Alien Scumbags is an indie title that I have had played on and off for a couple of years now. Developer James Ross has now finished the four year long project. It felt a great time to reflect on this retro run ‘n’ gun and James has kindly taken the time to chat us through the journey. The game has been published under Monster Finger Games and can be purchased through Steam.
James describes the game as ‘perfect for people who enjoyed the older Apogee Games like Alien Carnage, it’s for people who grew up with the original Doom and Duke Nukem. Alien Scumbags is a retro gamer’s wet dream, packed full of references to retro games and movies. It’s the perfect pallet cleanser when you need some good old fashioned, gory fun.’
And who am I to argue. When I first played Alien Scumbags my initial reaction was to laugh at the characters. It felt like a great spoof movie turned into a pixel-art game. But it was not always like this as James explains. ‘Alien Scumbags started out as an entry into the 2017 Clickteam Fusion Wars game jam, it was very different back then with a much larger emphasis on darkness. It started as an Alien fan game with Xenomorph looking enemies instead of the large aliens in the game now. After the game jam I was really excited to see what I could make of it if I spent longer with it and that’s when I started to distance the game from being a fan game into being what it is today.’
The game takes place across 19 levels with a few boss battles spread throughout. At each turn there are the nods to classic horror movies and retro games that give you a chuckle. James knows his audience well and has included all the ones you would expect. ‘The main influences on Alien Scumbags are Doom, Duke Nukem and Aliens. I tried to give a similar feeling to Doom with the gameplay, I wanted everything to feel solid and the guns to feel punchy, the humour is closer to Duke Nukem, although I strayed away from the 90’s over sexualised themes. The whole game is one big parody of the 90’s macho attitude. You can see the Alien references throughout, but it goes much further than that with references to lot’s of other sci-fi films and games.’
It was also no walk in the park. Alien Scumbags has been through four years of development to reach this point. I asked James about the challenges a single man dev team faces. ‘The biggest challenge was feature creep, as I was creating levels and features I would be flooded with more ideas which really took it’s toll on the project. I still think about adding more now, but keep needing to stop myself from doing it and accept that Alien Scumbags is now finished and I need to move on. Another big challenge was starting all the original game jam levels from scratch to improve them as well as adding the lighting system that is so important to the game.’
According to James the feedback to Alien Scumbags has been positive. ‘The feedback has been amazing! The game is currently at 97% positive rating on Steam. Pretty much everyone who has covered the game on streams and YouTube has said they really enjoyed it which is so amazing to hear. The retro gaming, Doom and Duke Nukem communities have also showed a lot of love for Alien Scumbags which is my main target audience so it’s great to see that. There is a demo available for Alien Scumbags so please give it a try.’
And it is a fun game, simple mechanics with horror and humour. But I wanted to know how James felt knowing it was finally complete. ‘It’s an amazing feel! There were times when I wasn’t sure it was ever going to be finished as I had set myself such a huge amount of work to complete, but I am so proud of what Me, Stu and everyone else involved in the project have accomplished.
And he is not resting on his laurels as there is another game in the works. ‘The next game I’m working on is called Tanks A Lot, it’s a precision platformer with a jelly tank. The full concept of the game isn’t fully realised just yet, but I have created several levels and hope to have a Steam page up for it sometime soon.’
James also wished to say thank you to all the people who got involved to bring the game together. ‘I want to use this part of the interview to credit everyone involved in the project. Stuart Wright, Steven J Soucy, Corey Roveri, First World Brat, Tristabytes, Wolfieelore and Linsey Leyland. I also want to thank everyone that has covered Alien Scumbags including yourself Faith, it means the world to have your support. If anyone would like to contact me you can on Twitter.’
Thank you to James for taking the time to chat with me about Alien Scumbags.