Interview mit den Oniken-Machern | Pedro F. Paiva

Wie bereits hier geschrieben hat mir Oniken unglaublich gut gefallen, so gut sogar dass ich gerne mehr wissen wollte über die Macher, ihre Motivation und Videospiele in Brazilien.

Also habe ich kurzerhand mit den restlichen Nörds ein paar Fragen ausgeheckt und die beide Entwickler von Oniken ihre Gedanken dazu äußern lassen.
Damit die getroffenen Aussagen möglichst originalgetreu bleiben haben wir uns entschieden die englischen Antworten zu posten. Und falls jemand etwas direkt an die beiden Entwickler richten möchte, schreibt es auf Englisch in die Kommentare – ich bin mir sicher einer der beiden wird es zumindest lesen.


My name is Pedro Paiva, 22 year old, studying Visual Arts and I will graduate as teacher next year. I make videogames for a long time, but started to finish it till 2011 to now.

When did you first get into contact with games?
As a baby, seeing my family playing Atari 2600.

What game marks the start for you?
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was the most significative game to me, I think.

Why was it a special game (was it special?)
It is a really complete adventure. Every level has its own personality with specific narrative and mechanics. All the characters are iconic. The game is very memorable in general.

What games fascinated you the most when you started gaming?
I think more in genres than specific game titles (maybe because I’ve played too many titles and is hard choose just one or two). As a kid I had a closed mind to other genres beyond platformers. Today I love shoot’em ups, beat’em ups, fighting games, hack’n slash, puzzle, anything can seem interesting, even more experimental games that make Danilo scream.

How did (video)gaming back then feel like to you?
Why so many questions about my past? Just because the game is 8bit? Now I feel like I’m in a psychiatric regression session or something like that.

How important was gaming to you?
Videogame means survival to any fat kid without friends.

When/how did you realize that gaming is more than just wasting time and that eventually you would go on making your own game(s)
Making games makes me waste time much more than playing. I started to make games since I started to play games, drawing and planning stuff even without knowing how to do coding.

How big was gaming in Brazil in the early nineties?
So big as Tec Toy was big. Monica no Castelo do Dragao still is much better than Wonder boy to me.

Was there an arcade scene back then? If so, was it big?
The „scene“ was basically people playing Street Fighter 2 in pubs and bus stations.

Did homecomputers like the Atari ST or the Amiga 500 have a scene?
I don’t know properly, but i think the MSX have a consistent community. Here in Brazil we had a little complication called „market reserve“ in these days, hampering the arrival of imported electronic. It was something like „brazilians must buy brazilian electronics to maintain the internal industry“, then a lot of things don’t came here (or came illegaly but wasn’t popular).

Did any european developers (heroes and legends to us!) like Psygnosis, CORE Design, Team 17, Bitmap Brothers or Factor 5 have any impact on you or the brazilian scene?
I recognize a very distinct school in european games, completely different experiences than playing american or japanese titles, with more „loud“ audiovisual style and a different „narrative feeling“, I can’t explain exactly what is. Turrican games are great (specially Mega Turrican).

Did the great 8bit and 16bit console wars rage in Brazil as well? If so, which side (if any) did you pick? And which side would eventually win?
In 90’s this rivalry between companies was good because the focus was in the games, in „how we can make games more interesting than the games of the other company“ instead the „what gadget we will release next week to sell to these nerds?“ that reigns today. I had a Master System in 8 bits and a Super Nintendo in 16 bits, but I never „chose a side“, it is useless when we are talking about hardwares. Both consoles have excellent games.

Did the Windows or DOS PC ever play any part in all of this?
I knew a lot of good PC games playing demo CDs – it was very popular here in Brazil because few people had money to buy original full PC games.

If you had to describe the defining design choices that made early 90ies games look/sound/play/feel like what would you say were the most important aspects? What makes an oldschool game?
An old school game can be made by few people, some friends with good ideas, low money and some time to waste.

Do you think that these aspects got lost over time and modern games lost their ways?
Yes. Today in the industry we have giant companies with thousands of employees selling their workforce. In Brazil, specifically, if you want to work „in the industry“ you need to make advergames. We never had a strong videogame-making culture here, it is born with indies today, till some days ago we had only videogame consumerism and the publicity industry.

Do you enjoy modern gaming? Do you enjoy it as much as oldschool gaming?
I hate new videogames. I only play old games or indie games. Xbox, Nintendo Wii and these type of garbage means „KEEP BUYING MY SHIT“ to me.

As a developer that produced a great tribute to the „golden age of gaming“, what is your take on nostalgia? Are we just being nostalgic for liking the games we grew up with or do they have merit/offer uniqe experiences even today?
Nostalgia is bullshit. No one says „I like Mozart because it is nostalgic“. This nostalgic thinking about videogames is a result of technologic obsolescence.

Are there any developers and/or gamemakers that inspired you particularly, and what was it that was inspiring?
Anna Anthropy and Locomalito opened my mind in many ways. Beyond the quality of their games (that are great), their speech about videogame culture and videogame as part of our society is very inspiring. They don’t want to only make games, but change the world making and talking about videogames. The better way to change the world is inspiring people and it is what I’m trying to do.

Got any „warstories“ for us that you are willing to share (e. g. won a gaming tournament, destroyed a bully in Street Fighter II, kissed a girl behind that Double Dragon cabinet)?
One day my PC literally caught fire when I was playing Tetris.

