Huge thank you to Mathieu and SkyPyre Studios for sitting down with us to chat about their newest game, The Blobs Fight! Mat was part artist, part UI designer and part marketer when it came to The Blobs Fight and had some interesting insights from developing and releasing their newest game.
Tyler: So you just came from CGX (Canadian Gaming Expo), how was that?
Matt: It was awesome. Last year we went under Carleton (University) so this year we went on our own as Skypyre Studios for the first time. It was our fourth expo of the year but our first expo in Ottawa and it was absolutely awesome.
Tyler: Ya because the last time we talked, which was just over a year now at the last CGX, you were just showing Halen to the world. What’s happened since then?
Matt: Ya, wow! A year goes by fast. Well, since then we’ve been working on The Blobs Fight! and now we have a brand new game out! A month after we released Halen we started working on Blobs and ya, so just under a year of development and we got our game out. It was our first game where there was no school support, it was just purely us.
Tyler: How was that? Working on your own game alone and what did you learn from Halen that you brought along onto this project?
Matt: So the thing about Halen was that because of the school support, you know, we had licenses to all the software we needed and we were all in the same room with four hours a day every day to work on the game. Whereas now we’re doing full-time jobs on top of this and on the side and on your own time at home so, try not to get distracted.
So you know, we had to get things done in time for each week’s SCRUM meeting so we can move onto the next stages of the project. But because of our experience with Halen, there were certainly some aspects that were actually more efficient on The Blobs Fight! than with Halen, because we had more structure and we had a better system.
Tyler: Now with your first game it was a third person, narrative driven, action adventure game and now with The Blobs Fight, it’s a local multiplayer battle arena type game. A pretty big difference, so how did the two games differ in terms of development?
Matt: I think that they were more ambitious… but in different ways. The games themselves were of different scopes. Halen is basically an indie sized AAA game and we had NO idea what we were doing. So that was certainly ambitious as we didn’t know what we were doing. As with The Blobs Fight!, we had never touched a party game or even local multiplayer but then do that in under a year. So the scope of the project itself may not have been as big as Halen, you know, everyone is fighting in a single arena versus the big world of Halen, but in terms of time frame, they were about equal.
Tyler: What were some surprises in switching over from a single player game to a multiplayer game like The Blobs Fight?
Matt: Luckily we decided local multiplayer instead of online multiplayer so we didn’t have to deal with networks which is a whole other issue that we don’t want to touch right now.
Tyler: Why not?
Matt: Well for Blobs we might start looking into it but that’s a big maybe because we hadn’t built the game to account for that. So we’d probably have to rework it from the ground up. We just don’t have any experience in that right now. It might be easier than we think but that’s kind of the cardinal sin of development. “Oh, it’ll be easier than we think” so it’s just out of scope with what we were trying to accomplish with The Blobs Fight!
But with the local multiplayer the biggest hurdle or learning curve was… we didn’t do split screen so that was one thing we avoided but in that case, we had to have the camera just perfect which was a challenge. Because the camera can’t be too far or at a wrong angle. We had to make it so that the player, every player, knew where they were at all times and where they were going to be when they jumped or moved around in a 3D space. So we have the camera turning left to right but we also have to account for depth. So when the players move to the back the camera has to follow and when they’re at the front, it has to pull out. And when some are at the back and some are at the front, we need to be able to see them as well, so the camera was definitely the biggest hurdle and learning curve working on this game. And we had to do it in a way that wasn’t jarring. We had to do it in a way that was smooth and enjoyable.
Tyler: So tell me about The Blobs Fight. What is the game, how do you play it, what’s the big deal?
Matt: Why would you play The Blobs Fight? Well well well. The blobs fight is a local multiplayer party game where you play as these soft looking jello like blobs and you beat the crap out of your friends.
It’s a party game where you can play from 2 – 8 players so there’s a lot of room for expansion. There is currently 9 maps, each with their own set of unique hazards so you never know what to expect although, the names of the levels are pretty clear, like Lava. But there’s one level called Moons with a lot less gravity and you wouldn’t know it from the title but you’re constantly bombarded with asteroids which makes it a little more difficult. So you have to be very much aware of your surroundings or else you’ll get destroyed.
The controls of the game we tried to keep very very simple. Like joystick to move, A to jump A again to ground pound. X is the dash attack and Y is a deflect.
Tyler: I love party games, especially battle games like the Blobs Fight! where the controls are very simple to learn and understand. Because you get a lot of people who aren’t very familiar with video games at parties who want to join and might not be able to.
Matt: Ya we get that a lot at expos where kids will want to play and they want their parents to join and they say “No it’s ok I don’t really play” so we get to tell them “no no it’s very simple anyone can play”.
Tyler: So what inspired you guys to make this game and where did The Blobs Fight! come from?
