Classic Gaming | Paulrus and The Lost Waters. - Elle May

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Monday, 16 December 2019

Classic Gaming | Paulrus and The Lost Waters.

Paulrus and The Lost Waters is a 90s inspired platformer game which is bound to make you feel nostalgic

A few weeks ago I put out a tweet about a friend of mine called Michael who had been developing his own game and own studio to go with it called ByteSize, Michael had a pretty cool vision to create a game that, Paulrus and The Lost Waters is described as a simple 3D platformer where you will get to experience and re-experience the levels in different ways. It has a 90s vibe about it and as you will see from the video I included it's very much based on the old-style platformer games that we don't tend to see in today's generation of gaming. I got a chance to ask Michael about his game and where the idea came from and it's easy to tell that he has a passion for gaming and games development, check out the questions below:

How long have you been into games?
I’ve been into games my whole life pretty much. I remember playing the Sega Megadrive as a kid, enjoying classics such as Sonic or even ToeJam and Earl. My love for games really blossomed with the PlayStation when I got into the final fantasy series (9 being the first I played) and Spyro the dragon. I also religiously played Pokémon gold and silver on my GameBoy Color. Before that, my brother had an N64 so I also got to enjoy Banjo Kazooie which I immediately fell in love with!

Would you say gaming has inspired you?
Absolutely! As an adult now, I really dislike just sitting and watching TV. There was a lot of stigma towards those who played video games when I was young, but games have allowed me to experience so much. There isn’t anything as engaging as a great video game that pulls you into its story or hooks you with its mechanics, finding yourself still grinding away 5 hours later. I think because I played a lot of games as I grew up, it has taught me to be very creative, imaginative and keep that sense of being a child. I also like to feel gaming has provided me with the need and want to always pursue new things, although perhaps that could just be my personality.


What inspired Paulrus and The Lost Waters?
There are a number of things that inspired Paulrus. In terms of the type of game it became, it was heavily inspired by games like Spyro the dragon and Banjo kazooie. Really simple, quirky and fun adventures for anybody to enjoy. Banjo Kazooie especially was a masterpiece for it's thematic approach to level design and has heavily inspired what I've got planned for Paulrus. I extremely admire the beginning of the first Spyro game to give an example. Players are given freedom to explore the environment and controls on their own and aren’t insulted by constant hand-holding. Right off the bat you're given a wide area and are expected to figure it out on your own. Even enemies that are around run away from you, giving you a safe environment to learn at your own pace. Designing this kind of "freedom" is something I'm striving for with my game also. Obviously, times have changed and so have people’s expectations, but I’ll always admire the subtle things that made those earlier games great and want to implement these into Paulrus. Games like Dark Souls use these approaches also, where the player is expected to learn enemy patterns on their own, without death screens giving hints and revealing them.

Without going into too much detail, Yooka Laylee did the opposite of this in my opinion. For the first pagie you come across, the camera not only shows you where it is but then pans off and shows you the exact path of how to get there. This disappointed me a little! Show me where - fine, but let me as a gamer find my own way of HOW to obtain the item and let me explore and experience the world you created as I do so! A lot of what inspired Paulrus' design was the idea of giving the player the freedom to explore the worlds given to them. Providing them with certain mechanics that players are encouraged to discover on their own. I don’t mean to judge Yooka Laylee so harshly, as I know it’s a finicky and minor thing, but I use this example when making Paulrus. I always like to ask myself, “is this going to take away from the player's experience?” "How can I design this to be tackled by both veteran and novice players at the same time?" It's so much more rewarding when the player figures it out for themselves, don't you think?

