Indie games/developers can be very relatable and personable, giving many gamers the feeling of having a type of “ownership” which simply can’t be obtained with much bigger AAA developers. My goal for this series is to further create a face for these developers, hard at work on their games, so that you, the reader/gamer can get to know them a little more. For this episode, I got to sit down with Edward Di Geronimo Jr. of Saturnine Games. Enjoy!
Michael: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with me! So, before we get into anything game related, let’s talk about you. Who are you, and what can you tell the readers about yourself?
Ed: Hey! My name is Ed, I’m 33, and from New Jersey. I’m also the dad of a 2 year old. I’ve been gaming primarily on Nintendo systems since I got an NES when I was 7 years old. I’m also a huge Yankees fan and baseball addict.
Michael: Well, a Yankees fan, huh? I’m an Angels fan, so it’s a good thing our teams aren’t rivals, ha ha. Anyway, losing sports teams aside – man, our teams should’ve gone further – and back to the topic at hand, why did you decide start making games? What drew you in to start making games? When did you know you were going to develop games?
Ed: I learned how to program computers through games. Starting when I was in elementary school, people would give me books on programming computer games. It started with simple text based “guess the number” games and worked up to graphical games. That developed my interest in computers and set the stage for me eventually getting a degree in Computer Science. Despite that exposure, I never considered making games to be a viable career path until after college, actually. I was first exposed to games in the NES days, when companies like Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, and Sega dominated the market. In my mind, the game industry was in Japan, so I never considered it a viable option.
It wasn’t until after college that I started to consider making games a possibility. I discovered the GameBoy Advance homebrew scene and realized it had a lot of potential. The GBA was a current system, it was fairly easy to develop for even without a dev kit, and it was feasible for a few people to make a quality game. That’s when I decided I wanted to make games. My first DSiWare game, Cosmos X2, had its origins at this time as a GBA demo. That demo helped me get my first job in the industry at Powerhead Games.
Michael: I totally remember that homebrew scene. Was never into that type of stuff though, so didn’t get too into it.
Now that you are making a living off of something you never considered an accessible career path, I want to know: is this your sole job, or do you work another job in tandem with developing games?
Ed: I work as a freelancer, primarily doing programming jobs for other game companies. I try to squeeze in time to work on my own games when I can.
Michael: Have you made any games thus far in your endeavors? If so, what platform(s)?
Ed: As Saturnine Games, I’ve created and published three games. The first was a DSiWare game called Cosmos X2. It’s a space shooter with a unique dual weapon mechanic. Your ship has two weapons, each with its own health meter. When you get hit, the weapon you’re using takes damage. If a weapon runs out of health, you can’t use it for the rest of the level. If both weapons run out, you’re dead. When you defeat an enemy, the weapon you’re not using regenerates health. It leads to a balancing act – your weapons have different strengths, but if you rely on one heavily, you risk taking too much damage and losing it completely.
The second game is called Antipole. There’s a DSiWare version available on 3DS and DSi, along with an Xbox Indie version and a PC version. It’s a 2D platformer based around manipulating gravity. You can reverse gravity and everything around you will be affected by the change. You’ll start floating up to the ceiling along with any enemies or other objects nearby, which can be a good or bad thing. It might help you get a key onto a higher ledge, or it might send a pool of deadly acid flying into the air. Mega Man and Metroid were two of my biggest influences when making this.
Finally, my most recent game is Turtle Tale. For Turtle Tale, I wanted to take a step back and make a simpler game that was easy to pick up and play. You play as a turtle named Shelldon on an adventure to reclaim Turtle Island after it’s taken over by pirates. Shelldon is armed with a water gun, which shoots out bursts of water than scatter as they fall to the ground. It leads to a different shooting dynamic than most games, as your shots are more effective from up close, and you have more range when attacking things below you. The game features two quests. The first one is on the easy side, but you can unlock a much harder quest by collecting all 100 fruit in each level. Each quest features 15 levels, spread out across 5 unique areas of the island. At the end of each quest there’s a battle against the leader of the pirates, a rabbit named Captain O’Haire. Turtle Tale is out now on the 3DS eShop, and launches this week on Wii U.
Some of my more interesting other projects include Sportsfriends for the PlayStation 3 and 4, Microsoft Solitaire Collection and several other games included with Windows 8, and Glow Artisan on DsiWare.
Michael: Whoa, you’ve got games spread all around! You’re a busy guy; I know you’ve got an upcoming game for Wii U – a port of Turtle Tale. How many people were part of the development team? What is your role in the development of this title?
Ed: My first Wii U game will be Turtle Tale. It’s a port of the 3DS game with HD graphics. I’ll be launching on the Wii U eShop on October 9th.
Every Saturnine Games project has featured Zack Parrish doing the music and sound effects. He’s also my sounding board for ideas, and generally helps out here and there when I need a hand. Each Saturnine Games project has had a different artist, with Reynier Aparicio creating the graphics on Turtle Tale. Pretty much everything else gets done by me – programming, game design, the business end, etc.
Michael: That’s very interesting; there have been various artist for different games. In my opinion, that’s great, because it keeps things visually fresh, making each game its own entity. Anyway, what has been the hardest obstacle for you to tackle with this project, and why was it so hard? Are you still fighting with this obstacle, or have you been able to kick it to the curb and move on?
Ed: By far, the biggest obstacle is always finding enough time to work on my own games. Games take a lot of time to make. It’s hard to balance working on paid jobs and my own projects.
Michael: I can only imagine. I work full time, am also a full time dad, and write for three different sites and I’m pooped; can only imagine substituting writing for game developing!
Ok, now I’ve got to ask: do you have any “secret” projects you’ve got in the works right now? Any juicy details that you can divulge to me?
Ed: I’ve already started on my next game, but I don’t want to reveal it until it’s further along. I will say that I’m aiming to launch on both 3DS and Wii U simultaneously, and that I hope to include a lot more frills like online leaderboards and Miiverse support.
Michael: Oh, come on! Ha ha. Seriously though, looking forward to it, Ed. Again, thank you for taking time to share some info about yourself and your games with me.
For our readers, remember to check out some of these fantastic games created by Ed here! Turtle Tale for Wii U releases on October 9 in North America, so be sure to pick it up.