A new upcoming arcade style SHMUP called Wings of Bluestar has surfaced on kickstarter.com. We had a chance to interview the developer Shinu.
— Hello and thank you for your time doing the interview.
Hello! you are welcome and thanks for the interest in the game.
— Please tell us a bit about yourself
My artist name on the net is Shinu Real Arts, or just Shinu Real. I’m a self thought artist and programmer, but I’m more of an artist, since I started my journey as one before adding game development to it.
I’m also a gamer who started his gaming habit with the first NES, GameBoy and even the Atari 2600. I’ve always loved shmups (shoot’em ups), this love started with SNES and grew even stronger with the Dreamcast. It’s that love for ethe genre that pushed me to try making my own entrance in the field. And wings Of Bluestar isn’t my first game, but the 3rd; the two previous ones were canceled for various reasons.
My other hobbies are watching animes, reading manga, writing, free diving and bodybuilding.
— What is Shinu Real Arts?
Shinu Real Arts does represent only me as an artist and game developer. I first started as an artist, making manga/comics, concept arts, illustrations etc, most of my freelance works are book covers illustration for print houses and writers (mainly from Germany). My first game developing experience started as a hobby, from home. The second and more serious one, I was part of a small studio of 3 people, we had an office, with the goal of making games for android only. But due to different views, we didn’t last longer.
Then I went back to solo indie developing, so, now I mainly work from home, or sometimes in a nice cafe when doing traditional concept work.
The people involved in the making of Wings Of Bluestar, my actual project, are freelancers that I’m paying either with money or art trade, in which I make illustrations for them.
— How was it that you decided to develop a game?
As mentioned before, Wings Of Bluestar is my 3rd serious shmup.
The first one was called “Zwielicht Paradox”, canceled due to data loss and the lack of backup, yeah, I was dumb. The second game was at the time of the small indie studio, it was calles “Tankmania” and was planned for mobile.
So, making games isn’t new to me, it was an old wish. Being an avide gamer reaches sometimes the point, in which playing games isn’t enough and you start wanting to create your own. It can get so strong, like right now, I’d feel guilty if I start playing Street Fighter 5 instead of working on my game.
— Was the idea for a shmup already clear from the beginning?
Shmups were always the games I’ve tried to make. And the idea behind that comes from my own preference; I’m a retro game collectioner as well, especially on the Megadrive (Genesis). And the only retro games that I’m able to play today are shmups.
I remember my very first shmup was on the Atari 2600, “River Raid”. that was my introduction into the genre. Memorable shmups to me are games like “Pocky and Rocky” and “Pop’n Twinbee” on the SNES, after that I went full bullet hell on the Dreamcast, especially with games like the “Shikigami” series. But my all time favorite is “Blazing Star” by SNK, that game blew my mind on the Arcade (coinisseurs have noticed a few homages to that game on WOB).
Latest shmups I’ve played lately are “Musihimesama”, the PC version and “Raiga Strato Fighter”, the latter was so hard.
— What are your inspirations for Wings of Bluestar?
First I’ll start with my choice of a horizontal shoot’em up, it’s kinda embarassing though. The reason why I didn’t go vertical is that back then, in 2016, I didn’t have a clear idea of how I should program the game into both “Tate” and “Yoko” modes. And the shmups community will kill me if I make a vertical shmups without a “Tate” option. So I went horizontal. And again, as mentioned above, my favorite horizontal shmup was Blazing Star, and since I played it a lot, I couldn’t stop myself from being influenced by some of its aspects.
Add to this my love for animes and manga, that’s where the art style comes from. I just couldn’t help it. I even tried to go with a semi realistic aesthetic, in order to attrack a wide audience (I still have my first concept art of the first pilot), but the game automatically changed into a a retro anime look.
— Have you already been working on Wings of Bluestar ?
The work on WoB started in the summer of 2016, but just as a small and average summer vacation project, to be released for free.
