We made a short interview with two people working under the name Ska Studios. Their last game, Salt and Sanctuary, reminds on and draws the inspiration from Dark Souls series.
FFA: Please, introduce yourselves to our readers. Who stands behind Ska Studios?
Hello! We’re Michelle and James Silva and we are the entire development team behind Ska Studios. Between the two of us, Michelle is an artist and also handles things like press, marketing and community. James is the programmer and also does music and art.
FFA: What does your daily routine looks like?
It depends on the day and what is currently going on but during development, we wake up and immediately start working and then work until night. Most of the day we quietly work on whatever we feel like for the day with occasionally talking out ideas and working together to implement new things. During the final crunch hours of the game, it is all bug fixing and not much creative freedom. Bug crunching is easily the hardest and most stressful part of game development for us.
FFA: How hard is it to survive being a part of the gaming industry? Can you tell us something about the competition in the indies sphere?
We’ve had an OK time at it but we consider ourselves pretty lucky. Ever since our first game, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, we’ve been able to continue supporting ourselves from the revenue from all of our older games. The company is only the two of us so we only have our own expense to worry about. We also live pretty meagerly, which keeps the company floating during years we aren’t releasing a game. We don’t personally notice any competition between us and other indies. If it’s there, we don’t notice it or pay it much mind. We fully support other indie studios.
FFA: Did you have any offers to work for AAA game developers? Did you refuse it and why? Would you even want to work with such developers?
We’ve talked a few times with other companies looking to hire us to develop a game but so far, nothing has panned out. We wouldn’t be against doing something like this if the right project came along. It might prove challenging to have to work under the constraints of another company. We work pretty freely and loosely so working under time constraints may break our process.
FFA: It is clear that you are fans of “Souls” games and its influence can be clearly seen in your latest game, Salt and Sanctuary. What’s so fascinating about that world? Why did you choose it to make your own game?
We love how dangerous souls-likes feel. So many games today hold your hand and never feel like you’re risking anything. We like the adrenaline rush and the feeling that you have truly accomplished something by overcoming a great challenge. The souls series have very interesting mechanics that are fascinating to a developer and it’s very fun playing with those systems to create our own systems and game.
FFA: Majority of the elements in Salt and Sanctuary is borrowed from the games that you like and adore. That can be perceived as making some kind of a tribute, but it can also be perceived as plagiarism. Can you comment this statement?
Well, we’ve said it a few times before: we don’t believe as many people would have been drawn to our game if it wasn’t for the souls-like elements. It’s not why we made the game but it’s an added bonus. We set out to make a love letter to these types of games and I feel we succeeded in doing so while still keeping it our own game. Playing our older games, it’s easy to see and feel just how much this game is still our own.
FFA: This is the first game that you have developed for Sony’s consoles (and PC). Your previous games were exclusive for Xbox. Was there any significant difference in working for a different employer? Who did you prefer and why?
We are still independent and work for ourselves. Xbox and PlayStation are just the platforms. Most of the difference came in changing from first party publishing, the way we worked with Microsoft, to self publishing on PS4. Xbox previously handled duties like marketing, localization and QA. This time around, we had to do all of the QA and release duties ourselves. In terms of marketing, Sony has been amazing at promoting our game even without being first party published. We liked working with Xbox in the past but we also really have liked working with Sony on this game. There are business differences for sure and we have felt like we are treated very well by Sony in this new generation.
FFA: Salt and Sanctuary is not your first try to make a “tribute”. Can we expect something original in the future? What are your plans for the next video game that will be developed by Ska Studios?
We still need to get our older games on Steam and after that we will continue to support Salt and Sanctuary as it needs. After that, it’s too early to say but if we do start working on a sequel to S&S, we have plans to make it much more of our own game. Only time will tell if fans will support these changes though at the end of the day, we make the games we want to play and hope others enjoy them, too.