How do you become a game developer? Where do the ideas come from, and how do they become complete, playable games for millions of people to enjoy? We sat down with Slime Lab creator Gionathan Pesaresi to find out.
Slime Lab 2 has been one of the most popular games on Miniclip this year, a puzzle platformer with the goal of guiding the eponymous Slime to safety, and it’s easy to see why: as well as challenging puzzles and hidden secrets, the simple act of moving Slime himself is a joy. Your blob of green goo flows and ripples as you slide, jump and squeeze him through the levels, googly eyes slipping about his body as you do so.
It wasn’t until Pesaresi was happy with the gloopy physics of his blob character that he actually came up with a game idea to fit around it: the character came before the game. He started out by drawing sketches and ideas in elementary school, before progressing into creating simple games. Even today, he spends a lot of his free time drawing and collecting cool toys – if he wasn’t a game developer, he confesses that he’d love to be a toy designer – and also hiking, explaining that the air helps to put him in a creative mood. His gaming roots come from playing C64 and DOS games in his youth, as well as coin-op arcade titles.
“My favourite games were graphic adventures like Monkey Island – although I also played a lot of Pokémon Red and Blue on my Game Boy.”
“At that time, my favourites were graphic adventures like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle – although I also enjoyed playing a lot of Pokémon Red and Blue on my Game Boy.” Who didn’t? He does point out, however, that none of these titles had a direct influence on Slime Lab. Which begs the question, what did?
“Making a game where you take control of a blob has been in my mind since I played the original LocoRoco”, says Pesaresi, referring to the 2006 PSP platformer. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that Slime Laboratory appeared on Miniclip. “There were many failed tests while I was learning how to program,” he admits, “but after I started working on videogames full time, I spent a couple of weeks experimenting with the physics engine and eventually got a nice blob effect. After that I came up with the game idea and the genre.”
Ah, so was Slime Lab a collaborative process, or does he prefer to develop games from start to finish, from initial concept through to completion? “I think both ways are good,” he says. “In some cases it’s good to follow the idea of one individual if they have a strong game vision. In others it’s good to brainstorm with a team, and shape the game according to input from different people.” When pushed, he confesses his belief that the “visionary individual” approach – the Molyneux approach, if you will – is “more difficult to handle, but might eventually lead to a greater game”.
“My ambition is to create games that you become attached to… like when you remember a nice holiday you had in the past.”
Does he think that some games don’t live up to that criteria? “Maybe the average cheap mobile game”, he says, mentioning no names…. “I’m proud of Slime Lab 2 – proud of the way I learned from the feedback I got from people who played the original.”
So can we expect a Slime Lab 3? And if so, are there any new things he’d consider adding into the game? “Slime Lab 3 would be very cool!” he says. “It would be fun to add new power-ups and special skills to Slime. I haven’t planned anything yet though.” Apparently, he’s spending his time working on “an exciting new browser game” – although it’s clearly top secret stuff as that was the only information he’d divulge at this stage. Looks like we’ll have to wait for more news from our partner in Slime…
Like the look of Slime Lab 2? Play the game here, or check out one of our gameplay videos!