Homebrew Legends Interview: Mika “Misfit” Keränen.

Mika KeränenMika Keränen or Misfit as he is more commonly known has been releasing some fantastic games for the Spectrum and VIC-20 over the past few years. Recently he teamed up with the guys at The Future Was 8 Bit.to release the wonderful Cheese & Onion and soon to be released Rodman.

 

 

Homebrew Legends

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you?

Mika

Yep,

I’m a semi old introvert person (42 years soon) I live in Kajaani, Finland with my three daughters, wife, two cats and an annoying dog. I “play” guitar, write short stories, repair our old holiday cottage and collect old weird stuff.

HBL

What was the first game you created?

Mika

Can’t remember correctly, but it was some kinda text adventure for VIC-20. I was 9 or 10.

HBL

What do you for a living now?

Mika

I’m a SW developer. I have experience about embedded devices, PC, mobile phones, low level stuff. Now I make measurement software for forest machines. And yep, I drive them when I make R&D testing (big toys).

HBL

Cheese and Onion looks a fantastic game, how did you come up with the idea?

Mika

I had an idea how I could make a smooth scrolling routine for VIC-20. And I made a game which needs scrolling. I asked if we could make something more than regular tape release and TFW8B said yes for a cartridge game.

Working title was “Rainbow Vomit” but guys thought it needs better name. Weird.

HBL

Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? CPC464, Dreamcast or SNES.

Mika

I’ve made FastBoy, Bolder Dan, ViccyBird, Bertie the Ball, Super Starship Space Attack, Pentagorat and Cheese&Onion for VIC-20.

Mr. Angry Dude and Dork Dave for C16.

Pilot Attack for ZX-Spectrum.

RetroRalliRace for Android.

And the next game RodMän is a multiplatform game for C16, C64, VIC-20, Amstrad, MSX, ZX-Spectrum, Atari 8-bit and Oric. I do want to make games for all retro devices. I have consoles too, but 16bit devices would need more work for graphics and audio. I hate it, because I’m a programmer.

HBL

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Mika

Yes, It’s amazing that people actually buy new retro games. It gives more motivation to create these beauties.

HBL

Do you have any games that are just sitting on your drives unfinished that you may release one day?

Mika

Nope, I want to finish all my projects. Sometimes I started an adventure but final product is a space shooter.

HBL

Can you tell us what prompted you to get involved in Retro Game Development?

Mika

High level SW developing is boring (day job). I always like to make low level software developing and retro computers gave a great opportunity to create something nice and play with limited resources.

And of course it’s a time machine to 80’s when I didn’t pay taxes and summers were hot.

HBL

What games at the time (and now) would you say are your biggest inspirations?

Mika

Well.. all those games from my childhood.

HBL

What is the biggest challenge you face with the limitations of the hardware, particularly as you continue to expand features title-to-title? (Memory? Graphical capability? Speed?)

Mika

It’s the lack of memory. Sprites and animation always fill all free space. I would like to add extra enemies and tiles but sometimes you have to choose between features and graphics.

HBL

Do you have timelines built in to the management of these games?

Mika

Yes, My plan is to create 2-3 new games per year. Bigger project takes over 6 months. Smaller 1-3 months.

HBL

Are you doing all the development individually?

Mika

Yep, few years ago I realised that if I want to finish something I must create all stuff without help, but actually Daniel Kahlin makes amazing turbo loaders for my Commodore games. When I finished Super Starship Space Attack for VIC-20, Daniel sent an email and told that my game could use his loader. Well.. it was a success and because of that I always asked Daniel to make loaders for my games.

HBL

You latest game Rodman, another great looking VIC-20 game, tell us how you game up with this game?

Mika

“Rod” from TFW8B had an idea. He wanted to play multi screen Pac-Man game. Well.. I said “your wish is my command” and made the first version of RodMän. It mixes ideas from Pac-Man and BomberMan. It’s like Pac-Man with bombs.

“Rod” asked if I could port my old games for new platforms. But I realised that I could make a new game which supports several platforms. RodMän is my multiplatform retro game experiment. It took few days to port the game for new platform.

HBL

How did your connection with The Future Was 8 Bit come about?

Mika

I made Pentagorat (isometric adventure for VIC-20) and sent a tweet : “Who want to publish my game?”. TFW8B responded “maybe”. Rest is history..

TFW8B guys (and Dave from Tynemouth software) are great. We share same kinda dark and twisted sense of humour. Or I have a weird sense of humour and they are kind and try to ignore me.

HBL

What keeps driving you to continue VIC-20 development instead of moving your efforts to a more manageable platform with a potentially broader audience?

Mika

My VIC-20 games got surprisingly big audience. Pentagorat sold hundreds of copies and C&O cartridge sells tens of copies.

But it’s difficult to choose new platforms. Commodore has nice features, but ZX-Spectrum is charming little device. Oric is funny, Amstrad has moments and MSX is attractive. Atari 8-bit gave few wtf moments. 😀

HBL

Whats next?

Mika

Maybe adventure. I have an idea about darkness, flashlight and huge spaceship. But I could create something smaller projects between bigger ones too. Who knows?

Finally

A huge thanks to Mika for taking the time to chat with us, below are some links where you can find out more about his games.

Twitter: Misfit
Physical: TFW8B
Digital: Itcho

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