This week we talk to Mark Backler at Sketchbook Games, about upcoming puzzle-platformer The Last Word, the mighty N64, Ocarina of Time and VR.
Can you tell us about your team at Sketchbook Games? How you got started, where you're based, previous experience etc
I'm currently the only one working on the game full time but have just received some funding so I'm hoping to be able to contract people more and to employ some staff soon. Ross Burt made the fantasy world art, Sidonie Maria has been working on the diary art, Yuki Chung created and animated the diary character, Joe Brammall made the audio and we have a mystery writer who is yet to be announced!
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit?
I think that sometimes taking artistic risks is the best way to make a profit as if you're being safe then you're not doing anything different to the competition, which in itself poses a big risk!
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Go for it! It may seem like a hard career to get into but be persistent and you will make it. Work on your own games. Start today - even if you're still in education, no matter how old you are. Do this both as a way to build a portfolio for future jobs as well as a potential way to make money and build a reputation by releasing your own games. You will also learn loads from making your games and make some friends and potential team mates along the way! Game jams are also great for this. They involve making a game in a short space of time and are also an excellent way to finish games, meet new people and hone your skills as well as learning new ones. making games should be fun - I think the more you enjoy what you're doing the better the end result will be!
Where do you think the industry is heading - is VR the future in your opinion?
VR will definitely be a significant part of the future but I don't think it's the only future. I think it will still be a long while before screens go away and we rely on AR headsets or something like that.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was such an epic experience and I found it a very moving game in addition to having such amazing puzzles, music and gameplay.
What does the future hold for The Last Word and Sketchbook Games?
Releasing The Last Word, which will hopefully be a game that really touches and resonates with our players. We're still thinking about our next project but a narrative VR game would be fun to work on.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
An N64 - so many classic games! Mario 64, Goldeneye, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mariokart, Banjo Kazooie, Smash Bros! Still some of the best single and multiplayer games around!
Thanks to Mark - you can read what we thought of The Last Word here.