Everyone here at Game Savvy has our favorite games and genres, but one thing we can agree on is our love for indie games. They remind us of a time filled with simplicity that has long passed. I decided to get in touch with a local indie developer, Rookie Jet Studio, a small company located near Cincinnati, Ohio. I had the chance to sit down and talk with owner, Cory Burns, and got to ask him a few questions about his history with video games.
Your company name is quite unique; How did you come up with it?
The name is actually taken from a song by the Japanese rock band, “The Pillows”. I felt the name conveyed the fact that I am a rookie but plan to “take off” similar to a jet.
How long have you been creating video games?
I’ve been making video games since I was probably around 10 years of age (maybe even before) on my grandma’s computer. Back then I didn’t have a computer in my house, so my cousin loaded the Don Miguel translated version of RPG Maker onto the family computer. It’s been a long ride already!
What/ who are some of your inspirations?
Oh, definitely Keiji Inafune, creator of the Mega Man Legends series. That game always holds a special place in my heart due to how massive it seemed when I was a kid. I should actually stop myself there because I could write an entire essay on why I love that series. I’m also a big fan of the indie scene, in general. I’ve found myself playing lots of Death Road to Canada and Enter the Gungeon on my Switch lately while also sticking to my RPG Maker roots with game like Starless Umbra, Yume Nikki, and To The Moon. Another inspiration outside of the video game world tends to be nature; walking around outside can really help me solve issues I’ve been stuck on when it comes to developing games.
Are you working on anything currently?
I’m actually working on a title called Oddzone that started off as an entry for a Game Jam this month. For those that don’t know what a Game Jam is it’s essentially a small or large competition in which you are given a deadline and theme for a game (usually 3 days – 1 month) and then everyone plays and judges one another’s games. Work is moving along at a slow pace, but we do have a playable demo of the game!
Tell us more about Oddzone.
Oddzone is a story about a spaced-out girl (Joni) and her snarky cat (Jam) who accidentally go on a quest to a place called the Oddzone due to Jam’s desire to be an outdoor cat. The game is filled with humor reminiscent of Undertale and Death Road to Canada but also features some serious plots at times. We implemented an Action RPG system into the game to break away from the overbearing turn-based RPG systems we are used to.
Where can people find Oddzone?
Right now, you can play a short demo at https://rookiejet.itch.io/oddzone. We plan on releasing the full game on Steam and Itch.io.
Tell us about some of your previous projects/games.
Well we have started a lot due to Game Jams but haven’t really pursued them after. Game Jams, most of the time, are great exercises in game design but usually don’t provide a framework for continuing to make the same game. In the past we have created 2 games that did well in these competitions: Homeside which was a Harvest Moon clone that came out around the time Stardew Valley really got popular; It was really fun to work on and I’d like to revisit that concept someday. We also made Gardens of Gehenna which was a horror-survival game that really allowed us to think out of the box and flex our creative muscles both graphically and in our gameplay.
Where can people find those?
Both games can be found on itch.io!
What are some of your favorite games?
This is a dangerous question ya’ know? Haha. Definitely the aforementioned Mega Man Legends series and Death Road to Canada. I really enjoyed a lot of Treasure’s work like Ikaruga, Dynamite Heady, and Silhouette Mirage for their wacky mechanics and story lines. I’m a big fan of simulation style games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. Couch co-op / Multiplayer games will always hold a strong place in my heart so games like Divinity Original Sin, Smash Bros, and Champions of Norrath are always go-tos when I have company over. I’ve been straying away from RPGs a lot in recent years as I haven’t felt a powerful narrative coming out of a lot of them but there are always a few gold eggs in the basket.
Do you have any planned projects for the future?
We like to take things one step at a time, so our current plans involve finishing Oddzone and pushing that out to market. We have had quite a few games we started but put down due to budget and time consumption reasons so maybe after Oddzone we will pick one of those up and see what is possible now.
You’re a gamer; What games are you looking forward to?
Really just anything on the Switch. There is a treasure trove of indie titles to be found there and I primarily play games while I’m in bed so it’s perfect for my routine. I would have to say though the game I’m most excited for is Smash Bros Ultimate and Daemon X Machina as I’m a huge nerd for the Armored Core series and competitive fighting games.
If you could develop games for anybody who would it be? Why?
I don’t think I would stick to just one demographic; some of the games I have made in the past appeal to very casual gamers while some appeal to a very niche market. Ideally, I want to create games a child or teenager will play and say, “I love this, and I want to make games like this”. That would truly be the best result in my opinion.
Tell us about your creative process when it comes to making games.
Usually it begins where all things do, with an idea. From that idea, I start to piece together game styles I think would best fit that kind of idea and narrative. This process can take days to years for me as when I get attached to an idea I want to make it the best I possibly can. Once the idea and style are laid out I begin to work on characters and plot. From there we can begin creating a draft for our game and really iron out the mechanics and game design. Once everything is complete we finalize the graphics and music and start testing.
As an indie developer how do you think indie games are impacting the Video Game industry?
I think indie games are really pushing AAA studios to try harder and that’s a good thing. It’s very rare to see an indie game with a $60 price point but you see it consistently with AAA titles and it’s not always warranted for those bigger titles either. A lot of times I notice I can spend $15 on a game that maybe 3-4 people spent their time making and have a blast with it where when I spend $60 on a game and it has the same quality and content as the indie game, so I feel like I’ve been robbed sometimes. Indie games create competition and that will always be a good thing for gaming industry.
Where can people find you on social media?
Primarily you can find us updating our Twitter the most at https://twitter.com/RookieJetStudio but also stay in touch on Itch.io as we try to post a lot of content updates and Dev logs there.
Final question, if you could get rid of anyone video game, or series of games which would it be and why?
Less of a series but a lot of “Asset flipped games” could disappear and I don’t think anyone would bat an eye!
Don’t forget to head on over to itch.io and check out Oddzone by Rookie Jet Studio and let us know what you think in the comment below!
(Responses were edited for errors/sake of clarity)