Bomberman has been a wildly popular game franchise that saw the release of dozens of titles across many platforms and a large selection of publishers. It also spawned many clones and although there were the likes of Dynablaster and TNT Terry in development for Atari Lynx, neither was completed nor released. So now in 2018, Alex Genoud, who goes by the handle LordKraken on AtariAge forums comes into the picture with his upcoming came...BomberCats.
Atari Gamer had a chat with LordKraken about his past experience in game development, his upcoming game and a few other random topics thrown into the mix, so without further adieu...lets jump into the interview!
Why a Bomberman clone? Why a game for Atari Lynx? ...and will you release on any other platform?
Two reasons for that. First and foremost, I'm a huge fan of Bomberman, the first SNES game in particular (and also Atomic Bomberman on PC). Secondly, the Atari Lynx is my favourite handheld and definitely a machine I would have love to work professionnaly for. So considering that, and also the fact that the machine was clearly missing a Bomberman game, it was pretty obvious for me to give it a try.
Please note that my initial goal was to create a 1-1 port of the SNES game, in term of gameplay, art and features. This is why BomberCats looked so similar to the SNES game when I announced it (but I'm fixing that at the moment, esp. to avoid legal issues).
I won't release it on other platforms unless there is one that is still missing a bomberman clone (what about the Jaguar? 😉).
Have you done game development prior to this game and if so which platforms and do you have any examples of your prior work?
As far as I can remember, I have always created video games. I was 8 or 9 when I got my first computer (an Amstrad CPC, who was very popular in France at the end of the 80s) and created simple games in Basic. During mathematic classes in high school, I would spent most of my time creating games for pocket calculators! So it became pretty clear to me that I should make a living from this passion. Which I did. I have been working for the past five years on Candy Crush Saga (I was one of the early programmers - unfortunately we didn't really see any of the insane amount of money that game generated).
A couple of months ago I moved to Ubisoft Stockholm where I am currently working on an upcoming Avatar game, based on a James Cameron movie. I have also a few hobby projects, the most popular one so far being a web-based MMORPG called GodWarriors, still alive and well after 15 years. And of course, BomberCats, that I started back in 2010, put on hold for 6 long years, and resumed working on last summer.
What tools are you using to make Bomber Cats?
I started programming on the Lynx 8 years ago. Back then, newCC65 was the easiest way to create games. Since I put everything on hold for so long, I kind of skipped Karri's new compiler and tool chain, but when I restarted my project, I didn't feel like porting my code to it (you know programmers are lazy, right?).
So I'm still using newCC65 (which is quite funny since it's the old compiler now), but I have a couple of handmade scripts integrated with Sublime Text (an awesome text editor) to make coding and testing much faster (I might share them if there is any interest). I use Paint Shop Pro for graphics and palettes.
Is anyone helping you with the development or is it a solo effort?
It was a complete solo effort until last Christmas when Sampo (Turbo Laser Lynx on AtariAage) kindly offered his support to create music for my game. I'm a fairly decent programmer I think, but still a learning pixel artist, so I'm quite happy to be able to focus on graphics and leave music creation to a real musician!
When do you anticipate your game will be complete?
When I announced the game, I was thinking of releasing the game before Christmas. Now, due to the fantastic answer from the community, I'm putting some extra effort to make the game really fun and to add extra content. I'm also ditching all Bomberman copy-paste art. But the game will be released anytime between Christmas and Q1 next year.
Are you planning to have it published as a physical release?
Yes, it will published physically with a real box and original art. I will probably sell a digital version on itch.io as well. Most importantly all benefits will be given to charity!
What's your take on the home brew scene for Atari Lynx, your favourites, least favourite games?
I'm following the Lynx scene almost daily, and I'm really looking forward to see all these new games being released in the near future. It's truly amazing to see how alive the scene is! 2017 was a great year, but 2018 is even better, possibly the best year for the Lynx since its official death. I can't wait for 2019 as it is going to be Lynx 30th anniversary and I can foresee a lot of new games being released - I have one more - yet to be announced!
As for my favorite homebrews, I'm going to exclude Zaku and Alpine Games from my list, because they are more than your regular homebrew and are actually even better than most official games! I need to exclude Wywern Tales as well, for the same reasons but also because I missed the release and haven't got the chance to play it yet.
That said, I actually have 2 favourite homebrews. The first one is Championship Rally, for its technical excellence its depth (many options, ComLynx, etc.). The other one is Yastuna (1 & 2) for the diversity and the fun of the mini games, and the very polished look.
I don't have any least favourite to be honest. Working on homebrew projects is a craft. It takes time, courage and dedication. So every contribution needs to be respected, no matter how good or bad it is. I'm just sad when a promising project is canned. So that will be my message here: take your time but never give up!
That's truely inspirational! Big thanks to Alex for taking the time to answer these questions! Atari Gamer is looking forward to the release of BomberCats and can't wait to hear about this other new game that is hinted at being announced in the future!-AG