Greetings earthlings, and welcome to this week’s Sunday Sidebar. This week I caught up with Matt Gilgenbach, co-founder and gameplay lead at 24 Caret Games, creators of the chrono-illogical rhythm spaceship-shooter Retro/Grade. Why so illogical? Why ‘Caret’ and not ‘Carat’? Read on and find out!
Matt Gilgenback is serious business.
Hi Matt! So, who are you guys?
Hi! We’re 24 Caret Games and are three people – myself, Justin Wilder, and Joe Grabowski.
Why the name ’24 Caret’?
We wanted a name that represented our commitment to quality but one that shows that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. 24 Carat references 24 carat gold, but as a nerdy joke, we decided to call our company 24 ^ (caret) games.
How did you get into game design, and when?
I started making text-based adventure games in QuickBASIC when I was just nine years old. It has all spiralled out of control from there.
Is your background more in programming, or storytelling?
Although I love storytelling, I have a much stronger background in programming.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
We are getting ready to release Retro/Grade, a reverse rhythm shooter. It will be released as a downloadable PSN game for PlayStation 3.
What inspired you to design a game that would make use of plastic guitars? Can you play it with drums?
We came up with the game design first, and it seemed well-suited to the guitar controller, so we gave it a try and were pleased with the results. We did experiments with drum controllers, but we couldn’t come up with a control system that was fun, so we don’t support them.
Retro/Grade looks tough. How difficult is it to pick up?
It’s actually pretty easy. It definitely takes a few minutes for the whole concept of reverse play to click, but we’ve found that it is actually pretty intuitive after that. We have six difficulty levels which range from something your parents could play to a challenge for even plastic-instrument-wielding Guitar Hero pros.
Your team formed in 2008, just shortly after High Impact Games, your old studio, had shipped its second game. What happened?
We shipped two games at High Impact Games: Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and Secret Agent Clank. We talked to management about our desire to make indie games, worked out a good time to leave, and left amicably. It’s as straightforward as that!
Let’s come back to Retro/Grade. It has been in the works for four years now. How much has the title changed since work began?
Pretty much everything has been redone at least once since the original prototype. We’ve added a ton of new features from the original design as well as removed a number of features that weren’t working well.
Are there plans to release the game outside of the PlayStation Network?
We are focusing all of our energy into making the best game for the PS3, so we don’t have any plans beyond that at this time.
Who wouldn't want six Samba de Amigo maracas?
What is your prized geek possession? Is there anything you’re still holding onto from way back when?
I have a ton, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but my very favorites would probably be my two copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga for the Sega Saturn and my 3 sets of official Samba de Amigo maracas.
Two excellent game choices, Matt. Thanks for your time!