Developer Spotlight: Spread Shot Studios

Today, Platformalist’s Developer Spotlight is on Spread Shot Studios, a 2-person studio from San Francisco, currently developing the multiplayer bullet hell title Space Jammers.

Space Jammers Banner

The game looks great, Sorob! Can you talk for a minute about who you are, and what you’d like to achieve with Space Jammers?

Sorob Raissi: My name is Sorob Raissi, and I’m originally from Orlando, Florida but moved to the West Coast last year. I used to work in the military simulation industry as a 3D artist and level designer. I’m now working on 2D games and have been learning programming along the way, since I never got a formal education in that department. Frank Meijer (PR at Spread Shot Studios) expressed some interest in helping out with the campaign a few months before I launched the Kickstarter, so we’ve been planning release strategies together since then. He is based in the Netherlands, so we make sure to Skype at least once a week.

With Space Jammers, my goal is to set a benchmark for the company in terms of the tone, quality and features that gamers can expect in the future. I want the games coming out of Spread Shot Studios to be as inclusive as possible, with multiplayer features.

The game’s story revolves around a rock band comprised of alien pirates, trying to fund their musical tour. Are you musically inclined?

SR: I don’t think so …

Space Jammers Screenshot

The screens for Space Jammers look pretty impressive, running at a solid 60fps with a ton of sprites on the screen at once! Could you talk for a minute about some specific challenges you’ve encountered in developing a bullet hell game, and some tricks you’ve discovered in order to combat these challenges?

SR: This game was originally developed on an outdated Android tablet, and later for OUYA, so performance was a bare necessity from the start. The biggest bottleneck I encountered first was maintaining so many objects on the screen. Since I want to keep all the action on one screen, I simply don’t run code in objects that fall outside of the viewable game. This style of managing all objects in the game became the most practical performance enhancer.

Could you talk about what inspires you? Creatively, artistically, and what generally motivates you to put out solid work?

SR: I’m driven to make better versions of games or genres by trying to fix holes or mistakes, to make something better or special. Because I grew up in the nineties, my work comes out through that lens. I feel like games have gotten unnecessarily complicated, for how commoditized they’ve become. I want to eventually try to make games more approachable for people.

I noticed a sprite in your promo material that bears a striking resemblance to Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Is this an intentional reference?

SR: I dunno, but it’s a pretty good show.

Your website mentions that Spread Shot Studios aims to provide experiences that cater to both casual and hardcore gamers. How do you hope to achieve this?

SR: Some of the mechanics I include aim to help those who would struggle with this type of game. For example, bullet time which slows down everything except the player if they are near a bullet. There are plans to port to mobile as well, which will likely end up with much simpler input and gameplay mechanics for casual players. In the long term, I want to make games that use alternate interaction methods that take advantage of what people already know how to use. Not everyone understands gamepads.

If you could send a message to your past self, when you first started working in the game industry, what advice would you give yourself?

SR: Start making games sooner!

Favorite snack while developing?

SR: Scooby Snacks.

Most-used software during development work?

SR: Aseprite.

Favorite game of all time?

SR: Diablo 2.

Favorite console of all time?

SR: SNES.

If you could be any character from Space Jammers for a day, who would you choose?

SR: The one with the straw in his head, so I could “drink your milkshake”!

Any shout-outs you’d like to make? Indie games you’d like to recommend? Anyone I should follow on Twitter?

SR: @wizard_fu – Developing Songbringer, a procedural roguelike Zelda-style game.
@asquaredgames – Developed Sleep, a mysterious story-driven metroidvania game.

If you’d like to support Spread Shot Studios and get Space Jammers at a discount, check out their Kickstarter, follow them on Twitter, or wishlist the game on Steam!