Developer: Lab Cat Games
Steam Link: Kite
Kite is a cyberpunk, twin-stick shooter, bullet hell, Zombies Ate My Neighbors-lite, Soldier of Fortune-lite and early 90’s camp all wrapped into one 16-bit gaming package. The game honestly feels like it is right out of the 90’s. The one-man studio, Lab Cat Games have completely captured the vibe and feel of games from this era. If I went into this game blind and somehow miraculously played it on a SNES cartridge with a SNES controller I would not of blinked an eye. Now, the game sure does a good job of capturing that vibe but what it also does well is modernizing the game play, mechanics and aesthetics that are usually found in these older games.
I had the pleasure to interview the man behind the game, James Treneman aka Deeps.
Questie: What was your first game?
Deeps: My first game ever was some asteroids game I played on our Macintosh off a floppy disk mom brought home. It’s funny when I answered that in the last interview I realized that makes my first game a shooter, and nearly a twin-stick. So I think that must have made a big impression.
Deeps: But on my Turbo Graffix I rocked R-Type, Bonk’s Adventure and Military Madness. And that was a really good spread I think.
Questie: Now that’s cool. It really does show in the game, honestly. So would you say that those games are the most influential ones you played as a child? Or would you say that there were other games? (Zombies Ate My Neighbors feels like the biggest influence in Kite IMO)
Deeps: Yeah you nailed it. Surely Zombies is my biggest inspiration for Kite. Second place goes to Soldiers of Fortune (The Chaos Engine in EU). Those two games are just about the best top downs on the SNES which became THE system for me after I got one sometime around ’93). But there are a lot more modern elements from games like WoW in Kite as well.
Questie: Care to extrapolate more on the WoW elements?
Deeps: Sure, I played a lot of WoW and it’s certainly the most influential game of my adult life. We don’t have to go there but the one thing that is kinda relevant is that I was just a hardcore Twinker, and I ran one of the longest running twink guilds. I only liked to PvP and had probably 6 or 7 low level Twinks before even getting to max level.
Deeps: I loved finding weird items that you shouldn’t be able to get and weird stat formulas that are super overpowered at low levels
Deeps: So I just become a big stat head, and was obssessed with mocking up builds for twinks at level 10 or 29 or 79 whatever, I was down with it
Deeps: So I wanted to bring the itemization and synergy elements to Kite, at a much lower sort of Ficsher Price level
Deeps: But also, what I loved about WoW was the PvP and it was all about kiting, so it’s a natural playstyle for me
Deeps: the controls in Kite at their heart are really no different than they are for the way I play WoW.
Questie: I’m a WoW player as well. I thought it felt a lot like how PVP feels in WoW but I didn’t think it was such a huge influence. That’s really cool. I’m a tank in WoW so I respect the people who Kite ADDs for me.
Deeps: heh nice! Yeah WoW is probably the reason I was able to make a fun combat system.
Deeps: I had a lot of iterations, at one point there were a ton more keybinds like WoW, you had literally all the weapons at once.
Deeps: The way you switch between the two Operating Systems is just pulled straight from stance dancing
Deeps: and I wanted to make the melee feel a bit like when you are in a group and land a good WW with a big Crusader proc
Questie: When did the development for Kite start?
Deeps: Kite dev started in May I think of 2014. More accurately I started learning how to draw pixel art, program and design in May of 2014 lol. I think of it like this – how much would it have cost me to get this kind of education? Probably around the same and it wouldn’t be as well rounded, and I wouldn’t have a product at the end. When I think of it like that, Kite doesn’t really need to make a buck.
Deeps: Except that it probably does need to once I fully release lol
Deeps: But I had buddies playing an early prototype, maybe 2 weeks into dev and they were clearly having fun. My wife was like ‘Do it!” and so that’s when I went all in.
Questie: It’s always the wife/gf that makes men do things
Deeps: Yeah, she has been so incredibly supportive, now way could I be here without her help and constant encouragement (and playtesting)
Questie: It seems that your s/o is a huge supporter in you and your dream.
Deeps: I’m really lucky in that way, game dev is still a crazy profession and many people have to deal with parents and loved ones who don’t believe in their passion, it’s so hard for them and I hope to be a solo dev who can inspire those people. But they should know the many advantages I’ve had, and I’m still waaaaay in the red.
Deeps is just a normal guy like all of us, going through the struggles of life. He has worked many jobs to find what he was good at and what he was passionate about. After many years of working different jobs he finally decided to chase his dreams and become a game dev, he couldn’t be more happy about it.
This is something that I find so admirable about him, he knows that he has to work hard and do a good job at being an indie dev. And it shows. This man is willing to accept criticism and change parts of his game because people let him know that it isn’t working or needs an adjustment.
Kite is an early access game that is doing early access correctly. Sometimes devs put a game up on the market place and then they slowly update it over the years and the game has no end in sight. Deeps on the other hand has put his game out and is working mercilessly to produce a quality game. He wants his game to be good and be the best he can make it be. It is something so admirable and one of the reasons I wanted to have a sit down and just talk with the man, I respect him and his game immensely.
We have a huge problem now-a-days with early access games being published and left out for people to buy. There are many games that have over a couple of thousand concurrent players that are still in early access that have no end of development in sight. This is something that I won’t support on principal. With any type of game, be it console or PC, I won’t buy it if there is DLC planned or if it’s in early access/beta. If the game isn’t finished why should I spend my money on it? I shouldn’t. We shouldn’t. If you spend money on these games and they make a killing, we are greasing the wheels for these kinds of people and studios. But on the flip side there are people like Deeps who are using Early-Access to its full potential. He’s letting you play the game and then he asks for feed back. He wants to make his game the best he can. He is actively working on Kite. Deeps is definitely a diamond in the rough with the Steam early access model and he, unlike others, deserve your money more than anybody else.
Hey guys, I hope you liked this write up I did with the man behind Kite! It was fun working with him and playing his game and giving him feedback, definitely something that I would love to do in the future. I love the idea of helping someone make a product better. It was a pure joy.
Here’s my twitter