Indie studios are always wonderful to see get formed, as they create enjoyable experiences that many other major studios might not tackle. We covered the title Featherpunk Prime in the past by reviewing it on 3WIREL, which was developed by the studio Super Hatch Games. Being formed of former Sony developers, they have a lot of talent in making quality software.
I was able to spend some time talking with Dan Jeffery of Super Hatch Games about various topics, including the origins of the concepts for Featherpunk Prime and many more. I hope you enjoy this interview!
RK: Can you introduce yourself?
Dan: Hey! I’m Dan Jeffery, one half of Super Hatch Games. I handle all of the programming, amongst other tasks. I share the game design responsibilities, as well as technical design and level design.
RK: Thank you for taking some time to answer my questions! My first question would be what was your introduction to video games?
Dan: I don’t exactly remember the first game I played, it might have been Pong on a second-hand Atari 2600 or Pong machine! After that I spent most of my time on the family’s Amiga 500 trying out lots of games like Turrican, Lemmings, Cannon Fodder and Bubble Bobble. We had lots of games and I was spoiled for choice. It was great for me, seeing all the types of games that were available. The choice was so broad and the games were so vivid, its no wonder I like Indie games that hearken back to that time.
RK: That’s great hearing you experienced a wealth of game types for your first gaming experiences. What made you want to start game development?
Dan: I like to tinker with things and always have the urge to create machines and contraptions. This combined with programming computers, and my love of games made me start developing them. I was a little slow in realizing it was an option though, it didn’t occur to me that actual people created games and that I could do it as well!
RK: When we find something we love to do, it’s best to push it as far as we could in fostering future careers I feel. Better to spend your time doing something you love! You said in the past you worked at Sony before in producing games for PlayStation. What was it like working there?
Dan: There’s a lot of great and talented people working at Sony, and I learned a lot about all sorts of aspects of game development. I’m really thankful for my time there and having the opportunity to work with those people. I worked on a lot of quirky projects, but a lot of them got cancelled. Personally, I found it increasingly tough to work there as I wasn’t getting much satisfaction day to day, at times feeling just like a cog in a machine.
RK: Shame to hear that the quirky projects you worked on were cancelled, but it’s great hearing you enjoyed your time within Sony. When you formed Super Hatch Games, what were some goals you had as a studio when producing video games.
Dan: We want to put some aspects of ourselves into the games we develop, making them fun and original, developing the types of games we like to play. With Featherpunk Prime, we balanced those aspects with developing a game that would be achievable from a two man team, in the time we had available to us. We wanted to do as much of the process as we could do by ourselves, to push us and learn from it. The end goal was to create a studio that would be sustainable, where we could move on to bigger and better things.
RK: Very impressive hearing that, as I must imagine that making a game with only two people must be tough. I find it great you have a clear goal and focus for your studio; that will help with any project you set out developing. What was the inspiration behind the concept and idea for Featherpunk Prime?
Dan: Believe it or not, one of the primary influences is Rogue Legacy. I had been playing it a lot when we started and it permeated a lot of my thoughts at the time. Featherpunk Prime ended up quite different though. Rogue Legacy feels really satisfying to play, but is pretty difficult for most people. By just playing, you earn credits and can purchase/upgrade more items, while learning to get better along the way. I wanted to make that journey more streamlined and less frustrating. It’s cool to see some reviewers pick up on it!
Another big influence, believe it or not, is Geometry Wars. I wanted to mix my two favorite genres for years, the platformer and the twin stick shooter. We always knew it was going to be a risk, and probably a niche game. A player really needs the experience and muscle memory of both genres to get the best out of it! We do try to ease the player in at the start, but it’s wild how differently people get on with the game.
RK: I honestly saw elements form both of those titles within Featherpunk Prime, as the shooting controls felt great like Geometry Wars and the rouge-like elements the game offers feel great like how they do in Rogue Legacy. Taking inspiration from great games can only help make your own title even better, and that helped make Featherpunk Prime a strong game. What were some challenges you faced as a studio when making Featherpunk Prime?
Dan: We had to learn a lot. On the technical side, we came up with a new pipeline to create the characters, going from 3D models to 2D textures in game. I had to do a few things I’d not done before, like enemy navigation and Steam integration.
Another challenge was just getting noticed, there’s just so many games being made at the moment, its been hard to differentiate Featherpunk Prime and it’s quality aspects. We had to learn a lot about marketing, it’s amazed me how much is just guess work, and going with with a gamble a lot of the time, as there’s just not much data around which to base your decisions on; when to announce, where to announce, which platform to start with etc.
RK: When Featherpunk Prime released on PC, how did you feel about the gaming communities reaction to the title?
Dan: There was some very enthusiastic support. A lot of people really dig the game after playing it and we’ve received some very kind messages from people. In truth I think it has been fairly quiet, I don’t think the game has managed to too reach a lot of people’s eyes. I think Steam is quite saturated at the moment and we’ve struggled to stand out.
RK: Steam is a platform that is hard to get your voice out, as it’s flooded with games. But it’s great hearing that people loved your title and appreciated your teams hard work. One element of the game that strikes me was the creature designs. What were some ideas behind the different character designs for Featherpunk Prime?
Dan: Stephen, the other half of Super Hatch Games has got a thing for birds. The flamingo really stood out for a number of reasons, we thought it was quite distinctive and a little wacky. Flamingos have some interesting poses and their articulation allows for some interesting animations. Basing the game on birds was a great source of inspiration. We thought it was an interesting choice to mix a bright and vivid dystopia with mechanical birds.
RK: What are some goals for when you bring the game to consoles in the future?
Dan: We’re still seeing how the game does on Steam for the moment. I’d love to have it available on a console. Microsoft have been very kind in giving us an Xbox Developer Kit, so we are ready in that regard, if we think it’s a good time. If there’s enough feedback from people that they’d like it on the Xbox One then I will be easily swayed!
RK: Great to hear it might come to consoles in the future! It was a lot of fun talking with you today and thank you for doing this interview with me. Any final comments you want to share before we close the interview?
Dan: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I really appreciate you giving Featherpunk Prime a focus and glad you are enjoying our mad creation! I hope more people get to play it and enjoy it.
You can find the official website for Super Hatch Games by clicking the following link. If you want to get updated on any news from the studio, also follow the official Twitter! You can check out our review of Featherpunk Prime on 3WIREL as well.