What was your motivation to start work on Oniken – what did you want the game to be like once it was finished?
In part, because I see in Danilo a great talent. Two years ago he gave up making videogames and it made me sad. I urged him to continue, I offered some help and today we have Oniken.

What steps were necessary before the first pixel was drawn and the first line of code was coded? How did you plan out Oniken?
The first step to me is having a bunch of references. When you know things you can do better things.

What is more important to you, an original idea (gameplay ideas, unique design) or technical skill (great graphics, sound, programming) and why?
Both. But you don’t need a great technical knowledge when you have good ideas, know good references and are ready to improvise a bit.

Can you take us through the process of making a stage for the game – from scenario planning to playtesting?
I started thinking about the context (jungle, desert, high-tech), then I go to a graph sketch book and design the level, and last I make the tiles in pixel art.

What did you enjoy most about making the game, and of course which parts of the process did you find less enjoyable/hated?
I like the pixels and hate the codes.

Why should the oldschool gamer try it? Why should the modern gamer try it?
If you like a good adventure, ninjas, sci-fi and all these type of stuff, you should try it. „Modern gamer“ or „old school gamer“ is a bit complicated because limits the people who like play videogames in a niche. I don’t think Oniken is for a „nostalgic“ type of videogame player. The game makes reference to a lot of things that were iconic in the 80’s and 90’s, but it is a modern game.

Did Oniken become the game you wanted it to be?

Are you satisfied with the reactions you get from gamers now that it is released?
If people are liking it, then I’m satisfied.

Will we see more from you? Will the Oniken return?
I’m always making games and releasing them on my blog, Arcaica.

Wenn Ihr die beiden jungen und aufstrebenden Entwickler unterstützen möchtet, auf Desura gibt es die Möglichkeit dazu (und eine Demo!). Desweiteren auch unbedingt den Oniken-Blog ansteuern für Neuigkeiten und die Leaderboards. Und wer Böcke auf weitere Spiele der beiden hat sollte sich auch mal auf Joymasher und Arcaica umschauen.

Schaltet morgen wieder ein wenn der erste Teil des umfangreichen Interviews mit Danilo Dias online geht!

Interview mit Pedro F. Paiva
Interview mit Danilo Dias (Teil 1) | Interview mit Danilo Dias (Teil 2)

17 Gedanken zu „Interview mit den Oniken-Machern | Pedro F. Paiva

  1. One day my PC literally caught fire when I was playing Tetris.

    The poor machine couldn’t handle the sheer intensity of your passion for computer games!

  2. Wasn’t Sega very big in Brazil (so no wonder that Mega Turrican was mentionend)? And I don’t know if I can agree to the nostalgia statement – technology has just a much more impact on video games (the product) that in music, film etc.

    PS: „I hate new videogames […]“ => Where is the smiley…?

  3. @Holmes: I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of technology in other media than videogames (e.g. the influence of architectural structures on compositonal approaches like the Venetian polychoral style). I think even writing depends a little on technology, Toni can come up with examples for sure.
    It would be interesting to know what kind of software you used for creating the game?

  4. On one hand you say nostalgia is bullshit, on the other you made sure to exactly replicate the look of old platformers to the point that Oniken could be easily mistaken for a game from that era. Nowadays even in terms of efficiency, a lot technical limitations no longer exist, so it mostly comes down to creative decisions. When there’s no nostalgia involved, what was your reasoning to make the game look like it does?

  5. @marc & @3ba: Development and porting questions are better aimed at Danilo, who – as far as I understand – was involved in the majority of that. So, you guys might have to wait a bit longer (first part of said interview going up tomorrow).

  6. @ Onkl: So you’re basically implying that „paying hommage“ is ultimately the same thing as „being nostalgic“?

  7. @3ba: I wrote some stuff about it on my blog:

    @marc: The game was „coded“ in Multimedia Fusion 2, but my part was essentialy draw sprites and tiles on Paint.

    @onkl: Oniken can induce nostalgia, but the game is not ABOUT nostalgia. The center point in my speech about Oniken and nostalgia is: these forms of making games still are a possibility, and when we limit it in a „nostalgia niche“ we are saying „this type of game is a simulation of a dead type of game“. The technical limitations don’t defines „8bit-esque“ videogames anymore – these games are about a range of aesthetic possibilities. It aren’t limitations, but choices. I like old videogames because I like its aesthetics and mechanics, not because it makes me remind my childhood.

  8. Paying hommage could be an answer, although a sobering one, especially in light of his remark about references: „When you know things you can do better things.“

  9. Pedro: I got what you were saying about nostalgia, I was merely curious about your motivations. If you simply like the aesthetics, that’s fine. Although you might want to ponder about the reason you like them. Growing up with these games creates a strong feeling of familiarity and that could be considered nostalgia too.

  10. Pedro, did you like Edmund McMillens „The Binding of Isaac“? I thought it did some cool things with very old-fashioned concepts and genres.

  11. @balkantoni: I didn’t play „The Binding of Isaac“ yet, but I like the concept even I don’t like the visuals (too much „flash“ to me).

  12. Pingback: Superlicious | Superlevel

  13. The visuals do nothing for me either – they do grow on you over time, though.:)

  14. Pingback: Interview mit den Oniken-Machern | Danilo Dias (Teil 1) « These nerds

  15. Pingback: Interview mit den Oniken-Machern | Danilo Dias (Teil 2) « These nerds

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