But then, the game was getting more and more detailed and ellaborated. It was at that moment that I’ve decided to make a full fledged game, in which I create the best game my skills allow me to.
— Are all of the sprites and background drops hand drawn?
Yes, everything is hand drawn, no CGI or 3D used, except for the ship shield, which is an experience; I asked my 3D artist friend to create it for me and export the rotating object as PNG frames, the I used them as a base and drew over them. Maybe I’ll use this technique for other assets like debris.
Since I’m more of the artist, painting backgrounds and objects is faster and more enjoyable than making 3D moddels/CGI or photobashing.
— The music in the game is really good, did you make it yourself?
Music is the skill I regrett not learning. The actuall tracks are made exclusive for the game by the artist Dan Larsen (guess it’s ok to mention his name since he already agreed to put his name in the Kickstarter).
As for the soundeffects, I made them myself, even though half of them need to be reworked.
The voice sample are made by Sonya Kinsey, she’s a comic artist and illustrator as well. If the KickStarter succeeds, I’m planning to hire her to make more for dialogues and story.
— You seem a very good graphical artist, are you also a good programmer to make such game?
As said, I’m more of the artist than the programmer. And of course, in a team where I take care on visuals only and a more experienced programmer works on the code, I’m positive that the game will turn out way better. But it was always my dream to create my own game, so I had to learn coding. But, and thanks to my previous experiences with coding, I was able to create a solid code for this game. I even learned a lot during these past two years.
— How many levels do you plan to make the game? And are there equal amount of bosses?
Right now the game has 4 full playable levels with their bosses. I’m planing to add at least 3. Some stages have mini-bosses as well. If I had the time and resources needed, I’d make more levels and offer different routes for the player to chose from.
— Could you tell more about the difficulty levels?
The game has 4 levels of difficulties and they get harder in two player mode. I’m trying to keep the game enjoyable for people not really into shmups with level “easy” and “normal”. But starting from “hard” and “very hard”, the game becomes more of a bullet hell, hence why the collusion box is so small in the ship.
— What kind of shooting capabilities does the ship have?
The game has two players for now, they are already coded into the game.
Each ship has its specific game style and state.
The first ship is more on the defensive side with its shield, but it lacks on speed and fire power.
The second ship doesn’t have a shield, but has powerful main fire and a charged beam.
When aiming for high score, and while they have different mechanisms, both ships have that “Risk” concept (from with the Risk Star and Risk Point come), which means, playing for high score includes more risks than just playing in order to finish the game.
— In one of the videos I saw a 2nd player, is this planned to be in the final release?
Yeah, the second player is already included in the actual game.
— Is the balance of the game changed while there is a 2nd player on the screen?
Yes, I always liked how games on the arcade become harder when two players are playing. So I had to include it.
— Will it be on other platforms than PC ?
Sadly and due to budget limitaion, all we can do for now is PC/Steam release. If the game does well enough on Steam, we’ll deffinitely release it on consoles, especially the PS4 and the Switch, which are more suitable for a shmups.
— What made you decide to initiate the kickstarter project?
During these two past years, I was investing in the game (making it and paying people for things I can’t make on my own) from my own money, time and effort. But then I saw a lot of games being Kickstarted. Which encouraged me to do so. To me, the main reason for the Kickstarter isn’t for the game release, but for the games’ quality, especially musics, music is so expensive, like 200$ for 2 minutes if we want some high quality soundtracks. Then comes the fact that the success of game isn’t quality only, but advertizing as well. So, if the Kickstarter succeeds, it’ll help the game paying for advertizing, which will boost the sales and eventually lead to a better sequel or a new shmups IP.
Another reason for the Kickstarter is to test the water and see if my game is good enough for people to invest in. If it doesn’t , I’ll just work harder and figure out where it lacks.
— Thank you for your time and hope to see the game appear in 2019!
You are welcome! and thanks for shout-out.
Checkout the kickstarter page, here at kickstarter.com.
You can also download the playable demo!
You can follow the developers also on twitter https://twitter.com/ShinuGames.