This is a game straight out of a 12-year-old boy’s ‘most awesome game idea ever’ notepad. It’s about vampire ninja/samurai assassins (one of whom has a chainsaw/gun arm) battling evil cyborg zombies on the moon. The premise is absurd, the screen is almost always caked in gore, and the soundtrack is pure grungy guitar all the time. But is it good enough to be worth your $10/800 MS Points?
James Silva grew up thinking about video games in a way that a lot of people do. How to break into the industry? Draw some Mega Man level maps and ship them off to Capcom and BLAM you’re in. Although this wasn’t the case, he’s made a journey from hobbyist to successful indie developer over the past ten years and you haven’ seen the last of him or Ska Studios yet.
After learning early programming tools like HyperCard and GW-Basic back in the day, he had his first success by getting one of his first games onto a PC Gamer demo CD back in 2001. The game was Zombie Smashers X, which he readily admits is a straight up River City Ransom clone. From there he kept putting together games on his own, but finally had to settle into a desk job. But after only two months of desk-jockeying, Microsoft offered him a contract to put together The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Silva says the game has sold “well enough” to do a sequel, and spent its first two weeks of release in the number one XBLA spot, but he can’t go into the specifics of numbers.
Before The Dishwasher launched, he began preliminary work on Charlie Murder, which follows a punk band battling to save the front man’s girlfriend from rival bands. It was going to wind up on Xbox Live Indie Games, but Microsoft ended up picking up the game for XBLA in 2012.
But the current focus is on The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. A redesigned sequel to last year’s hit gore-fest. Silva was quick to admit that he was a poor programmer when he made The Dishwasher, and after working more with other programming languages, he’s really improved his technique. With these skill upgrades, he rebuilt the engine for the sequel, created new graphics and overall wants the sequel to be the best experience it can possibly be. The game’s modus operandi is “press buttons, do awesome.” Meaning, that while one can button mash their way through the game, they’ll be able to successfully pull off cool moves regardless. The game is “still pretty hard,” but he worked hard to give it a better difficulty ramp. You’ll be able to pull of combos more easily and to get a sense of the full game take a look at our PAX Preview.
And on top of all this, James also threw together a little game you may have heard of called I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1. It just broke 310,000 in sales with its titular song jumping into the downloadable Rock Band Network recently. While it’s only sold around 1,000 copies, its success is undeniable. If you were to place a time period on how long it took James to make the game, what would you guess? Silva programmed the game in two weeks as a backlash to all the ludicrous games out there that showcase zombies. Not only that, it was only the second occasion he’d programmed anything using XNA as The Dishwasher was built using C Sharp. “I thought no one would play it,” he said. He also thought that it wouldn’t pass peer review for spelling issues alone. These thoughts were quickly squashed under the weight of its simplistic, solid gameplay and now famous soundtrack.
James admitted he’s working on another unannounced project, and that would be the third title we’re going to see in Ska Studios’ upcoming lineup. That’s a big to do list for a single developer, but if the past speaks to anything, it’ll be exciting to see what turns up. It’s safe to assume it’ll hit some branch of XBL as Silva is currently “all about XNA.”
Will he ever expand Ska Studios and begin working with other developers? “If the opportunity presents himself,” he says. But at the same time he can “see it all breaking down.” And that’s where things get difficult when working with a team. There are times where layoffs will hit and people will have to be let go, so for the time being he’s happy working alone. But then again, Ska Studios has expanded its work force by 100% as he’s recently brought on Dustin Burg, a new addition that’s handling marketing exclusively. And with two successful games on the Xbox Live Marketplace and at least three in the pipeline, Silva’s doing something right. And with Dustin’s help the only difference will be the fact that more people are going to hear about it.
You can now snag this slash ‘em up for half-off of its usual 800 point price tag.
We all love James Silva’s entry into XBLIG around here as everyone should know by know, but his main arcade title The Dishwasher is also a solid addition to any game library.
The sale runs through next Sunday.
If you’ve ever held a job as a dishwasher, especially a job at a place with exceptionally large and/or dirty dishes, such as a bakery, then you’ll understand why James Silva’s game The Dishwasher is so bloody.
The two aren’t necessarily directly connected, but as a short-lived bakery dishwasher, I can very easily make that connection.