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Interview: Silver Dollar uses XBLIG for its mad experiments

If you've dabbled in Xbox Live Indie Games, then you'll no doubt have crossed paths with Silver Dollar Games. Gamasutra talks to founder Jon Flook about his upcoming game One Finger Death Punch.

Mike Rose, Blogger

February 22, 2012

4 Min Read

If you've dabbled in Xbox Live Indie Games, then you'll no doubt have crossed paths with Silver Dollar Games. This is a development team that doesn't take itself very seriously, and has released games with titles such as Try Not To Fart and Shoot or Date. "We really enjoy making our games, even though we know some people explode with rage at the sight of some of them," explains Silver Dollar's Jon Flook to Gamasutra. "We don't have a reputation for making games like Homeless, Sins of the Flesh and Fatal Seduction [all XBLIG releases from Silver Dollar] as those games remain unnoticed. These forgotten games represent our thoughts and ideas." He continues, "We've heard people say things like 'I think Silver Dollar Games must lend their account out to their friends who just put crap on there... People can’t seem to believe that someone could make a game like Blow and then follow it up with a joke like You Will Buy This Terrible Game." "To be frank, we feel we're relatively unknown anyway. We enjoy making silly games and the reputation that goes along with that is OK with us, as long as people are having fun or getting a laugh from our games." Some may question why Silver Dollar continues to target the XBLIG platform, given the poor sales and support associated with it. Flook suggests that XBLIG is a great place for throwing ideas out there and seeing what sticks. "We really believe that Xbox is a great place to experiment with new, exciting ideas. If you look in the comments of our blog you'll see some saying that our blog isn't XBLIG specific and it could be applied to PC or iOS as well." "That may be true, we're not experienced with other markets. Nevertheless, Xbox Live Indie Games is a very cool place for amateurs to explore new ideas." However, Flook hopes that the studio's next upcoming title, One Finger Death Punch, will be the release that allows his team to start exploring other markets such as PC and Windows Phone. With One Finger Death Punch, the team hopes to recreate the action from classic kung fu films as a 2D side-scrolling action game. "We're extremely amateur and wouldn't be able to do this kind of game in a 3D environment," he admits. "With that in mind we still thought we could accomplish everything we wanted in a kung fu game in a 2D environment." Initially, the team watched classic scenes from kung fu films on YouTube, and attempted to recreate moves from these clips. However, Flook explains that while it "looked really cool, unfortunately our game was frustrating and simply not fun." Through experimentation, his team realized that every move they put into the game had to result in a fun feel, while also giving the impression of intense kung fu action. "Any idea that sounded cool, but didn’t result in an instant gratifying experience wasn’t right for us," he notes. "Our limitations are truly boundless when it comes to imagination, but everything we do is limited by the game's innate ability to be fun." The XBLIG platform pulls in an audience that demands instant satisfaction, suggests Flook, and therefore the controls need to be intuitive straight away, with minimal instructions or tutorials. "The fun has to come naturally. This natural fun limits many new concepts from being made easily. I say 'easily' because we have tried to do some new things with this game despite how difficult it has been along the way. We spent many hours making sure that what is new and possibly confusing, seems intuitive and easy to learn." One Finger Death Punch will feature stickman visuals, as Silver Dollar is looking to focus more on the gameplay and the sheer number of animations is can force into the title, without having to worry about how it all looks in motion. "Just because something is using stickman animations doesn't necessarily mean it's not going to be visually pleasing," Flook tells us. "That's what we're hoping anyway!" However, if the game turns out to be successful, the team will be looking to upgrade some of the visuals, although the stickman will stay. "The player's character already has 500+ animations, and that's not including the enemies," he notes. "Unfortunately we'd never be able to afford properly drawn animations for this game. We're still proud of what we accomplished using stickmen though."

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