The VideoKid is my homage to the era I love the most: the 80s.
If you grew up in the 80s like me, you were spoilt for choice with amazing TV shows, great cartoons, and engrossing video games. Back then everything was just so cool: talking cars, transforming robots, time travel, ghost busting, super heroes galore, and much more. It was hard for my parents to peel me off the TV screen and make me go play outside, but when I did I was most likely acting out one of the scenes I had just witnessed.
The arcade games of that era were so great too as with limited graphics the gameplay was always king! They were a test of skill, cunning, and intricate timing and always had a simple yet obsessive goal. One of my favorites was a relatively simple game from Atari called Paperboy where you had to deliver your paper round to your customers in your neighborhood until you become famous. The game was insanely hard, but it fascinated me and I always came back for more.
Transport forward 24 years and I am pitching to three investors about a skate game where you play the video kid who delivers pirate videos to his customers to earn pocket money. The game would be a trip down memory lane where you could re-live your childhood and would be jam-packed with 80s nostalgia. As the investors all grew up in that era it struck a chord with them and the game went into production. We had nine months to make my dream a reality so I began researching my favorite subject – everything 80s, all the tv shows, movies, and cartoons from that era.
For the visual style I wanted the video kid to retain that 80s pixelated look, but with a modern twist, so I chose to make it with voxels. These were like 3D pixels and I used Qubicle to build all the cars, characters, and backgrounds for each level. These were then exported into Maya, animated, and placed in the game by our talented programmer, Larsh Hedberg.
The next challenge was voices. We couldn’t use any actual dialogue or themes due to copyright, so I literally had to do all the voices myself. My friends have always seen me as a bit of an impressionist, so I had to put my skills to use and mimic all my favorite actors growing up. For any I couldn’t do, especially female characters, I called in a few favors from friends. I then hired a soundFX studio called IBC Sound who ran filters on all my dialogue to make it sound like it was from the 80s. They also did an amazing job making all the sound effects capture that 8bit quality by compressing them with all this cool equipment.
Last, but not least, was the soundtrack. I knew I wanted something that had that classic 8-bit melody but done in an up-to-date way. By chance, Larsh sent me a clip of electronic experimentalist DJ Savant, who made his video game music debut with the soundtrack for the D-Pad title Savant-Ascent. We contacted his agent and he agreed to do the whole theme for the game and it sounded awesome!
Nine months later we had our finished game, just like the best quarter-guzzling arcade games of the 80s you only get one life to beat the game. However, little by little, and by dying a lot, you can learn how to get through each section, spurred on by the goal of reaching your elusive girlfriend who is waiting for you at the end of the level. Is it tough? Oh yes… I have only ever beaten The VideoKid once and I designed it!
We can’t wait to get the game into everyone’s hands, and it’ll be available August 31 on Xbox One and Windows 10, worldwide. It’s available to pre-order now though, so if you like, go get it now!