Ask An Indie: Remy Ripple

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Welcome to Ask An Indie where we interview local independent game developers to learn how they make, do and create.

The Indie: Remy Ripple, Designer/Artist/Animator/Writer

What inspired you to start making games?

I’ve always really liked video games but in high school I was determined to go into comic art during college. I read a lot of comics at the time, especially webcomics. One particular webcomic was someone’s adaption of a game called Yume Nikki. I read it through and was really into the imagery and concepts that were in it so I had to try out the game!

It was made in RPGMaker and it was the first one I ever played. Yume Nikki is THE indie game for me and showed me what games really could be, not big budget products, but experiences with real intentionality and design coming from a small group or a single person. I realized that the stories I wanted to tell could exist in an interactive and non-linear format.

At what age did you create your first game?

I’ve made a lot of really unfinished things since I was about 16, but my actual finished game with a title and actual win state was when I was 21. It was for a game design class where all of our projects were structured like game jams, so it was my first real honest go at C# outside of Unity tutorials. It was called Space Magnet and it doesn’t exist anywhere publically on the internet because it’s not really a project I’m proud of, but I still have access to the files should I ever feel confident about showing one day.

What formal training do you have that has helped you?

I went to MCAD, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and I majored in “Web and Multimedia Environments.” It’s a mouthful and I think confusing to anyone that didn’t actually participate in the major. More simply, I think it is a major for any art form but with a focus on interactive design. A lot of my peers were web or UI/UX designers, but I also had drawing, painting, and sculpture majors in my classes. The core classes did focus a lot on learning javascript, C#, CMS, etc. but when time came to make a project to apply our skills, we could do almost anything we wanted, so long as it used what we had learned in class. My narrative based projects were just as welcomed in the program as my classmate’s highly conceptual ones, as well as everything in between. Having a wide breadth of experiences and styles of interaction in my classes definitely helped how I think about not just narrative design but conceptual interactive design.

What are some of your favorite tools or resources?

My go-to engine is RPGMaker MV. It’s very easy to use and flexible with the addition of javascript plugins, which I’m slightly more versed in than C# at this point.

I like using Bitsy by Adam De Loux for short and sweet games. It’s a lot like RPGMaker but simplified even more to very limited color palettes and sprite sizes.

I use Clip Studio Paint and Aseprite to do all the art for my games, both really go a long way for how much they cost. For sound effects, Bfxr. For music, if I need to make it myself I use beepbox, otherwise the Free Music Archive has almost anything you could ever want.

How many people does your studio employ and in what capacity?

It’s just me! Almost all of my games have been made independently up to this point. I’m looking into creating a studio with my boyfriend soon, though.

What game(s) have you published and on what platforms are they available?

The games I’ve put out this year are Haunted Corny Maize, Dust, and Roses&Heart. All are available to play for free either via download or in browser at remyripple.itch.io. For downloadable games, I try to make Mac, Windows, and Linux builds available if possible.

What is the most challenging thing about being a game developer in the Twin Cities?

I think the hardest part was finding the community of developers that were already here! I figured I would have to forge my own path through becoming a game developer in the midwest but luckily there’s resources like GLITCH and IGDA to connect you with other game developers. It’s still a small scene but there are great developer presences out here big and small.

What is the most rewarding?

Interacting with internet communities online is one thing, but being able to meet up and see people to work, discuss games, give critique is absolutely invaluable to have. I think my games and myself as a person have grown a lot from being able to talk with fellow developers in person

What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?

It’s really easy to compare your work to that of the people around you, especially as a young artist and developer. Especially with how many games are out there, you might even feel that your ideas are unoriginal and not worth the effort. But we are all different people, and we grow and learn at different rates. It’s unfair to yourself to think like that. Additionally, because we are all different, the way you tell stories or conceptualize ideas are different to. I believe that games are experiences that reflect the person that made them, so regardless of how unoriginal an idea might be, that idea has never been made by you before, which makes it a truly special and worthwhile piece of media to experience.

To me, games don’t have to be complex, innovative, or new to be worthwhile to someone. All my projects and audiences have been small scale up until now and I don’t need a massive limelight to keep me going. Whatever you want to make, there is an audience for it and they might not find you this year or the next, but eventually they will meet the person who will adore what you have to make. Keep searching for those people because they’re out there.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m a busy little man, so you might not catch me in person, but you can find me on twitter at @remyripple and my website is remyripple.com. I’m currently working on a game called Thieves of the Immortal Castle, which is still very much a work in progress, but you can see small development updates on my dev blog at pixel-pumpkins.com!

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