I found out about N.U.T.Z on twitter following #indiegame and #indiedev tags. It immediately caught my attention and I reached out to Alex, owner and founder of Pandemonium Interactive.
The description of N.U.T.Z?
“N.U.T.Z. is a non-linear platform game that incorporates elements of a shooting platformer, and is inspired by classics such as Megaman and Metroid.”
That’s putting it simply. I’ve been fortunate enough to play a pre-alpha release and the first thing I noticed was the freedom of movement and shooting mechanics. They work extremely well! The next thing I noticed… it’s hard. It certainly lives up to it’s Megaman inspiration. I don’t know about you but I spent hours and hours trying to beat Megaman levels. You may find yourself in the same position with N.U.T.Z
On to the interview:
How long have you been working on this project?
This project started back at the beginning of 2016, when my university denied me entry into the video game program. I decided I would make one on my own. Around February or March I hired an artist to help create concept art and going into May I hired a programmer to put together a prototype, and a sound designer soon followed after. We’ve had a strong part-time core since.
What was the inspiration that started you working on it?
We were inspired by classics such as Megaman, Metroid, and Metal Slug. The reason this project was kicked off in 2016 was due to me not being accepted in my university’s game program. So I decided to form a team and make a game, self learned.
How long have you been developing games for?
I started back in high school with the RPG maker series. This is a new indie company though and even though it’s our first game we really want to make a big impression and show people what we can do.
What is one early memory of a game that made you go “Wow, that’s something I’d like to do”?
That’s a hard one to answer. It was certainly around the N64 era. I was really impressed with Megaman X4, Ocarina of Time, and Final Fantasy 7. Those games really sent me down the rabbit hole, haha.
What makes this game different from others?
We have a unique art style that really sets us apart from others. We also strove to have distinct and catchy music. We also give greater player freedom in approaching situations. A key strength is giving the player the ability to freely aim as you choose which lets you perform action that you normally couldn’t.
What are you building it with and why?
We are using the Unity engine. Its a powerful gaming engine that fits our needs and allows us to construct the tools that we need to build our game.
Is there anything you’d have done differently looking back on it now?
I would have probably started this project sooner or saved some money that was spent on other projects. I would have also embraced unity sooner, though I do not regret the time spent on working on RPG Maker games. I also would have decided to go to work full time and have saved up more resources for this project.
Have you worked with other gaming companies?
No this is my first venture. I would have liked the opportunity to do so but…
Did you go to school for what you’re doing and/or how did you learn to do what you do?
I believe my associates degree in computer science technology gave be a strong basis for understanding how to assemble a software project, read and implement code, and learned to use various software tools. However the most important lesson I learned was to be a proactive self learner, and get your hands dirty, so to speak.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the islands of Montreal and Laval respectively in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Spoiler alert: My french is kinda bad :p
What were your childhood interests?
Of course video games were among my pastimes. I used to spend a lot of time playing, especially at my grandparent’s place, almost up to 14 hours in a day (which my grandfather Benito used to complain about). Besides games I used to watch some TV, specifically anime shows. I was also involved in sports. I played a lot of ice hockey and it was my favorite to play. I sometimes miss the days of hitting the skating rink.
What would be a single piece of important advice for other indie developers?
Get your hands dirty and take the dive. Work full time and set aside some money. Go to an art school or a school specializing in game development. You do not need university to do video games. Its mostly a self learning process
What platforms are you releasing your game on and why?
We are releasing our game on the PC platform. This is the easiest for use to create it for without involving the extra costs of devkits or equipment investment.
We are considering other platforms like the Nintendo switch for our Kickstarter stretch goals if they achieve target funding goals.
What would you say is the most interesting aspect of your game?
It would be the aiming mechanic, uniquely behaving weapons In the game, and how it all ties into the fast action platforming gameplay.
What, if anything, do you feel needs more work?
I feel that there is still so much more work to do. Personally I feel that the first level could be so much better. However due to time constraints I often shift priority to other tasks.
Are there any other people or designers who have influenced your work?
This was a bit hard to answer. There have been many influential people that have influenced my work. In terms of running my organization I aspire to be like Satoru Iwata. He was always a gamer first, incredibly knowledgeable, humble, and he made self sacrifices in the face of adversity.
Satoshi Tajiri, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Chris Metzen, and Lorne Lanning. All these game designers have been highly influential on me.
Nobuo Uemastu certainly made an impact on me in terms of music, though it would be criminal not to mention Toshihiko Horiyama, Frank Klepaki, and Jake Kaufman.
What would you say is your best attribute, game related or not?
I would have to say my best attributes are being tenacious and determined individual. I strive be the best that I can be and it has carried though my actions and decisions. I would not have come so far in my self learning if I had given up early,
Do you use any specific methods to evaluate progress at different stages of development?
We currently track our progress with weekly meetings and goals that are both monthly and weekly. We discuss what we did and how things are coming along. We’re very responsive to each others work and we all give and receive criticism equally to ensure we’re doing the best that we can on the project.
It’s obvious that a tremendous amount of work has gone into N.U.T.Z. What would you say has been the biggest challenge so far? Character development? Storyline? Mechanics? Artwork? Marketing? Etc.
Overall the project has been challenging in the respective areas that you’ve mentioned. We’ve also had to learn to come together and work as a team. Things aren’t always cheery and carefree internally but when things go awry we talk about it openly and we work through the problems together. We pride on ourselves being open with each other and our community.
Marketing ourselves has been quite the challenge indeed. We’re small fish in the big blue sea. Attaining a following can be hard, and keeping the momentum up can be draining. However I’m very happy to be working with a fantastic PR firm. GOPublX has been astoundingly helpful and its truly a pleasure to work with Racheal and Eddie. I do not know where we would be without their invaluable contribution to the project. We’ve also started working with Brightlocker. Things look promising, and we’re looking forward to interacting more with N.U.T.Z. game fans on the platform along with hearing their ongoing feedback and offering them numerous perks all while still in active development.
You recently announced a new character, Saya The Fox. What drove your decisions for her abilities?
We wanted Saya to be a unique character with distinctively different gameplay from Sil, The Squirrel. She was to be a very melee focused character that gets close and personal with enemies and cares less about the precision based aiming with Sil.
Are you planning on any other character in the near future?
Locke the Badger is a planned future character that we’ve yet to discuss fully but we’ve talked internally about him from time to time. Like Saya we plan for him to have a unique feeling and playstyle unique.
Beyond that we’re unsure if more characters are going to be added but there is always potential that you might see more in due time.
Care to give us a sneak peak at what some of the collectible upgrades might be?
One upgrade will let Saya drag herself to heavy thing or reel in small or light enemies.
You can expect Sil’s armor to play a more active role and change over time, with the right parts.
You can sign up for their mailing list and stay up to date with progress and announcements for N.U.T.Z. here.
Follow them at on twitter @NUTZ_game
Interview questions were answered by Alexander Melchiorre. Founder, CEO and Game Designer.