Matt: The original idea for the Blobs, we wanted to recreate a game that David, Micheal and Andrew made at their first game jam 5 years ago. So we wanted to recreate that and the only similarity between that thing and The Blobs Fight! was that it was also a local multiplayer party game where players fought each other. And then through organic discussions and iteration and tinkering with mechanics, it just kind of became The Blobs Fight.
Tyler: So the game launched late June, how has that launch been so far?
Matt: It’s been pretty good! Leading up to it we had been increasing wish lists and hyping it up online and then on launch night we got some sales. Feels good to finish the game, feels good to have it on steam and feels good that people actually care.
One fun note, we forgot about the Steam Summer Sale and we launched on the night of the Summer Sale. So it was kind of like “OOPS” but we’ve been getting sales ever since so that’s great.
Tyler: Did you do anything differently marketing wise for this game?
Matt: You know since day one with Skypyre I self taught myself a lot of marketing basics and have just been getting better and better at figuring out what works and what doesn’t. With Halen, I didn’t know what I was doing really and we didn’t really have a following and now we have a bit of a bigger following. Which is great because now when you send something out it get’s a little bit of action on its own.
But right now, what I’ve been doing that really seems to work is gifs, videos and pictures on social media. Basically, every single tweet has something to it. So even if it’s not a Blobs picture and I’m just saying “hey check out our Discord server” there will be a discord icon because I posted the link so it won’t just be text. So I’ve been seeing that always posting an image, gif or video just gets much more attention and engagement.
Tyler: How has it been balancing development, promotion, as well as the content and videos that you put out?
Matt: I love video editing but it is so time-consuming. It’s a thing, definitely.
I mean, in terms of dev, I don’t do much coding and debugging of the inner workings of the game. That’s more Andrew, David and, Micheal. But they’re not doing marketing so they have more time to do that which I do more visual, UI and stuff. So, yes it takes a long time but I don’t have to back and reiterate as much so at least I get to make a thing, put it up and I know it works because it’s a picture. And I think that helps because I’m more on the visual end. And at the events, I’m doing all the social posting and stuff.
What’s nice about the marketing is that I’m literally talking to everyone. We’re a small team but so everyone knows what they’re doing but I specifically get to engage with everyone on the team.
Tyler: So you did most of the artwork for blobs?
Matt: I wouldn’t say most. We’re a small team so we overlap on multiple areas.
Tyler: I was more getting towards asking about the customization of the blobs characters because there seems to be a lot of different items you can use to dress up your character.
Matt: Ya! So I did work on a lot of the customization stuff. I got to wake up in the morning and say “today I’m going to make a cowboy hat” which was pretty cool. So I modeled all the costumes, textured most of them and modeled most of the maps. As well as I designed the UI. So those two were my main focuses on the game.
But for the customizations, it was fun because way back in concept art I got to doodle a TON. Just pages and pages of variations. There are four types of customizations that you can customize your characters that include the hat, eyes mouth and miscellaneous. And each preset has 3 to 4 pieces that make a costume. So there’s cowboy and pirate so you can choose these presets or just customize your own thing.
Tyler: Any easter egg pieces like Mario’s hat?
Matt: Not anything like that, maybe in the future because costumes are fun. Although a little bit before release I asked the discord server to give us some ideas and I put in those in there. And I put a narwhal tusk in their for our friends over at Breakfall.
Tyler: You worked on a little bit of Pizza Titan Ultra eh? How was that?
Matt: It was great! We modeled 4 of their mechs.
Tyler: How did that collaboration happen?
Matt: Well we met them at CGX last year for the first time and in mid-development while they were working on Pizza Titan they were looking for some 3D artists to work on mechs. They had us in mind and called us up and that was that really. It was really cool because they sent us pics and gifs of our mechs in-game and it was just really awesome to see that.
Tyler: So all in all, what’s been the best and worst parts of this project?
Matt: That’s so hard. I think the worst part was probably… I don’t know if worst is the best way to say but definitely, the toughest was the business side of things.
Tyler: That’s actually what Breakfall said too when I interviewed them last.
Matt: Ya because for Steam, you need to do all this tax stuff, register your business name, your HST number and submit those and get them legally approved. Because we’re not an individual it was slightly different so we actually had to incorporate our company all in time to get it on Steam. Meanwhile, we’re in mid-development making the game so that was kind of a nightmare but a great learning process.
As for the best part… doing it, getting it done. Being able to say we made a game on our own as a company that’s out there for people to buy. Something we can look at and be proud of. With Halen, it was cool because we put it out there but we couldn’t sell it because of school. But the fact that The Blobs Fight! is our game and we made it not because we had to but because we wanted to was really cool.
Tyler: Awesome man well congrats that’s amazing I’m so happy for you guys. Is there anything you want to plug before we have to go?
Matt: Skypyre is the best company in the world and go buy The Blobs Fight on Steam! Haha.