Interview with software engineer Stavros Pilatis
Stavros Pilatis is a professional software engineer and long time gamer who has recently decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a game developer. He just released his first game Cute Cat Splat on Android. We have conducted an interview with him.
How long did you take to develop your Android game 'Cute Cat Splat'?From concept to release it took about 4 weeks. My intention was to start with something simple so I could give the life-cycle a run through to better understand it. I managed to speed through a lot of development using a development environment on my mobile phone (AIDE) which allowed me to continue coding when on the move. That proved an invaluable tool in keeping me on track amidst a busy home and work lifestyle.
Now that you have completed 'Cute Cat Splat', what is on your 'Wish List'?I've already started on my next two projects, a side-scroller called “Eo's Adventure” and an as yet to be named puzzler. I also plan to develop an RPG at some point in the future. I'll probably end up spending much longer developing the RPG as I want to ensure it has a rich and engaging story, so that will most likely end up as a background task over the next couple of years.
Which kind of games do you like to play? Which types of games turned you off?My biggest passion in gaming is a great narrative. My first real obsession came from Metal Gear Solid. The concepts and rich detailed story blew my mind and it still does to this day. My biggest turnoff is games which are focused purely around a disposable multiplayer aspect. Don't get me wrong multiplayer games are fantastic and I've spent more than my fair share of time in Destiny raids. I just find it disheartening how many big publishers go for the easy option of a multiplayer mode where they can sell endless maps and guns and completely neglect the single player narrative. For me games are an art form and moving them towards mindless money makers tarnishes their reputation as such. Because of this I’m discovering a real passion for retro gaming. I’ve always loved the nostalgia but these days I’m really appreciating the innocence and simplicity of the games of yesteryear.
How would you describe your passion for game development?I've always been a fanatical gamer with a dream idea of making my own game one day. My passion began when I got my first console, a NES with Mario. Since that day I have always been amazed by the wonderful world's created in games. With the recent shift in many (not all) AAA games and mobile games towards the pure money making side of the spectrum, I've felt a bit of the magic has been lost. Thankfully the indie scene is keeping the heart of gaming alive. Seeing this I wanted to be a part of that magic myself. Using my foundation as a software engineer I decided to give it a go. I knew I would enjoy game development but I had no idea just how much fun it would be! The challenges are as exciting as any game I've played and the joy of seeing your creations come to life truly is amazing! It's all topped off when you see and hear people enjoying what you've made. It's an experience I can't get enough of!
How do you compare your game with the side-scroller game where the player controls a bird (where the bird attempts to fly between rows of green pipes)?
Hmmmmm I wonder what game you could be referring too??
In all seriousness though, I'll be honest in stating that I was inspired by it. For my first game, I wanted to do something simple to exercise the idea of creating a game beginning to end. I guess you could say it was an experiment to see if it was something I was able/comfortable to do. With that now completed I already have a number of updates, I’ve got planned for Cute Cat Splat (including catnip!) to take it far beyond the concept that it was originally based on.
If you are given all the resources you will ever need to create, what will be an ultimate game (what kind of quality, genre, levels of difficulty, game's core mechanic, VR, mixed reality etc) that you will develop?
Given absolutely no limits I am sat between two ideas, I would love to create, one to satisfy my artistic side and one to satisfy my technical side.
The first is a stealth RPG. It would be a cross between the original Metal Gear Solid and Skyrim. I would focus on a deep rich story with genuine rewarding lore that can be delved deeper into if desired. The RPG elements would be used as an essential aid to the narrative. I would want the level of difficulty to be focused on the challenge of understanding the environment and how to use it to progress through the game. I wouldn’t overly focus on VR for this game but it could be a nice to have.
My other choice would be to create a game based on an enormously massive universe, in a similar vein to No Mans Sky. I know that game took a lot of flak but what they tried to achieve was a huge undertaking. They have literally created a digital universe. There are certainly areas of weakness and that’s where I’d like to focus my game. The idea of a universe created with complex algorithms running under the surface is something that blows my mind. I would want to design it in such a way whereby the universe was not just procedurally generated, where every world you came across was a new surprise, but where it also evolved. So that if you came back to the game many years later that world, you’ve previously seen could have changed. Where new technology could have been created that was never part of the initial design of the game. I would also absolutely want to support VR for this game!
In the entire process of developing a game, which is the most exciting phase?
I find the most exciting part is once you've got a good prototype created and you start tinkering with little changes to bring it alive. That's where some of the best and most innovative ideas come from and it's during this stage that you can truly set a game apart from the rest.
Interview with software engineer Stavros Pilatis Reviewed by Zannnie on 9:29:00 AM Rating: