Interview with William McCain of PoleCat Games
Tell us about yourself
I started software development professionally building controls software for PLC and DCS systems while working for SIS Automation. Now I try to be a full-time game developer and work on my own title, but I do have to pick up freelance work to keep the lights on. My freelance work consists of everything from automation or game development contracts to Uber and Lyft. I have been around software development my whole life, it’s what my father and my brother do, and growing up my best friend, along with his father, built websites. When we were twelve we built our first cheat code/hidden item guide site for “Star Fox 64”, and then a few “Zelda” sites. I am currently using the Unreal Engine to build our game “Kitten Epic”, but I love testing out toys and Unity is great. Lumberyard has some fun tools, like well done text to speech, and if you like engine tinkering play with the Godot engine.
Tell us about your team. How many members? Whats your role? How did you meet?
We are based in Birmingham, Alabama, along with our one-year-old Lincoln who is the absolute best! Angela is a very talented writer and artist who always works on her craft. We actually met before ever making games and as I looked into the possibility of developing games I started slipping the idea into conversations that we could make games together and for a living.
Tell us about the game you are currently working on
“Kitten Epic”, live on KickStarter now, is a massive puzzle-adventure game. After being separated from his litter, Epic the kitten sets out to find his family and bring them together. Little did Epic know what all lurked outside the walls of his Dubai condo. In the game, we will have vast landscapes full of friendly and not so friendly animals. You will use dialogue, wit and time reverse abilities to overcome puzzles. Platforming will be involved and each environment will have its own set of obstacles to overcome. The story is the main focus and how you interact through dialogue and in the world will affect this.
What inspired you to start this particular project?
“Kitten Epic” is the game animals never get. Sure you can find a chicken in “The Witcher” but can you talk to it? You probably can in the “Witcher”, but that’s not the point. The point is animals are always props in epic games and never get to tell their own story. That changes in “Kitten Epic” where not only do animals talk and have stories, but you get to play their stories as well. Our cat named Teddy is another inspiration behind this game. While living in Colorado, Teddy left one day to never return. He was always fond of the outdoors so we like to believe he is still in the city or maybe in the mountains, which he loved. And yes, Teddy is one of the cats you get to meet in Kitten Epic. When crafting the story and the art of the game we pull from influences like “Homeward Bound” and works by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.
What challenges have you faced during this project and how have you overcome them?
The largest hurdle we face is one we are currently trying to overcome, which is marketing, media relations, and self-promoting. It honestly feels awkward doing it and I guarantee most of the great games that never made it died from a lack of media and marketing savvy.
What have you learned from this project that you will apply to your next?
I will get in front of the project with social media, press releases and footage as soon as I possibly can. If you are looking for advice on your upcoming game release or kickstarter then get out in front of your project and tell everyone about it because no else will do it for you.
What was your first gaming system?
My first gaming system to ever play was my dads Atari and then his computer, a flight sim game. The first system I ever owned that my brothers couldn’t touch was a Playstation and I was obsessed with “Resident Evil” and “Final Fantasy.”
What is your favourite game? (or games if that’s too difficult!)
Some of the best games in my book are Ni No Kuni, I love Ratchet and Clank, Zelda (all of them), Jade Empire, Neverwinter Knights, Elder Scrolls, Skies of Arcadia, Suikoden (2 and 3), Final Fantasy (10 and before), System Shock, Half Life, KOTOR, Diablo 2, Bioshock, Doom, Quake, Legend of Legaia, Myst and so many more.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other game developers?
Get a good press kit together and self advertise way before you release your game.