Two Scoop Games are currently developing Kick Bot, a tough-as-nails precision platformer that currently has a demo in the Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition, so we had a chat about it.
It's always good to find out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes, especially for games that offer full Linux support, so we can gain a little nugget of info on how people make their games and so it's great to have Alex and Eric from Two Scoop Games available for a chat.
GOL: First of all can you introduce yourself and your game?
Alex: "Hi I’m Alex Bezuska, I do game design, art, and animation for Kick Bot"
Eric: "I’m Eric Lathrop, and I do programming, game design, and level design for Kick Bot.
GOL: How did you get into game development? What has inspired you with game development and Kick Bot itself?
Eric: "I started making games around 10 years old. I had an old luggable orange-screen computer hand-me-down from my uncle which had a BASICA floppy. I made little Q&A games and text adventure games at first, then later I graduated to QBASIC on a 386 and started making more traditional games with graphics. I just never stopped."
Alex: "As for what Inspired Kick Bot; it started as a 48-hour game jam back in 2014 where the goal was to make a game as simple and frustrating as Flappy Bird, we boiled our concept down to one mechanic; wall-jumping, inspired by games in the 16-bit era that featured wall-jumping, for me Mega Man X, and for Eric Super Metroid. The controls were simple - two buttons to jump left or jump right. That was the original Kick Bot (Classic) we put out free on the web. Kick Bot (Classic) was featured on the Chrome Web Store and was our most played game peaking at 70,000 weekly active users but it was totally free with no ads so we never made a penny.
The new Kick Bot you see on Steam today is a reimagining of that game with the 6 years of experience we now have, targeted to PC and consoles this time. Instead of an infinite runner it is a traditional precision platformer with loads of tough-as-nails hand-crafted levels. The way you control Kick Bot is still the same – TWO BUTTONS; jump left, and jump right, but now you can slide, dash, and butt-stomp as well."
GOL: What really sets Kick Bot apart from other precision platformers? Why should someone pick your game?
Eric: "Kick Bot uses only two buttons, so it has a really low barrier to entry. It’s challenging, but fair and rewarding. It’s kinetic, with quick respawns that keep you in a flow state where you’re always in the action."
Kick Bot is a two-button, fast-paced precision platformer that takes place inside a GIANT ROBOT LEG ON THE MOON!
GOL: What would you say has been the most challenging part of making Kick Bot?
Alex: "The most challenging part of making Kick Bot for me is getting the word out that the game exists. We have a ton of fun in development and the ideas come easy for us when riffing off of each other and our love of classic games. We do a lot of playtesting and refining and people we get to try Kick Bot really seem to like it, so our big challenge now is just getting it in front of enough people to make game development a sustainable career for us."
Eric: "For me, this is the first game I’ve made that has a lot of handcrafted content. Most of the other games I’ve made used procedural generation to create levels. For Kick Bot we wanted everything to feel really cohesive and polished so we decided to produce everything manually. It’s been challenging to pull levels out of thin air, but we’ve tried to invent a process to give us a seed of inspiration so we’re not starting off with a blank screen."
GOL: You mentioned to us that you developed Kick Bot on Linux, could you tell us a little about your workflow and the tools you use to make it?
Alex: "I will defer to Eric, the Linux guru and he can talk about Vim or something nerdy :)"
Eric: "I’ve been a Linux user since I had to install Red Hat Linux 6 off of a bunch of floppies. When Alex and I were looking for a new game engine we found that Unity had a Linux beta. I installed it and found it as stable as the Windows version my friends used. The only tweaking I’ve done was to integrate Vim and Tmux with it so files would open in my terminal for editing. (See https://gitlab.com/ericlathrop/dotfiles/-/blob/master/bin/unity-vim.sh and https://gitlab.com/ericlathrop/dotfiles/-/blob/master/bin/vimuxterm)
I’ve been able to export working Windows builds from Linux without ever booting Windows."
GOL: For game development on Linux, is there anything big that’s missing right now, how could Linux game development be made better?
Eric: "At the indie level, I think Linux has most of the tools you’d need. Blender, Krita, Inkscape, Audacity, Aseprite, Tiled, Unity. Getting builds onto Steam and Itch works fine. The only things I couldn’t get working on Linux were VR and AR development. I’ve heard that tooling for music composition is lacking, but I don’t know much about that."
GOL: What are your plans once Kick Bot has released?
Alex: "We were told by an interviewer on a podcast this week that he would buy our game at launch and we had to use the money to buy ourselves each two scoops of ice cream, that’s my first goal (not joking). If Kick Bot gets popular enough to justify it I would totally be into doing DLC for more levels or additional modes. As for the next game; I would love to explore a game prototype we have already started called PullPals, where you stretch and fling cute monster babies to solve puzzles. PullPals is totally different from Kick Bot but I think it could be great if we put some time into it."
Eric: "I’d like to take some time to make some more prototypes and jam games. We’re a lot better at Unity now than when we started so we should be able to spin up new projects more easily. But also, once it’s safe to travel again I want to visit Costa Rica to see all the different kinds of hummingbirds they have."
Alex: "Thanks so much for interviewing us, we are excited to be releasing Kick Bot on Linux via Steam and Itch, it’s nice to support the Linux community and we are sure it works because half our team uses Linux!"
Eric: "Thanks for talking to us, it’s great to have a Linux-focused gaming news source out there."
You can try the demo right now on Steam.