HBL Interviews: Retro Nerve Games.
This is our first interview in a long line of interviews with Homebrew Devs, Retro Nerve Games are the guys behind the amazing looking Kung Fu UFO thats still under development at this time (May 2018).
Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you guys?
Retro Nerve Games
Thank you for reaching out to us. We’re a four-member team full of passion and nostalgia. Sebastián Abreu (tacha) is the code guy and musician, Javier Leal (jav) is the Pixel artist and game designer, Luis Fernandez (coco) makes amazing custom tools for our develpments and Luis Arellano (yayo) who is our concept artist. We’re based in Uruguay, South America except for coco who lives in Venezuela.
What do you for all do for living now?
I’m a digital artist and game designer. I’m the co-founder of a small company that develops games both educational and for advertising, where I have been working for more than 10 years and now I’m applying all I have learned into Retro Nerve.
I have 15 years of experience as a freelance music composer and sound designer for TV commercials and Cinema 5.1 (DolbyDigital), videogames (PC, MAC, Mobile), and for casino bingo&slot-machines. I’ve worked in more than 30 video games and 70 commercial pieces for several countries around the world. I also teach audio classes at a video game course at an important art school in Uruguay.
Coco has been developing administrative systems in his own company, he also installs and repairs computers and security hardware.
Yayo works as a freelance artist drawing all sorts of amazing comics and illustrations… He also loves dinosaurs and paleoart.
What games back in the day (and now) would you say are your biggest inspirations?
I’m a huge fan of both platformers and beat ’em up games and I think that is reflected directly into Kung Fu UFO. Back in the day I loved playing games like Megaman and Castlevania and still do, and all those good (and bad) Batman and Ninja Turtles games on the SNES and MD. I really like the whole Shantae series from Wayforward, Metroidvanias are my jam! I love 16bit and 32bit pixel art. When talking about more modern times I enjoy games like God of War, Tomb Raider, Borderlands and Diablo to name a few… Oh! And the Tony Hawk pro skater series!
Besides the games I think that my biggest inspirations as a programmer are my childhood heroes, people like Bob Pape with his ZX Spectrum version of R-TYPE, a game that I still play nowadays and keep finding as addictive as when I was 11. Jas Austin (Martech) and his amazing REX, Na_Th_An from Mojon Twins. To me this guy is a living retro-legend who has made excelent games like MegaCherill, Zombie Calavera, Phantomas and Maritrini-Freelance-Monster-Slayer which are my favorites. What I like the most about the MojonTwins is that they always make forum posts teaching their tricks and sharing their code encouraging the making of new games for retro platforms. Paco Menendez (Abadía del Crimen), Made in Spain (Sir Fred), Carlos Galucci (Narco Police) are also worth mentioning. To name a few Mega Drive titles that I like to play, Ristar, Rolling Thunder 2 (which we love to play with my 6 year old daughter), all of the SONIC games, Virtua Racing, Aladdin, Golden Axe, Castle of Ilusion and Battletoads.
Whats the reasoning behind the name Retro Nerve Games?
This is an good question. Actually we spent a lot of time thinking of a name that could represent us individually and as a group. We had a huge list of names but I don’t remember exactly how we came up with Retro Nerve. For us it means the need to make and play retro games, It’s like that itch you feel and need to scratch hehe, that state you get into while playing on an old console. We hope that gamers and fans can identify themselves with that feeling too.
Can you tell us what prompted you to get involved in Retro Game Development?
We’ve all been dabbling in retro game development for some time. We started working as a team a few months ago, we (Jav and Tacha) became friends thanks to our love for retrogaming and old technology. We had been chatting a lot through Facebook about retro games and old computers like Amiga and Atari, exchanging music and pixel art and Tacha started putting toghether some basic prototypes with that. Then we began to discover all these amazing projects like Tanglewood and Xeno Crisis for the Mega Drive and it just clicked… We jumped right into it without much thinking and started planning a game for the Mega Drive that later would shape into Kung Fu UFO. We are not there yet but we’re working hard to be able to do this for a living.
