Interview with Video Game Developer Matt Pappalardo
Sensible Reason recently sat down with video game developer Matt Pappalardo, who is also a full time architecture student in New York. Matt has been working on a new indie game The Great Gaias for the last five years. According to Matt, “This game will bring you to a world with its many great inhabitants, puzzles, and a lore that has been developed for over five years. You will find yourself enveloped in a medieval based world, grand in scale, with an epic history, developed heroes, and powerful antagonists. You will make the choices that carve your path, and re-write the epic history of The Great Gaias. The Great Gaias will feature systems in its game-play that you are not used to seeing in the old school JRPG’s such as Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series.” His team, known as Horizon’s End, recently launched a Kickstarter to fund their game. Curious about what goes into the process of making a video game and what motivates him, here is what we spoke to Matt about:
I had always captivated my friends with wild tales and adventures while playing Dungeons and Dragons and we had been running this particular D&D session for over five years on and off. By the time we had finished and I was looking over my notes, I had written many supporting stories and histories about this world that I had created from scratch with a map and a pencil. I had originally wanted to write a novel but with my love for old school story-based RPG’s like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, I decided to digitize the story into this retro-styled game that I adored growing up.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur/game developer and going to school?
It’s actually not that difficult with a proper amount of motivation. Going to school for architecture has been a great blessing, enhancing my abilities at creating graphics to be used in production of The Great Gaias. I don’t sleep much, get out much or have a lot of free time, but to see this game and my creations come to life in this way, it has all been worth it.
What kind of market is there for games? Is this an industry with a lot of opportunity for startups, or is it dominated by big companies?
There is a large market for games at this moment, the business is quite lucrative. With the advancements of cell phone technology and web-based gaming, video games are sweeping new horizons and bringing everyone on board with a game they can play. The problem with a lot of the games in these modern times is the fact that greedy publishers often produce only games they believe will sell well, and in turn have destroyed many great genres of games that we grew up with. If it’s not a hack-n-slash, action packed game with instant gratification, they want nothing to do with it. They have taken out the critical thinking, self-sustaining storylines and overall playability. What I hope to accomplish with The Great Gaias is to rekindle one of these forgotten genres.
The reason that we decided to go with crowdfunding is that we are not held down by any producer and I know from recent successful Kickstarter campaigns that people are craving these games. We have funded this project completely out of pocket and we have hired some truly talented artists and composers to help make this dream come true. It has become very difficult to balance a budget when most of our money goes into producing this game and Kickstarter allows many people from all over the world to be part of something powerful and amazing.
What was the most challenging aspect to developing a game?
Getting the word out to people has been the most challenging part of this entire ordeal. The game has come together superbly and it’s getting better everyday, we just need more people to hear about it and help get the message out!
Who else is working on your game with you? What are their roles and how do their individual strengths come into play?
We have been working with Paul Helman (Lemmings, Die Hard Trilogy) from almost the very beginning and he has created many of the character sprites that are seen throughout the game, it has been great working with him thus far and we hope to continue until the game is complete! Lucy Lee (Luluseason) is a supremely talented artist and she was been doing our portrait work, title art and summon magic spells. She has been an integral part of the entire project, bringing the characters of The Great Gaias to life. Most importantly, the soundtrack that has been produced solely by Aaron Krogh. He has made some of the greatest game music I have ever heard and capturing the tones and arcs of the story that we started creating so long ago.
What is one piece of advice you have for aspiring game developers or entrepreneurs?
Don’t ever give up, people cannot live without their dreams. Where the horizon ends, a journey begins.
We wish Matt the best of luck in his project! There are some pretty cool rewards, including an artbook, early access to the game, a hard copy of the soundtrack, and even to have yourself put in the game as a character. Their Kickstarter page includes a lot of details, such as character descriptions, plot summary, sidequests, and bios on all of the members of the team who helped build the game. You can check out the Kickstarter for the Great Gaias here.