Ten Questions With… Vedran Klanac (ZeroBit Games)
We recently had a look at the upcoming retro style arcade blaster, Zotrix from ZeroBit Games. The game offers a mixture of old school arcade action with the promise of more modern elements such as resources and upgrades. To find out more about this unique title we had a chat with the CEO of Ocean Media LLC, Vedran Klanac.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
We’re a small studio from Zapresic, Croatia. The name of the company is Ocean Media and ZeroBit Games is our indie label. We’ve been in existence since 2006 and were mostly involved in client work. Up until now we have developed over 50 games for PC, Mac, iOS, Android as well as Nintendo DS, 3DS and Wii.
How did the idea for Zotrix come about?
I personally envisioned this game a long time ago already, but never had enough time to sit down and start coding, I’m glad this moment has come. The idea itself is a fusion of my experiences when I was a kid, playing Galaga and Phoenix on arcade machines. I wanted to bring something fresh to simple shooter levels, that additional element of a universe in which you play the game. For that reason we’re integrating in the game an upgrade system, trading system, and little story snippets which player can grasp through mission descriptions.
Can you tell us more about the upgrade system the game will use?
Every space station will serve as some kind of hub where player can upgrade their ship, trade earned resources and choose a new mission. The upgrade system is practically a small shop where you can exchange earned space credits and other resources, mostly precious metals, in return for decoys, bombs, smart missiles, new space ships…and much more. One neat feature, which came as a result of discussing the upgrades system with one of the fans, is the concept of having your shopping cart for upgrades and before you make the actual purchase, you can test drive the upgrades on a test level. We think this adds an extra element to the whole strategy of how do you spend your money and what can you do with it.
What motivated the choice to use a fixed screen for levels instead of a scrolling playing field?
The point behind the fixed screen and waves of attacks is that, in my oppinion, this way players can more easily enter the comfort zone of repetitive gameplay without wondering what’s just outside the boundaries of the screen. Is there a rocket that will suddenly come after me any moment? Will I encounter an unexpected element on the level and lose a life? This way we focus player’s attention on what’s easier to expect and they can handle everything faster. I find this important as a designer, because I want players to feel that they have a fair chance to build up their skill and grow it over a number of missions which will neither be repetitive or easy to master 🙂
What are your personal favorite accomplishments in the game?
Boss fights for sure. There will be plenty of them and they will all be different. Each and every one of the boss ships are very unique in terms of visuals and its behaviors.
What was the biggest challenges during the development process?
To optimize the performance so we can have enough particles on the screen while still maintaining a good frame rate. On top of that, difficulty balancing. We spent over a month just tuning ratios for weapons, enemies, and other factors to figure out how to balance the difficulty curve for each level and across the whole game.
What are the future plans for Zotrix / ZeroBit Games?
Well, we hope to release this game on Steam and some other distribution channels and after that we would like to grow the universe of Zotrix. During development of this game, we already got ideas for an arcade tower defense game and even a RTS game but that will heavily depend how well this game performs on the market.
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
A little figurine of a Viking, which I got when I visited Reykyavik, Icealand a couple years back.
Do you have any advice for other developers who want to follow the indie route?
Follow your dreams and do what you think you’re best at.
Anything else you would like to add?
We want to thank Vedran for taking the time to chat to us and for the insightful answers about Zotrix. The game is currently still in development, but you can check out our earlier preview HERE. You can also head over to the Steam Greenlight page and cast your vote if it looks like something you might be interested in.