National Video Games Examiner Patrick Hickey Jr. chats with “Until I Have You” developer Jim Spanos, who discusses the game’s development cycle and goals once it’s released. A nifty combination of “Out of This World,” “Megaman,” “Castlevania” and “Deus Ex,” Until I Have You” is an indie game we’re definitely excited about.
Patrick Hickey Jr.: What has the development process been like?
Jim Spanos: Surprisingly, we almost fell out of deadlines. We originally started in late November 2014, to create a prototype, and see where we can take it from there. We finished the prototype around March and started pitching it to various publishing companies. And that’s when we signed a contract with Digital Tribe Games. We created a schedule that we exceeded at one point, and then with our desires to add more and more to the game, we slowly, but thankfully not to a breaking point, fell off. Development-wise, we spent about 1 month per each chapter. Designing, drawing the assets and then coding it all together. Concerning the music, I composed and re-composed throughout these 15 months about 120 tracks. Obviously, not all of them were of great quality, so we kept those that we were ultimately happy with. We started QA on December, and that increased the load (obviously) because we ended up fine-tuning a lot of things, Also, my favorite part was conducting the auditions for the Voice Acting. Over the course of two months, we had over 300 auditions sent to us, and I personally tried replying to every single one of them. That was amazingly fun, and I would like to get a chance to do it again.
Hickey Jr.: What inspired the game’s art style?
Spanos: I’d say mostly visual novels of the 90s and various reference pics from ads of the 80s. Mostly a mix of Snatcher and Hotline Miami would seem like an accurate description. A lot of the inspiration came from anime, tv series and Tumblr sites like rekall.tumblr.com. But these were mostly reference pics.
Hickey Jr.: What do you think makes this game special?
Spanos: That’s an excellent question. I’d say besides the controls and the repetitive deaths (which are not something unique to games) I’d say the way the game introduces new core mechanics each chapter/every few stages. That way, the player never gets bored and experiences an ever evolving challenge against his skill. On the same time, that helps the player “level up” at how good he is at the game. While the game is somewhat punishing the mistakes, it does so in a fair manner, always allowing alternate ways to bypass any obstacle the player will find. A plus is that all the weapons are balanced differently compared to most games. There is no ammo limit, and thus, no ammo drops. The weapons are limited only in use. For example, if there’s an ice wall in front of you, you can either break it with the BAT or just melt it with the FLAMETHROWER. Another very unique feat is that the environments, as the game progresses, because of the plot tied to this mechanic (the protagonist is going crazy), alter and play a role both visually and gameplay -wise. In its entirety, Until I Have You plays around the concept of mixing reality with hallucinations. A sentiment which increases in presence gradually and steadily.
Hickey Jr.: What did you play as a kid, how did it influence this one?
Spanos: Personally I’m very influenced by the visual novels of Hideo Kojima (Snatcher, Policenauts) and the hardcore platformers of the NES era (Megaman, Castlevania). As well as the gritty neo-noir style of Hotline Miami.
Hickey Jr.: What are your goals for this game?
Spanos: To make a fun game obviously. As fun to play, but also fun to watch. And I believe to some extent that has been achieved. Without wanting to self-promote, but this is one of the few games I’ve played
Hickey Jr.: Any chances at a PS4 release?
Spanos: Hard to say. That depends a lot on the game’s success on the existing release platforms (Windows, Linux). Hopefully, they will go well enough to make us consider a port to PS4.
Hickey Jr.: What’s next?
Spanos: I’m currently on the very early stages of a top-down RPG, where everything you do, actually affects the world in any possible way. It’s still in concept phase, so it’s hard to say. I’m also working as a coder for Mage’s Initiation, a Kickstarter project, that will be released sometime in the upcoming months.
Hickey Jr.: Bottom line, why should someone play this?
Spanos: Cause it will make you happy when you finally see the winning screen, there will be some angst and hate before, but the moment where you actually beat a stage/level/boss fight, provokes a feeling that’s hard to replicate. Hard to explain, also, apparently.