Interview - Adam Hay, Square Rave launch! #chineseroomwhispers

Adam Hay, Audio Designer at The Chinese Room has just released a new game on iOS, Square Rave. Square Rave is a high-score chasing action arcade rhythm based game.

We interviewed Adam about the process behind making Square Rave.

So, where can people download Square Rave?

Square Rave is out for iOS on the App Store, and here's a super-handy link!

Hopefully I'll be able to bring it to Android very soon too, but for now if you have an Apple device and enjoy twitchy, difficult arcade games then take a look!

How does it feel having Square Rave now available to download on iOS?

Very exciting, and also a little bit terrifying! I hope that it finds an audience of people like me who enjoy stupidly difficult games with niche electronic music. It's always a bit weird putting yourself out there creatively; you sort of simultaneously want everyone to look at you but at the same time feel a bit embarrassed about it all! I'm very happy with the game though and keen to see how people react to it!

How did the game come about alongside your main job as Audio Designer at The Chinese Room?

I started making Square Rave a few months before I joined the team here. It started out as a shower-thought when I was playing around and learning how to make things with Flash. It was a sort of hypothetical question I was asking to myself: what was the simplest game idea I could come up with that would be fast, twitchy and really quick to restart.

I cobbled together a really horrible version of it that I showed to friends, who all encouraged me to keep working on the core idea. Originally you were hassling a crudely-drawn face around a field of squares, eating them up as you went. I was just going to put it out on Newgrounds or Kongregate when it was done, but it was one of those games I kept coming back to as I gained confidence and experience after making and finishing little projects for game jams.

It wasn't until I'd joined the team here at The Chinese Room that I moved it over to mobile for the touchscreen controls, and I've been chipping away and refining it ever since!

How was it making 2 games simultaneously, especially when they’re such different games in terms of gameplay, platform, and art style?

It's refreshing to be able to work on two completely different types of games. Rapture was all about atmosphere, details, helping build a virtual world and tell a meaningful story, and you're sort of turning all your brainpower and audio design knowhow in to that specific concept. It was nice to be able to step out of that and do something that was focused on all my other game development skills – especially the ones I'm bad at like art, programming… er, design…

I'm addicted to creating things, and it was nice to come home and muck about with a game idea or two without any real pressure. It's much more rewarding than watching telly or arguing on the internet. I've also learned a huge amount from it too, which has fed back in to my day-to-day work - levelling up my scripting and programming knowledge has helped me out so much during the production of Rapture!

What are the difficulties involved in making and releasing your own game?

Getting people to look at it, especially when it's this weird, abstract thing that isn't perhaps the most elegantly-presented game ever made!

I've been super lucky to have a lot of supportive friends and colleagues who have play tested, commented, given feedback and encouragement along the way. Everyone at The Chinese Room has helped it along with their insight, as have all the cool people at the Brighton Indies pub meets!

A lot of it is having that gut instinct that you're on to something good too, and the tenacity to keep plugging away until you get it just right. There were a few times that I just wanted to get it out and move on, but that gut instinct kept saying "no, keep on going, it's not quite baked yet…"

Of course there's a point where you do have to stop and release something! No one's going to enjoy it if it's buried away on a laptop hard drive.

Do you have any advice you could give to someone looking to make their own games?

The tools and resources for making professional games have never been as abundant as they are now! Dive in to something like Stencyl, Construct 2, Game Maker or Unity and start learning! Make stuff that is rubbish, move on and learn from it, and eventually you'll get to where you want to be with your work.

I found doing the many 'themed' and 48 hour game jams to be super important in my development, as it forces you to think small and get things finished. Actually finishing something is incredibly important, because it's quite a difficult thing to do! With a game jam you can focus on the things that matter, cutting right to the core of an idea, and you're usually left with a cool prototype you can expand on later!

Do you have any plans to make more games as side projects?

I've got a couple of prototypes on the go, one of which I'm hoping to turn in to my next full game. I think there's loads of potential for fun, twitchy games on mobile, and I'm looking forward to making more of them.

And lastly… Anything else you’d like to add?

I hope you enjoy this slightly obtuse game I made!  It's been loads of fun to make and if it's brought you a moment of fun or two please give me a prod on twitter. Oh and if you find yourself humming the soundtrack, you can get that too!

Lots of love,