Comic book fans are probably familiar with the work of creator and artist Steve Uy; his work is featured in acclaimed Marvel and DC titles such as Uncanny Xmen, Avengers: The Initiative, and JSA Classified and he's the artist behind the strikingly beautiful upcoming SRPG World Without End. At the end of last year the rather interesting and visually creative Oasis: Path to Redemption was finally released for iOS and Android platforms, and I caught up with Steve Uy to discuss his new game.
148Apps:You’re an artist for a large variety of comic books titles; what made you decide to venture into video game design and has it been an eye-opening experience from what you are used to?
Steve Uy (SU): I believe every comic book creator, at one point or another, wants to make a video game, and every video game guy, if they could, wants to try out comic books. At least that's always been my experience when I talk to the two groups in conventions, so I’m not really unique in this desire, just in the fact that I actually did it. Everyone has the grass is greener attitude when it comes to the medium.
With comic books, I'm in charge of everything, and the end result is limited only to my deficiencies as an artist. I've created worlds for over a decade in a sequential medium, and Oasis is the first step in allowing people to be an active participant in a world I have created. With games, however, the size of the world is limited by things such as budgets so there are still restrictions to what I can do.
As for eye-opening experiences, absolutely! I originally thought Oasis would take 3-4 months to complete, but it took us 9 months and still counting with the android build coming! The game may look small in size, but getting every bit of code right, making sure every single animation frame played at the right tenth of a second, making sure the jump arc and knock back animation and dash speed was right to the exact pixel - those are things that I have always taken for granted. I can't say enough what a great job my programmer, John Garrison, did to make everything as polished as it came out to be. Oasis turned out to be much deeper than I ever expected and I'm still learning new combat tricks with every new update.
148Apps:Where did the idea behind Oasis: Path to Redemption come from and what is the story behind it?
SU: When I was working on World Without End (which I put on hiatus so we could get Oasis out first), all I could think of was that I really wanted to do a side-scroller. If I were to do an RPG, I imagine it would be something like The Adventure of Link; a game that had a traditional overworld but with side-scrolling dungeons. I had an overworld with WWoE but I needed to figure out how to do side-scrollers, and that's where Oasis came from.
Oasis may be called a runner because the main character runs automatically, but that's just a game design decision I made to simplify controls, much like how SHMUPS have auto-fire built in. Take everything Oasis has to offer and it's more similar to a side-scrolling console fighter - albeit far more simplified of course - complete with counters, footsies, and combo delay attacks.
148Apps: When it comes to writing and creating a game, what or who are your influences and was there anything in particular that had a large impact on the idea of Oasis?
SU I think the first thing people will notice with Oasis is that it has an ending. All games that have a main character should have an ending.
The first thing I thought of when coming up with a story for Oasis was that I didn't want it to be like everything else out there, full of in-your-face fun and joy and awesomeness. This game, from start to finish, is bittersweet, melancholic. Every stage shows a little piece of the story in illustrated cutscenes. But those scenes had to be concise and to the point; they had to MATTER to the player without preaching to them. They had to be worth fighting for. This is the story of the last man left in the world trying to revive it just so he can see his lost love again.
If I were to describe Oasis, I’d say it was a cross between Journey, Shadow of the Colossus, and Ninja Gaiden.
148Apps: Are there still plans for the release of World Without End? Can we look forward to this beautiful game gracing our iOS and Android devices anytime soon?
SU: To be on the safe side, I can't make any promises for sure until we know how Oasis fares in the market and we see if we have money to pay the bills. But it's definitely on the top of me and my programmer’s list of priorities.
148Apps: Is there anything you can take from this experience so far that you would say has prepared you for any future or on-going projects?
SU: I definitely overdid it with the parallax layers in the final stage! I didn't realize that 512 MB of memory would still get eaten up with all the hand drawn art I did for the game! Plus, I did looping worlds with seamless transitions, which meant that all the parallax layers had to end and transition at exactly the right spot on the map. That took months to perfect, and I don't think the end result looks as good as if I had just drawn non looping worlds with no limitations to my art.
For the future, I would like to be able to make a Metroid-style game someday but touch controls right now are the biggest limitation, and directional onscreen controls used simultaneously with onscreen buttons are definitely not good enough for me.
That said, the engine for Oasis opens up a whole new world for us. If we were to make sequels it would be redesigned in structure. No more looping worlds, probably permanent checkpoints, bosses, air combos - it would be more of an adventure game than a battle runner. I would use everything we made to release a more polished, deeper game, but I have no desire to make the same thing twice.
148Apps: Can we expect more of your beautiful handiwork on our iOS devices again anytime soon?
SU: We're still working on the android versions of Oasis right now, and we'll probably release a Lite version for iOS later down the line. There are definitely things I want to continue with so it comes down to either Oasis or World Without End depending on how sales go. Obviously, the best way to help make that happen is to buy the game, or my comic books in ComiXology. And of course, keep tabs on my website for any updates.