Yannick, is an indie game developer from France. He has released several successful freemium games on major mobile platforms (iOS, Google Play, Amazon, Windows 8/10) under the name Salad Gamer including:
A Bird’s Journey: endless runner game (250K downloads)
Santa Claus and Christmas Games: memory game for kids (300K downloads)
Play With Santa: game compilation for kids (150K downloads)
Tell us about your current project “Fresco”. What is it and how is it coming along?
My current project is entitled De Pictura (formerly Fresco). It’s a first-person exploration/puzzle game. You have to escape a strange and gloomy world in which art has vanished. To do that, you can manipulate your environment by using paintings and placing them at a strategic location. Each painting allows you to transfer, erase, move or rotate some parts of the world.
The game is fully based around this unique painting mechanic. The gameplay is all about thinking, analysis & understanding your surroundings. It’s never about your skill of execution, aiming, nor jumping. The more you play, the more you’ll understand how to use the paintings and find new ways to open paths through the levels.
The game is coming along quietly, but surely. I was pretty successful at different events in Europe earlier this year so I could continue the development more serenely. I am in the process of forming a small team with talented artists to help me on graphics and audio so I could reach the quality I aim for the game.
How do you explain what you do for work to people not in the industry, say at a party?
I simply start to say that “I make video games”, which sounds pretty fun and interesting to most people (and which is true). Since I am now an independent developer, it’s easier to describe my work, since I almost do everything on my games 🙂 So I can just say: “I make that”, and show the game. When I was working at Ubisoft, so on much bigger games, I had a much smaller influence on the projects I worked on. So it was harder to explain my contribution without introducing concepts such as “engine”, “tools”, “middleware”, which could be vague for non-dev people.
Is there is any current or past games that you would have loved to be involved with? How would you have changed them if you could?
Being a huge fan of puzzle/exploration games, I would have love to work on one of the game that, I think, created a genre, and was also so revolutionary for its time: Myst. But I honestly cannot claim that I would have done something different. Myst & Riven are so good, and the way the Millers created them was so different from how we make games today...
How do you see the future of console exclusive titles and how necessary are they in this day and age?
I am not especially interested in all this exclusivity thing. It’s something I always found a bit weird compared to other mediums, and not really good for the industry. It’s like if you bought a Sony TV, and so you could only watch Sony movies on it.
I totally get that, as 1st parties, it’s a way to sell your hardware products. But I would prefer if these console companies tried to differentiate from each other not mainly (or only) with game exclusive titles.
Because as a gamer, I am only interested in playing games, so I don’t care which hardware I will play. Except of course if the hardware really introduces a new way of playing/interacting; which, I think, is the case of VR, and that’s why I am so excited about it.
So obviously, I would prefer to live in a world where I could play every game I am interested in, without having to think that I couldn’t because I don’t own this $300 box under my TV.
Best game mechanic from the last 10 years, and what was your own personal best feature?
I especially enjoy puzzles games when they try to make the most of one core mechanic. I find the work of Jonathan Blow particularly remarkable about that. It’s also a huge inspiration for my current project. And so I would say the best mechanic I have ever played is probably the time rewinding in Braid. It’s so innovative and well implemented and leads to so smart puzzles.
What motivates you to stay in the industry and what role do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Video game is one of the fastest evolving medium. It’s always at the state of the art of technology. So there is always something new. As a developer, you have to adapt yourself to new technologies or design standard all the time. And you learn every day something new. So I think it’s an incredibly exciting industry for tech enthusiasts.
Making a game also requires so many different skills. It’s a blend of so many art forms. By working in a small team and on small projects, you can have the chance to touch a little bit of everything. So you end up doing something different every day.
About where I see myself in the future… I hope the industry will continue to evolve and surprise me. So I could still have plenty of fun working on games. If my current project becomes successful enough to be profitable, I could see myself running a small studio working on innovative stuff 🙂
Thank you Yannik!
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