jdodson: The “Monster’s Ate My Birthday Cake” Kickstarter page reminisces of the time before the Wiki where we shared secrets and game lore by word of mouth. What lore or secrets have been burned into your brain you can’t shake?
Justin Baldwin: It's been a long time, and I remember it for tons of games. I really more or less want to try to bring that experience back, I miss it. The best example I have is that I'm a pretty big Mortal Kombat fan, I remember talking to other kids about all these random crazy codes and things that you could do to make characters naked, or some kind of secret crazy fatality. Most kids were making it up, but it still was fun to imagine stuff like that in a game. And I remember trying for hours to find stuff like that. We are kind of tempted to make fake submissions to sites for cheats, and plan on hiding some interesting easter eggs in the game.
jdodson: How was it collaborating with Disasterpeace for the soundtrack? Did this collaboration changed how you built the game?
Justin Baldwin: Actually we just brought on Disasterpeace about two weeks ago, so sound and music are just now starting to happen. I'm sure it will change some of our approach and presentation of things within the game. He is great to work with, and a super talented man I might add.
jdodson: Your Kickstarter Features 5 inch collectable monster figurines for certain backers. Could you describe the process from design of the figure to how you go about manufacturing them?
Justin Baldwin: I actually have two friends, Eric Haskell and Sebastian Cortes, who are both special effects artists. They are great artists so I asked them if they might be willing to take this on. I supplied them with turn around art of some of the favorite characters based on a Facebook poll we did. They basically took over from there, made the originals out of clay, created a mold from that and cast and painted those bad boys. We still have more to make based on how many are ordered. These will also be numbered so you know they are the limited ones and come with a nice letter of authenticity.
jdodson: Why is the Internet so fascinated with Cats?
Justin Baldwin: Haha, I don't know. Honestly, I'm a dog person. I have two. Cats just don't do it for me, they are too independent. You'd think with the stuff I like I'd be on the whole cat band wagon but…not so much.
jdodson: How did the three of you initially meet and at what point did it become obvious you should make your first game together and start Sleep Ninja Games?
Justin Baldwin: Brandon and I have been friends since we were kids. We've been friends for a good 20 years. So when I say we are influenced by our memories from childhood with video games, we shared those together. Which I think is great! Brandon got pretty into programming and introduced me to things like Flash and what not when we were about 14. That pretty much started our whole path in life really. Alex and I actually met when I was about 19 or so. We were both in different bands at the time and we did quite a few shows together. We had been collaborating on some music and story elements for another game idea that we have on the back burner. I showed them both this idea I had for this game, mostly just some art concepts and this idea of expanding on the Zelda style puzzle mechanic. We then decided we should set some time aside and really peruse making a game of our own.
jdodson: What is the tech behind “Monster’s At My Birthday Cake?”
Justin Baldwin: It's actually nothing overly complicated. It's programmed in C# and we are using the Unity3D engine to run our game. It has great platform scalability and amazing performance. I create all the art in Illustrator and animate them in Flash. We then create sprite sheets out of those and import them to Unity. A lot of the effects are being done with Unity's particle engine. But I won't get to into it, we'd be here a while...
jdodson: You guys provide a ton of totally awesome backer benefits already but one thing I appreciate is that you also let people know what you can provide if the Kickstarter goes over the goal. I hope you guys are able to reach this level. No real question, thanks for being extra awesome.
Justin Baldwin: We thought it would be helpful and think it's important to be accountable for any extra funds we raise. We also made a nice reward chart for people so they could easily see what they will receive.
jdodson: You scale the mountain and “Monster’s Ate My Birthday Cake” ships. What’s next for Sleep Ninja Games?
Justin Baldwin: MAMBC still has a way to go, but we have another game lined up and already have done a lot of concepting and story work for it. I think people might be surprised how different of a style our next game is going to be. I'll just say it's pretty heavily influenced by Blade Runner, Ghost In The Shell, and all things cyberpunk.
jdodson: In the Kickstarter video there is a section of game play where you can buy certain items for in game coins. I wonder if you could talk a bit about this mechanic and how it impacts the game play.
Justin Baldwin: Basically, you will come across coins that you can collect, and a lot of these will be hidden in secret spots, out in the open, or dropped by defeated enemies. Throughout the game you will find different monster shops where you use coins for merchandise in two tiers:
1. Generic items: When you discover a new friendly monster in the game, they will usually want something before you can unlock them as a playable character. You have two strategy options; some key items will be hidden in levels throughout the game and you will have to try and get to them or find them. The other option is that shops will sell some of the key items, obtaining the right one will allow you to gain the allegiance of that monster friend. For instance, Eek, the cut little neon bat monster, wants to gobble up a "glowbug" in order to join Niko on his quest.
2. Upgrade items: You can also spend coins on items that can give your monsters permanent bonuses to their skills. For instance, if you buy the "Golden Uni-Horn" upgrade for Prizzy, the fluffy white monster with a rainbow unicorn horn, it will give him a bonus of an increased chance to have enemies drop coins if they are defeated with his rainbow vomit beam attack. Yes, I said rainbow vomit beam attack.
jdodson: I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me and wish you luck with the Kickstarter! The game already looks fantastic and I hope you go beyond your goals!
Justin Baldwin: Thanks! We hope so as well. We want to support as many platforms as possible.