style of gaming, I don’t think realistic translates to well. Intentional indeed. Heavily inspired by Game Gear and Gameboy games, Mike Burn’s Kid Tripp no doubt, and of course all the modern runners.
WTN: How does a games developer plan the process of coming up with the initial idea to seeing the game come to life? Would you be able to give us some detail on the time span?
JW: It’s a lot of, what games do I myself want to play? What would I and could I build? I start with a prototype with certain mechanics, and just start building on that. Figure out what kind of theme, or direction I want to go is the hardest part. For every idea, I have five sprouting out from each of them, and so on. So after filtering, trimming the fat, and getting a solid framework, I look at how it plays and try to find a character in the placeholders. See what makes sense with the mechanics. I’ll start sketching, refining, throwing away, and repeat until I get the character and the look that I want. Then I just put my head down and go. Of course some days, it’s completely backwards. I’ll sketch something, look at it and think, “I want to build a world around this.”
WTN: Who do you look up to in the industry and how have they helped you to build your own games?
JW: You know it’s mainly indie developers. The idea of people saying, “I’m tired of these triple AAA companies and how they do things, I’m making my own,” is really inspiring. People who really love the art and connecting with others. The indie scene is just a great place, full of heart and creativity. Of course there are well known names like Yuji Naka and Shigeru Miyamoto, but for me, it’s the person who sits hours and hours, inches from his or her computer, creating something they love, cause they love it.
WTN: Kunoi seems to have a very interesting yet specific story. How hard was it to come up with it?
JW: Classic ninja story! Kidnapped Master and stolen swords! I pretty much knew when I made the main character a ninja, kidnapped master was the way to go. Also I wanted a strong female as the lead character, because women are awesome.
WTN: Finally, a question you can sink your teeth into: why do you make video games?
JW: People. I love meeting people through art and being able to connect. All my life I have gravitated towards the arts, it allowed me to really understand people, and them to understand me. Making games is another way to do that, just on a wilder interactive level. There is something about when a person sees your creation, and gets it the same way you do. So wicked.