Flying Arrows is a new Game Boy game that has just hit Kickstarter and we have a special interview with the games developer. Francesco, better known as Studio Loading, was born in 1987 and tells me Game Boy was his first experience. He also explains that he is ‘married with a beautiful Brazilian wife, we have a son, six years old. In 2012, I started reading DylanDog comics about the Investigator of Nightmares. I Googled its video games, published by Simulmondo, and discovered one of the developers living in my same town!’
‘In 2014, I met him in person and he is still in the video game industry. He mentored me about where to start in game development. Since 2016 my hobby is game development. I am a lone-wolf and I desperately needed to get some experience, so I developed Draconian Nexus, Cobra Kai and Seven Forces. To be able to write a complete game, I needed boundaries, so I decided to get into retro gaming development.’
Flying Arrows came about when Francesco discovered programming Game Boy titles using C language and set about making some prototypes before settling on Flying Arrows. ‘I always liked fantasy literature, but the world is full of dragons, you know. I’ve read the book Hybrid Souls and found myself in love with urban-fantasy genre. Here’s where the lore of the game has been designed. I studied a lot of pixel-art, level design and game design from books such as The Art of Game Design.’
Frencesco also explains that he is doing all the work himself, even if one contribution came from a past experience. ‘Yes, all myself, I say it proudly. There’s one thing outsourced, the chip-tune. I was drummer for a rock and roll band called The Misty Hills, and I used to saved the documents of the songs we wrote. I found a chiptuner to translate the music sheets of the real music for the Game Boy. A perk of the Kickstarter is the digital+boxed version of the game plus an audio cassette with all the songs we wrote as The Misty Hills, played with real instruments.’
When asked about the challenges of programming a game like Flying Arrows, Frencesco tells me ‘the most challenging aspect is not the development or the design, its the marketing that worries me the most. Being a lone wolf is very risky from the marketing point of view. I am talking about a niche market, the retro gamers. I am still promoting myself as much as I can, but the “it’s never enough” is always in my mind. My goal is to be recognised as a good retro game developer out of the blue.’
Turning his attention to the game itself , Frencesco tells me it ‘is an action adventure platformer’ that is compatible with DMG, Game Boy Color, Super Game Boy and plays in full colour. He describes the story as ‘you, an archer, find yourself in a zoo, with a note from your mother saying she’s waiting for you after being held captive. Why would wild animals kill or imprison her?’ It certainly sounds intriguing and that a real story is being developed for Flying Arrows.
I always ask indie developers asking for Kickstarter backers why anyone would be interested in physical games for old consoles and Frencesco is quite blunt about it. ‘From a marketing perspective I should answer because most of them are collectors, and a collection without homebrews will never be completed! But let’s be sincere here a new Game Boy game should be interesting because the technology used back in the day is still able to emotionally hit you.’
I finish on asking Frencesco on what is the future for Fly Arrows. ‘I would like a a successful Kickstarter for three reasons: Firstly, to get funds for the production of the game in physical cartridges. Secondly, to be able to market the game. And lastly, there’s something personal. With Kickstarter I can measure myself. My games are very good, I like them and I am the first person believing in my video games, but what about the other people. Am I doing something good for the people around me?’
Thank you to Frencesco for chatting to me about Flying Arrows. You can play the demo before deciding to buy.