Tijital is a little known independent videogame developer. You most likely haven’t heard of a game called Trials, which shows a lot of promise. He is currently edging towards his first commercial release, a game called Taijou.
Tristan ‘tijit’ Trabilsie.
Adelaide, South Australia. I live with 4 other people in a sharehouse we like to call “Nerdhaus”.
Development tool(s) of choice?
How did you become interested and get into game development?
I knew I wanted to develop games since I was like 5 years old and I played Wonder Boy III on the SEGA Master System (a game which I only managed to beat a couple of years ago when I picked it up on an emulator and nostalgiagasm’d). I taught myself to use GameMaker when I was in high school because programming is cooler than socialising. Before that I hadn’t done much other than play around with the demo version of Klik’n’play that came with Sim City.
What are your goals and aspirations as a game developer?
As far as creating stuff goes I have two goals: the first is to have a game that is fun to play. The second is for it to be challenging. The tricky part of designing for me is for the challenge part to not subtract from the fun part.
Speaking of challenge, do you enjoy making games that only a few people are going to finish or would you rather make a game that is mildly challenging, knowing that of all your audience will see the ending?
I like having a finished product that is mildly challenging to just finish, and have a bunch of extra modes or levels that will really push people to their limits. So far my games haven’t had a lot of narrative involved so “seeing the ending” is usually just a fadeout or credits sequence, but this is something I’m working on at the moment.
What inspires you to keep creating videogames?
Tricky question, because creativity is hard. Like a lot of people, inspiration comes in bursts that can last a day or a month, and the periods of time between these bursts are also pretty variable.
You released a game called Trials quite sometime ago now. What are the influences and inspirations for Trials?
Initially Trials was a one-week experiment. I wanted to see a first person platformer that used classic design elements from 2d platformers without the clutter. The goal was to make a game that was easy to play through but hard to speed run. The one-week, 6-level prototype sat around on a hard drive for around a year before I found it again, polished it up and released it, which took about 2 - 3 months.
As much time as I put into it, I really didn’t feel as though Trials was what I wanted it to be. There were some fundamental problems about the game, the largest being the XY plane movement being improportional to the jump height (the player moved too slowly) and it never felt like the player was moving particularly fast, which is a huge design flaw for a speed running game. I still see Trials as a prototype, and at some point in the future plan to make a spiritual “sequel” with this and a whole bunch of other flaws addressed (it will have a different name as another game called Trials / Trials 2 already exists).
I noticed very little publicity, following its release. How has Trials been received since its release? Are there many regular players?
I didn’t spend a lot of time spreading the news about Trials. At the time I hadn’t had much experience with PR and mostly spread the word within random communities that I was involved with at the time. There were a few regulars when it was first released (that I was competing for the best time with) but I don’t think it’s played much any more.
Are you more well-versed, PR-wise now or are you hoping to that your next release will be eye-catching enough to catch peoples’ attention?
I haven’t released a new big game recently but I have done a lot of talking to different people about contacting various websites and getting articles written. I have been updating blogs more frequently and linking to new game footage on places like Reddit. I’m hoping that Taijou will catch on. It’ll be my first commercial release so I kinda want to polish it as much as possible.
Development has slowed down a little as I’m waiting on some art / sound assets, so it’s probably a good time to release another open beta. I want to get as much play-tester feedback as possible before release.
You have a donation ‘goal’ system for each project on your website, in which new content is released when goals are met, ranging from level packs to sequels to full game releases. How has this worked out for you so far?
Well I haven’t actually reached the donation goal for any of my games (I guess my site isn’t well known enough). It was an idea that I got my web programmer to prototype because at the time, it was a way for people to pay for content in the games that they cared about more.
Would you like to make a living from independent videogame development or do you think it will always be an ‘on the side’ venture?
I’d love to be able to create games full-time. My current project, Taijou is like 95% finished and I intend on collaborating with an artist and a composer to make it sellable. In a recent game jam I got a key for GameMaker HTML5, and I have been mucking around with that a whole lot. The ability to embed games into a web page is something new to me and is really awesome. I am considering making a browser-based rogue like and making money from it (some how).
I’ll have to see where I go from there.
I’ve done very little ActionScript and those experiences were kinda bad for me. I’m going to stick to GML and XNA because that’s what I know best. I would probably consider sponsorships if that weren’t the case, although html5 and WebGL are picking up and I’m sure this kind of payment system will work for other types of embedded games soon. I’m not really a fan of pay-to-play or “free to play” pay-to-win models. I much prefer paying an outright amount for a game and just being able to play all of its content.
The upcoming version of GameMaker will allow ports to iOS and Android. I have a bunch of games that I think will work well on those devices, so I’m looking forward to its release.