A Chat with Indie Dev Broc Copeland

Screenshot from the game Guardians of the Rose

Interview by Mark Goninon

Broc Copeland is an indie game developer who is hard at work on his first commercial game called Guardians of the Rose. The game is a retro, fantasy 2D action RPG that will be released on Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and PS4, and is inspired by games such as Zelda, Gauntlet and The Elder Scrolls. The game is currently in the alpha stage and it's fast approaching the beta stage but Broc needs help, at least USD $7,500 worth of help to be precise.

Broc wants to become the provider of his family and for his wife to become the primary carer for his children; in order for this to happen he setup a Kickstarter project a week ago hoping to raise USD $7,500 by the 23rd June. At the time this post was published, the campaign has raised USD $2,250 so there's still a bit more to be raised despite the relatively modest goal (USD $7,500 is peanuts in the games development world).

The game looks promising, especially the fact it is going to have multiple endings and good vs evil paths in order to achieve your goals – I love games like this. Consequently, I've now backed the project but then I was curious to know more about Broc; you see I'm always fascinated by indie developers and what makes them tick since I've often fantasised about being a successful indie developer myself but for the time being, I'll have to make do as a lowly video games blogger :). Thankfully, Broc has been very receptive to questions so I managed to have a quick chat about his background, indie game development and Guardians of the Rose.

Broc Copeland

MG: So you mention in your bio that you got introduced to video gaming at the tender age of 2 playing Duck Hunt on the NES with your uncle (what a cool uncle!). Have you been video gaming ever since that time (I'm guessing the answer is probably going to be an emphatic "yes")? Did you ever get into any PC games (this is a PC gaming blog after all, so this is obligatory of course ;))? If so what were your favourites?

BC: Yeah, my uncle is a great guy! He knew I loved his NES so anytime he would come over to our house he would always bring it with him so we could play.

I have definitely been gaming ever since then; pretty much my entire life. I didn't get a PC until I was 12 but when that happened I started playing the Red Alert and Civilization series religiously. A couple years after that I fell in love with Morrowind and Ragnarok Online.

MG: Red Alert and Civ are good choices (they're favourites of mine too) - also loved Morrowind but never tried Ragnarok Online.

MG: You've mentioned that Guardians of the Rose is inspired by several works of literature as well as games such as The Elder Scrolls, Gauntlet and Zelda - but is there anything else? I noticed that the game will have multiple endings and the ability to take a good or evil path; this reminds me of Bioware RPGs such as Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect. Is Guardians of the Rose going to take a similar route?

BC: I really don't know because I haven't played either of those games for more than an hour or two at friends' houses. The only other major influencer outside of the ones you mentioned in the question is Ragnarok Online. The best things about Ragnarok Online is how your stats and skills system are completely customisable and the gear upgrading/customisation system.

MG: I've actually had a stint as a stay-at-home Dad and during this time I made attempts at trying different game development tools but I always ended up being distracted by caring for my daughter, applying for "real" jobs (well, let's just call them "relatively stable" development jobs instead ;)), chores, social engagements and, to be honest, the occasional bouts of procrastination. With so many distractions and responsibilities, how do you find the motivation for games development? Is it just a matter of being so passionate about it that you live and breathe games development or can anyone get involved in it if they're disciplined enough? Or is it a bit of both? Passion and discipline?

BC: My advice for anyone that is a stay-at-home Dad and a game developer is to hustle. Work as much as possible during every free minute you have. It is very difficult but you have to sacrifice socialising with friends, watching TV, and anything else that is getting in the way of you making games. I've only felt the need to procrastinate 2 or 3 times since I've been doing game development. I call procrastination "resistance" and whenever I feel resistance I literally just take the day off and play with my kid or watch some show that my wife has been wishing I would watch with her for a year. At some point during the day or the next morning I will start to feel a need to get back to work and then I just jump on that feeling and work hard at whatever I didn't want to do earlier that day or the day before. If procrastination is bothering you too often then I would really just recommend pushing through it for a solid month or two and if you're like me it'll become something you barely have to deal with after that.

MG: With respect to finding motivation for games development, the expression "carpe diem" comes to mind. Seems to be a matter of just recognising when you're in that motivated mood and capitalising on it. And the socialising with friends and family part was a bit of a killer for me - whenever you mention to people you're unemployed or a stay-at-home Dad they figure you've got heaps of time, but I guess that's where the discipline part comes in - learning to say "no" and making sure you give yourself the opportunity to work on your own projects (but that probably applies to a whole lot of things in life, not just games development :)). Regardless, some very insightful comments there!

"Guardians of the Rose is simply the game I can make that offers the player everything I love in video games."

MG: Why did you decide to use GameMaker Studio to develop Guardians of the Rose? Why not Multimedia Fusion 2, RPG Maker or several other competitors? Does GameMaker offer a lot of flexibility that the others do not or is it simply a matter of it being the first game development tool you had a look at (and subsequently stuck with it)?

BC: GameMaker Studio was far from the first game dev tool I looked at. I used to make flash games in AS3 with engines like Flashpunk. I then moved on to Unity. I tried alot of stuff out after Unity and eventually went with GameMaker Studio because the game engines available on the forum, in the marketplace, etc were alot more comprehensive and well put together than anything I could find elsewhere. I learn by reading other people's code so when I found so many professional quality game engines for GameMaker Studio, I knew it was the one for me.

MG: Yes you did mention about AS3 and Unity in your bio - I recall reading that, sorry about that :). There's definitely a lot of GameMaker success stories such as Hotline Miami, Risk of Rain, Cook, Serve, Delicious! and Gunpoint (just to name a few). Hopefully Guardians of the Rose will be another :).

MG: Kind of related to my first question but in general, what are you favourite games at the moment? Will you even get time to play if you spend 12-16 hours a day on developing Guardians of the Rose? :)

BC: Sadly, I do not have time to play other games outside of testing Guardians of the Rose. But my favourite games before I started development on Guardians of the Rose were Dark Souls and Pokemon XY. I can't wait till I have enough time to sit down and play Dark Souls 2 and 3 but that's gonna be a long time from now.

MG: One more question, why Guardians of the Rose? Why did you decide to make this kind of game in particular? Is it because of a love of RPGs? What sort of gamers do you think will like this game? Whom will it appeal to?

BC: I am making Guardians of the Rose because it's a game that I've always wanted to play. I love character customisation, open-world exploration, pixel art, chiptunes, multiple endings, world-lore, and action. I love games that allow you to grow as a character with skills and stats and then combine that with the growth in your ability to control your character skillfully in battle. Guardians of the Rose is simply the game I can make that offers the player everything I love in video games.

MG: Awesome. Any other comments you'd like to add? :)

BC: If you have any questions about the game or would like to support Guardians of the Rose hit me up on Kickstarter or twitter:

[ KICKSTARTER: Guardians of the Rose ]
[ TWITTER: Broc Copeland ]

MG: I'd like to thank Broc taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. It's definitely given me some food for thought and I wish him and his family all the best with his first commercial game, Guardians of the Rose.