Developer Interview: _jpcote_

May 31, 2015

Today’s Game Developers Like You interview is with_jpcote_ of Montreal, Canada. He’s a 32-year-old dad with a day job in software engineering.

Q: What are the first things that you would like for us to know?

A: I love designing games. I have hundreds of designs in my notebook. I spend most of my time off from dad duty on coding and designing games. I find jams perfect for my chaotic schedule, and for one weekend at a time, I get to live my dream job.

Q: What are some games that you’ve worked on?

A: I worked on ten games – so far mostly game jams.

When I started in 2012 I attempted more complex projects but I found that I was unable to complete them. I instead turned to tutorials and simple games, including a memory game (Mini-Memory). I found it challenging and rewarding to create that game in just a weekend. In the process I learned a lot about NGUI and audio.

I participated in another competition later that year with a team of coworkers. We created Get Out! The game finished 55th out of 776. I served as the main programmer.

Kazee, another small project, was inspired by the classic game Joust. We had to make a game that fit entirely on one screen, so we decided to do an arcade game with quick inputs and instant play. Two of us programmers built it together using Unity’s 2D features, with Kenney.NL’s CC0 graphic assets.

My most recent project was for Global Game Jam in Montreal. I went there alone looking for a team, and ended up with two 3d artists as well as a second programmer. We made a game for the theme “What do we do now?” and we won a judge’s award for that game, The Bedroom.

The Bedroom is a game about a schizophrenic person that needs to regain his life. The player will travel in his bedroom through several stages that will illustrate some symptoms of this sickness.Through repeated verbal assaults and symptoms effects, you’ll have to conquer the painful task of leaving your own bedroom.The game’s artistic direction and puzzles are influenced by Piet Mondrian’s abstract work. The main challenges of this project were in matters of team and time management. It was the first time that I worked with artists who custom created all the game’s assets. It was hard to keep them working the whole the weekend since we reused many of their level models. I think we ended up with a great result!

Q: How has making videogames been different from what you expected going into it?

A: I knew that it would be hard in terms of coding. What I did not expect are all the business challenges it can involve. To do it commercially in the future I now see that I’ll need to create a company, hire a lawyer, get contracts written, hire an accountant, and so on. It’s important to me that contracts and taxes should be done correctly. I don’t wish to be involved in any kind of shady affair or wind up sued over something that I didn’t know.

For now it is still a hobby for me. I know I someday may have to do all that, though.

Q: Why did you want to get into making videogames? Is it different from why you continue to do it?

A: I wanted to make game mostly because my dream game doesn’t exist yet. I was always thinking that if I could create my game, it would be awesome and rewarding to see other people playing it. (Even if a Let’s Play player doesn’t like my game, it is just fun to watch someone else playing my game.)

Now that I have started creating games, I learned that I need to create a lot of smaller and non-dream games before trying to tackle my dream project. The games I create today are mainly about improving my skills.

Q: Do you have education or specific training related to game development?

A: I’m an electrical engineer who specialized in software engineering, so I knew (non-game) programming well before I got started. However I am self-taught for most of the game design skills, which I learned so far from video tutorials, reading books, and discussions with other developers.

Q: What are your goals as a game developer?

A: For the foreseeable future, making games remains a hobby, and I’m creating more games to expand my skills. Perhaps one day though I will make my dream game, or even start a small studio to make simulation games, city builders, RTS, kid games, and more.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are thinking about getting into videogame development?

A: You might think that you need to watch thousand of hours of tutorials, follow hundred of hours of courses, or buy many books. But my advice is to instead make a simple game as soon as possible, it can even be a clone of an existing game for practice, anything to get you making. You will either fail or feel unsatisfied at first, but with time you will become more confident and skilled. More importantly: You will be designing games!

Q: Any shout outs that you’d like to mention?

A: Special Thanks to KENNEY.NL – his assets are so helpful for jams and prototypes.

Q: What’s your website, Twitter handle, or other links about your games?

Twitter: @_jpcote_

One-Game-a-Month: also as _jpcote_ for #1GAM

Play: Kazee

Play: Bedroom

Play: Save the Town

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