Interview: T-Rocktopia

Battlerock Studios kindly agreed to speak with me about their entry into the Indie Game Maker’s Contest. They’ve been working to release their games through apps and are in the process of creating a graphic novel. Taptopia released on November 13th and they’re eager for what the future holds.

You’re entered in the Indie Game Making Contest this year with Battlerocktopia. Where are you at now in the competition and how has your experience been up to this point?

Battlerocktopia was the first game we did as a team. It is just a small part of what T-Rocktopia will be and was a pretty great start and motivator for us to all really come together and start following this dream we’ve shared for so long now. Unfortunately the Indie Game Making Contest has delayed the results of the contest for over a month now so we’re still not entirely sure where we stand. In votes alone we are in first place in the action genre & fourth place overall, so we’re feeling extremely optimistic. This was our first game jam and we actually completed another, the Indie Speed Run, just recently.

You completed your submission in such a short amount of time; do you, as a team, have any concerns, and how are you feeling about your successes?

We actually completed our submission in just two weeks! The contest gave you a month but we weren’t aware the Indie Game Making Contest was happening until we only had two weeks left of it. Although we lost a lot of time, we feel as though we did pretty well. Really the only concerns we all share right now is finding time to devote to our games. With all of us having jobs outside of T-Rocktopia and being a team of just three people residing in two different states it gets kind of chaotic to make our schedules work. We are feeling super optimistic regardless! We had been talking about creating the full game of T-Rocktopia for several years but it generally consisted of things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if-“, “Imagine us making a game about this!” etc. Really I think what got the ball rolling was when our artist, Ben Mock, began actually creating the graphic novel that we also have in the works. Suddenly we all saw this as something we could really make happen and every day it feels like we’re just a little bit closer to really living our dreams.

How are people responding to the game and how do you use feedback?

So far we have had a great response! We asked people we know to be play testers for us and they offered us a lot of honest criticism as well as informing us it is pretty addicting. It’s a great feeling to watch people really enjoy something that we created. We also can be found at anime and comic conventions cosplaying some of our characters and handing out trading cards and opportunities to play our game. Feedback really helps us grow as game developers. We can play our games all day and miss things that people with a different perspective will pick up on. We also use feedback as advertising. Reviews are something that can be used to draw more people in. If someone reviewing our game enjoys it, they will tell others. A youtuber, Mega Mike, even did a Let’s Play of Battlerocktopia as well as an interview with Troy and Karah. We’re hoping to do more things like that (and like this interview!). It’s a lot of fun for us and we can also use that to help promote whoever is interviewing us or doing Let’s Plays of our games.

What music are you using for the game and how are you working with credits and licensing?

Eric Skiff is the creator of the music we use. It is released under the creative commons license. This means we are able to use it royalty free. We are actually trying to get in contact with him to offer him credits for it. Although this is what we used for the demo, we won’t be using it for the full release of T-Rocktopia. We’re still working on figuring out the music for that game but have some exciting ideas in mind, seeing as it is a game based around music.

What are your plans for app creation? How are you introducing it to the market?

Our programmer, Troy Sanders, is the one who is actually building the apps. Karah Sanders is our person in marketing. We take advantage of the amazing abundance of social media we have these days. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are three we frequently are updating. Like I mentioned previously, we also go to conventions to promote our games. This way people get to meet us, immediately play our games, and some have even become our friends through this process.

Tell us about your graphic novel–What does each character lend to the story?

The graphic novel is a lot of fun! It’s serving as a prequel to our game. It’s a unique take on finding out back stories of characters rather than revealing it all through games. In the graphic novel, you find out how all of the main characters – T-Rock, Steve, Mockingbird, and Oatmeal – meet each other and how the band Knee of Justice is formed and why things are happening that you will see in the game. Each one of our characters has a unique power in the game that you will find out more about in the graphic novel. The best part about the graphic novel is that it’s based on true events in our lives! Of course, a lot of it is fiction or exaggerated but it’s still so great for us to get our story out about the friendship between four people and watch other people enjoy it. Because each of our main characters is based on one of our team members, you get to know us as more than just the developers. It personalizes everything and can really help us connect to our readers/players.

What’s in the future for T-Rocktopia?

We have so much planned we cannot wait to accomplish! We will be releasing our first full game in the next couple months. This game isn’t part of T-Rocktopia, but it will have all of the characters and still be canon with the story. We also plan on selling merchandise at conventions and eventually online. Posters, t-shirts, plushies..The options are endless with this. It’s our goal to enter at least one game jam a month as a way to really start releasing more games or pieces of T-Rocktopia.

Written by Caitlin Holcomb