Locomalito exploded into the indie community in 2008 with 8bit Killer, a retro-styled first person shooter that brought back memories of Wolfenstein 3D. He has since released Hydorah, a loving homage to classic shmups, Gradius and R-Type. Although players found the game to be tough, the response he received was something akin to a standing ovation. Both of these titles have made Locomalito a developer to watch out for and players wait for the release of his games with baited breath.
Dev. tool(s) of choice?
What do you do?
I’m a graphic designer.
How did you get into game development?
I dreamed of making games since I first started playing with an Spectrum ZX. Some time later, I was fascinated by 8-bit and arcade games and I used to sketch ideas and stuff in my notebook.
As soon as I could, I got an Amiga 500 and I used to spend a lot of time drawing sprites and stuff, like screenshots for non existing games. Then I teamed up with a programmer for a few years, but we could not finish any games at all. I forget about the dream for some years, but one day I noticed the existence of tools like Game Maker, and started learning with it, only for fun… I did some tests, some small games for myself, and when I had 8bit Killer ready, I decided to share it via the internet.
Your games are obviously love letters to your favourite games from the past. Name some of the systems you owned, growing up and the games that had the most impact on you..
Yep, the storyline is: Spectrum ZX (owned by a friend), SMS (my first system), NES, SNES, PSX, XBox 360…
But, over all those systems, I loved arcade games. Even today, I still love old arcade games over X360 ones, as they used to bring more direct action than modern games.
When the emulators first appeared, it was a total hit in my life, because I played many games that otherwise I could not play.
Naming some of my favourite games: Ghost’n’Goblins, R-Type, Gradius, Golden Axe, Turrican, Contra, Altered Beast, Castlevania, Shinobi, Metroid, Shadow of the Beast.. and some other not so known games such as Kenseiden (SMS) or Master of Darkness (a cool but underrated Castlevania clone for the SMS).
Your games look and feel like they have been meticulously planned out. What sortof planning goes into your projects, before you start development? After you have begun development, is there any flexibility with your concepts and ideas or is everything already set in stone?
Not at all, I start making a game as soon as I have an overall idea. I use a notebook at night to write down and sketch ideas and stuff, and things are far from being 100% defined when I start with the computer part. Many things are designed by trial and error procedure. I used to start with a little game, and every day I can develop it. I put things in to it to make it grow and so on until it’s good enough to make the final arrangements and launch it. I use to undo tons of work because of this procedure, but I think that’s ok as it keeps the development time interesting and fun.
My own play tests of the games are used to see if something is wrong with it. So for example, if I get bored of playing a certain part a lot of times, I consider this part boring and change it.
You spent 3+ years of development on Hydorah. How long did you originally envision the project to take? Did you realise the sheer scope of the project when you started and was there ever any doubt that it would be finished?
Hydorah was thought to be a simple, little NES looking shmup, with only six levels and not much special stuff in each one. After half of the first level was done, I started thinking that it might be easy to start again and add some stuff to make it more interesting, and you know… the “redo” thing occurs almost three times more on the way. Many things were completely redone, and some levels fell outside the final version because I didn’t like them very much. That’s why it took three years of development, and of course because I can only work in my spare time at night.
And yeah… many times I was close to freezing the project, as I get ideas to make other things, but I love shmups and the spark can easily be turned on by playing some classics and watching some movies.
This is always a very important thing for me: to be close to my influences, which keeps the flame alive.
What movies do you watch to keep the flame alive?
Oh, some classic and B-movies mainly, like Fantastic Voyage for Viriax, Mad Max for 8Bit Killer, Planet of the vampires for Hydorah or Jason and the Argonauts for Issyos, to name a few..
I enjoy the craftsman’s touch on the special effects.
Will you ever work on anything of Hydorah’s scale again?
I think so. There is a game I started even before 8bit killer, called Grialia (that is my eternal promise, hehe) and also I have a game called The Curse of Issyos, which will be not much smaller than Hydorah itself.
Hydorah in particular is considered quite a tough game. Do you think that developers today are too prepared to water down the difficulty so that all players can finish their games?
I think so, but maybe it’s a natural reaction when the players are also the clients.
I agree with games for all kinds of people (ages and skills). What I disagree with is each game being targeted for all kind of players.
I like hard (but not impossible) games because they fit with people like me, who have been playing for years, and somehow feel ridiculous playing games suitable for kids.
Do you set or attempt to set deadlines for yourself and do you suffer from any motivational issues during development? Does life ever get in the way of development?
Yes, life and motivational issues are a constant in development. Often, it’s a pity, but I think it’s a cool that mood effects the bedroom developing process. I think that’s the difference between homemade games and commercial ones: the soul put into them, cut in pieces and dropped during various stages of development.
You seem to select your projects very carefully. How do you pick your next project and where do your ideas come from?
Oh.. I can’t really say that my projects are carefully picked. Some ideas come out of nowhere, from an experience, and then I start thinking of how that feeling could fit into a game. Often I do a test, and if I like it, I start making a game. Yep, that’s happened with L’Abbaye des Morts and now with Viriax: those are spontaneous ideas that cut the development of another game and got me into them. They were really fun do make by the way.
Your games always seem to be highly anticipated by the indie community - do you feel any pressure to live up to a certain standard - both to the people that are waiting to see what you release and the games that you pay homage to?
Oh.. it’s a real honor to have people waiting for my games, but I used to be far away from that kind of pressure, as videogames are my personal way to escape from the daily stuff: my little moment of tranquility, working alone on my stuff, you know? It’s rewarding to release a game and find some people who actually like it, because then I feel like there is a lot people like me out there, but I don’t really spend much time thinking if these people are going to like a game or not: for me just one person is actually ok.
How long did it take you to develop the skills with Game Maker to make 8bit Killer?
Not long really: less than one month if I have to say. Once you know how to deal with 2D Game Maker games, it is easy to do a 3D game like 8bit killer, because with that kind of 3D, it’s only a representation of what is happening in a top down 2D game (it’s all trickery, hehe).
Did you expect 8bit Killer to receive the overwhelmingly large positive response that it got?
Definitely not. I only expected a few downloads from friends and some curious visitors.
At first it was uploaded for three months with no more than 60 or 70 downloads, but later I submitted it to TIGsource database and everything started to roll fast. It was very surprising for me.
Are there any genres in particular which you haven’t developed yet that you have plans to tackle in the future?
Many I’m afraid. Right now, I’m dealing with arcade platformers, but also have two strategy games, which are frozen.
Do you have the desire to collaborate with other developers or is anyone in particular that you would like to work with?
Not right now. I have very little time to develop, and also I’m very inconsistent, so I would hate to leave anyone waiting on my part. Anyway, I’m not closing the door for the future: things might be different in time.