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IGMC Interview: Jesse of Reminisce

Who are you and what are you working on?

I’m just a guy from Georgia. A complete nobody in the world of game development who saw a contest and thought: “Sure, why not?”

Game making has always been more of a hobby than anything for me, and I get much more enjoyment out of making something because I want to, as opposed to planning ahead commercially. Currently I’m working on another non-commercial game, which (like all of my previous projects) will probably never see the light of day or come anywhere close to being finished.

Reminisce

What is Reminisce?

Reminisce means “to look back and remember fondly”.

Reminisce is a Metroidvania style adventure/action/platformer, or at least that was the intention. The game features a boy (Who I have nicknamed Lean) that enters the realm of childhood fantasy. To leave this realm, he must find all of the bosses (and defeat them) so that he may open the door to his final opponent, Fear. Once he’s defeated fear, Lean can finally leave the realm of childhood, and grow up.

The main focus is exploring and finding abilities/upgrades so that you can get to the boss of each area and defeat it. Originally there were 10 boss battles, some requiring you to have certain abilities or items to defeat, but ultimately these were scrapped in order to meet the ever strenuous deadline of 30 days. Without the bosses, entire areas of the game became pointless and those areas (along with everything in them) were scrapped as well. Even things like the color scheme of Lean’s clothes were changed countless times. Blue changed to red. Then it was green. Back to blue. Back to green. I even tried purple. Finally I just settled for green.

The Ice Queen was meant to represent adolescent love and rejection. In fact, most of the early boss concepts had symbolic meanings behind them, all of which were related to childhood in some way.

Depending on how good you are and how long you take searching for upgrades, it’s possible to beat the game in anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. You’ll get a different “The End” screen for finding all the upgrades/abilities, but it’s not anything important, just something I wanted to throw in.

Why did you decide to make Reminisce?

I wanted to challenge myself to make a game by myself in a month. Also I used Game maker as my engine, because I didn’t want to be limited by Rpg Maker, and didn’t really have time to code something from scratch AND make all of the resources as well.

When I first heard about the contest, I immediately went to my computer and started practicing. I spent 2-3 months making a game that helped me to get a good feel for how I was going to something like this again in a month. It was an 8-bit platformer (much more like Castlevania than its descendant turned out to be) and a lot of the features worked their way into Reminisce. Ultimately though, the games are barely similar, and I actually have grown to prefer the practice game more than my entry. To be fair it had a lot more in it, and wasn’t on a deadline.

I wanted to do Reminisce in the same 8-bit style, but decided against it. I still regret that design choice.

 Once the theme was announced, everything started going downhill because I just had to make it harder on myself than it needed to be. The entire game was built around the growth theme. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t come up with something that fit. I knew the twist was optional, but felt obligated by foolish pride to adhere to it. “Why make it for this contest if I wasn’t going to follow the rules?” I thought. I stressed day after day as I built the skeleton of the game, trying to come up with a fun, yet simple story. Growth… What did that even mean? Eventually I decided on the idea of childhood and becoming an adult. Why that concept? I don’t remember. I was pretty sleep deprived and the caffeine was eating away at my sanity.

The game may have not been what I envisioned (or even that good) but I can proudly say that I went the distance and stayed true to my goal. All in all, it was fun. If there is an IGMC 2016, I think I may just come back with a team of friends, and give it another shot.

What sets it apart from games like it?

Very little. The game is so different from what was originally planned, that all that is left is a shell of what could have been. I will be the first to tell you that Reminisce has nothing special about it, to separate it from the other games of its genre. However, if you want to see a testament of willpower, and see just what one person is capable of: play it. The game’s existence alone is proof that anyone can make a decent game in a month’s time, even if they don’t have a lot of dev knowledge, a good budget, nice pc, or hard working team to help them out.  If I can do it, so can you.

Reminisce is one of the games submitted during IGMC 2015, what’s it like being part of that contest and what feedback have you gotten from the players thus far?

