Kickin’ it with Ruud Koorevaar – Zenzizenzic
4cr: Hi Ruud! Welcome to Kickin it with. What can you tell us about yourself so that our readers can get to know you a little better?
Thank you for having me Antonio! Back when I graduated in late 2012 (Masters degree on New Media and Digital Cultures, very theoretical stuff) I had some difficulty landing a job as there wasn’t much available on the job market. I couldn’t sit still though. So I started doing some things for myself, among which the kind of crazy idea to start messing about with game development in the Unity3D engine without any prior knowledge on how to code, how to design a game or anything related to game development. All that I had was the experience of playing games for the most part of my life, which I think gave me a bit of a knack in recognizing when a game feels good, or when it doesn’t. It started as a hobby without a clear goal, but over time it started to take over more and more time and it eventually grew from a hobby to a full-time activity with the development of the game that got dubbed ‘Zenzizenzic’.
4cr: As far as Zenzizenzic goes, you have a modest Kickstarter campaign with a €2,000 goal set for the project. What is this game about?
Zenzizenzic takes the good old familiar genre of shoot ‘em ups (or shmups), mixes in some elements of bullet hell games where the player is challenged by a screen full of projectile goodness and wraps all that in an abstract design while aiming to take it up a notch through modern and responsive controls. It’s a challenging game, that’s for sure, but you have some really fun tools at your disposal to overcome that challenge. Expect time jumps, screen wide lasers, pods, black holes and much more.
As I mentioned previously, I didn’t know a damn thing about game development when I started, so I relied on getting the feeling of the game right. That meant I had to take a gameplay and mechanics driven approach to the game’s design, rather than attempting to for example set out some elaborate adventure game. A shmup fits that bill perfectly, as the intricacies of that genre lie in the gameplay and used mechanics. And that’s what I try to accomplish with Zenzizenzic: really focus on how the game feels and try to get the player to go “Alright, one more time!” repeatedly. The abstract visual style further complements this, making sure things are recognisable. And finally, the music (by bignic) aims to really get the adrenaline flowing.
4cr: Are you really working all by yourself to finish this game?
It’s 95% a one-man gig (excluding the music)! A good friend (Arno de Bruijn) helped out with a bit of coding to do things like tracking online highscores. And a 3rd party helps out with some marketing, to take a bit of that workload off, so I can focus more on development. Although during the Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaign for Zenzizenzic there is little time left to work on development, as answering questions and reaching out to people takes a lot of time. But whatever time I can find goes into development!
4cr: If the project is funded, have you thought about any potential stretch goals that will increase the scope for Zenzizenzic?
There are indeed a number of stretch goals present in the Kickstarter! The main goal is €2,000. The first stretch goal adds €500 to that for €2,500 and would result in adding a Gauntlet mode (go through all the levels in a single go). At €3,000 another weapon will be added to the mix and at €3,500 another difficulty beyond Easy, Medium and Hard will be added (just in case Hard isn’t difficult enough!). Finally, the ultimate stretch goal is at the €10,000 mark. This is for a stand-alone expansion called Zenzizenzic: Macro. Macro takes the shmup and bullet hell gameplay and adds rogue-like and randomised elements to it in an open world to freely explore. Essentially, the camera is broken free from the locked position and follows the player around as he roams around. Expect things in the open world like challenges, items, shops, player progression and explorable environments. It’s a an interesting mix between the rogue-like and shmup genres, and a quick prototype made me so excited about it that I had to further pursue it. But whether Macro comes to life or not depends on the Kickstarter.
4cr: So far the game is only coming to PC, Mac and Linux. Have you considered releasing the game on consoles as well?
For now only PC, Mac and Linux, yes. I have definitely considered consoles, but for most cases there is a relatively large price tag attached (licenses, dev kits) to releasing a game on consoles. It will depend on the success of the game on PC. If that goes well, then who knows! Options are definitely being explored and discussed though and nothing is excluded, but all I can say for now is stay tuned. It would most definitely be amazing to get Zenzizenzic on consoles, that’s for sure though! Unity3D thankfully allows for a reasonable process for porting games.
4cr: How much work is still needed to complete Zenzizenzic?
After the Kickstarter has finished it will take another 2 months to finish the game. So around late July the game will be released! This is all pretty much polish, balancing, fixing bugs and implementing feedback. The content is nearly all there. Before starting the Kickstarter I wanted to give potential backers the security that the game would launch within a reasonable time frame, since that is often a big question mark on Kickstarter projects. The game is in a good state right now, but the next few months will serve to kick things up a few notches and a successful Kickstarter will help me to go all out during this phase.
4cr: Thank you for your time. Do you want to add anything else?
My pleasure, and thank you! For the readers, be sure to give Zenzizenzic’s Kickstarter a look. The game is also on Steam Greenlight and if we could get it on Steam it would be a dream come through (just imagine, a guy who didn’t know a damn thing about game development getting his game on Steam!). And if you want to get your hands on the game yourself, there is already a free beta available to download on at the official website! So give it a spin, and if you enjoy it every bit of support would be hugely appreciated. Cheers!