EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Slaughter 2 Developer Ray Spark

     I've been a fan of Slaughter since it first arrived on mobile, and I later raved about it in my review over on Droidgamers.  Then I caught wind of a sequel being planned and my excitement grew.  With each new trailer I got more and more excited- then Slaughter 2: Prison Assault hit the market and I've been absolutely infatuated with it.

     Now I've been lucky enough to snag an interview with the developer Ray Spark, click below to read.

What inspired Slaughter? Was it other games, movies, books, comics- or might it have just been a trip to a bar and a few drinks, or even just surfing the web?

— I just love shooters and always wanted to make one by myself. My brother used to draw some comics, and one of them was The Slaughter. So I just took that idea, characters, and environment.

And then further, what inspired a non-linear, or non-traditional sequel as opposed to a straight up chronological sequel?

— When the first Slaughter's development just began, I had plans to make levels, where you must play as a soldier. I wanted to place these levels between Russel’s, so you could play the game from completely different perspectives. But preparation of all the basic things took so long (like enemies, weapons, all scripts) that I decided to completely cut the soldier’s levels from the game. But I kept those ideas in mind, so when I started to make Slaughter 2, I already knew what it will be about.

Did you encounter any particular challenges or struggles during development?

— In the first Slaughter the development process had a lot of difficult things, especially the AI. I had to remake it from scratch several times. Also, those in-game cutscenes- they were really hard to make. That’s why in Slaughter 2 all cutscenes are in video format.

Conversely, what game development strengths did you find that you have?

— I think this would be the modelling. I have no trouble making the models for the game.  Usually for most game programmers (indie I mean) this is the hardest part.

What’s your favorite game, and why? (genres, types, etc)

— I don’t know really. I loved Tron 2.0 for the interesting weapons and great visuals. Doom 4 for the pure shooter experience. I love shooters!

Least favorite, and why?

— I don’t like MOBA’s. They are all repetitive and don’t require much skill (as I think). Also, I just get bored of them.

What do you think is the best game of all time?

— The first Quake maybe, it’s just a classic

What’s the first game you ever played (or at least recall playing- maybe the first highly memorable game)?

— I think it was Chip and Dale on NES, great game!

YES! That game was amazing, and if I recall correctly, it was a brilliant new take on 2 player games at the time.  It was recently updated for the Disney Afternoon Collection and still holds up quite well.  On that note, what’s the most surprisingly good recent game you’ve played, and what was it that surprised you?

Undertale. I heard a music from the game, and that’s what made me buy it in the first place. Additionally, I like Toby Fox’s sense of humor.

And then, what’s the most disappointing recent game you’ve played, and what changes would you have made to make it better?

— That would be Deus Ex: The Fall for mobile. I wanted this game so bad, but it turns out to be very difficult to play because the controls are so horrible.

Do you have a guilty pleasure game, perhaps a game no one else likes or might be embarrassing? Personally, one of my favorite games of all time is Kim Possible 2 for the Nintendo GBA

— I don’t know if Rage would be that game. When it came out, everybody hated it and it’s strange graphics. I was absolutely surprised. I love this game, played it from the beginning till the end all my weekend.

Did you find any hilarious bugs while making Slaughter 2?

— There was a bug in the enemy spawner, so it spawned like a hundred enemies all at once! It was very laggy, but I didn’t shut the game down, until I shot them all.

What’s your basic game development structure? Do you start with a character, an idea, or story first, and then move to gameplay or mechanics, or is it the other way around?

— I always start with a character model. I know it must be just a prototype in the beginning. But for me, it’s most convenient way. Then I make a weapons system, enemies, and so on.

Do you get any ridiculous complaints focused on a single tiny aspect or part of a game? If so how do you deal with them? 

—I was asked to make a jump button in the game for many times. Players want to jump in Slaughter! I don’t know why. And my reaction always was like, “NEVER!!!!”

Were there any things that bothered you during development?

— I think it was a user interface. I remember, when I made the enemy with a grenade, I was thinking, how about to make an ability to throw a grenades for the player? And I started to rewrite all code to make it possible. It should be comfortable to use on the touch screen. So I wasted about a week to finish this single function during the final stages of development, as it now in the game.

