Interview: Orionsoft

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Orionsoft is a French one-man project homebrewing games for a variety of systems, such as the Jaguar CD, Megadrive and the Gameboy. In our exhibition we displayed the platformer Alice’s Mom’s Rescue.

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

My first  real experience with video games was on the Atari ST computer of my dad, I can’t remember the first game I played, but some of my favorite game back then were  Rodland, Monkey Island, Vroom and Logical.

2. How and when did you start developing games?

I started on the Atari ST when I was about 10 or 12 years old. I started to learn the Basic language by myself, and progressively making small games. My first game was a single player pong, then I made a fighting game and a racing game, but those were so poor in gameplay that you can’t really call them “games”, as I was learning alone with the only one Basic manual I had, I didn’t know concept such as a “sprite” for example. I really began to progress when I discovered Internet in the late 90’s and learning real programming with all the tutorials I could find online.

3. Why did you choose to develop for the Jaguar CD? 

I’m not really a fan of the Jaguar (and furthermore because it’s a really difficult machine to develop for), but it have a really encouraging and supportive community that really helped me a lot to stay motivated creating games on this console. My favorite console is the Playstation 1, yet when I released a game for it, almost nobody were interested, whereas on the Jaguar, as soon as I released a new game, hundreds of people wanted to buy and play it ! It’s the same for the Dreamcast. The Megadrive have a great community too, and this is a console I really like, even if I didn’t had one when I was younger, but my friend had one and I was very jealous.

4. What fascinates you about homebrewing and what keeps you motivated?

I like the freedom of making my own projects, and I find the retro consoles really interesting because of their limitations that require you to think how to shape your game around those technical limitations.

5. What do you think separates homebrew games from indie games?

Homebrew games are games that you create on your free time and doesn’t require professional polishing, you don’t have the pressure of making lots of content and a quality game that you could sell, you can just make a small demo and release it for free. Making a full professional game as an indie developer require a lot more tedious work.

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

Most of my inspiration comes from the games I played when I was younger. For example I really liked Riven, the sequel of Myst, and at that time I said to myself “I would really want to make a game like that !” and years later I made Elansar. I also really like platformer games, and that’s why I made Alice’s Mom’s Rescue, and my new game soon to be released called Escape 2042: The Truth Defenders.

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

Yes, giving the opportunity for indie developers to create games on today’s official consoles is really great and can achieve someone’s dream. But I think it’s mostly about the Nintendo Switch and the Playstation 4 PSN now.

8. What do you enjoy about developing? What are difficulties?

I enjoy creating new game engines and also the technical aspect of learning and understanding a new console’s hardware. But from time to time my head hurts because you have to face complex algorithmic and mathematical problems. Sometimes I wish I had a thinkless job, but then when I see the result of months of work with my game running on a real retro console, it’s a great achievement.

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