The contest was a very big deal to a lot of devs, and a complete mystery to anyone who wasn’t one. Nobody I talked to outside of forums or boards even knew what the IGMC was. (My parents forgot constantly what IGMC was, which resulted in me having to explain it for them every single time it got mentioned) Being part of the contest was interesting. I did a lot of talking with other developers in the contest, and we gave each other sincere legitimate advice on how to better our projects. It showed a lot of comradery. It must have been tempting to give false info and sabotage the competitions projects. Playing the games afterwards was also a lot of fun, but it just doesn’t compare to the thrill of the contest itself.

As for feedback I think the most common thing people said was “This game is hard!”, and yeah, that was on purpose. Unfortunately the problem with making games which are intentionally difficult, is that people don’t really know when to say “this is TOO hard.” and balance becomes an issue. Testing your game for difficulty on your own is also problematic, because you already know everything there is to know about the game. Not only have you recognized the enemies patterns and know how to properly avoid/defeat them, you know where they are placed, how far away a save point is, etc. So having people play and give you feedback isn’t just a good idea, it’s vital to your success.

igmc mascot

Being a part of a thirty day competition can be quite challenging, what would you say was the hardest challenge to overcome during your development of Reminisce?

It wasn’t very “hard” to make the entire game in a month. The hard part was trying to get in every single feature you wanted to. At first simple things were being cut, like dialogue and alternate weapons. Soon it got worse. Bosses were cut. Story was cut. Entire areas of the game were being cut out, and what started out as 9 worlds and 10 bosses, devolved into 4 worlds, with 5. Easily the hardest thing about this was trying to make animations and design the new enemies. Bosses were typically large, and because of that had more detail put into their animation. That was tedious, and only 5 bosses out of the 10 survived the cuts. (One had to be completely revised due to technical difficulties.) And that’s just enemies. Crucial NPCs, Abilities, Items… without the proper areas for them to exist within or be necessary for, there was just no point in having them and they were removed.

Cutting content is painful, but you do what you have to in order to make ends meet.

The best way I can describe this briefly, is that I set out to make a ham and cheese sandwich. I realized I only had the cheese and one piece of bread, and so I settled for cheese toast. It wasn’t what I wanted to make, but I was satisfied with it.

What would you say you’ve learned from your experience during the competition?  Are there any skills you gained?

Well my pixel art has improved, albeit only a little. When you compare the “before and after” it’s not bad progress.

Top shows the new style and scrapped NPC concepts

Bottom is the older, more Final Fantasy looking characters from the planning stage. (Yikes)

If I’ve learned anything, however, I’ve learned that even though it’s possible to do something on your own, it’s always better to have the aid and support of your friends. Even though they didn’t really directly do anything, so many people offered me support that I had never gotten before when I was on my own. I’d love to say that I did it all by myself, and that’s true to a degree, but credit where credit is due. Everyone on the Rpg Maker Forums, my best friend Austin, Poundcake, and some guy from Argentina… They all gave me a great push that helped me to pull through.

I think the theme of growth was really well thought out. It wasn’t just our games growing or our characters or forced storylines, it was also us. We all grew during this contest.

Or maybe I’m just overthinking it. Either way, it’s a nice thought.

Do you have any plans game development wise moving forward?  Will Reminisce continue to be developed further or is it to be left as just a contest entry?

I don’t plan on taking Reminisce itself any further, but based on people’s feedback and just how many people enjoyed it, I think there is a possibility of a sequel or spiritual successor somewhere in the future. Only time will tell.

Where can people find you and your work?  

If you still want to give Reminisce a go, the link is here.

Be sure to vote if you enjoyed it, but more importantly I’d like you to comment and give me feedback on how it could have been better!

Reminisce was my first completed project to be released publically. I don’t have any previous work, and it’s a possibility that I won’t release anything in the future either. You can always find me on the Rpgmaker.web forums, where I take writing requests, help people with dialogue, do some sprite work, and all that good stuff.

Aside from that, you won’t find me anywhere. I’m going to slink back into the shadows from whence I came.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to the GamerBolt community?

Eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, don’t be so hard on yourself, be the person YOU want to be, and get some sleep.

That ought to do it.

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What do you think of Reminisce?  What do you find interesting about it?  Let us know in the comments below and be sure to stick with GamerBolt for all your gaming news, reviews, and more!

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Dakota B.

Dakota Barrett is an indie game developer and journalist. His goals are to create high quality experiences and supports those that do as well.

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