An Interview with the Developer - Billy Chan
Tell us a little about yourself and your team!
I’m a one-man band who has created the Sword of the Guardian, from the skeleton and animation of the characters, to programming and level design, all by myself. Playing video games has always been my favorite hobby since I was little. I used to play arcade games with my friends in the video game centers when we were young, and I was especially fond of beat’em up games. Instead of playing against my friends in the “Street Fighter”, I’ve found that it’s more fun to team up with my them to fight against the enemies. Nowadays this kind of game is not so popular anymore that it’s rarely found on any platforms. Although I’ve noticed that a lot of game developers are keeping some classic old games alive which are well-received, the re-release of beat’em up games is still very limited. That’s why I would like to challenge myself to create my own beat’em up game and sharpen my programming skills. What’s more, I hope to make more friends who are also fans of the beat’em up video games.
How long have you been working on Sword of the Guardian?
I started working on it in November 2013. The original draft was made for the submission of my final year project of my degree study. The more I’ve developed it, the more I’ve realized that I’m totally passionate in it, and so I’ve continued the development until now. It has been more than 20 months since then.
What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome in development? How did you do it?
Except programming, all other aspects to me are indeed challenging because I’m not a professional in these fields. One of the biggest difficulties is how to design the lighting on the characters and objects. In order to convey a particular atmosphere or mood in the scenes, I’ve been working on the lighting of every single character and object for thousands of times. As I’m a novice, I have started from scratch, and learnt by reading books and researching online. Through trial and error I’ve also discovered some keys to success.
I have also paid a lot of attention on enemy design, especially on their behavior, because I would like to develop a game with a suitable level of difficulty. For example, those less powerful enemies or assassins will automatically attack the player at the back, while those powerful ones will confront with the player face to face.
Tell us about a funny story, bug or situation you got into during development.
There were certainly a lot! As I’m not good at mathematics, there were always some miscalculation. For example, the bombers would throw the bombs to somewhere unexpected. Or sometimes those enemies who were supposed to jump near and attack the player would go to the opposite direction, or even outside the moving range area. I was so frustrated!
Another thing is about the level design. Sometimes when I think the game is too easy, I will adjust the mode from normal to hard by changing the AI (speeding up the enemy’s reaction time) or the behaviour of the enemies (attacking from other directions). Then my friends who test out this game will lose within a minute. So I think it’s too harsh and difficult, and go ahead to reset the mode to easy. In the end, the enemies will then stand still and be killed however you like.
Who is the target demographic for this game? What do you hope they will get out of it?
My target audience are those players who like beat’em up action games, which I think should mostly be men of 20 something. All the settings in this game are based on the original arcade game model, including the hit feeling setting. I have intentionally set up a simpler system, hoping to bring back those feeling of excitement and thrills derived from the arcade games in the video game center in the past.
Where do you see the game going from here?
For this game, I think it would be interesting to enhance the gameplay experience by adding the local co-op feature to allow multiple players. I would like to see a group of friends enjoying the game together, having fun as a team. Then moving forward, I would like to develop an extended version with online co-op feature, something like Dragon Crown, which consists of several features that can increase the playability of the game. This is my ultimate goal to widely promote this kind of beat’em up games. Moreover, with the lighting skills that I’ve mastered for this game, I would like to develop a virtual reality horror game that sets in Hong Kong.
If you had to give one piece of advice to indie game developers, what would it be?
I haven’t finished the game yet, so I don’t have much to advise. But what I can share for now is that persistence is extremely important in achieving the goals. No matter how many obstacles are ahead of you, or how many people oppose or attack you, just stay focused and determined and you will overcome the challenges.
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