Locomalito is a Spanish indie developer, best known for his more traditional, retro-looking arcade games like Maldita Castilla, Hydorah, and Viriax.
With so many titles under his belt, and a new game called Gaurodan on the way, sister site IndieGames.com talked to the developer about his influences, not charging for his games, and where he plans to go next.
Even though most indie game players know your games and what Locomalito is all about, would you mind re-introducing yourself? Is there a dark gaming secret of yours we have somehow lost?
I'm a homebrew developer from Spain. I grew up with arcade gaming values, imagining my own games and drawing levels and stuff in my notebooks. I still love those old games today, their aesthetics, sound and gameplay values, and I really miss new games like those now.
So, why not? Now that companies are focused on other things, and now that there are tools for non-professional people like me to make games, I can take it as a hobby to bring those ideas back to the present; just to preach about videogame values and for myself to have a break from the daily problems.
What is your design philosophy?
My mind is always set on making games that are fun to play, short but full of content, and with levels that require skills and mastering to solve.
I make the games that I consider interesting for adult gamers who have experimented; people with gaming skills but little time to play each day. This is my case, but it's a pretty common case I think: you sometimes go back home and just want to get something to play intensely for a while, nothing like walking a bit around a great world and then saving for the next day, but something suitable for a full run, until the end or until the game over screen.
Why have you chosen to release your games as freeware/donationware?
I like this kind of freedom: making things my way, without ties, releasing games when I think they're ok, via my own page... I also want people who are searching for that kind of game to find them, and play them for free. Donations are their choice to support me, but no funding or payment is required for me to make games.
Let's say that I like the idea of both developers and gamers having fun, without a market between them, you know, like when some friends meet in a place and one of them proposes a game for all to play. It's all about games, having fun and personal realization.
An illustration by the developer's 7 year old niece Manuela of Maldita Castilla
Though relatively short, your games are incredibly polished and generally excellent. Have you thought about creating something much bigger? Something properly commercial even?
Well, I don't think of that really. I like short games, and I love big pixels and chip music, I always thought that those are the legitimate values of videogames, something other arts can't claim as theirs. So, I don't think a game has to necessarily be bigger to be good (chess is not better with 20 towers and 40 horses). I often limit myself to use only certain colors, resources or full run time precisely to reach that kind of short but polished game...
So, if I could have more time and resources, I'd probably use them to make more games instead of bigger ones.
I find it very interesting that your boxed versions have sold out. Any plans to come up with more boxed offerings?
Oh yes, the boxed versions have their story: At first, I just did a few ones for my team, and to send them to a few people who gave kind donations. But then people saw the pics and started asking for some units "to buy", so it turned into a norm to produce 15 or 30 units of each released game, and more if there are still people asking for them after a while.
Most of the people who get one of my physical games are collectors; people who want to both support my games and get a rare signed item. It's not that I'm going to get rich with those considering the production and shipment cost for a few units, but it's a good help for my real life, and it's awesome to have such support considering my games are actually free.
Do you have any favourites among your work?
It's hard for me to choose one of my games, everyone is special in their own field.
I always have good memories of l'Abbaye des Morts, which was spontaneous and related to some good moments of traveling during the days and developing during the nights.
Your games have a definite arcade vibe to them. Why's that?
In terms of gameplay, I like short games with dense content, so I try to get rid of dead moments and just let the parts of intense gameplay in. The parts where you have to hold the controls tight, and bring out your best.
Also, in terms of aesthetics, I like pixels and chiptunes for representing what's going on, along with other audio-visual videogames references, such as blinking damage, bonus points, and so on.
Only a few of my games are conceived as arcade like games, but you're right, all of them have those values somehow.
Would you mind talking about your inspirations? Maldita Castilla, for example, sports many real-life references, whereas Hydorah wouldn't feel out of place in a '90s arcade.
I'm influenced by many things: old video games (of course), but also fantasy movies from the '50s to the '80s mainly, the outer space, things I see when traveling, and many little things from the real world... It's actually fun for me to imagine real life stuff as a video game, so often I draw little games ideas in my notebook just for fun, and sometimes they end as a game.
I think it's interesting that small teams or lonely developers can use their personal experience and daily things as materials for making their games. Somehow they inject a "soul" to the game, and I think the player can feel that later, while playing. There are many things out there that can give ideas for games. For example, the lock of my bathroom door inspired those rotating enemies in Hydorah.
l'Abbaye des Morts was inspired by our vacation in France, Maldita Castilla by some places around Spain, and Verminest by a hard viral illness I had. Even daily mood influenced different levels of Hydorah, something I didn't notice back in the day.
What are your thoughts on the current state of indie gaming?
Oh... I'm so immersed in my various projects that I get lost in the current state of games, and things in general.
I think that in this moment there are many indie developers trying to make a living out of game development, and judging from comments, I think many of them just started to think like little companies (marketing, funding, prices, offers, publication processes...). In one hand I'm happy for that, cause they are the ones who can bring me the quality, fresh games that I want to play as a gamer, but in the other hand, it's sad to think that many of them are forced to throw away some of their magic to succeed, spending a lot of energy in the survival horror of the videogame market.
But, "indie" is a big and blurred tag now. It also includes those hobbyist developers that just make little games in their spare time, in jam sessions, Ludum Dares and so on... Those little games often catch my attention, cause they're spontaneous and really fresh, and even with their technical limitations, they're usually cool to explore and fun to play, and often you can find true gems between them.
Any advice to younger game creators?
Just make the stuff you want to make. (It sounds easy to do, but it's not)
Finally, what are your plans for the future?
I'm about to release a little game called Gaurodan, and also already giving shape to what will probably be my next game after that.
The future will be decided by real life (as ever), but I'll try to keep making games as a hobby. I'll make as many and as cool ones as I can, and also I'll keep encouraging people to contribute with their games to create a video game scene out of the market's boundaries; a video game tradition that exists in a playing context.