Interview with Matt Glanville by Peter Ward
The game began as a simple idea for a one-button mechanic in December 2014. Developer Matt Glanville created a simple prototype in Unity over a week or so, stuck it on itch.io and called it a day. After about 6 months a friend requested a build to use in a private installation and so the project was dusted off and polished up a bit. Matt noticed that players were responding well to it and decided to add some more features and turn it into a full (albeit small) game. Further into development, it became apparent that mobile platforms were a great fit for the game and so development focus shifted on to Android (specifically Google Play) while it built a following on Steam Greenlight. After receiveing the greenlight, focus moved back on to the PC version. The game is now receiving an initial release on Steam, with standalone versions following for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. The Google Play version is still in beta.
Switch ‘N’ Shoot is an arcade shoot-em-up with a twist: you only have one button which turns your ship and fires your guns at the same time. You must carefully time your shots to take out as many aliens as possible without colliding with any of them. It’s fast-paced, challenging, and extremely crunchy (think Galaga had a baby with Flappy Bird and it was raised by Vlambeer).
- Controlled with just one button (or one tap on mobile platforms).
- Fast-paced & challenging: you’ll fail fast, but you can jump back in even faster.
- Palette swapping: fully customise your colour scheme using an authentic 8-bit palette.
- Silly random name generator: each time you die you get a new randomly-named pilot.
- Chunky pixel art, with beautiful border illustration by Paul Duffield.
- Crunchy sounds and an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack by MoppySound.
- Online leaderboards, achievements and stats on Steam and Google Play.
My pleasure! Thanks for having me.
The earliest I can recall is educational games on the classroom Acorn, and we also had a platformer called Ibix the Viking. And after that going round to my friend’s house and playing Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt on his NES, and various DOS games on our 486 computer.
I was drawn towards level editors that came free with games like StarCraft and Half-Life. That got me making levels for games, and I gradually learned simple editor scripting tools through that. I still wouldn’t call myself a programmer because I lean heavily towards visual scripting tools.
Unity is my main development tool, and for a few years now I’ve been using uScript which is a visual scripting plugin for Unity. I used that to script all of Switch ‘N’ Shoot except for a few bits of C# for hooking into Steamworks for leaderboards, achievements, all that stuff.
The biggest hurdle for me was getting it on to Android and integrating Google Play features. Actually that’s still in development right now. It’s just a whole set of problems I’ve never faced before and it was a really steep learning curve for me. I think if I’d been working more directly with C# then I’d have had an easier time but by the time I got to integrate it all it was too late.
I have another personal project called Luminesca and I’d love to get back to that. Aside from that I like to make little prototypes every now and then too.
I’ve worked as a game designer for a few years and most notably worked on Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and Oddworld: Soulstorm. In my early hobbyist days I also made a trilogy called Legion Saga, which I built with RPG Maker 2000.
I’ll always have a soft spot for the SNES because it was the first console I owned. Before that I just used to visit friends to play on their consoles. But if I had to pick a favourite I think the PlayStation was when I really got heavily into gaming.
Suikoden is still a game I look at very fondly, it was a very early PS1 game. I loved the way it took JRPG conventions and made it really fast to whizz through, as opposed to a lot of other games in the genre which felt arbitrarily slow.
Of course! I own a PS4 and a Wii U. I love Nintendo’s first party games but the PS4 has the better selection of indie games which is where I find the most stuff that interests me. But PC is still the king for that.
It’s got to be my own games before they’re finished, and the numerous prototypes I’ve ditched.