Indie Dev Spothlight #1
This is the first edition of a new series that sheds light on work-in-progress homebrew retro games. For this inaugural edition, we’re thrilled to feature one of our very own in the spotlight. Our reporter and reviewer, Dennis ‘Fleaman,’ also known as Retroplayer.nl, and, as a developer, he goes by the name ‘German Garage Games.’ I must say, he and his son. ‘Christmas Crisis’: A family developer story.
The duo has launched a Kickstarter campaign for their NES homebrew game, which will be fully playable on original hardware. The reason for the Kickstarter campaign is simple. When I asked Dennis, he said, “We loved the idea of releasing our game physically and putting something tangible in players’ hands. However, we lacked the financial resources to make it happen. That’s why we’re turning to Kickstarter. This campaign is our dream, and Kickstarter is the vehicle that will help us achieve it. We don’t view Kickstarter as a mere pre-order platform; we simply need the funds to bring our dream to life the way we envision it.”
From retro gamer to NES developer
We’re talking about “Christmas Crisis,” a four-level Christmas-themed platformer developed exclusively for the NES. Dennis and Noah dove into this project with no prior experience in video game development or programming. Dennis is a lifelong retro game collector and is known in the Benelux as a YouTuber specializing in flea market retro game hunting. He also contributed to a website and online forum known as “Retroplayer.nl”. But it were the owner of Retrolplayer.nl and a programmer named Lukasz Kuhr that embarked on a NES project approximately six years ago.
“Retroplayer.nl used to be a forum for retro gamers, but it’s an outdated concept in today’s world. I was actively involved in promoting the forum and served as a moderator at the time. However, I was not involved in game development. They had approached Lukasz back then for the development, but the Kickstarter campaign fell just short of its goal. The prototype, along with all the music, artwork, and other assets, was left untouched, and they had abandoned the project. I reached out to the owner to acquire that prototype. We turned what was there into the start of Christmas Crisis”.
The project lingered in his possession for some time as well. Until he found the development cart in his basement while moving. Taking on this prototype seemed like a nice distraction from a stressful period, where he and his family moved from the Netherlands to Germany. He dove into NESMaker development. “It took a while to get into it, but with the help of the internet and Rodney Zak’s book ‘6502’ I started to get grip on the development process after some time and it turned out to be quite fun to do.”
Like father, like son
It didn’t take very long for Noah to get involved too. “My son saw me working in the garage and immediately showed interest. Actually he imposed himself soo much, I gave him some tasks to do. Since then, he has become more and more involved.” Tasks aren’t really distributed between the two. They each pick up tasks left and right. Fun is the most important thing in this whole adventure, “Go with the flow”.
The game itself is fairly simple in structure and gameplay, but what sets out the most is the Christmas theme with Santa as central figure. Games designed with Christmas as their main theme are a rarity, both in the present and the past. These games tend to have a limited market appeal throughout the year, as their relevance is primarily seasonal. In the world of video games, a game’s shelf life is typically tied to the platform it’s released on, which renders a Christmas-themed game largely unsellable outside of the holiday season. However, for a homebrew project like this, marketability isn’t a significant concern.
Christmas Crisis Kickstarter campaign
That message undoubtedly resonated with NES gamers and collectors. The campaign is still ongoing and has already exceeded 350% of its humble €1,500 Kickstarter goal. As of writing, there are still three weeks remaining to join the campaign.
For more information about the project and the kickstarter, visit the kickstarter page. The Kickstarter campaign will end November 9th, 2023.