Crashnauts | Buzz Blog
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At the most recent Salt Lake Comic Con, there was an awesome area featuring several independent gamers from around the state of Utah, building brand new titles that you might be seeing in the future on your mobile device or, Sephiroth willing, a home console. One of the biggest names to gather buzz from that exposure was Crashnauts, a 4-player arena shooter where you control one of a series of fighters in a game of total domination and survival for points. Today we chat with the game's creator and founder of local game company Fueled By Rockets, Marc Call, about his career and creating the game. (All pictures courtesy of Fueled By Rockets.)

Marc Call

Gavin: Hey Marc, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Marc: My name is Marc Call and I am a senior studying Computer Science at UVU. I've been married for over four years now and love video games and technology.

Gavin: What first got you interested in gaming and what were your favorite titles growing up?

Marc: We had an original NES in our home for as long as I can remember and was always wanting to play games on it. I remember my parents would often get frustrated with how much time my brothers and I would spend playing games. Some of my favorite games growing up were Battletoads, Castlevania, Mario 64, Super Smash Bros. and Chrono Trigger. All of these games were truly something special and really made an impression on me that I wanted to someday make games.


Gavin: What made you decide to take an interest in the programming side of things?

Marc: I did very little programming growing up, I took a class or two in junior high but at the time did not like it and found it too confusing. After getting married in 2010 and finding myself at a call center job that I hated, I was ready to work hard to make a career for myself. I had read an article about a kid in American Fork that made the game Bubble Ball and thought that if this teenager could make a successful app, then I could as well. During my downtime at my call center job, I began to teach myself how to program apps using software called Corona SDK. It was a good starting place for someone that was pretty new to the world of programming. Pretty soon I found myself really enjoying programming and seeing all the things I could create. Working with one of my brothers who would help with artwork, we began working on our first mobile game, Tire.

Gavin: You attended both UVU and SLCC, what was your time like at both colleges and what did you take away from each toward your career?

Marc: I took several semesters at SLCC before I served a mission for the LDS church. It was a good experience and I like SLCC but in the end I feel like it was time wasted as the majority of my credits did not end up transferring over to UVU. I am still attending UVU and will be graduating next fall, it has been a very difficult but rewarding experience. I am a person that likes to learn at my own pace and learn the things that I really care about so it has been a challenge to have to follow the college paths but in the end it has made me a better programmer and a better person.


Gavin: How did you eventually get involved with GMetrix and what kind of developing work did you do with them?

Marc: After my brother and I finished and released our mobile game Tire, I got an email from a UVU counselor about a job position at GMetrix LLC. I replied to the email as quickly as possible and was eager to get a job actually doing programming work. Because I had worked hard and had a fun mobile app to show for it, the head honcho at GMetrix was impressed with me and I was eventually hired onto the team. I learned a lot about database work, .NET development and mostly did Flash development for GMetrix. I made some very good friends and connections that I hope will stick around for a very long time.

Gavin: When did you land the gig at Fueled By Rockets and what was it like joining the company as a game designer?

Marc: Even before I began work at GMetrix, my brother and I started what is now known today as Fueled By Rockets. When we released our first app we needed to put the game under an LLC and so we started the company. However, for many years we had very little time to work on projects for our company. Finally in the last few years Fueled By Rockets is really starting to take off and we are starting to gain recognition in the indie video game scene.


Gavin: How did the idea for Crashnauts come about?

Marc: In fall 2013 I had heard that there was going to be the first Utah Indie Game Jam. Being able to spend 48 hours working on a game project with no distractions sounded like a dream come true. I got together with my four brothers and we all joined in to make a game for the game jam. We had little idea what we were doing as we only had worked on mobile apps and this was the first PC game we had worked on. For our first game jam game we wanted to make something that we would really want to play, and that would be a game that was 4 player and competitive. After the game jam was over we had a very simple prototype for an arena shooter game and that slowly morphed over the past year into what we now have with Crashnauts!

Gavin: What made you decide to develop it more as a robot fighter for the artistic style?

Marc: Crashnauts takes place in a future that is full of technology but has been destroyed by galactic war. We liked the idea of having different races that players could choose from to play the game. At the moment we have Space Marines, Roaches, Infested and Robots. We felt like a sci-fi setting would be what we wanted the game to visually look like.


Gavin: In the past year there's been a few of these types of 4-player mayhem games developed, especially for Steam. What did you do to separate your game from others already out there?

Marc: Some of those games were an inspiration for us such as Tower Fall. Something really cool that really make Crashnauts stand out is the mixing of shooter with platforming mechanics. As the players are battling the stage will often shift and players will have to adapt to the ever changing environment. Crashnauts is also a fast paced and brutal game where you are constantly dying and respawning similar to the classic shooter games of the '90s such as Q3A and Unreal Tournament. We want the game to feel heavy and satisfying and have it be a game that anyone can play, but that could also be played competitively.

Gavin: What was the process like for you in developing the game and testing it out?

Marc: It has been a rough process developing a multiplayer game when all of our team members are scattered throughout Utah. We have all had to work on the game individually and then try to plan time to meet together to actually test the game seeing as its a multiplayer competitive shooter. As we have tested the game over and over again throughout the last year we always noticed that the game was fun and we knew we were on the right track. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to have an office space and will be able to develop and test our games in a much more timely manner.


Gavin: You debuted the game at Salt Lake Comic Con back in September. What made you decide to go with that event to preview the game?

Marc: Showing Crashnauts at Comic Con felt like the perfect opportunity to push ourselves to have our game in decent shape by a set date and to get real public reaction to the game. We knew that we liked the game but wanted to see what other people thought of it. We could not afford to attend other events such as PAX, so showing at Salt Lake Comic Con was the perfect opportunity for us to get our game and our name out there.

Gavin: What was the player response like to the game from those who came by and tried it out?

Marc: Player response was overall extremely positive. In fact, I think we were all a little surprised at how much people loved the game. Young players all the way up to older players enjoyed playing the game together, and that is really what we were going for. We had several people that would come back to our booth several times each day of Comic Con and we even had to kick people out to let new players play at times. It was a very positive and fun experience that we hope to do again in the future.


Gavin: What's the release time looking like for the game and what can players expect to pay to play the game themselves when it hits Steam?

Marc: Because of the state of our business at the moment development is not as fast as we hope it would be. Depending on what the future brings the games release date could shift sooner or later, but we are hoping to bring Crashnauts to steam Early Access towards the end of next spring. We have some very cool ideas for the game and want to have time to develop them and make the game the best it can be. At this point, we are thinking to charge $15 dollars for a copy of the game.

Gavin: Do you have any other titles you're currently working on?

Marc: We have a few other game ideas that we have started, but have put on the back burner for right now, Crashnauts is the only project we can focus on at this time.


Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself and Fueled By Rockets over the rest of the year?

Marc: We are going to continue working hard to make strong progress on the development of Crashnauts. We have been considering possibly doing a Kickstarter to raise funds so that we can spend much more time developing Crashnauts to get it released sooner.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Marc: Because we are an up and coming indie studio, we would ask for your support. You can help us out by following our Twitter feeds for Crashnauts and Fueled By Rockets, join our email list and join us on Twitch as we frequently stream showing development of the game and interacting with our fans in creating the content for Crashnauts. Also keep an eye out for Crashnauts when it eventually is put up on Steam Greenlight in the near future!