A Fast and Fancy Dev Q&A with Brad Borne
Super Fancy Pants Adventure, previously released on Steam, is now available on iOS devices! We sat down with the series' creator, Brad Borne, to talk about all things fancy.
KONG: You have been independently developing games for over a decade; what benefits and disadvantages come with being your own boss and team?
Brad Borne: I enjoy being able to work on my own time, but it’s hard for me to ever really completely turn off and not feel like I should be fixing/adding/improving something. Left unchecked, I tend to focus on very small issues that aren’t exactly high priority, but give me the greatest sense of satisfaction and ownership of my games.
KONG: If you could go back and give yourself some game development advice a decade ago, what would it be?
Brad: Make games quicker, ugh; years in between online releases is kind of silly. I probably would have told myself to follow trends more closely, design around Facebook games, site retention, mobile and touch screen... Though I probably would have just called my future self a sellout and ignored him, er, me.
KONG: What about developing games is most fun to you? What do you think your biggest game dev achievement has been so far?
Brad: Bringing a character to life, giving a silly little stick figure personality and motivation, and have that play out through the player’s control of him. It’s an extension of the flipbooks and animations I made before I made games. The interactive element of video games just makes animating a character to life infinitely more compelling to me.
SFPA seems like such a cop-out since it’s the latest release, but it's such a culmination of everything I’ve learned so far as a developer, and most importantly begins a new story for Fancy Pants Man that really shakes things up.
KONG: You’ve developed several Fancy Pants titles; how have you managed to keep the Fancy Pants saga fresh for over a decade?
Brad: Put simply, I think each is just that much better than the previous. SFPA is different in that it’s more back to the basics than the last, and focusing more on movement, and setting constraints for myself (like no new features that didn’t build on the core of the game) was a fun challenge.
KONG: What games or ideas inspired the original Fancy Pants Adventure? How did development on the game first start?
Brad: Animating a stick figure! That was it, really. There was an animation, then there was some code, then some ground, and a laser focus on how it felt to simply move that stick figure back and forth on the screen. The look was inspired by the many many stick fighting animations online, especially the very scribbly ones. I just thought that running around sketchy blobs of ground sounded fun.
KONG: John wants to know, “How are you not bored of making this game for 11 years?” What is it about the Fancy Pants series that still inspires you?
Brad: 'Cause people still enjoy the series, John, sheesh. I just always feel like I can do better after a release, and actually earn the gobs of love I get from players online.
KONG: Since there are no distinct facial features, what animations or features were important to develop in order to emulate emotions and action?
Brad: Intention, or effort, is the best way to describe it. FPM needs to mirror the player’s intention, and balance showing the effort of meeting a player's expectation, and making the movement look cool and effortless, which is actually really difficult to do... How should I put it... There’s a sort of ebb and flow of effort and effortlessness as you flow through a level, and when the animations are in tune with the player’s control, things just feel right.
KONG: Were there any other aspects of SFPA’s design that you found particularly challenging or rewarding?
Brad: Keeping things simple is always difficult for me. There’s always a point when you get tired of playing your own game and you want to add something new to spice it up again. Luckily, this game is so much longer than all the others that I could drip-feed new mechanics without cluttering things up.
I’m really proud of how difficult the challenges can get, without ruining the game for new players. It’s wonderful watching a first-time player learn the mechanics of the game and eventually beat a tough challenge without becoming too frustrated.
KONG: Fancy Pants is a Kongregate community favorite. Many fans around the world grew up playing your games. How does community affect your games and their development?
Brad: Fancy Pants Man finally got a gun! Or is that spoilers... I love keeping up with feedback and posting videos during development. There’s quite a bit in this game that fans have been asking for for some time; it was torture keeping things secret before launch!
More seriously, there’s no way I would have taken development seriously without the amazing response from fans. Giving people something that they actually enjoy playing is just downright addicting; I always want to make the next game that much better.
KONG: What challenges have you experienced as you port Super Fancy Pants Adventure to other platforms?
Brad: I’m particularly proud of how well it controls on a touch screen; I’m really looking forward to hearing what players think once SFPA is out on mobile.
The movement, animation, physics, shape of the ground, everything about the game is extremely hand-tuned; I don’t know if there’s any other game that ties animation and movement physics so closely together. That makes porting deceptively complicated, but hey...
KONG: Now that Super Fancy Pants Adventure is on Steam, what is next for Borne Games?
Brad: Mobile version! Then all the other versions! You get SFPA, and you get SFPA, and YOU get SFPA, mwahahaha! I’ll be adding new levels and modes to the game to have a bit of fun (Fancy Sports, yay!), and then, hey, on to World 5!