For all of 2014 I’ve travelled, via crowdfunding from my generous readers, to stay with game developers around the world and write about them.
It was something I called the Embed With Games series. I found Ojiro Fumoto in Japan in November, and he turned out to be a a genius game developer who was making the game Downwell and studying… opera singing at the Tokyo University for the Arts. Downwell is a game where you “go down a well with guns for boots” as Ojiro put it.
The coolest thing about Ojiro’s mobile Spelunky-like game Downwell, apart from that it has a lovely pyrotechnic feel to play when I played it, is that Ojiro only started making games last March and by November he almost had a whole game to show for it. Made with Gamemaker Studio, Downwell was picked up by Devolver.
“Why did you start to make games?” I ask.
“Braid and Super Meat Boy – those days when indie games got super popular. I’ve been playing games since then. I was even playing Cave Story and stuff before then. I’ve always loved indie games and dreamed of making games for myself. But I always imagined that programming would be way too hard for me.”
“That’s the biggest barrier right?” I say. “Everyone thinks that.”
“Yeah and I just gave up on it before even trying. But then I entered school and I was singing in front of people. I’ve always had this… ‘Why the hell am I singing?’ It’s so ridiculous. I’m Japanese, I’m pretending to be this Italian young boy who’s in love with one girl… I’m singing about my love for her… That’s not what I wanted to do. I thought hard about what I really wanted to do. If I could do anything in the world what would I do? I didn’t want to become the greatest thing in the world. I wanted to become a game developer. So I started studying really hard. I used Gamemaker Studio. It turned out to be quite easy to use. So I’ve only been making games since then.”
“For how many years?” I ask.
“I only started this March,” he says.
“That’s incredible,” I say. “You’ve got the hang of it… Pretty quick.”
“I’ve always had this game design stuff in my head. Just never actually… Used it,” Ojiro says, as if making a game like this was just like falling off a truck.
You can read my essay about when I went to stay in Tokyo with Ojiro here, if you like.