Francisco Téllez de Meneses, AKA @unepic_fran (Twitter), the mind behind Unepic, talked to LifeisXbox about his new project, Ghost 1.0, a futuristic metroidvania where hackers hire a mysterious agent to infiltrate the well protected Nakamura Space Station in order to “borrow” some industrial secrets.
Fran kindly answered some questions about the game through an e-mail sent to us this week.
Hello, Fran! Thank you for your precious time and attention. First of all, please tell us how your career with games started.
I starter to create videogames for fun when I was 14 (MSX BASIC). Games were expensive to buy, so I found fun by creating them.
Later, in 1999 I realized that I could work programming them, so I joined Ubisoft, where I learnt a lot.
Being a developer, do you still find time to play other titles?
Haha! It’s not being a developer, but being a father that takes me time to play videogames.
Anyway, it’s not the time but the will. I don’t feel attracted by most of the games and I get bored easily. The age maybe? So I end up watching Netflix or replying the games I enjoyed once. 😛
What is your favorite genre?
Classic Metroidvanias, space shooters and realtime strategy games.
And your favorite title?
Oh man, the Starcraft saga.
You developed Unepic almost all by yourself. Impressive!
When I started Unepic I was totally unknown and I had no money, so my only chance was to develop it on my own.
I didn’t mind it at all, as the goal of programming it was to return to my hobby, to create games for fun, because at work I had to do third party boring games to get some money.
And now, with Ghost 1.0, why the change?
When I finished Unepic, I promised myself that if I could afford a graphic artist to do the graphics of next one, I should do it. The reason is that I’m more a programmer than a graphic artist, and creating the graphics of the game was the worst part for me.
Luckily Unepic sold quite well and I could pay one for Ghost 1.0. 🙂
Concerning music and special effects, two guys improved Unepic’s ones, so I asked them to take care of it in Ghost 1.0.
Telling by what I’ve already experienced from the gameplay, I can see some inspiration from classics like Castlevania and Metroid. What other games/movies (or any kind of media) it takes inspiration from?
In the first place we took inspiration from “Ghost in the shell”. I loved the movie, and its look & feel. So I wanted to create something similar. Concerning the gameplay, I didn’t get any special inspiration.
How was the development process for Ghost 1.0?
After finishing Unepic my idea was to create a project called “African Aid” (a project I tried a KickStarter but failed recently).
The thing is that I had to get information from non-profits, and that process was becoming slow, so I started a new game (Ghost 1.0) in order to prevent wasting my time waiting.
Ghost was going to be a small roguelike game, with random levels. I wanted to skip the part of designing rooms (that was boring too). After a few months, I created an algorithm that generated random levels, but testers (who played Unepic) told me that they liked designed scenarios. “Nothing like levels designed by a human” they said. So, in the end, I had to discard the roguelike part and edit all rooms, one by one, which of course was far from fun.
It also had a system to improve your weapon by adding components (batteries, capacitors, etc.), but testers found it too complex (even with a tutorial), so I also discarded it and created the current one.
And the small project changed and became bigger and bigger, more and more weapons, and more story, and scenecuts… until it became Ghost 1.0.
The part I enjoyed the most was to create the storyline and the dialogs. Oh man, that’s the part I love the most when doing videogames. I like it so much that I always end up writing too much and having to cut some scenes.
Now with the release of Ghost 1.0 on consoles, what are your plans for the future? Can we expect an Unepic 2 or Ghost 2.0?
I’m starting right now a new project. It’s some sort of 2D 16-bit Metal Gear. Especially focused on consoles 😉
Concerning Unepic 2 and Ghost 2.0, they may come in the future.
For those who intend to start their career as game developers, what are your advises?
First of all you have to love it. Loving something makes you practice it a lot, and creating videogames needs a lot of practicing.
So, if you do, working for a company is very useful in the beginning because you will earn a lot.
Any last words why Xbox gamers should pick up Ghost 1.0? (No need to say ‘because it’s awesome’ ?)
Because it’s awe… oups! I read the question too quickly 😀
Because it has everything: Action, exploration, explosions, variety, humor, voices and a cool story.
And that’s it, Fran. Once again, thanks for sharing a small part of your story with LifeisXbox readers. I hope the game outperforms all your expectations!