// Rhys Davis: Fort Meow

Can you give us a little bio about yourself?
( IE – general age range, what type of work you do (if not full time game developer), general area of where you live etc… and hobbies or activities outside of game development)
I’m 29 and currently residing in Adelaide, South Australia. I work during the day as a Senior Artist at a local mobile company, working on both games and non-game projects. I also love playing music (guitar!) and play in a local band from time to time.
What was your first computer?
My first computer interaction would probably be at primary school. I think we had either a Commodore 64 or really early Macs that ran games like Granny’s Garden etc. At home I think we got a PC when I was 9 or 10. I remember the first game I ever played on it was the great Theme Park by Bullfrog Games. There was a bunch of technical issues getting it running though, but I pushed through and played it non-stop for 3 months
When is your first memories of getting interested in game development?
I think I was searching the net one day looking for some freeware games to download and stumbled upon all these South Park themed ones. They were a bunch of fun, but the big thing about them is they were all made using some software called “The Games Factory.” This screen would pop up when you closed the game that gave out information about TGF, and it really piqued my interest. Unfortunately at the time, ordering software over the Internet wasn’t really something that people were comfortable with. We lived in Australia, so it was a long shot at being able to explore the software without it being too much of hassle.
Do you have any early memories of discovering Clickteam’s products?
Sure do! It wasn’t until a few months later at the same store we got Theme Park that my dad came across a copy of Klik & Play. It sounded very similar to The Games Factory (I had no idea it was created by the same company at first!), so I begged him to get it for me. From there it was just a matter of time before I was learning all there was to know about building my own games with Clickteam software! A year or so later we got a better internet connection and I discovered great sites like The Daily Click, Click Cafe etc. The community seemed really nice and welcoming and always helped me out with any questions I had about the software.
Do you remember some of your first games you “finished” and released?
It was quite possibly a really bad clay trap shooting game. You would press space bar or something and a clay pigeon would be shot out from the bottom corner of the screen and you’d have to shoot it using a crosshair controlled by the mouse. I made it have competitions where you could win medals and stuff. I think most of the backgrounds came from the internet. It wasn’t very original or creative, but it kind of worked…I guess! I think someone even posted it on the front page of the Daily Click, which would have made my jaw drop at the time. I think my first more serious attempts at creating something original was the Milber series of games. I even managed to convince Josh Whelchel to compose a soundtrack for the sequel (I still don’t know how I managed that, his work is amazing).
What part of game development do you find the most enjoyable?
Definitely the design aspect. I also enjoy the art, for the first few assets at least…then it becomes a bit of a chore wanting the game to be completed and awesome but having all these massive art assets to create. It is kind of relaxing though, I usually draw with a movie or tv show on the other screen or music in the background. I love the design aspect above everything else however. Designing a mechanic then creating a quick prototype to figure out if it’s fun by showing it to a bunch of people is something I’ll probably never get sick of.
What are some of the software tools you use for game creation?
At the moment besides Fusion 2.5, I use Photoshop CC for all the art related work (their subscription model is really affordable for Indies!) and Spine for any rig based animations. For sound and music I usually use Audacity and Reaper. Besides that I use Google Docs for a whole bunch of the design related work. I think my spreadsheet for Fort Meow has about 50 tabs each with a bunch of balancing and tasks. It’s a lot of fun to manage all that behind the scenes stuff sometimes. It helps break up any of the more monotonous tasks.
In general do you work alone on your games or do you have others that help you out? (Besides beta and play testing of course)
Usually I like to work on my own stuff alone. I love collaborating with other people, but that’s usually on projects different from my own stuff. For Fort Meow I contracted an awesome composer called Moritz P.G. Katz to do the sound and music. I tried to create my own initially, but found it not really fitting to the style I was after. He’s done an amazing job on the music and sounds. They fit so perfectly with the feeling of the game and I couldn’t ask for anything more!
Besides Fort Meow which has a large buzz behind it what other titles have you released that people might have seen or played?
I have a few of my more recent games listed on my website over at www.rhysd.com – The last semi-large one I released was Take My Machete for iOS. Somehow it managed to get 30,000 downloads, so I guess you could say it was mildly successful in that regards. Making any money to pay for bills on the other hand, not so much! Apart from Take My Machete, I like to do a few game jams a year. The most recognisable one out of those is probably Sealed & Secure from the Something Awful Game Competition. It got mentioned on a few sites like Rock Paper Shotgun and there’s a bunch of Let’s Plays on Youtube that cover it.
Speaking of Fort Meow can you give us an elevator pitch (quick pitch) about the game?
Sure thing! Fort Meow is a game where you get to build pillow forts. You’re trying to defend yourself against an influx of pouncing cats that keep interrupting you from reading your Grandfather’s journal. They could be just looking for a warm lap…but why are there so many of them?! It’s definitely something needs to be investigated further.
I heard a rumor the idea you got for Fort Meow came from an interesting situation? ( I heard you were at a game jam and a cat kept jumping up on your desk/keyboard or something)
Correct! It was actually when I was trying to think of a game for the Ludum Dare I was entering. My cat kept jumping on my or my desk and knocking things around just as I was in the zone and coming up with possible ideas. So I threw all of them away and decided to do a game about annoying cats. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to bits! But as any cat owner can tell you, they do get very needy sometimes.
What platforms do you expect Fort Meow to be released on and when?
I am aiming to get the game released in the next few months. It’s basically done bar a few bugs and polish. It was initially developed for PC but the publisher I am working with (Surprise Attack Games) suggested that it might also work really well on tablets. I agreed, and whipped up a build for iPads in about a week. This wouldn’t be possible without Fusion’s rapid development environment. So yeah, I’m aiming for PC, iOS and hopefully Mac with more platforms in the future always as a possibility.
Fort Meow was displayed at the Game Developers Conference this year how was the reception to the game?
GDC was a bunch of fun! I went to a few interesting talks in the first few days of the conference, and spent the last 3 showing the game in the GDC Play area of the expo. The reception to the game was great, and we had a tonne of people come through and play all the games at the Surprise Attack booth. I managed to speak to a few media people as well, so hopefully that gives the game a bit of exposure in the wider web. There were a few players that couldn’t put the game down and even came back for more the next day, so I was pretty happy with that All in all, GDC was a great experience. I even managed to meet up with the Clickteam guys (you included!) and some other Fusion users for some pizza and chats. Which was awesome after only really speaking to these people online for the past 10 or so years. It’s great to put a faces to a names finally!

Screenshots from the author's games

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Article by Jeff Vance

Date: 03/18/2015

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