Interview with LakeFeperd on Spark the Electric Jester & Sonic Before/After the Sequel

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Game development is a difficult process and many talented people work hard to make the game we love to play. But it is always interesting to see fan productions that celebrate a franchise become the testing grounds for promising original IP.
Today I have with me LakeFeperd, one of the main minds behind strong Sonic fan productions Sonic Before the Sequel and Sonic After the Sequel. Both of these in addition to other Sonic projects he worked on offered enjoyable gameplay that many enjoyed. Lake is currently working on the promising 2D action platformer Spark the Electric Jester set for release in Spring 2017.
Lake was nice enough to answer a few questions I had on this past and upcoming projects. Hope you all enjoy this interview!

RK: Can you introduce yourself?
LakeFeperd: Hello, I’m Felipe, mostly known as LakeFeperd.
RK: It is such an honor to speak with you and thank you for doing this interview with me. My first question would be what was your introduction to the Sonic the Hedgehog series and gaming in general?
LakeFeperd: I don’t quite remember, because I was really young but it probably was the original Mega Drive with Sonic 1.
RK: Thank you for answering my question! Sonic 1 is a great game so I’m happy that was your start with gaming. What part of Sonic did you enjoy the most? From my experience playing Before/After the Sequel, it is very clear you have a strong sense of respect for the original Classic Trilogy
LakeFeperd: Probably everything? I don’t really know what I enjoy the most about Sonic.
RK: I love many of Sonic’s games as well. I felt that you enjoyed the Classic Trilogy based on how your Sonic projects were so high quality. My next question would be that when you was working on Before/After the Sequel, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced during it’s development?
LakeFeperd: Learning programming, I knew nothing when I started.
RK: I could imaging that being a big hurdle you would have to come across; learning how to program must take a lot of time to get a handle with. When the game released, how did you feel about the public perception of the game? Many loved the title and I personally, hold it on par with the official Sonic the Hedgehog series.

LakeFeperd: BTS (Before the Sequel) was received pretty well, as it was one of the few full releases at the time. ATS (After the Sequel) though, at the start, was received pretty badly, surprisingly. Lot of people going “eh, BTS was better” but then ATS later grew to be one of my most well known and beloved games.
RK: Surprising to hear that people didn’t enjoy ATS when it came out initially. Happy that things turned around perception-wise and people respect the game a lot more; it really is a high-quality production. I have to ask you about the soundtrack. How did you gather such a talented group of musicians to compose music for your project and how do you feel about Before/After the Sequel’s Soundtracks?
LakeFeperd: Falk was like, “I need a game to use a reference for portfolio material”, he contacted me about making music for BTS, I said yes, later realizing it was too much work, he called some of his friends and here we are. Keep in mind the original version of BTS didn’t have original music, It only received a soundtrack later for its 2012 re-release.

RK: It is nice to hear that the fantastic soundtracks to both BTS and ATS come from humble origins. Can you share a favorite track from both games? I personally love Hilltop Heights Act 3 a lot.
LakeFeperd: Parhelion Peak Act 2 is probably my favorite track in all of my games. Aside from that, I don’t really have a favorite from BTS.
RK: The entire soundtracks for both games are honestly  some of my favorite Sonic music. They are so varied and match the zones perfectly. When work began on After the Sequel, what were some development goals you had set for yourself? After the success of Before the Sequel, many people had high expectations for it’s sequel.
LakeFeperd: Mostly making a better game from what I had learned while working on BTS.
RK: When you started production on Sonic Chrono Adventure, what was the major inspiration behind the project? I got heavy Metroid vibes from my time with the game.

LakeFeperd: Chrono trigger. I just got really inspired by the music.
RK: I could see why, as similar to Chrono Trigger, Sonic travels through time and has a larger focus on exploration. You announced in 2015 that you were making a Kickstarter for a title called ‘Spark The Electric Jester’. Can you explain the origins of Spark and why did you pick Kickstarter as a platform for the title?
LakeFeperd: It all started with that Kirby power up in Sonic ATS, one day I decided to see what that would look like as an original character. Then, I polished it a lot more until I got to a design I was comfortable with. Now, since Spark was going to be a commercial title, I chose Kickstarter to get some funds for the soundtrack.

RK: I feel that you working on an original IP is a wonderful thing. I personally really enjoyed the work you produce so I think expanding your talents with an original project opens up level design and other concepts for you to work with. I personally thought it was a bold move offering a demo of the game when the Kickstarter launched. How do you feel about the public reaction to the first demo you released?
LakeFeperd: Well, I always like to release something to the public. My game is not a real game until people are playing it. To me, that’s not a bold move at all, just a necessity.
The first demo I released though, was revived somewhat well, but it kinda sucked. This was way before the Kickstarter, Spark was developed pretty far in until I decided to scrap most of what I had and start anew for the Kickstarter.
RK: That is a great mindset to have with game development. Being open with the gaming community and letting them try your game out even in a very early state shows that you are confident in your product. I remember when you released the first Kickstarter demo and I greatly enjoyed my time with it. Now that the games recently appeared in SAGE 2016, how do you feel about the project now that it is getting close to it’s Spring 2017 release?
LakeFeperd: Seems to be shaping up rather well. I’m mostly worried about the difficulty though. I don’t have a lot of people that are up for testing the game as a whole but I feel like I’ll be able to manage it.

RK: Any Sonic games that you enjoyed the most? Or what Sonic game is the biggest inspiration for Spark.
LakeFeperd: Sonic Heroes. May not the the best one in terms of gameplay but I just love everything else about it, the music, the art, it’s all great.
RK: I really enjoyed Heroes, so I feel it is quite interesting you are taking some concepts from that game for Spark. When producing Spark, what inspirations were you thinking of when making the game? I felt a lot of Mega Man X and Kirby Super Star vibes when I played the many demos you released.
LakeFeperd: Aside from Sonic, the Megaman X games you can play as Zero and Kirby Super Star have have the most influence on Spark, but I do have to say that games like Bayonetta and Smash Bros have also had a big effect on spark’s development.
RK: My final major question would be what future plans you have after the release of Spark? Do you consider releasing the game on consoles after it’s launch on PC?
LakeFeperd: That a secret.
RK: Sorry if that question was to early to be asking about but thank you for answering it! Any final comments you would like to share? It has been an honor talking with you and I am very happy to have spoken with you. Thank you so much for your time!
LakeFeperd: Nope, that’s all folks.

You can follow the development on Spark though the games official Kickstarter page, where updates are frequently posted and a playable demo of the game can be found. In addition, you can follow Lake on either his official Twitter or Facebook social media pages.

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