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Gamedev Interview: Clockwork Pile
I’m back with a new interview! While I’m working on my next Indie Corner episode, I received the chance to interview Salwomir, developer of recent hardcore tactics RPG Shardpunk: Verminfall! They very kindly offered me the opportunity to review the game as well, so you will be reading that in the coming weeks. Shardpunk: Verminfall is shaping up to be a promising game, with positive reviews on Steam. Here is the link to check it out.
Let’s start off with an introduction! Please tell me who you are, and what do you do?
I’m Slawomir. Happily married, father of two, nearing his 40s. If you’re asking what I do for a living, I’m making games. Well, I’ve made one so far. I worked as a software developer before that.
What game/studio are you currently involved with? And what position?
Clockwork Pile. I’m the only guy there, doing the programming, game design and sound design.
What advice would you give those who wish to enter the industry?
Start small. Participate in smaller game jams and try to deliver something finished.
Define what “success” means to you. For instance, it might be that your goal is to share a certain story to the world, and a commercial success is not relevant. Organize your work around your goals.
Work hard. I mean, real hard. Don’t rely on motivation as it comes and goes.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?
Wildermyth, Vampire Survivors, XCOM 2, Stellaris. That being said, I don’t have too much time.
How did you get into your chosen field in the industry?
I’ve started working on Shardpunk in my spare time, and I’ve been releasing incremental demos along the way. Few years later, publishers started contacting me.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Working alone. I’m not the only person working on the game (there are few freelancers, the publisher and an awesome community), but I’m literally the only person in the company. This can be pretty depressing sometimes, so one needs to take measures to counter that.
What lessons have you learned during your time in the industry?
I’m not a veteran, as my first game has just landed recently. That being said, one of the most important things when creating a game is iteration. You really need to make sure that potential players are providing you with frequent feedback, otherwise you risk creating a game that will simply not be fun.
What are your future project(s)?
We’ll see about that. I am focusing on improving Shardpunk at the moment, as I’ve received lots of interesting feedback and ideas from the community.
If you couldn’t be a game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?
Assuming that we’re taking software development out of the equation, I’d want to be a teacher. Or an actor!
What were your greatest challenges during the development of Shardpunk Verminfall?
Balancing the difficulty level. It kinda worked out in the end, I think. Previously the game was always described as too hard by the playtesters. After the release, the comments on difficulty span from “too easy” to “too hard”, so yeah 🙂
What are your plans for during 2023 and beyond Shardpunk Verminfall?
Balancing the gameplay, giving the players more challenge options, and localizing the game.
What games were your greatest inspirations in designing Shardpunk Verminfall?
X-com and XCOM series, Halfway/Pathway games, Mutant Year Zero, Gears Tactics.
What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?
A roguelite reboot of the game I love the most: Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
More about You
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Trip planning and traveling with my family, amateur acting, listening to ton of podcasts about all the different stuff – ranging from game development, through psychology and interpersonal dynamics, all the way to modern physics.
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
Coffee. Black. No sugar.
You can travel anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
Uhhh, assuming that Earth is the only place that I am aware of that has the means to sustain human life (at least for the time being), I’d say I’m good where I am right now!
I would love to visit New Zealand though. And the USA. Maybe meet Sid Meier, Julian Gollop or Jake Solomon? That would be cool.
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Oh, I’d take any three of the main cast off Guilermo del Toro’s Trollhunters and follow them anywhere.
Finally, what superpower would you most like?
“The ability to freeze time” was my initial answer, but I’ve changed it to “Reading people’s minds” instead.