Welcome to another edition of Developer Diaries! This week, we spoke to Thomas Lean and Rob Thomas who are currently working on Sheepy: A Short Adventure.
WHY NOT START OFF BY INTRODUCING YOURSELVES AND CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT MRSUICIDESHEEP AND THE 'THOMAS DUO'?
Thomas Lean: Hello! I'm Thomas Lean, the developer working on Sheepy :) I do a lot of random stuff like music and programming tiny games with friends. But I mostly do pixel art and animations!
Rob Thomas: Hey, I’m Rob - Producer of Sheepy: A Short Adventure and Project Manager at MrSuicideSheep, primarily working with visual artists, animators, and content creators. I have a background in independent film and documentary production.
MrSuicideSheep is a grassroots promotional music channel on YouTube created by Sheepy back in 2010. It promotes primarily independent artists and has done for almost 12 years now. It is one of the original YouTube curation channels and grew purely from Sheepy’s passion and love of music and art.
Regarding the ‘Thomas Duo’, haha, yeah I wish it was more interesting than we both have ‘Thomas’ in our names. Beyond that, we share a similar vision that compliments the process of development for the game organically and has cultivated some valuable approaches for the game artistically, technically, and philosophically.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE CONSTRUCT FOR THIS PROJECT?
Rob: Both of us have had experience with Construct in the past and have found it perfect for rapidly iterating ideas in 2D. Thomas was able to create a prototype of a level concept very quickly and we were able to conceptualize the foundation of the game from there. Construct had everything we needed given our limitations for this game, so we chose it for the game’s full development.
Thomas: Since I never have really learned programming (I've studied art), I've used Construct a lot during these past few years to participate in game jams or make tiny games with friends. More recently, I've realized that Construct was powerful enough to make "real" games - not just prototypes - and that's what we're doing right now!
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SHEEPY: A SHORT ADVENTURE?
Sure! Sheepy: A Short Adventure is a handcrafted pixel art platformer where you help Sheepy, an abandoned plushy, as he comes to life.
You will discover an abandoned world full of secrets and lore influenced by themes driven by the music and community of MrSuicideSheep for more than 10 years. As a first-time game project for MrSuicideSheep, it is a short game with a base playtime of around 25 minutes. Influences include Inside, Little Nightmares and Celeste among others. We also have a wonderful original soundtrack being created by Seeking Blue artists (Sheepy’s Record Label) including Yoe Mase, Hahlweg and Tal from Echos.
HOW HAS IT BEEN, BUILDING A GAME AROUND AN EXISTING, WELL-ESTABLISHED BRAND?
It didn’t take long to formulate the concept of the game. While we could have made a ‘Sheepy: Beat Sabre or Parappa-the-Sheepy-Rappa’ with a sole and primary focus on the music for our first game project (would love to make the latter), Sheepy: A Short Adventure explores narratives and themes prevalent within and beyond the music of MrSuicideSheep over the years. That of potential and optimism, but also of shattering loss and the internal struggles that we all suffer from in various ways. Combine this approach with influences of games like Celeste and Little Nightmares along with the limitations of experience, ability and resources, and here we are. Something fully ours, fully independent, and without compromise.
WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT HURDLE SO FAR?
Thomas: Well, we have not really encountered any true hurdle for now since we're used to Construct and its constraints. We always try to make decisions that help us to avoid complex technical problems. Since I'm alone developing it, we're always trying to keep the development of the game simple but efficient, so we can quickly iterate and modify things when needed. Of course, we sometimes have bad surprises by discovering some limitations. But we were also surprised sometimes to discover how some features could combine to give rise to awesome things (like blending options for VFX, for example).
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE DOING THEIR OWN GAME PROJECTS? EITHER FROM A DEV OR PRODUCTION VIEW?
Rob (Production): Start small with an achievable goal in mind. Reach that goal. Learn from it. The process of doing will reveal whether game dev (or any pursuit) is a fit for you, where your strengths are and what you need to work on for the next project in a feasible way.
Thomas (Dev): Always try to do something with what you have rather than thinking about what you could have to work with :) You can still make the best game in the world even if you're alone working on it or even if you don't know how to do programming, music or art. Because some of the best games are the ones that come from the heart, not the prettiest or the biggest.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE GAME?
You can find out more on Steam or Itch.io! We will be part of Steam’s Next Fest starting October 1st and the demo will be publicly available to play then. We also have a mailing list for the game with exclusive perks and news.
Honestly, we can’t wait to share the game with the world. Thanks to Construct Engine for making that possible!