This week, we talked to Saverio Caporusso, founder of Troglobytes Games, to talk about how he got started making games and what he’s trying to achieve with their first title as a studio: HyperParasite.
Saverio discusses what it’s like to create a truly retro arcade-style experience in a modern game and how Troglobytes balances marketing and development as an indie studio.
My name is Saverio Caporusso, I founded Troglobytes Games.
When we decided to enter this busy world of indie developers, many of us were already in video games.
I wasn’t really involved in the gaming industry. At the time, I was just a player who was interested in making games.
I was 43 years old when I got started in the industry, and video games aren’t what they were back in my time.
How did you get started making games?
Many colleagues of mine have been making games for 20 years on different consoles and platforms: on PC and whatever consoles were popular at the time.
I started making games because I wanted to create media––an experience for users.
You can write a book or make a movie, but we decided to make video games.
I like games are that out of the ordinary. The game industry often enforces a lot of standards for how games should be, but I think thinking outside of the box is becoming more of a standard.
There are games that are story driven and maybe have a moral, but they play like an interactive book, just in another media. They’re giving you a very specific experience.
Then there are games where you have to make choices and it’s not always easy to figure out what you’re supposed to do next. Maybe the mechanics change, or you have to overcome another obstacle you have to overcome––they force you to think. That’s what makes a game good to me.
Indies can create those kinds of games.
What are you working on now?
HyperParasite is our first video game as a studio.
It’s a twin-stick shooter you can play with a controller or keyboard and mouse.
The idea behind the game is that you don’t have to kill your enemy, instead, you can possess them.
You are a spirit, and you can enter the bodies of your enemies. Each enemy has different abilities, so with each character you possess, you can go melee, you can shoot, use bombs, it depends on the host body that you have.
This isn’t a new idea. We like arcade games, we decided to make a video game that took this mechanic from arcade games we loved.
Since we like the 80s, everything is set in this alternative 80s world. We’re very inspired by movies, pop culture, music, everything related to the 80s.
One of the things we’ve done is the game is that we’re trying to deliver everything from the 80s in 5 acts: characters and things from movies, music, and obviously there will be neon everywhere.
We’re trying to put all big things in the first act so that people will see it and recognize a lot of the references. In the fourth or fifth act, we’re going to hide even more references so that only people who finish the game will find them.
We think our next game will also be 80s inspired, whether it’s the mechanics or something else, it will be something 80s. Depending on how HyperParasite does, of course.
What has it been like developing HyperParasite?
I’m always in communication with my team. We have very strong communication, despite the distance.
We’re on the same time zone, but sometimes there are delays in the communication, but it doesn’t affect the production.
Sometimes they surprise me with the things they produce and the ideas they have that they want to put in the game.
Believe it or not, I haven’t fully explored all the contents of the game yet. Sometimes when we’re creating new rooms or adding things to the game, they’ll do it secretly and wait for me to discover it.
Then we can see how long it took me to find it and what I did in certain situations.
We’ve been working on the prototype that’s available on Steam for one year now. In total, we’ve been working on the game for 2 years.
This year it will be released, so stay tuned.
We’re not sure if we’re going to go into Early Access or do a full release, we’re currently still evaluating our options.
If we release in Early Access, it may be within the next month or so.
We have a Discord channel where we make announcements, so anyone who wants to stay updated on our development can look there.
How do you balance development and marketing as an indie developer?
We go to conventions all over the world to network and promote our game. Sometimes we attend, and sometimes we’ll get a booth.
In the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve attended conventions in 5 or 6 different countries. We’ll be attending EGX in April.
Our social side is supported by Hound Picked Games, they’re developing the social side of the studio and the game.
It’s a full-time job. We realize it’s a full-time job, so for this game, we thought it would be better to have a partner.
They approached us around 6 or 7 months ago, and they’ve put us in contact with publishers. Some publishers are more keen to listen to a PR agency than another studio.
We still have to do both sides, PR and development. We still have to push the social side.
We’re hoping to get a lot of feedback about HyperParasite. As a studio, we really want to know what the players think of the game. We can’t improve the game if we don’t have feedback.
On our Discord, we often post polls or ask open questions asking our users if they’ve tried certain features or found certain things in the game. We also welcome our players to leave comments on our Steam Community.
It’s really cool to see what players do, because you have ideas when you put things in the game. People sometimes do what you think they would do, and sometimes they don’t. A lot of times it’s because they didn’t play the tutorial.
What’s it like developing retro games in a modern era of gaming?
For me, retro games are arcade games where you put the coin inside to play. I would have the old Italian currency, enough for 10 attempts, and that’s all the money I had for games the whole week.
10 attempts in one day––all my pocket money––and that’s all I would have for the week. So I would have to choose which game, I would play, lose, and learn, then I would come back the next week and play another game.
That’s one thing that defines retro for me, is that you can only try so many times. You would have to really learn so you could keep playing.
It was more competitive, because you’d also be watching other people and studying what they do. There was this interaction that you don’t see now a days that you can’t get through video.
It’s hard to put that retro feeling in your game, it’s difficult to give players that experience, but we’re trying, step by step.
It’s our first game as a studio, so we’re excited to try to bring a new mechanic to players who haven’t experienced anything like it before.
HyperParasite is on Indie Boost!
Verified content creators and press can request a key for HyperParasite or an interview with Troglobytes games through their game page.