The secret to productivity for these game developers: some bangin' tunes - Technical.ly Delaware

Creative

Jun. 6, 2017 8:30 am

The secret to productivity for these game developers: some bangin’ tunes

A look inside how videogames get made at Wilmington's Ghost Crab Games.

A character from Ghost Crab Games' "Drive to Hell."

(GIF via Ghost Crab Games)

The gaming industry continues to grow, and Delaware’s game developers are growing with it.

Wilmington’s Ghost Crab Games was founded in 2013 by Dustin Twilley and Chris Hoopes, offering titles such as Drive to Hell, Bungle!, Stick & Move and the currently in-production multiplayer brawler Hastilude (here’s the game’s trailer).

We wanted to know more about the company and get some productivity tips from the duo. Read on for a look inside Ghost Crab Games.

Technical.ly Delaware: Tell us what you each do for the company.

Chris Hoops: My main role is lead programmer so I’m responsible for all game code and Unity work.  I also run most of the business end of things.

Dustin Twilley: I mainly handle art, animation, sound, and writing. In Unity I’ve done a little bit of animation but it’s mostly been particle effects and layout. I created the music for Drive to Hell but it was very time-consuming, so we started outsourcing that to allow me to concentrate on other things.

TD: What’s a normal work day like for you?

CH: Since I have a full time job, four animals in the house, and a (currently) pregnant wife, I need to make sure those are all taken care of before I can really sink time into doing Ghost Crab work. Dustin tends to work pretty late at night so I try to take care of a few small tasks he’s left me over breakfast in the morning and then I’ll swing back to tackle something bigger in the evening. Some days though there’s just no time for game dev, especially with a kid on the way!

DT: I work during the day and dev at night. My hours are flexible so I’ll often do game work late at night when there are fewer distractions. I try to put in a little time each day for small things then hit big tasks (like animation) when I have a multiple-hour window. Chris and I are in a group chat during the day, which helps coordinate things even if we aren’t working on the game simultaneously.

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TD: What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any job-related work?

CH: Feed the animals, feed myself, and walk the dog. I should try to get my workout routine finished in the morning as well but my body seems to hate that idea.

DT: I work from home so I’ll usually get up right before I start working and eat at my desk.

TD: Do you have any tricks that keep you from getting distracted while working?

CH: Sadly, not enough. I generally listen to podcasts or have gameplay videos playing on a third screen while working and if I really need to focus I’ll put on some really loud music. It’s really tough though, especially when you’re working from home and don’t really have any coworkers to communicate with.

DT: Working late and playing music. I think the real trick was getting across the point that I’m going to treat gamedev like any other job — if no one thinks it’s a priority they’re bound to distract you with something else. I try to fit in large chunks of time when I can so if I have to miss a day here and there it doesn’t jam up the production schedule.

TD: What is your go-to soundtrack when you need to focus and push through a tough project?

CH: Something hard and fast. I’ll usually gravitate towards something like Queens of the Stone Age, Fair to Midland, or Death From Above 1979. I have no idea why that works for me but it does!

DT: I’ll usually listen to music that’s somewhat-related to the work at hand. For Hastilude it has mostly been the game soundtrack for Unreal.

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Chris and Dustin try to make their games accessible to as many people as possible by releasing on as many platforms as they can and making sure there are lots of playability options. They’re currently looking to bring Hastilude to Steam and consoles sometime this year or early 2018.

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Holly Quinn

Holly Quinn is Technical.ly Delaware's Lead Reporter. The longtime Delaware-based freelance journalist has written for the News Journal as well as national publications. You can find her on LinkedIn here.

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