Today I sit down with the lead developer of ‘Papercookies’ and creator of ‘No Players Online‘ Adam Pype, and ask a couple of questions
So Adam I wanted to start off by asking if you could tell us a little bit more about “Papercookie” and what your company does?
‘Papercookies’ isn’t my company! It’s just my username. I’ve been making games on my own for the past 3 years, sometimes participating in small teams. Since 17 months ago today I’ve been mostly busy doing game-a-month. Which is a challenge I’ve set up for myself to create and publish a game every month. During the day I’m a student at Digital Arts & Entertainment, where I do a course on independent game development, while at the moment I’m on exchange to a similar school in Breda, Netherlands.
What was the first video game you ever played? And how old were you when you started playing
Oh I don’t think I can remember the first game I ever played, but my earliest memory is definitely playing Yoshi’s Island on my Gameboy Advance. I don’t remember how old I was then but I was certainly a little dude. I think it’s still one of my favorite games, for sure.
What made you want to become a game developer? what was your muse?
When I was little I didn’t really play much games myself as my brother would always hog the PlayStation. So I was always looking at how he was playing. This got me very interested in the way the games are made because if you’re not busy playing the game you start noticing how the game kind of works and how the in-game levels are put together. There’s this video on YouTube by 2kliksphilip where he talks about his personal experience making video games as a hobby. In one of the earliest episodes he just says that if you want to make video games, you just got to do it. That same night I downloaded Game Maker Studio and a week later I had made my first game!
Am I correct in assuming this is your favorite game? If not what is?
My favorite game is The Beginner’s Guide. I like it a lot because the story really resonated with me. I don’t want to spoil the game for anyone who hasn’t tried it yet. But the kind of romanticized image of a game developer that it portrays really speaks to a lot of developers, I feel. Especially those interested in art games.
What are some of the challenges you face when making a game?
My biggest challenge is probably actually working on it. Once I get into that flow of developing it goes well most of the time, but actually starting the work is incredibly difficult. In the words of 2kliksphilip: “You won’t believe how easy work is when you actually do it. Starting is the most difficult part, but you just got to do it.” Second-most is probably making levels. I enjoy the idea of making levels but once I get to the point where I actually need to make them it’s always such a drag.
How do you feel about the public’s feedback of ‘No Players Online’?
I’m incredibly surprised! I don’t think I could’ve ever expected it to blow up as much as it did. I’m very happy though, it’s always nice to see your work being appreciated, and it’s good to get feedback from a larger audience. In retrospect I would’ve probably written the story a bit differently.
If you could give a budding young developer any advice what would that be?
I think the biggest menace in the industry right now is over-scoping. It really is the root of all evil in many ways, especially for starting developers. I friend of mine (Ward, who also worked on parts of No Players Online) went to a game jam a few months ago and he was telling me about the kind of stress some participants were putting themselves under. It’s okay to take a game jam a bit more seriously, but if you’re staying up nights and drinking coffee to keep yourself sane, you should maybe take a step back and rethink about the scope of your game. Finishing a game, no matter how small it is, is a much greater feat than working years on a project that will never see the light of day. If you’re making your first game, focus on one mechanic, develop it as simple as you possibly can, and try to get it done and over with in a week or two. You’re going to learn a lot more making a lot of small games than you are making one big game. The best part if you don’t have to think about the game once it’s out and you can move on to new things!
Mr. Pype I’m curious, what was ‘Papercookies’ goal with ‘No Players Online’? What did you hope to accomplish?
I missed celebrating Halloween because of school duties, and I wanted to do at least one spooky thing this year. I set myself the goal of creating a game that is at least a bit scary. We made the game in 4 days and by the third day the game just ended with a jump-scare and that was it. I showed it to some friends at an event in Brussels and people liked it but the jump-scare was a bit underwhelming. We took a risk and reworked the ending of the game in the last day and decided to put some of a story element into it. It was definitely a bit rushed, but I think the game wouldn’t have done nearly as well if it wasn’t for the dialogue. The whole ARG aspect of the game was mostly on accident. We put a little secret in there if you replayed the game after the ending and people started reading way too much into it. Eventually we spend the week after developing the whole ARG onto the game, so all of it was fairly unplanned!
Now I have played ‘No Players Online’ and I must say it is absolutely chilling, a big empty map all to myself, I’ve always thought it itself scary, let alone what is to come later in the game. But I just want to know what was the early storyboard for ‘No Players Online‘?
I had to make an Unreal Tournament map for a school assignment just before making No Players Online. And I wanted to do something more with it. While play-testing the map I always felt it was kind of inherently creepy to walk around the map alone. Which inspired me to make this game. The original idea was to use the same map for the game, but I ended up
making a new map that felt more like a 90’s game while adding some maze-like qualities. It’s certainly not good level design for an actual FPS, but I think it helped create a spooky atmosphere.
Well Mr. Pype it has been a pleasure, but before I go, are there any future projects you are working on?
I’m always working on new things every month, so you can keep up with me on my twitter to see what I’m cooking up. Right now I’m making a city builder game mixed with a typing game. Thanks for having me, Buster!