Burning Knight is a recently released action-packed roguelike, featuring slick pixel-art and fantastic lighting along with plenty of over the top action and a little sprinkle of comedy.
As part of our ongoing series of speaking to game developers, we sat down and had a chat with the developer about it and how the release went.
Can you introduce yourself and your game?
Hi, my name is Egor, I’m 17. I’ve been developing small games for the past 5 years and Burning Knight was my first big project. It’s a roguelike about hard choices & jokes.
Editor Note: before going further, check out the trailer so you get an idea of Burning Knight.
Back to the interview…
How did you get into game development?
I used to make websites before I got into gamedev, so I wasn’t too new to programming. I started my journey by making a SDL2 space shooter (that sadly I don’t have any source code of right now), then I’ve worked on a bunch of text roguelikes, and eventually finished my first game as the result of participating in a game jam, Ludum Dare 37. Since then I’ve met PICO-8, pumped out quite a few jam games, but I always wanted to make something bigger.
On the Steam store page for Burning Knight, it mentions how it’s “Developed with <3 on a 4 GB-RAM linux laptop” - can you tell us a little about your workflow?
I’m quite surprised 4GB ended up being enough for everything, to be honest. The laptop that I’ve developed the whole game on, is a cheap HP machine and I’ve ended up just replacing the HDD with an SSD.
For the development I use Jetbrains Rider (C# IDE) for coding, Aseprite for my pixelart, GIMP for more HD-assets editing and Git for version control. I had no issues with using C# on a Linux machine besides the absence of hotswap, but well, you can get used to that.
When developing on Linux, what would you say is the biggest problem right now? How could it be made better?
I’m as happy as it gets with my Linux development setup right now. Same tools run x3 times slower on my Windows partition (I do dual boot for testing Windows builds). Never really had issues with any of the apps not working properly/not supporting linux. I want to say huge thanks to everyone who provides Linux support in their apps these days!
Why did you settle with MonoGame instead of a game engine like Unity, Unreal, Godot and so on?
- Unreal: making games in C++ is something that I tried and I feel like you spend more time figuring out how to make something work, rather than designing the actual game.
- Unity: my laptop couldn’t really handle it well, plus the linux build is still unstable, it crashes every 10 minutes or so. As well as that, I’m not a fan of “visual gamedev”, where you edit stuff in a huge complex editor, I’m more of a “write code and make it work” sort of guy.
- Godot: the engine is still pretty new, also visual based.
What has been the most challenging part of Burning Knight’s journey to release?
Motivation and overscope. 99% of the time I had no motivation to work on the game whatsoever, and I’m really surprised that I’ve managed to finish this beast. A huge part of that is constant bugs that pop up faster than you can fix them. The game was heavily playtested during its development, and after each playtest I’d come back home with a huge list of things to fix & tweak. And even after that, 3 weeks after release, I’m still stuck fixing bugs.
Another huge issue for me was overscoping. It’s a gamedev term for features “that the game can live without but they are just so cool lets add them quickly”, and then you spend days implementing them.
Burning Knight has been on Steam for a good few weeks now (released: 5 Jun, 2020), how did the launch go? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
To be honest, I’m extremely sad about the sales. I knew that it would be a hit or miss, and it’s more than a miss, but I still can’t get over it. 2 years of work almost wasted, you can say. Right now I don’t think I will ever make another game ever again.
How has the split been across the different platforms (Linux, macOS, Windows).
It’s been around 80% Windows, 17% Linux and 3% MacOS.
What are your thoughts as to why the sales have been low?
Well, first of all, I think the big part of this is that this is my first experience with steam as a platform, it’s huge and easy to get lost on. I tried my best with the marketing, but I’m a programmer, not a marketer, so.
Also the timing of the release could’ve been better, I feel like after so many months of self-isolation a lot of people lost interest/ability to buy games, plus we had some political stuff going on. The itch.io bundle is an amazing thing, but it makes me think, if you own 1.6k games just from that bundle, will you ever need to buy new games?
Any advice for developers getting into making and releasing their first game?
Do not overscope, better make the game small and then grow it. Playtest constantly. Take all the feedback with a pinch of salt. Use version control! (seriously, saved me so many times).
A big thank you to Egor for having taking the time to have a chat with GOL. Such a shame to hear that a really fun game hasn't been able to cut through the noise. Unless you're really savvy with marketing, being a small indie developer on Steam is a ridiculously tough market.
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