Interview with Klemen Lozar, the Mind Behind Indie Shoot ‘Em Up Let Them Come
Now then, I love anything to do with aliens. Especially when they are large, gross and coming to eat your face off (can you guess one of my favourite films?). So you can imagine my delight when a link to an alien shoot ’em up called Let Them Come, currently listed on Steam, turned up in my mailbox. The game is being made by an indie studio called Tuatara Games and I recently got the opportunity to chat with the one-man studio dev Klemen Lozar about the game and where he got his inspiration from.
Jump Dash Roll: Many thanks for joining us today, Klemen. Could you start by giving our readers a little brief about yourself, your studio and a little intro to the game?
Klemen Lozar: I’m 28 years old and I’ve been working in the AAA games industry as a VFX artist for almost six years now. I’ve always been the type of person that does a lot of creative work in my spare time and about two years ago that led me down a path of indie game development. What I was working on quickly grew into something that felt like it had potential, my first independent game, Let Them Come.
Down the line, I have founded a studio, Tuatara Games under which the game will be released. Let Them Come is an old-school arcade shoot ‘em up. You are playing as Rock Gunar, a mercenary and only survivor of a mission gone sour. You are outnumbered but not outgunned and you’re not going out without putting up a fight.
JDR: How did the idea for Let Them Come come about? Were you inspired by anything?
KL: Actually, it’s funny, at first I didn’t set out to make a game at all. It was all innocent exploration of new software and art styles that would quickly evolve into something that felt promising. When I started entertaining the idea of bringing it to fruition I knew the design had to be simple if I was to have a chance of completing it by myself, that was one of the early decisions that shaped the game.
I was fine with a limited scope because I knew the art side of things was going to allow for more creativity and that was an area I felt very confident in. To that effect, the art and “feel” of the game were heavily inspired by games like the original Doom, Metal Slug and films like Alien. I’ve been happy to see that come through in people who play the game. Something about shooting squishy creatures that are coming for you and seeing them explode never gets old!
JDR: Pixel art is going through a revival in recent years so how did you settle on this art style for the game? Was it ever going to look different?
KL: Throughout my career, I’ve been going down this path of simplification when it comes to art. I’ve been increasingly drawn to styles that explore minimalism and art fundamentals. I think that’s why I’ve been naturally drawn to pixel art. I’ve been fascinated by the degree of expression one can achieve even with very limited resolutions and color palettes. With the use of more modern techniques new, interesting looks can also be created, like dynamic lighting for example. Graphical nuances like that breathe new life into this old medium and have helped bring it back into the mainstream spotlight.
JDR: I’ve read some articles about the game saying that it is a simple aim and fire kind of game, is that how you would sum it up? If not, how would you describe the gameplay?
KL: The only thing that separates you from the alien scourge is a mounted gun turret, boombox blasting music at your side. Combat is wave based and you have access to different types of ammunitions, passive upgrades and secondary items like grenades and melee weapons.
Progressively tougher enemies come at you in different combinations encouraging you to experiment with your loadout. A wide array of special combo bonuses spice up the gameplay in interesting ways, like a rocket drone that fights by your side for a duration. Boss battles will challenge you, bring them down to advance to new levels.
JDR: I’ve seen Let Them Come at gaming events here in the UK and I’ve liked what I’ve seen but what seems to be the general reception to the game? What have those that have played it liked the most?
KL: Almost anyone that plays the game, or only spectates, has an immediate connection with the visuals and the atmosphere they create. Casual players appreciate how easy it is to get into and the way it offers low entry to having some mindless fun. Players that like to be challenged have played it at busy conventions for long durations, relentlessly, until they defeated a boss. Everyone loves the soundtrack. People have also been happy to hear it’s coming to multiple platforms, including mobile and at a very modest price.
JDR: You sound very passionate about Let Them Come so what do you think is your favourite part of the game that you are most proud of?
KL: Good question. I think it’s the game as a whole and what it represents to me. The fact that it’s my first independent game project and I’ve been able to see it through. It’s been taking longer than anticipated and there have been many challenges and a lot of anxiety along the way. But through perseverance, I’ve been able to realize my original vision, make new friends and learn so much along the way. That’s what I’m proud of the most.
JDR: The game is currently on Steam but there is no release date. How far off are you from releasing? What do you still have left to sort out?
KL: The core of the game has been completed for some time. I’ve been listening to early player feedback and making balance changes, touch ups… But that work is mostly done as well. Right now I’m preparing the game for console certification, making sure it’s complying with the standards of all of our target platforms so I think you’ll believe me when I say we’re almost there.
JDR: Once the game has released, what kind of game do you think you might develop next?
KL: I can’t tell you how excited I am to start this process. Let Them Come is, for the most part, a linear experience so there are a couple of ideas I’m experimenting with where I want to challenge myself and go in new directions. In the future, I want to explore things like procedural generation, more complex player interactions with the environment and emergent behavior just to name a few. The 2D medium and pixel art, more specifically, is still very close to my heart though.
If you want to know more about Let Them Come, you can check out the game’s website or check out the trailer below!