Amora B. “creates characters and animates them using lots of purple.” Together with Pedro Medeiros, Amora founded Studio Miniboss. She’s smart, talented, and crazy productive. And now she answers our questions!
1. How long have you been making games and/or art for games?
It’s been four years now! Before that, I used to work with traditional animation.
2. Where do you ﬁnd ideas for your games? Tell us something about your creative process.
Maybe it sounds silly, but it’s from everything. Sometimes it’s a movie, or an article, or a dream, ideas come from everywhere. But for me, a good idea is an idea that works. If I think of something for a game, but don’t have the means to actually make it, it immediately becomes a bad idea. I try not to get too attached so I can move on to the next idea more quickly. I also skip making a GDD and try to have a prototype as soon as possible. I’m pretty bad at just imagining if a game feels good or not, I need to see it and play it, even if it’s just with a bunch of placeholder squares.
3. Pedro and you founded Studio Miniboss, an independent game studio “currently in São Paulo”. How is the indie scene in Brazil? What about gaming event hosted there or game jams? (Note: If you guys ever visit Argentina, drop us a line so as we could grab some drinks or something with other local devs and cool people from here!)
It’s hard to say, it’s such a big country, but I have this impression that the scene is only growing and the games are getting better every year. When we travel, we try to show around some games made by “our people”, but sadly no one seems to care much, haha. Jams are awesome in Brazil, people take them really seriously. The Global Game Jam is kind of huge here, especially the one in Curitiba. As for events, they’re still kind of boring and really expensive, but that’s also getting better, I think. BIG Festival was pretty cool this year.
Man, I would absolutely love to visit Argentina and meet the local devs! Please let’s try to make that happen soon.
4. You’ve made art for Towerfall, an amazing game by Matt Thorson (with great music by Alec Holowka!) How did you meet these guys? What was it like to work in this project? Any favourite anecdote regarding Towerfall development?
When we made Out There Somewhere, we sent it to a lot of indie developers we admired, but only a very few replied, and Chevy Ray was one of them. That’s how we started talking to him. An year later, when Bossa released Deep Dungeons of Doom, Chevy showed it to Matt (they’ve lived together for years) and he thought that style of pixel art would be cool for TowerFall, so Chevy introduced him to Pedro in an email. Working on TowerFall was amazing, everyone on the team was so talented and so passionate about the game. It got even better when we moved in with the guys at IndieHouse Vancouver for three months, we had this awesome connection, it really didn’t feel like a job at all. I think my favourite anecdote would be the one of how I got into the team, the same one I always tell: Pedro showed me the game, it featured four chubby archers, each of a different color. He told me he would have to come up with new designs for them, and I said “You should make at least one of them female”, to which he replied “Oh, there’s going to be two girls”. I got excited and said something like “Cool, a pink archer, then?”, and he said “No no no! I mean, there IS going to be a pink archer, but that’s a boy. Girls will be green and blue.” and I just went NUTS, I begged him to let me draw the characters even if he had to sign their designs himself.
5. Out there somewhere is a game you’ve made in 2012 but somewhat reworked and re-release it on Steam earlier this year. What has changed between these two versions? How was it like publishing it on Steam? Any favourite feedback from players?
We released OTS in 2012 as a test, we just really wanted to know what it was like to have a game released. How to send it to press, how to charge for it, how to deal with bugs, all of that. But it was made on an old version of GameMaker and it only ran on Windows, also it had a lot of bugs we had no idea how to ﬁx.
We sent it to Valve and it was approved for Steam, but then they stopped answering our emails because of internal reasons. Greenlight was launched right after that, so we just assumed they wanted us to go through that new system. We submitted the game, but we didn’t have the energy and time to keep asking all our friends, fans, and family to vote for it, so it was just there.
A few months later, we were in London working on Deep Dungeons of Doom with Bossa, and coincidentally there was going to be a Valve dinner for developers, so our friend Rodrigo signed us in. Pedro went, met someone from Valve and told him about OTS, and he replied that if the game was approved once, then it was approved, we didn’t have to go through Greenlight. He gave us his contact and the game was ﬁnally in. But we were embarrassed to put that ﬁrst version so we remade everything on Flashpunk 2, to have more control over bugs and to have it running on Mac. We also added some graphics (like animated portraits for every character) and changed the last battle dramatically. Funny thing, OTS was also Greenlit a few months ago. My favorite feedback is from this guy who took his time to write us an email only to thank us for the game. He said he played it a bunch of times and got all the achievements, and he also asked for a sequel. The guy who made a whole screenshot map of the game is a close second.
6. You seem to be doing amazing stuff non-stop. What are you working on now? Any super secret project you wanna share with us? We love scoops!
We start too much stuff, and I always feel guilty when we have to stop any of them, but that’s how it is for us. We “sketch” games like crazy and often have to put them on hold to do other stuff that actually pay our bills.
Right now, our main projects are [ARMADA] and SkyTorn. The ﬁrst is an awesome arcade RTS by PocketWatch Games, meant to be played with a controller, and we’re doing all the art. The second is a sandbox platformer inspired by Terraria, Pedro is doing all the graphics and Noel Berry is programming, the other guys at IndieHouse Vancouver also help.
When I’m not doing [ARMADA] I try to work on my own little game, it’s a silly experiment in GameMaker Studio so I can learn some coding. After I’m done with that I want to go back to Tapestry, a game we started last year. It’s a platformer based on intuition, kind of like a sandbox within plot limitations. I also started a game called Deicide, with friends Midio and Rodrigo, a co-op multiplayer based on Smash TV, about four girls on their quest to kill God.
7. We really dig your illustration and character design skills. Do you recognise any inﬂuence from other artists? Which artists working on games do you like the most? And what about artists working on comics?
Thank you! I’ve always been greatly inﬂuenced by manga, I think Rumiko Takahashi is fantastic. Lately I’ve been using Loish as a reference for colors and process, she has such a unique style. As for game art, I absolutely love Wakfu’s, both its backgrounds and characters. The animations are incredible! Don’t know the name of the artists, though. Also, can I say Pedro? He’s so versatile and teaches me so much, and he’s so incredibly fast too (our jam games look amazing mostly because of him). And Elisa Kwon, always. From comics, I like Ryot and Quadrinhos A2! I also love Milo Manara.
8. If you have to choose three and only three game developers to follow their work closely, which ones would you choose and why?
I won’t say Pedro because that would be cheesy. I think I would choose Locomalito, Noel Berry, and Joakim Sandberg (konjak). They’re so ridiculously creative and have been inspiring us for so long. I know I wouldn’t be disappointed following only those three forever because they are always coming up with awesome new stuff, they’re all like crazy game-making machines, and it’s always something really fresh and fun.
9. Are you a heavy gamer? What games are you playing now?
No, I used to be, but making games kind of ruined that for me. Whenever I play now, I feel like I’m studying. Sometimes though, I get extremely hooked on something. Last games that I played like that were Mario Kart 8, Path of Exile, and Ace Attorney Dual Destinies. I’ve also been trying to learn some Dota 2.
10. One last random question. (Take a breath, Amora. This is going to be a long one, and probably poorly written! Sorry about that!) If you could change the complete name of any actor/actress in the world for whatever you think ﬁts his/her face or just for the sake of a good laugh… who would it be, what would you call him/her and why?
Hmmm I guess I would change Javier Bardem’s name to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, or Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s name to Javier Bardem so they would be the same person. Because they look exactly the same to me and it’s disturbing.