Interview: Doomsday Productions

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Doomsday Productions is a small studio developing classic games for both old and new systems. Their latest release is the graphical text adventure Doomsday Lost Echoes.

1. Do you remember your first video game? When did you fall in love with games?

The first videogame we played in an Amstrad was probably Camelot Warriors, back in 1986, or maybe Abu Simbel, difficult to remember. However, the coin-ups had a strong presence in those days and, in that regard, probably Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were the first, even before the Amstrad. We fell in love with videogames immediately afterwards!

2. How and when did you start developing games?

At some point, when you have been playing video games for many years, you also want to try and develop something by yourself. We started writing some simple BASIC programs, always using an Amstrad CPC, and then we moved to 3D Construction Kit. All those were very simple attempts, barely playable. More recently, we also did some homebrew level design for pre-made games, like Little Big Planet. However, Doomsday Lost Echoes is our first fully fledged production.

3. How many people were participating in developing the game?

There was one coder (Alberto, [[C|-|E]]), one graphics artist (Dani, el Ñoño), and an invaluable friend (Themis, Gryzor) that went through the first plot we had devised and suggested quite a lot of changes to make the adventure much bigger, interesting and complete. Then we had several essential collaborators: Rhino made a great BASIC loader; FloppySoftware coded a font selector; MyguelSky offered a lot of technical support… moreover, there was a dedicated panel of beta-testers, being Kerrick Sword the chief one, and people that went through the text in order to correct typos and improve the style, like Charlotte and Dthrone. We had quite a team!

4. Why did you choose to develop for the Amstrad CPC?

Alberto is the one to blame. The Amstrad CPC was his first computer and he is still an Amstrad user and enthusiast. So, no other system was considered from the very beginning. Dani loved the platform too: it does not have colour attributes and this allowed him to work taking into account just the colour palette and the resolution, there were no other constraints.

5. What do you think separates homebrew games from indie games? Is there such thing as a separation anyway?

When you develop an indie game you intend to sell it. That is probably the biggest difference.  It is necessary to consider if somebody will buy it or not before starting and this can be a problem. However, in a homebrew production you have the freedom to decide exactly what you want to do. There are no sales and the acceptance of the game becomes irrelevant as long as you are happy with it. Of course, the two worlds have many things in common, and it is frequent to see games jumping from the homebrew scene to the indie market.

6. From where do you get your inspiration for the games you make?

From many sources. Old sci-fi movies, previous video games, books… Doomsday Lost Echoes was never conceived as something incredibly original, but as a tribute to all those things that made us so happy in the 80s and 90s.

7. Do you think it’s important to give more official opportunities to hobbyists to develop games?

If a hobbyist always had the freedom to develop for the system he/she loves that would be certainly fantastic. This is usually not a problem when we are talking about old platforms, but it is very different for the new ones. It would be certainly great to have more support in this regard.

8. What are your tips for a newbee who wants to become a freetime game developer?

Just do what you like the most, be patient and only bite off something you can chew. Many great projects are abandoned every year because they are too ambitious.

 9. What were the most enjoyable parts while developing? What sucked?

Everything that involves creating something is really enjoyable. The discussions about lore, plot, puzzle design, graphics and the talks we had about how to overcome computer limitations were all great. The most tedious part, but also essential, was debugging and beta-testing.

10. How much time did you spend creating your game?

A lot! Doomsday Lost Echoes spanned over 1.5 years. It is quite a long time, considering that we are talking about an 8 bit production. Developing the game took half of this time; beta-testing, debugging and improving user experience the other half.

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