EIP: What was the biggest challenge in developing the game?
Matt: The biggest challenge for me was the mental health and burnout side of it. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression. The overwhelming amount of work that I had to do as a solo developer, and simply not knowing what kind of reviews it would get or how many sales I would get really put a strain on my mental health.
EIP: What are you most proud of with Video Game Fables?
Matt:Firstly I’m just proud I finished it. Making any game from start to finish — especially as a solo dev — is such a monumental task. More specifically, if I had to choose one aspect, I’m proud of the humor, writing, and characters in the game. I’ve made so many people laugh and have a good time. I can’t think of anything cooler than that as a game dev or a writer.
EIP:The game’s tone is very lighthearted. Was this something you’d always set out to do with Video Game Fables, or did it occur naturally as you developed the game?
Matt:Yes, from the very start the number one goal of the game was to make people laugh and have fun. I’m proud to say that I succeeded in that, and you can see evidence of that in the reviews from critics and players.
EIP:Of the three main characters, which one was your favorite to design?
Matt: This is like asking to choose a favorite child, which is impossible. Just kidding, it’s Nate. Nate really stands out to me because he kind of has the energy that we should all have. I’m a pessimistic person by nature, so if I could strive to be positive and happy like him I’d be way better off I think.
EIP:The unique battle systems in the game, such as delaying attacks and using crits as a resource, are one of its highlights. Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with those ideas, or about developing those systems?
Matt: I’ll be honest, I can’t really identify the origins of a lot of the systems in the game. Many things (whether it’s characters, story beats, jokes, dialog, game systems, etc.) just kind of pop in my head, sometimes in a vague form. Then it’s my job as the developer and writer to take those ideas and expand on them, find how they fit into the rest of the game, and polish them up.
I consider my writing and creative style more of a “passive” style, where I just trust ideas to come to me subconsciously, then consciously craft them into a presentable form. I do think my general mindset of “make a love letter to RPGs while also innovating on every aspect, and without falling into lazy parody” really helped set the right environment in the creative part of my brain to create the right ideas.
EIP:With the release of the Nightmare Arena DLC, can we expect any more DLC to be released for this game?
Matt: For now this is my last planned DLC. I’m definitely open to more, but to be honest sales just aren’t good enough for me to invest more of my time into this game. I love this game, the world, the characters…everything about it, but there comes a time in our world where sometimes it’s just not financially viable to dwell in that world you created.
EIP:That’s a shame, because the game is fantastic! Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Matt: Go check out Video Game Fables, play the free demo, buy it, write a review on Steam, and tell people about it. Buying the game is the best and most obvious way to help out a solo indie dev like me, but I think people also underestimate the power of word of mouth when a dev’s marketing budget is basically $0. If you think the game is cool tell your friends about it, tell influencers and gaming content creators they should check it out, post about it on social media. Every little bit helps.
Another thing is that if anyone out there wants to make games but is too scared, just jump in. Pick a game engine out of a hat, watch the first game dev course you can find online, make an extremely small game from start to finish. Don’t overthink the journey and spend months trying to figure out which course to watch or which engine to use; you’ll burn out before you’ve even started. Just DO SOMETHING and you can always switch engines later or take a different online course.
Wise words from Matt Sharp there rounding out our little chat: don’t just sit there pondering, but do stuff! Stuff like checking out Video Game Fables if you haven’t already. It has a free demo, so there’s no excuse! Thanks again to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions, and for making such a fun and unique game. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.