Developer Interview: Chaz Carter

Hello and welcome to another edition of our game developer interview series. In today's interview we have Chaz Carter, a game developer and musician from the UK. You can check his games and music at his website! Chaz's is competing in the GDWC 2020 with his latest game, Don't Kill Death (Or Die Trying), which was also a Fan Favourite weekly vote nominee a couple of weeks ago!

GDWC: Hi Chaz! What exactly got you into game development?

Chaz Carter: I've been making games in some form or another since I was a kid; I started by cutting up
cereal boxes and using paper tokens to create board games before making Choose Your Own Adventure type games in Excel and saving them to floppy disk (this was all during my childhood in the 90s). I always loved creating games and systems so when I discovered some of the original online Flash game sites I saw the potential to make an actual working PC game that I could share with the world. I learned how to use Flash and started by making games and uploading them to Newgrounds who have been massive supporters of my work. I have now moved on to making games with Gamemaker Studio 2 as I feel this gives me a lot more options and flexibility in development. I definitely spend a lot more time making games than I do playing them and I love to try out new and original mechanics in my prototypes to see what sticks.

GDWC: Wow, sounds just like you have found your passion! Is this your first game made in a Game Jam?

Chaz Carter: Yes, this is the first time I've ever made a game for a game jam and it's also the first project I finished using my new tool of choice (Gamemaker Studio 2). It served as a great challenge to myself and my abilities as a solo developer (as I made everything in the game including music from scratch) and the feedback I received was fantastic. The results were also incredibly encouraging as it took 6th place overall from a record 4,959 entries and even got rated 3rd for fun. I had heard of Ludum Dare for a long while but never got around to participating. I am so happy that I did and had so much fun with it that I am likely to participate in more jams in the future.

GDWC: Congratulations, that sounds amazing! You really had a great start to say the least. What was the most challenging thing for you when making a Game Jam game?

Chaz Carter: I would say coming up with a solid concept at the start of the jam and having the confidence to commit to it. With Don't Kill Death, I knew I liked the movement and the attack system (in the timelapse development video you can see this part was created in under 3 hours), but it didn't have a very clear goal and I racked my brains trying to give it some direction. Eventually it came together in the end very organically but it was extremely touch and go. Paring both design and time constraints to create something new was definitely a challenge but it felt like a very healthy one and is great for pushing you out of a creative rut and in boosting confidence in your own abilities.

GDWC: Creating a good concept and a goal for a game can take long and can require thinking outside the box! The state of mind has a big role in that and it can completely depend on the day, sometimes it's just harder to come up with things! And then add time limits to that combination… It certainly is a challenge to overcome!

GDWC: Would you like to share some good tips with us for making a Game Jam game or for participating in a Game Jam in general?

Chaz Carter: I have only participated in a single game jam so far so I do not know how much value this will have outside of my own experience, but what works for some may work for others. For me personally, as a workaholic, I put in 22 hours on the first day, 19 hours on the second and on the third I pushed through to the end. I've heard LOTS of developers suggest that sleep is the most important thing in a game jam, and although it may be controversial to suggest, for me I noticed first hand how pushing myself and working for as much of that time as possible can maximize your end result.

Without putting in those extra hours I wouldn't have been able to fit in upgrades, cutscenes, voice acting and all the other little bits that I think added up to make Don't Kill Death the game it was and helped it end up in 6th place. It definitely takes its toll but at the end of the 72 hours you can look back at what you made with pride - and then try to reset your sleep cycle!

GDWC: This matter can change immensely between people and everyone should figure out whether the workaholic style fits them better for the Game Jam or a more balanced pace. It is great to hear you have found a way to push you to your best performance!

GDWC: Last but not least, what is your favorite thing about Game Jams?

Chaz Carter: I love the energy of knowing that whatever happens, you will have made something new in the next 72 hours. The extremely exciting part is not knowing what it will be, but knowing it will be there. It's a bit like having a christmas present under the tree; you think you know what's inside but you can only unwrap in 3 days! You could fall flat on your face, but at the same time everything could just click and it's a great way of finally getting around to trying to marry the theme with any ideas for mechanics you may have been meaning to prototype.

Thank you Chaz for the great interview! It was interesting to hear about your story and the perspectives of a first-timer on Game Jams! As coming up with a solid concept might pose an essential challenge, one should keep in mind that it can take longer than expected of the Game Jam and work one's time management around it.

Check out the other parts of the interview series here.