Anyway, the character Paulrus started off as a joke with some friends when I was in college. We joked about a Walrus who was married to an English wife, with kids, and worked in an office job and was miserable with his life. He couldn’t speak but just made walrus sounds as his wife screamed at him haha. When I downloaded Unity and Blender, I didn’t know how far I would get, so I just took this character idea and ran with it. Thus, Paulrus was born :D

How hard have you found the development of your game?
It’s definitely not been easy. There have been many times I’ve spent hours and hours and still not fixed some bug or implemented an idea I wanted. I never studied game development and have literally been learning as I make it, so it’s been a real struggle. That being said, I’ve really enjoyed it! Although I’m a very creative person, some of the most fun aspects have been the coding. It’s essentially problem-solving, and it really gets you thinking. Luckily in this day and age, there are a ton of resources online to help me find solutions to any problems I face. Not all of them work specifically for my game, and I can’t tell you the number of times I fixed one issue only to realize 10 more have popped up. I started a “to-do” list to help me have targets/goals to check off and help provide a feeling of progression and ward off being burnt out. But that list just gets longer and longer as I check each off haha. The long and short of it is, it’s not easy but it’s rewarding as hell! I’ve spent A LOT of time tweaking and adjusting minor things to make the game feel tighter. Now when I play it, I feel so proud of what I’ve done and how professional it feels. That alone keeps me continuing.

What are some of the problems you faced while developing your game?
Well I've been faced with numerous bugs and issues, and a very steep learning curve as you'd expect. One difficult coding task I struggled with was having the player slide down walls that were too inclined. I got it to work, but if the player ran constantly in the direction of the wall, they could essentially hug it and run along it to reach areas they weren't supposed to. You could imagine how much that would break the game, right? Eventually, after giving up and trying again a year later, I fixed it. I definitely bought a few beers to celebrate that one haha. I guess one of the biggest issues with making a game solo is the amount of work that has to be done but having to do so on your own. Lot's of videos online say to have a small scope, but I have a lot of plans for Paulrus and see it being an incredible game when finished. This, in turn, means a lot of work, and at times it can feel like progress is slow, even if I'm getting a lot done. I really have to thank those who have shown interest in the game. The excitement and feedback I've received have really helped to push production along.



How many times has your vision for this game changed?
To be honest, not so much. I've had a pretty clear vision about what I want for the game from the start, and I think that has helped to make the game what it is today. The ideas about progression and the incorporation of water into different levels were there from quite early. Originally I liked the idea of Paulrus being able to transform into a puddle of water, allowing him to move under doors and enter portals that way. But as I didn't know much of what I was doing in the beginning, it was slowly pushed out of the vision. Furthermore, In the beginning, I joked with a friend about the idea of having a sidekick for Paulrus in the form of a fish that he carries in his mouth. This fish was going to be a very sarcastic and brash character, a lot like Kazooie from the Banjo games. But I later scrapped this idea as I wanted the focus to be on Paulrus and how he grows up throughout the game and surpasses everyone's stereotype of him just being a weak kid.

Is game development something you can see yourself pursuing even further?
Yes and no. While I love creating this game and pitching ideas back and forth with friends, it isn't something I want to do professionally. I think once the game is finished, I'll either make a sequel or a completely new title altogether. In all honesty, I already have some new ideas for a different game that I really want to make, and I may even have Paulrus as a cameo for it haha. In fact, Paulrus isn't my first video game. I did make a 2D indie game that was made with the intention of mocking a former boss I had and letting off some steam. It actually turned out pretty good I think, and I bust it out with a friend every now and again.

Anyway, I want to avoid working with a publisher or anyone that's going to force a date on which my games have to be released. I want to take time to make sure the experience I'm putting out is a complete experience. Not to mention the stresses involved in it. Making Paulrus has been a really fun and exciting prospect for me that I can really take my time with and enjoy. I want to keep it that way.

To answer your question, yes you'll definitely be seeing more games from ByteSize Play after Paulrus' release. But my thoughts, for now, are that I'll forever remain a small indie studio, that aims to bring back that nostalgia a lot of us crave from our childhood.



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Michael has managed to create a quirky character with a great story outline, although it's not finished yet and Michael is still working very hard on bringing the rest of his vision to life, Paulrus already stands out amoungst other game characters thanks to his big eyes and goofy face. I'm excited to see how his vision grows for the next levels and what the enemies will start to look like. What I have taken from Michael's vision is that if you have a vision/idea and want to make it work try it, you could have little or no experience in what you do and the outcome will surprise you. If you want to see more of Paulrus be sure to check out the Facebook page for any future updates HERE.


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