If you are as old as I am you may well remember coding your own games on your Commodore 64 or Spectrum, when the games industry was bursting at the seams with eager young programmers and everything was new and exciting. It’s refreshing to see that this spirit is still alive today not just in the indie community but also in a whole new breed of young talent who are just waiting to get their break. Sectioned Games are a great example, a small developer made up of three friends who met at Becker College and have big aspirations in the industry. Cotey Cerasale (lead designer), Bradley Rienstra (lead programmer) and John Lebron (level design) are the men at the wheel of this little indie outfit and are hoping to show of their new game El Chicle at PAX East this weekend to as many of you as possible.
El Chicle is a fun little game, you play as the title character, a partly chewed piece of Taco flavoured (yes I said Taco!) chewing gum. Spat out because of his spicy taste, El Chicle is hell bent on tracking down the boy that rejected him and teaching him a lesson! The game is simple and addictive just like any decent platform game should be, El Chicle is controlled with the mouse or touchscreen and with a simple click and drag mechanic you control both the trajectory and power of our little gummy friend as he jumps and sticks to the various surfaces as he makes his way through each level.
Sounds easy enough right? Well don’t be fooled, chewing gum needs moisture to remain sticky and this is visualised with a water bar on the right hand side of the screen. The bar depletes as you jump around and you need to find water sources in each level to keep El Chicle nice and moist, as our little friend dries out his colour changes from vibrant pink to a dark purple and it gets harder for him to move around. Management of the water bar is offset by the dirt bar on the bottom of the screen, fill up the dirt bar as you move through the level by landing in anything gross to add points to your score at the end of the level. So you need to get around the tricky jumps and pick up dirt but also keep him supplied with plenty of water, now you can see just how fiendish this can get!
The game is in the early stages of development but the team are aiming for a Q2 2015 release, the game will feature roughly 40 progressively more difficult levels of revenge fuelled chewing gum madness with environmental animations, full voice overs and sound effects. Cotey and the team were kind enough to answer a few questions for us on just how they have reached this point:
Q:What are your gaming backgrounds, what games inspired you to try and get into the industry?Cotey – I started when I was 7 years old with a Sega Genesis, growing up my favorite games were the Legacy of Kaine Series, Final Fantasy and Legend of Dragoon. I prefer Rpgs and competitive play across genres. I always knew I wanted to be in the industry, to make my ideas come to life was all I could dream of doing. It wasn’t until Sophomore year of college when I watched Indie Game: The Movie, that I realized I would want to do Indie. My plan originally was to get my portfolio together and try to get in with Blizzard as I have been playing World of Warcraft since 2004.
John – I’ve had video games since i was 5 with the SNES and the Sega Genesis but they weren’t my life yet. When I finally got my hands on the Nintendo 64 is when I started to play games more often with titles like Donkey Kong 64, Star Craft 64, and Super Smash Bros. but even then it was just a hobby. The changing point in my life with video games was when I played Final Fantasy X and for the first time I grew a connection with the characters and felt like I was a part of the story being told. Thats when video games became a part of my life but not until my junior year of high school did I know that I wanted to go into the industry.
Bradley – I had started on PC and NES when I was 4, as soon as I could get my hands on the Gameboy Color I was stuck to Oracle of Ages. I play a wide variety of games but prefer indie based titles. I have always known that I wanted to work in the game industry.
Q:How on earth did you come up with something so random as a piece of Taco flavoured chewing gum hell bent on revenge against the kid that spat him out? I mean it’s brilliant but crazy!
A: In all honesty we were brainstorming to make a quick project in a month and while figuring out a topic we were joking around and Cotey made a joke about throwing his gum at Bradley. At this point Bradley had remarked that throwing gum would make a funny game and we jokingly all threw in ideas as a what-if we did make it into a game. As the ideas poured out we began to really enjoy the idea and started taking as serious as you can take a project about gum. Lo-and-behold our one month project became what it is now!
Q:When I first played this early build of the game what struck me was how it felt both different and familiar at the same time, I couldn’t put my finger on it but games like Worms and an old DOS game called Gorillas sprung to mind, I guess it must be the angle calculations. Was this something you were consciously working for because I think a lot of folks will get the same nostalgia hit that I did!
A: It’s funny that you bring that up, when we came up with this idea our original conception was that of Angry Birds meets Super Meat Boy if you can believe it. We never really meant for the game to feel nostalgic but it just shows the personality games create themselves through past experiences, really expresses our roots.
Q:With El Chicle being so accessible and easy to navigate with a mouse or touch screen what platforms would you love to see it on? It seems a great fit for mobile devices, android etc but I could really see it shine on the Vita.
A: Our overall plan for release is to be on mobile(android and iOS) and PC(with gamepad compatibility), but we have tossed around the idea of branching out if the feedback is positive towards the game. We have discussed 3ds and it only seems natural for the Vita.
Q:You guys are going to be showcasing the game at PAX this coming weekend, tell people what they can expect to see and why they should stop by.
A: This weekend we are pulling out all the gimmicks to attract people to our booth. We will have giveaways such as posters for those who play, to button-pin giveaways, Free gum! (not pre-chewed) and custom-made hats for the highest scoring players each day(details at booth). Can’t miss us at booth 140 we are the ones with the blow up cactus(equipped with mustache)!
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how this game develops over the next 12 months so if you are over at PAX East between the 11th-13th April then swing by booth 140 and say hi to the lads from Becker College, you won’t be disappointed with this charming little demo and it sounds like they have some cool swag to give away!