Interview with Benjamin Schönburg by Peter Ward


Lazybensch is a solo game dev who quit his job to fulfil his dream of becoming an indie and create games similar to those which enriched his childhood. His current work-in-progress project is reminiscent of games like the zelda or the metroid series and tries to pay tribute to the 16-bit era but not without breaking the rules every now and then to visually set itself apart from the retro classics. 

What is your first gaming experience?

My dad was a bit of a techie so I had an Amiga in my nursery since I was three years old. It’s tough to remember my very first gaming experience since I grew up with so many games at an age that I can’t even remember anymore. Often I come across sites like retrogamesmaster and discover an old game and go like “oh wow, yeah, I think that game was part of my life at some point!”

“Dynablaster” (or “Bomberman” for everyone today) must be one of the first because I know there is a home video of me losing to my brother back when my hands weren’t even big enough for the joystick. Other really early ones I remember are “Lost Vikings”, “Inherit the Earth” and “Deluxe Galaga”. I’m almost 30 now and when I hurry through a crowded mall I still pretend I’m in a Deluxe Galaga Meteor Storm, trying to not run into anyone while walking faster and faster. I’m not kidding, I 100% do this!

What got you into creating games?

Becoming a gamedev was never on my radar. I was working for 6 years in a small B2B tech company and i felt that, although i liked my job, that nothing was really happening anymore. I didn’t evolve as a developer or as a person and it was time for something more exciting, more risky. I wanted to still write code, because I absolutely love that, but I also wanted to do something where I can be more creative, where I can build something. Another important change I wanted to try is being my own boss and working on a product I have complete ownership over.

I had a couple of ideas but indie game development was the only one that ticked all the above boxes so I went for it.

What development tools or coding did you use?

I use unity to develop the game, but I’m not very religious about it. There are tons of other engines out there that are probably great too, Unity is just the one I picked back when I knew nothing about gamedev to really judge if it was a good choice or not. If you make 2D games, especially pixelart, you initially spent a lot of time fighting the engine, historically made for 3D games, and that was a rough welcome for me as an aspiring gamedev. But now that I got the hang of it I’m happy with my choice.

Concept work before and after

For pixelart I started out with photoshop because that’s what i had on my PC and it’s great! Similar to Unity you have to spent some time to teach it that you want to create pixelart and have to change a lot of the default settings but once you did that it’s a fine tool to create art and animations. I switched to aseprite though since I’m a big tooling fan. I write a lot of scripts to automate my processes and aseprites scripting API is just way more powerful and better documented then photoshop.

What hurdles did you have making your current game?

I quit a well paying job and my girlfriend, fresh out ouf university, is at home pregnant with our first child so the existential dread sweaping over me every once in a while is something I could really do without. Since it’s my first game, everything I do, I do for the first time so I have to fight self doubt a lot! I always assume the next thing I have to do will be something I simply can not pull off. So far, luckily, I was always wrong. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking “maybe the NEXT thing will be the one I am not capable off”. Well, fingers crossed!

After the completion of the game what game will you make?

A point and click adventure for sure! I have a long list of games I want to make but a metroidvania-like game (which I’m developing right now) and a point & click where always the top of the list.

What other games have you made?

I only ever made one game as a school project back when I was 18. Thanks for asking by the way because I completely forgot about ever developing that game! It was a small project and i don’t have it anymore but i was able to dig up a trailer I uploaded for my teacher and honestly, I’m shocked how good it looks!

It was my attempt at Amiga classic “Deluxe Galaga” and had maybe 20 minutes of playtime but seeing the trailer really makes me want to develop a sidescroller now so I better forget about that project again until i finish the game I’m currently working on.

My favourite computer was my Amiga and console the Megadrive do you have a favourite?

Amiga and N64, no contest!

What is your favourite retro game?

“Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time” is the only one I always have to go back to. Around every 3 years or so I dig out my old N64 and replay it. I, of course, have a few others that make it hight up the list but I think ocarina deserves that title. It’s one where you truely leave the mundane world to enter a new one. One where you can forget that you are only playing a game. It’s my dream to be able to emulate that with my project.

Do you still game on the current consoles if so what’s your favourite game?

To be honest, I haven’t played a lot of games for the last ten or so years (which is probably why I’m such a big retro fan: almost all the games I played are 20 years old). But since I started to develop my own game I got into playing again. For research of course! My favourite one is Hollow Knight. I thinks it’s the only contemporary game that delivered what my nostalgia tinted memories of childhood games promised. It has such an intriguing world, everyone needs to play this!

Whats the worst game you have ever played?

In university I was doing research for a company that are pretty successful with facebook games and I had to play one of theirs to help because it was relevant to the research context. I don’t want to name it but oh boy it embodied everything that is wrong with freemium games nowadays. You had to cultivate a small garden and I remember after some time someone dropped of your baby niece or whatever. It was a small cute crying baby that was sitting in the grass OUTSIDE of your garden until you either gathered all the materials to get her a crib and watch her scream and cry for about 5 (real) days or you pay 3€ to get the crib right away… I mean… sitting it on the floor I get but why did she have to sit outside the garden? Anyway the whole game was designed to guilt facebook mums into paying them, it was infuriating.

Usually when you don’t like a game you quit right away but since I had to play this for a bit it easily makes number one on my list of most hated games.

Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?

Mischief Maker!!!