Developer Interview: Maxime Vézina (Red Trigger)
As everyone remembers, Neoshadowzac covered the game Red Trigger on “Because it’s free!”(which can be re-watched here). Well it turns out that the developer Maxime Vézina was gracious enough to allow us to ask 10 simple question’s about their game, so that people can really get to know what goes into a project like this!
What sparked the creation of Red Trigger?
I was at the last semester of my program called 3D Animation and Design at NAD University, and for that semester we have to make a big project that reflects that we have gained the skills taught to us during the 3 years of that bachelor’s degree. We can do anything we want as a project. Usually, students make teams of 7-8 people and make a really beautiful game that lasts around 10 minutes. I told myself that it was the occasion for me to make a game that really suits me, so I decided to make a game by myself, that would focus more on the game play and also have a longer game that way. I’ve always loved puzzle games and wanted to make puzzle games (Even if I want to try almost all genre one day), and that’s how Red Trigger was born.
Did you set out with a minimalist art-style from the beginning, or was it a practical measure?
Yes, it was the art style from the beginning, as I consider myself much more a designer than an artist. I’m the type of person that don’t like to go into details visually, and I find that a minimalist style can still be beautiful. Also, that allowed me to really focus on the game play instead, and make more content.
Despite the game’s straightforward mechanics, there doesn’t seem to be much of a hint to the story of the game, beyond a voice-line. Was this a conscious decision, or just a coincidence?
That was intended, and I actually wanted at first to let the players analyse those lines and the little hints in the scenery to figure out the story (That you are actually the virus, for example). But of course I had to write a synopsis for the Steam description, so I pretty much gave it away in the end. Again, the story wasn’t my focus as well, even if I’m actually a writer too and that I love games with a compelling story. I only had 15 weeks to make the game, but I plan to make a longer and priced sequel in a couple of years, and this one should have more of a story than the first Red Trigger!
Would you be able to point to any games provided good inspiration Red Trigger’s design?
Yes, the most obvious one is Portal, but I still wanted to differentiate from it and make Red Trigger unique, which I hope I achieved. Then, there’s Zelda, with for example the twisted corridor, which is some kind of homage to the one in the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time. There’s also Majora’s Mask, which is my favorite game of all time, and I was inspired by it to make the world upside-down at one point. Also, there’s Antechamber for the puzzles aspects and trippy moments. And then, the one that isn’t usually noticed is Batman : Arkham Knight. There’s a part where you have to beat the Riddler’s puzzles, and some of them involve the bat-mobile, and you need to hit B to switch between two sets of platforms. That inspired me the concept of shooting blocks to expand and retract them, and I added the twist of having a limited number.
I noticed the game had a 10 minute completion achievement, despite its length. Any tips for potential speed-runners?
The game was intended to be speedrunned, and there’s some glitches that you can exploit. I suggest looking for the video of the world record, which is 4:38, where you can see some amazing tricks. Some of them were intended, some of them I wasn’t even aware of, and that’s what makes speedruns awesome. There’s also a ‘’hidden’’ feature for speedrunners, where if you activate the Red Triggers a certain way, you can get propelled around 3 times higher than usual, which lets you skip some entire levels. Also, use the bridges to your advantage in Level 7, the level of the Firewall!
Were there any difficulties during the development process for creating Red Trigger?
Not really, I actually made everything I planned to make from the beginning, so I didn’t have to cut any content. That said, I’m not saying it was easy. I worked for 15 weeks, 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, which makes around 1050 hours of work total. It was pretty intense, but I knew it would be worth it. In the first two weeks, I made all the plans for all the levels. Then, the two other weeks, I prototype all the mechanics to see if I was able to make them work. And then, I spent another two weeks to make the whole game, in a very rough state. So by week 6, I had the whole game, it was possible to complete it. And from that point until week 15, I iterated every week to make it more and more solid. While working on the project, there were a lot of things that I haven’t been taught at school, so I had to make a lot of research, trying and learning by myself. Perseverance and being resourceful is key!
How do you feel about the critic’s reviews of the game, considering the time invested in creating it?
I’m really happy that the game got such a positive response. It’s always been my dream to make games for a living and having my own game on Steam. It’s really important for me to interact with the players, my community and fans, so I try to answer to almost everybody in the reviews, and also I try to watch every Let’s Plays of my game to see the reactions, because it’s useful to notice what the players especially love or confuse them, in order to make better games in the future. I try to write to every one of them too, but all that is humanly impossible, so I do my best!
Would there be anything you would go back and change or add to the experience, given the chance?
Good question. Like said, I learned a whole lot during the process. Of course, I would have liked to spend more time prototyping, in order to make everything more solid and figuring out how to make save files sooner for example. Also, getting rid of glitches like going through Red Triggers and make the propulsion’s less finicky. But again, I learned a lot that way, so that I can make it better for the next games I make!
Is there anything you would recommend to those inspired by Red Trigger who are looking to make their own games?
Yes, like said, perseverance and being resourceful is key. If you really want to make something, make it. Everything’s possible, but you need a lot of willpower. Practice, practice, and practice again, set yourself little goals to achieve every week. Also, be aware of what your game is about. If it’s about gameplay, then focus all the way on it. I’m not saying to ignore other parts of what makes a game, because they are all important, but put the priorities at the right place. It’s better to have something really solid in one field, instead of having something average everywhere. Same thing goes if your game focuses more on art and the experience instead. Don’t try to shove game play in it if it’s not necessary, just to call it a game, because it will feel forced. So embrace it and go all the way in your creation and dreams, everything’s possible! If anyone tells you otherwise, prove them wrong.
Any upcoming new projects? Anything similar?
For now, I’m gaining experience in the industry, but I want to found my own little indie studio in a couple of years. The first project should be a longer sequel to Red Trigger actually! I have a lot of ideas for it, and I really hope I can achieve them all, I hope it will surprise all of you positively! And like said, I want to try a lot of different genres as well in my life, so look forward to this too! If you want to keep up with any news of my creations, I suggest following the Red Trigger Facebook and/or Twitter page! Thanks everyone, and have an awesome day!
And there we have it, a great insight on how something as awesome as Red Trigger can be made! And perhaps if you know any other free to play indie games that should be covered, send Neoshadowzac a tweet here!