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Ska Studios (James Silva) Interview


Posted by Jim Cook, 191 days ago

Content Advisory: Some of the images in this interview, specifically those on page two, depict upcoming games with graphic violence on par with what is seen in titles such as The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. It’s probably nothing you haven’t seen before if you’re a long-time gamer, but this is your fair notice just in case there are kids around.



If you’ve browsed through the Xbox Live Arcade and Indie Games catalogs, you might have seen a few titles by James “Jamezila” Silva of Ska Studios. He’s the mind behind The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 (yes, that’s the actual title), ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse, and ZP2K9. He agreed to talk about some of his upcoming projects as well as some of his history, so if you’re a fan of quality indie gaming then this is one guy whose work you should keep an eye on!

Jim Cook, Gamers Daily News: Tell us about some of your previous works. They mostly seem to have an emphasis on frantic action; is this generally the sort of game you favor? Can we expect to see titles in other genres and styles in the future?

James Silva, Ska Studios: Yeah, I think I’ve found my rhythm. Usually what happens is I’ll be playing a game and I’ll say to myself “I want to make a game like this!” For instance, right now I’m a bit addicted to Final Fantasy for iPhone, so my desire to make an RPG called ZombieRPG is stronger than ever. There are limits, of course. At some point I was convinced that to be taken seriously, my games had to have all of the latest 3D tech implemented (this tapered off shortly after Quake 3).

Also, what has really helped fuel the style of games I’ve been making for Xbox 360 is a set of tools and methods that I’ve been putting to good use for streamlined presentation. Fluid animation has been a big pursuit of mine.

 

GDN: Where did you get your start in game development, and what made you interested in it? Have you developed titles for any systems other than the Xbox 360?

JS: It goes way back. When I was growing up, my mom used to enforce a No Nintendo on Weekdays policy; I decided that I’d teach myself how to make computer games to circumvent the policy. I started making cruddy text adventures in BASIC, then learned how to make graphical adventure games (and some awful platformers) in this ancient Apple product called Hypercard (considered a precursor to Flash), then started making pretty honest efforts in Visual Basic 6. My first game in VB6, Zombie Smashers X, was featured in a few magazines. I was so naive, I thought that was my big break, I could quit my job, drop out of college, start making games full time...

About 8 years and a bunch of awful games and one cult classic that I still can’t explain later, XNA launched and I switched to Xbox360. And that’s when I got my big break!

GDN: You seem to have an extensive history with both video games and action films, as many of your titles have playful nods to them. Can you tell us about any particular favorites?

JS: Sure, I think there’s some common awesomeness in video game culture that you can tastefully pay homage to without having to make another Matt Hazard. Buster swords, John Woo, the ED-209 from Robocop, zombies with chainsaws - it’s all stuff we like to see in videogames.

I was a little upset at one review I read of Dishwasher where the reviewer criticized the inclusion of poorly recreated ED-209s from Robocop. I had to look up ED-209 to see what they were talking about (I was more a Terminator guy than a Robocop guy). I was like “…really?” I mean, if I take flak for including a bipedal robot, then it’s at least fair to spread that flak around to the dozen or so other games involving bipedal robots and mechs that have released in the past decade. Which I hope doesn’t happen, because, frankly, I like seeing bipedal robots and mechs in games.

GDN: A look at your website seems to suggest you’re a one-man team, doing all the graphics, music, sound, coding, and general game design by yourself. Is that still the case?

JS: Ska Studios is now a two employee company. Dustin is officially the marketing coordinator, while I’m still doing all of the game development. I did just show Dustin how to use the map editor for Dishwasher 2, so there’ll most likely be a few arcade maps by him in the final game.

I do most of the music, but I’ve collaborated on a few tracks with friends. A lot of the sound is me yelling, but a lot of it I bought online. For the trailer for Vampire Smile and a lot of in-game yelling, we contracted this girl through a voiceover site. It was pretty nuts how difficult it was to find a girl who could really belt it without sounding ridiculous. We had put up a job to read a poem and do lots of yelling and grunting; of the twenty or thirty responses, only about 3 of them did any yelling, and only one of them was any good, and even then it took a few iterations before we were in a spot we were really satisfied with. Who knew it was so hard to get that kind of audio?



Next: A look at two upcoming games, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder


Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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