Did you have any great ideas that would make the game better, but had to be cut due to time constraints or budgetary reasons? Any features, levels, in game concepts, boss fight ideas, etc that we won’t seeing that you wanted to include?

— A co-op campaign. I think it would be such a cool addition, but it’s really hard to make. May be I’ll make such a game in the future!

Do you have any thoughts on current gaming trends, or possible changes to deviate from them? Such as EA’s current company shifts away from time-tested single player gaming.

— I love classic games by myself, so I don’t really like the current situation of the market. There’s many good games coming out, but most of the modern games just cut to DLC’s, in-game purchases, and so on. I want to just buy a full game and play it from beginning to the end, with perfect game balance, not dependent on how much I’ve paid.

Jumping off the last question- since I like the traditional way you’re selling the game- you buy the game, you get the whole game- I’d like to hear your thoughts on gaming monetization (ie; Loot boxes, microtransactions, etc.) and what they might mean for the industry?

— There’s a big difference between in-game goods and game limitations. I have nothing against cosmetic items (like skins, hats, gun paints etc.) because those can really help the developers stay longer, and run servers, make updates. Those things don’t touch the game balance.

On the other side, things like “xp boosters," donation-only weapons, and even “batteries” or "energy," so you can play the game longer, or spend several hours waiting for the batteries/energy to recharge — these things are like spitting in the face of players. But, maybe, it’s the only way some of these games can exist on the market, so who knows.

How did you decide on a price point for selling the game? Because, at least for me, the cost-to-gameplay value in both Slaughter games is tremendous- so you get a ton of fun and replayability for a really good price.

— I just think this price is fair. It’s just an indie game, so it can’t cost too much. Since I’m working on the game alone, it’s a truly low-cost product. The price straight up depends on me. Also, more players can afford it if the cost remains low.

Are you considering any DLC’s for Slaughter 2: Prison Assault? Like smaller adventures or story packs tied to the campaign of the main game?

— I’m planning to make a few additional missions and survival mode. I’ll try to make a survival with a local net support, so 4 players could fight enemies together! I hope I can make it :)

Do you have any plans for future games, or even more possible Slaughter tie-ins? Obviously no spoilers.

— I have ideas about cyberpunk-style game. I think that will be my next game, but no details now, sorry, because I haven’t thought about it too much yet!

If you had no other job to worry about, no concerns about money, plenty of development time, etc - essentially what game would you make if you had all the resources you could need to do so- in short, if there were no limits on development, what might your dream game look like?  

— I think the whole of game development consists of limits. And that’s great!  All the interest in the creating of the games is to push the limits, to make something that no one has made before you.  But, if you want a straight answer, I can tell the GTA V is the game, made almost without limits. With that big budget and great developers!

How about a game with tech that doesn't quite exist yet?

— I know it's impossible for now, but I really wanted to make a game, where you can talk with character with your voice and they’d replied to you back. I thought about this idea long ago and imagined how cool it would be to go on adventures in a fantasy or sci-fi world with characters with whom you can communicate, make close friends or argue.  I’d make a game like that if I could!

For the last question, are there any pros and cons to working on mobile devices as opposed to possibly making console or PC games?

— There’s lack of really good games on mobile now. And with some effort I believe I can make one! PC on the other hand has many great titles, and I just can’t compete with such a big market.

I'd like to thank you for your time and answers, it's been a pleasure! Keep up the awesome work!

     With that, I'd like to say I think Spark has already single-handedly made two of the best mobile games available.  Slaughter 2 exceeds the first game in every way, and the original game is still tremendously fun to play.  In addition, Spark has been continuously releasing updates making the game even better- he's added manual shooting (instead of the automatic when a target is in the sights), a first-person mode, and a bunch of cool blood effects and body physics.

     Slaughter is $0.99 on [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

     Slaughter 2 is $1.49 on [ Google Play ] and $0.99 on [ iOS ]

*Note: My own review is on the way, it's been backlogged due to all the awesome updates and features that keep arriving!

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