Kung Fu UFO looks an amazing game, can you tell us about it please?
Kung-Fu UFO is our first project as Retro Nerve. It is an action platformer with some beat ’em up elements and a sci-fi story that blends martial arts and aliens (and some of intergalactic love). It’s heavily inspired by games and movies from the 80s and 90s but it also has a lot of our personal experiences into it, for example the main character is from South America. It will have different types of stages, some more focused into exploration and other ones where the main goal is to defeat enemies. It will also have some arcade like bonus stages like the motorcycle levels from Battletoads, epic boss fights and very artsy cutscenes.
What is the biggest challenge you face with the limitations of the hardware, particularly as you continue to expand features? (Memory? Graphical capability? Speed?)
Consider that I started coding on a ZX Spectrum with an 8bit CPU where you only have 2 colors every 8×8 pixels with a total of 15 colors on screen. I had to program my own routines for printing to the screen, for scrolling and more. And, in the Spectrum you only have 40 kb to store code, gfx, music and everything else. Jumping from that to the 16bit of the Mega Drive where you have up to 80 sprites, four 16 colors palettes, two planes with independent scrolls, being able to flip sprites and tiles both horizontally and vertically (and a long list of etceteras). Think that all of this it’s done by hardware (DMA chip) and not by software, and it leaves the CPU free and saves precious processing time. Not to mention the beautiful sound of the FM chip, and on top of that, we can also use the PSG and so much more. With all that I would say that the Mega Drive / Genesis is a wonderful console with extraordinary power.
Do you have timelines built in to the management of these games?
We have a plan, wouldn’t call it a timeline because there are things that we are still learning on the road and we knew we couldn’t predict. But knowing what we were going to face we sat down and planned and made a roadmap for the game and what we want it to be. Still… I think that you can never be too prepared and here and there we still find unexpected obstacles or new ideas come up mid-development that make us take little detours and improvise.
Will there be a physical release of the game?
Yes! Well… We’re counting on it. The idea is to produce cartridges like the guys from Big Evil Corp (Tanglewood) and Pixel Bureau (Xeno Crisis) are doing, but that is a huge amount of work and resources. We’re thinking on putting together a crowdfunding campaign for both finishing the game just the way we envisioned it and producing the cartridges boxes and more.
At the moment we have our Patreon page where some fans are already helping us a lot and we’re really grateful for that.
Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? CPC464, Dreamcast or Spectrum.
To tell you the truth I’ve been working since 2011 on several tests and game’s prototypes for ZX Spectrum. TETRIEGA is one of them which is a Tetris clone I started developing for not only the Mega Drive but also for the AMIGA (TETRIGA) together with Luis (coco, the other code guy). But at the moment we are totally committed to this project. We are focusing all of our efforts and energy, time, soul, and life into Kung-Fu UFO.
After Kung-Fu UFO is finished we’d like to port it to more platforms both retro and modern, but for now it’s just an idea. We’ll get to that when the Mega Drive version is finished.
Coco has also worked on several tools for the ZX, the Commodore AMIGA, PC Windows and other retro computers that are proving to be very helpful on the development of Kung Fu UFO and will surely be handy when working for different retro consoles.
Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?
I remember the summer of 98 when even my brother had a Pentium machine with a hard drive and I spent a lot of time writing in assembler and BASIC in my gray Spectrum +2 and thinking “Am I the only one who still codes on a Spectrum and records programs on cassettes?” Now I understand that I had a special love for retrogaming.
I wouldn’t say surprised, retro gaming is awesome and people started realizing that a long time ago. It gradually ascended to the mainstream media and I think that it is a good thing that has allowed fans to enjoy more of what they like and meet others with the same interests. And it also gave people like us an opportunity to do what they really love and give back to the communities that keep alive and allow the fanbases for the retro consoles to grow as well as the different scenes for creators and developers.
There we have it guys, our first Homebrew heroes Interview.To learn more about Retro Nerve Games please see their Social Links below.
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