When was the last time you played a shooter game that you enjoyed to the core? If it has been a while, you should definitely check out BACKFIRE by Green Squid Productions. The game is ranked #47 under the Arcade section in the App Store and offers a mind boggling gaming experience unlike no other. We spoke to Joel, developer of BACKFIRE, who shared a great deal of his early days as a game enthusiast and his plans for the future.
1. Backfire is becoming a favourite among mobile gamers on App Store. Do you feel that the game is heading in the right direction?
Absolutely. BACKFIRE is gaining a lot of attention, and a reputation as a very solid premium shooter. The next step for BACKFIRE is a huge content expansion. This free update will add an entirely new arcade mode to BACKFIRE, where players can compete for high scores. I think a proper score attack is something the game really needs to succeed long term.
2. Can you tell us about your company and background?
From a reddit post from awhile back:
In 2017 I had just dropped out of college (TV broadcasting), and was really unsure of what to do next. I’ve always been interested in game development,
and I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands, so I basically said “If not now then when?”
My only programming knowledge at this time was a couple computer science classes in high school, In which I mostly played happy wheels. So I came into the whole thing pretty blind. I started with the “Roll a Ball” tutorial from Unity’s website, and I can’t recommend this enough as a first step. Easy to follow, and a great introduction to the Unity inspector.
I remember telling my mom I was going to make a game. She laughed.
Not because she’s malicious, or doesn’t believe in me. She very much does. I just tend to start a lot of projects, then quickly move on to something new/different.
To some degree that is exactly happened. Coming straight off that intro Unity tutorial, I had grand visions of a massive MetroidVania RPG. Yeah… I got a platform made,
and a very slidy Player Character, before deciding that I was not going to make that game. I felt discouraged for awhile. “Game Dev is to hard.” “I’m not smart enough to code.”
It was actually a post here (or maybe r/gamedev) that inspired me not to drop the pursuit entirely. A very passionate and kind post, about starting small.
Hmm… okay… What’s a small game a could make in a week… Crokinole!
So, I worked on my Crokinole game for about a month. After a month, I had 4 MegaScripts (2000+ lines of code each) controlling the game, and it was no where near playable.
But that didn’t really matter, because I had now tasted at least a few minor successes. You could slide the puck across the board, and score points. Making that from nothing was enough to get me hooked.
I refocused. Start smaller. And this is where BACKFIRE was born. I was going to make a game where your ship shoots from the back, and enemies move towards you.
I’ll try to find the original concept art, because it’s really funny.
Something really clicked with this project. I made fast progress, and if I ever had a problem I would google it, and usually have a solution within the day (maybe not an elegant one, but hey).
I can’t express how valuable the internet is for education. Unity Forums, Stack Overload, and communities like this can go so far for learning C# and Unity.
And that’s how it went for probably 6 or 7 months. Everyday I would put out fires, and every fire I put out I learnt little more. It was great.
Eventually, my knowledge and skill had far surpassed the code that I had originally written, and I couldn’t work with it anymore.
7 months into BACKFIRE’s development, I scrapped the entire thing and I restarted.
I’m so glad I did. I was able to lay a strong ground work that let BACKFIRE expand into a exciting 6 hour campaign with Upgrades, all sorts of fun enemies,
and bosses that I’m incredibly proud of. I still faced many, many challenges along the way, and each one taught me how to be a better developer.
Since it’s release about a month ago, BACKFIRE has been successful both critically and financially. Every day I feel so incredibly blessed. I know for a fact that I would never have glimpsed success like this,
if it wasn’t for a long list of failures. I look forward to failing even more in the future 🙂
TLDR: I started developing games with little to no experience, and embraced every failure along the way. Ultimately I think it was these failures, and the education they brought me, that led me to success.
3. What are the best features of this game and how is it unique from others arcade games on the App Store?
BACKFIRE is uniquely designed as a game that makes you think twice about every action. If you want to blast a group of enemies with the shotgun, you need to think about the momentum of the attack. Will it slam you into a wall? Into another group of enemies? All the weapons in BACKFIRE are designed like this. Action/Reaction. Risk/Reward. This makes BACKFIRE, despite being very fast paced, very strategic. Every move must be calculated with a lightning fast reaction time, and people find that very engaging.
I think a large part of BACKFIRE’s success also comes from it’s dark and oppressive atmosphere. Every design decision I made reinforces this theme. From the music, to the way that enemies grip you, it’s all designed to make you sweat. Enemies truly feel scary, like something worth avoiding. It’s not a welcoming game, and I think that attracts people to it.
4. Where did you find the idea or inspiration for this game?
Initially BACKFIRE was heavily inspired by games like Geometry Wars and Tilt to Live. Later on, I became very inspired by DOOM(2016) and Dark Souls, so that’s where a lot of the atmosphere comes from. The album by John Carpenter “Lost Themes” has also inspired me a lot while working on the game.
5. Are you planning/developing any new titles?
For now BACKFIRE: Arcade Mode is my sole priority. It will feature a ton of new content, and It’s basically a new way to play BACKFIRE. I’m extremely excited about it, but I can’t say too much about specifics at this time.
After that, I have more than enough ideas for games. I’ve been working on a side-project called “FETCH”, inspired by my beautiful australian shepard. While the game is only a prototype at this time, I think the gameplay holds a lot of promise.
6. Which App marketing tools do you use now? How do you track reviews and what do you think about ReviewsCollect?
Currently my main marketing tools are through social media
- Discord: https://discord.gg/2sGMXsn
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheGreenSquid
- Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/BackfireGame
I’ve only recently started using Reviews Collect, but I imagine it will be very helpful to me as a developer. Using this along with google alerts will mean I will never miss a review.