Steven Zavala, the Founder and President of Flyover Games, sat down with GameWoof to talk about his first Android game, Knife That Guy. Aside from their new game, we talked about their history, where did the idea of their game came from, violence, life as an indie developer, pricing structure, advertisements, in-app purchases and their wait-and-see approach in OUYA.
GameWoof: First, can you tell us a little bit of the history of Flyover Games? How did you come up with the name?
Steven Zavala: Well, there’s not too much history so far. Flyover Games was founded when I decided that I wanted to publish a mobile version of Knife That Guy. I chose to give myself a studio name instead of just going by my name since, although it’s only a one-man operation right now, I am hoping to expand it eventually. I came up with the name when I was living in California as a response to the trend for games, and most other creative industries, to gravitate toward the coasts with the rest of the space in between being “flyover country”. I’ve spent most of my life in Michigan and I know creativity is not limited by geography so I’m proud to wear the label of Flyover Games. In addition to holding the title of founder, since no one was around to stop me, I have also elected myself President-for-Life of Flyover Games.
GW: Can you also give us an idea about yourself? How did you get into game development?
SZ: As you might expect, I’ve loved games for as long as I can remember. As soon as I was old enough to know that you had to have something called a “job” when you got older and that making games was one option for a job, I knew what I wanted to do professionally. I used to come up with designs for video games and card games as a hobby but I never really got into programming until entering Full Sail University. After graduation, I worked at a few studios you’ve never heard of on same games you’ve never heard of and then decided to see if anyone would like some games of my own design.
GW: What were the games that influenced you to venture into game development? Do you have any favorite games?
SZ: I don’t recall any games that I can point to as inspiration to become a developer. It was more the medium as a whole. Games managed to capture my attention and imagination better than pretty much anything else. Although there were a few years of my life where I could be accurately described as “Pokemon-obsessed” so that franchise has probably had a big effect on me. I’ve always been terrible at picking favorites for anything but I really like Psychonauts. Its gameplay is flawed but its writing and theming are good enough for me to still consider it perfect somehow.
GW: Where does the idea of Knife That Guy come from? Could you give our readers a run down on the game?
SZ: I originally got the idea in college when I was watching a friend play Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Someone else who was also watching kept yelling at him to “knife that guy” since sprinting around and stabbing people was surprising effective in that game. I got the idea that that concept alone was enough for a game — just running around, knifing a guy, and then running around even faster knifing other guys. I made the first version of Knife That Guy in a week for a project for a class on game design. A few years after I graduated, I was in a creative slump so I remade and refined KTG in Unity over the course of a month. I felt like there could be even more to do with the concept so I spent a few more months developing it into the current mobile iteration.
GW: Are you afraid that some people might think this game is a little violent with knife involved and bloods splattering everywhere? How do you plan to respond?
SZ: To be honest, before I released the game I didn’t even think about the possibility that KTG might offend someone. The whole premise is so ridiculous, what with the tiny rectangular guys spouting fountains of square blood, that I can’t see it as anything but a joke. It turns out my sense of humor isn’t for everyone since I’ve already received one email from someone who was displeased with the idea of the game. My response is to just be straightforward about the concept and purpose of the game as a piece of entertainment. Anyone who would be influenced by such simple depictions of violence has already been affected by something much bigger than a mobile arcade game. Actually, after receiving my first piece of hate mail I’m a little disappointed that there hasn’t been more…