Posted by on March 31, 2011

Following the recent launch of Arora Rift for Caanoo, I’ve sent him a few questions regarding his game and BennuGD in general. He’s been kind enough to answer them and send them back to me.

If you like their game, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook!

Click on Read More to find out who he is and what he’s up to!

Please introduce yourself and your game development studio.

My name is Linus Jönsson and I’m from Sweden. I am 22 years old and have been developing games since I was about 16. Back then I started off with Game Maker, which I still use sometimes today just because it’s fun. On later years I’ve been creating games under the developer name “Black Curtain Studio”. My focus lies in creating new and innovative games, but I also like to remake and mix old concepts with new ones. Mainly I’m interested in sci-fi themes and settings, but sometimes tend to use fantasy or rather medieval themes. My first big game project was “Edge of Infinity”, which is a large sci-fi MMORPG in full 3D. I started developing this back in 2005 and released a playable alpha version in late 2009 with all of the basic game elements and systems present. It was a project too big for one person, but I persisted and slowly put together a big and ambitious game. All though the game is not finished and currently put on ice, I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished with it. My second major project is also a 3d game which I’m still working on today since late 2009. It’s called “Mercy Fall” and is a survival horror RPG, set in the late 19th century in and old monastery in Wales. More information about these projects can be found on my site: www.blackcurtainstudio.com.

When did you first hear about BennuGD?

My first encounter with BennuGD was while googling for a scripting language that could be run straight on to a Caanoo, Android or Pandora device. I believe BennuGD was the first result that showed up. For a long time I had wanted to develop a game exclusively for handheld devices, and that’s why I decided to try out BennuGD. It really seemed to suit my needs, and even though the documentation was slim, the community was very friendly and helpful.

When did you decide to create your own games?. What was the process of creating Arora Rift?

The idea of Arora Rift first started off with me for a long time wanting to make a cool shoot em’ up game. At first I was going to make it a vertical scrolling shooter, but then found out that BennuGD had ready functions for rendering in Mode7, known from old Super Nintendo games such as Mario Kart, which gives the player a sense of 3D. I though incorporating this in a shoot em’ up was a new and exciting idea to put a new face on an old classic game concept. I also wanted to give the game an old-school arcade look and feel, like classic 90’s Sega arcade games. When I had settled for a theme and style I started out by sketching some concept art for the player ship, the “Arora”. I came up with the title for Arora Rift while drawing the player ship, so the ship wasn’t actually called the Arora from the start. When the ship design was finished, I decided it would be easier to model the ship in 3D and then render the sprites to use in the game. This way I could easily create 3D looking sprites and animations. For the next step I started coding the basic controls and camera view of the game, and then implemented my ship sprites. In the beginning it took me some experimenting with Bennu’s 8-bit color palettes to get the right color tones. During the early days of development, I realized how difficult it was working with 8-bit graphics.

Eventually, when all the basic functions were ready and put into action, like shooting, bonus pickups, explosion effects and some enemies, most of the remaining work was making more graphics like enemy ship sprites and backgrounds. At later stages when the game was almost complete, I started brainstorming some more about what elements I could add to give the gameplay more depth. Thus I came up with the combo bonus system and the special mini-bosses called “Walkers”, the four legged robots walking around in the desert and snow levels. These will give you bonus lives but are harder to kill. Most of the levels also has obstacles which you need to stay clear off and dodge.

Why did you decide to create your game with BennuGD? Why for the Caanoo? What other development platforms did you consider (if any)?

I decided to use BennuGD for Caanoo and Pandora development because it’s very portable, lightweight and easy to learn and dive into. The official DGE SDK provided by GPH for Caanoo had a lot of critical functions missing for it to be used as a proper game engine. In the end it would have taken me a lot more time to develop Arora Rift without the help of BennuGD. From start to finish it has taken me less than 3 months.

What are your studio’s plans for he future?

My plans for the future are to focus more on Android development with the Android SDK, and hopefully with BennuGD as soon as we see a port. I’m also currently working hard on finishing Mercy Fall for PC. Hopefully you’ll get to see this finished very soon. A new demo will be announced and uploaded on the website soon. If you are interested in my games, you can like and follow them on the Facebook page of Black Curtain Studio.

Thanks a lot to them for taking the time for the interview and for patiently waiting for my review to go online (that took much more time than it should’ve) and I sincerely hope you like their game as much as I did. I’m also expecting to play Mercy Fall in my computer soon!

Have fun and code a lot!

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