Indie Dev Interview Tikipod

Tikipod Indie Dev Interview

Time for a Patron-only interview!

This time our developer interview is with Dugan Jackson from Tikipod Ltd. Developers and publishers of Aqua Kitty UDX and Astro Aqua Kitty which James reviewed and gave a score of I Like It A Lot. James summed up his review by saying “An excellent blend of space shooter and RPG mechanics mixed together creating an experience that will surely not sour with time”.

Tikipod Ltd is based in the UK and has been an independent games development company since 2009 as well as developing its own titles Tikipod works with other companies and developers on their games.

Aqua Kitty LadiesGamers
Aqua Kitty UDX

Aqua Kitty UDX

Can you tell us a little about yourself and Tikipod?

Hello, so I am a videogame developer who has been working in the industry for over 20 years now. Initially, I was working at different games companies creating art and animation.
Tikipod Ltd was then set up initially to work with other companies on their projects, and then later we were able to make and publish our own titles.

What’s behind the name of your studio?

Bit of a silly story, so back in the late 90s I was trying to choose a domain name. had been taken already (Tiki Kiwi is the name of the main character in an old game called Newzealand Story), and so had `pod` – so I stuck them together to get tikipod. Then years later I stuck with the name.

How did you start out as a game developer?

At University I studied film and animation, with animation being my key interest at the time. Applying to larger games companies proved difficult as I had no experience, but I managed to get work doing art and animation on some edutainment titles. That experience in turn helped me to improve my portfolio and later get work at a larger games company.

Aqua Kitty dev interview Tikipod LadiesGamers
Aqua Kitty UDX

Inspiration Strikes

What was the inspiration for developing Aqua Kitty and Astro Aqua Kitty?

For Aqua Kitty, Amiga 16bit art was the main style source, although we didn’t keep to those hardware limits of course. The game design began as a sort of puzzle shooter and changed as it was developed into a more Defender like game. With Astro Aqua Kitty, we wanted to enhance the artwork again to ensure the game wouldn’t be confused with the original. Also, the new game is very different in gameplay terms, so it helps if the art style mirrors that.

What is the biggest challenge in making the game? How did you overcome it?

There were lots of challenges, as always with game development. The PSVita port was certainly trickier than the other platforms as its very different hardware, so the games programmer had done lots of extra work to ensure it ran as well as on more powerful machines.

What did early versions of the game or prototypes of the game look like?

An initial test level was built at one point to test out certain things such as enemy placement. Background and wall art. These early levels tend to look quite scrappy as the priority is to test the function of different elements rather than make them play well.

Astro aqua kitty LadiesGamers
Astro Aqua Kitty

Astro Aqua Kitty

What’s your favourite major change or new mechanic in Astro Aqua Kitty?

The weapons and device upgrades are lots of fun, allowing for lots of equipment combinations. Also being able to explore is a huge difference. That means we can create much more interesting levels than in the older game Aqua Kitty.

What part of Astro Aqua Kitty sparks the most joy in you?

That’s a tricky question… well when the character art and audio was added towards the project end, that was very exciting as it really brought the game to life

LadiesGamers Astro Aqua Kitty
Astro Aqua Kitty

Future Plans

What kind of cool game(s) would you love to make in the future?

Well, first I would love a break, as game development can be quite time-consuming. That way you can have a good think about what to do next!

What advice would you offer aspiring developer working alone or in a tiny team?

Achievable goals! Try to make something small first like a copy of space invaders – but finish it, with a menu and high scores and so on. It’s a lot of work sometimes to do even the smallest things. Once you complete something that’s a complete package (even if tiny) then it can give you a good sense of the work, time and effort involved. This in turn can help you better plan for when you want to make something more ambitious.


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