ZetaGal: Developer Interview
Sveiki! Welcome to our next special, this time we have an interview with Arthur Vyater, a solo developer of the indie, Mega Man Legends inspired game ZetaGal. Another low-poly game, this time in a PS1-style, with old graphics but a fresh, modern approach to game play. Arthur originally gained attention for his Deta-gal demo, a prototype in the same vein that you can download here if you want to check it out. We love the look of this, so read on to find out more.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into game development.
I'm a solo indie dev from Latvia and I've wanted to make games ever since I played my brother's famicom bootleg console as a kid. Creating a world that others can interact with, crafting experiences - that's just inherently interesting to me.
I'm mostly a self-taught programmer/modeler. I've been making tiny prototypes since the last year of high school, but I wouldn't call any of them good or even functional. Once I found an artstyle I can pull off, I started working on this game, although it took some time to become the game it is now as I'm often learning things as I go.
Delta-gal is obviously inspired by Mega Man Legends, but are there any other games that inspire your design choices?
Just like any open-world-ish game with dungeons, Legend of Zelda has been a source of inspiration. Nier Automata and Beyond Good and Evil have played a role. When coming up with enemy designs I'll take more from NES and SNES Mega Man than MML.
A world with few towns that loops around and the general tone of the game has been greatly influenced by Shantae (the 1st game on GBC).
But I try to take inspiration from a broad number of mediums - a lot of buildings in Asby were created with Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise as a reference; bugs in the overworld - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Design of the protagonist's armour - Bubblegum Crisis.
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The footage for ZetaGal looks really smooth! There seems to be a resurgence in games using similar graphics/mechanics as those from the PS1 era, why do you think that is?
Nostalgia definitely is a big part of it, but I don't think us being old farts dreaming of ye olden times with inferioir technology explains it all.
Design is all about shapes and colors, going low-poly in most cases is good enough.
Developers don't have to worry about the performance as much, even if the game on a technical level is not as optimized as it could be, it's still not a problem for modern hardware. It's better setting a modest goal and knocking it out of the park than aiming for the moon and falling short.
What was the reason behind switching from Delta-gal to ZetaGal?
I don't care about names that much, as long as it's easy to understand, easy to spell and unique, it should be good enough. Delta-gal was more like a placeholder name that I got attached to. Initial reason for releasing the demo was that I was about to quit and I just wanted people to play what I've made so far, why not use the placeholder name.
Later I picked the project back up, but there was another Mega Man influenced indie developer who had "delta" in the title.
We had a little chat and since he was putting a lot of effort in to branding while I literally had stopped the development I decided to change the name, such confusion wouldn't benefit either of us. Besides, I wanted to keep some distance between the demo/prototype (unrelated to the full game's storyline) and the full game. So I went with something similar but different.
How long are you hoping development will take on ZetaGal, and do you have anything interesting that you can share with us?
This is my first game and it's probably bigger than the first game for any developer should be, so it's really hard to tell how long is the road that I've never walked before. It won't be done this year, that much I can tell.
"Citizens of Asby, Imra and Kuloon have some problems with bugs, big bugs, like really big bugs. Thankfully, Rick Totor and his army are willing and able to help these poor citizens by using advanced machinery.
There is a rumor that Totor's scientists are researching ~forbidden technology~ in order to make their war machines, but that's just a rumor spread by the criminals*. In fact, there is no need to sneak in to ancient facilities to preemptively destroy combat bots. The best thing to do is to put Rick Totor in charge of everyone as our leader, hero and savior."
Arthur, big thanks for letting us interview you. We can’t wait to see ZetaGal when it’s ready. If you like the look of this, and you want to keep up to date, then check out Arthur’s twitter, where there’s tons more quality footage!