By day, Peter Lazarski is the Lead Artist for Bread Machine Games, and one of the co-creators of Deathstate. But by night, he transforms into the solo creative voice behind Halloween Forever, a spooky side-scrolling platformer that stars the candy corn-spewing Pumpkin Man.
Because it’s All Hallows Eve… uh, Eve… I braved the things that go bump in the night to put the “Spotlight On” Peter, and talk a little bit about Halloween Forever, which is now available to download through Steam.
Something mysterious is happening in the pumpkin patch this Halloween! You control Pumpkin Man, a humanoid pumpkin thing animated by occult forces on a quest to discover why things are so creepy. And you vomit candy corn.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: How did you get your start developing games in Rochester?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Joining Workinman in 2010 was the real beginning for me. Working on games and being around games daily was great for being able to dig deep and learn by our estimation what makes things fun and worth playing. Then in 2014, I started working on Halloween Forever and teaching myself programming in GameMaker from the ground up. It’s very fulfilling to come up with an idea for something I want to make and play and then go about executing it.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: How would you describe Halloween Forever to someone who’s never seen it?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Halloween Forever is a retro-inspired spooky platformer love letter to all things Halloween. You play as Pumpkin Man and get to vomit candy corn on your enemies.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: When I look at Halloween Forever, it brings back fond memories of 1989’s Monster Party for me. Was that NES cult classic an inspiration for your game at all?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Monster Party was definitely an influence! Pumpkin Man, Ms. Witch, and A Skeleton are inspired by the three Halloween masks in Halloween III: Season of the Witch. There’s little bits of Jason Voorhees in the big and little chainsaw maniacs too.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: How different is creating a game on your own versus working with the team at Bread Machine?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: More recently at work we’ve kicked off a new in house indie effort in the form of Bread Machine. We have an awesome team and can really accomplish a lot working on new indie titles. It’s nice to be able to be self reliant but also nice to have the help of others. Halloween Forever featured music made by Rob Mostyn and also the combined effort and support of a solid testing community, plus my friends and family. When a project is mostly just me, I have to keep the scope narrower and the games are relatively small. The kind of work we can do on Bread Machine games has the potential to create some exciting and substantial new titles.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: What part of Halloween Forever are you most proud of?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. That it exists at all? That feels quite nice. Of any single portion of content I think I’m most happy with how the different bosses turned out. Creating boss designs and giving them challenging spaces to dwell in is very fulfilling work for me.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: Are you happy with the response that Halloween Forever has received from gamers?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Very happy. The Imaginary Monsters Twitch community has been great and very helpful along the way. Everybody on Steam playing the game and providing feedback has been awesome too. It makes me very excited to keep making new games and hopefully add on to what we’ve started to create as a community around Halloween Forever.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: You regularly give fans a “behind-the-scenes” look at your development process on Twitch. What do you like most about showing off your work like that?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Twitch is great for building communities. Also, as a wide open venue for mentorship and just keeping touch with friends around the world. I love being able to help people interested in doing pixel art find some good first resources to help them get started. Also, I get to enjoy a lot of assistance from more experienced programmers who are very generous in helping me work through some challenges I might come to in programming. The Twitch community is usually the first place I get to show new work and talk about what new things are coming down the pipeline. I get a lot out of being able to just talk with people and have conversations while working.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: Do you have any advice for other developers working in Rochester?
Peter Lazarski, Imaginary Monsters: Start something manageable you can finish. Even if it’s a small couple day jam project, like a Ludum Dare or other jam game. Derek Yu talks some about how finishing a game is a different skill than starting or making content and how it needs to be practiced. You can read more directly from him in his Spelunky book out from Boss Fight Books. Also, share progress on what you’re doing. Show it off before you think it’s ready. Be in the habit of talking to other people about what your game is, what it does, what it means.
And come to ROC Game Dev meetups! We meet a few times monthly to get together and talk / do workshops about game development.
John, ROC Game Fest Organizer: Thanks so much, Peter. Have a Happy Halloween!
If you’re a game developer in Rochester and would like to talk about your game in a future edition of “Spotlight On,” please get in touch with John through our Contact Form.