It looks incredible, has been 3 years in development, Greenlit on Steam and yet is still someway off its KickStarter total. After feeling their plight, I reached out to the developer of MoonMan, a pixel art game where the titular character uses MineCraft-esque mechanics to find his moon fragments, Ben Porter to chat about his game. However, with his KickStarter page giving out all the information you already need about the project, Ben requested a more unusual interview, which is exactly what I tried to give him.
Your KickStarter claims your game contains spiders, was this a ploy simply to win backers hearts and wallets? What percentage of the game is made of arachnid?
The arachnid quota will be amply fulfilled. There are big spiders, small spiders, flaming spiders, and a rare item: the sack of spiders. I’m happy to admit that that last one comes directly from one of my favourite games, Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup. Percentage-wise I’d say that Moonman contains ahh_spiders%.
Many people say pixel art is the choice of indie developers who have either no artistic talent or no originality. So which are you?
Haha, both. Pixel art and low poly art has such a deep connection to computing and games that I think it’ll always be around. I’m really excited to see how pixel art in games has evolved, both from an artistic and technical perspective. With more computing power we can really push the whole pixel game much more, with shaders, per-pixel visual effects, and more complex sprites with physics-based parts, for example. There’s still a long long way to go in this medium. I chose to use low-resolution pixel art in Moonman because of style and economics. I wanted to make something that had deep gameplay like a traditional rogue-like, but I also wanted to have more complex graphics than the simple ascii characters or tile sets those games usually use. I compromised and Moonman is the result.
Are you trying to be Shovel Knight meets Minecraft, or was that a complete accident?
The game started off in my head as Terraria meets Nethack — Moonman’s face is so derpy because it’s just a symbol that you might find in a traditional ascii rogue-like. I started with an extremely simple style, and over time just added more and more details. I didn’t know exactly what the game was for the first 2 years, and as that became clear I was able to further develop the style. It’s been an extremely iterative process and I hope that the game is something different that people can enjoy. I grew up in the NES and SNES era and so if there are Shovel-Knighty aspects to Moonman then I’d say it’s because of that. Minecraft was a hugely ground-breaking game, probably one of the most important games made this last decade, and Moonman was hugely influenced by it.
So far do you think you are going to become part of the elite club who make good on your KickStarter rewards? What swag can we see up for grabs?
Definitely. I think I’ve come up with a great little set of rewards, and I haven’t gone overboard. I’m just trying to fund the development of a game and nobody really wants me to be spending months processing the rewards. That’s the main reason we kept the t-shirt tier to a small finite quantity. The other physical reward is a postcard featuring some great Moonman art. It’ll have a personal sketch and a thank-you note from me on the back. The top tier rewards give the backer a direct line to me to get involved in the game design, by suggesting a creature or NPC to appear in the game.
How much creative input does Pumpkin (Ben’s cat and member of the development team) have in the process?
The only input Pumpkin has is food, which she meows for at 6am every day. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a Pumpkin? She also appears in game as a fat cat mask.
One final question, if you were to sleep with a mermaid which way would you prefer: top half of bottom half fish?
What do you think? Which half of the mermaid is the best?