Miniclip Interview: Zombinsanity creator Jay Armstrong

We sat down to talk game development, art and surfing with Jay Armstrong, creator of Zombinsanity as well as Miniclip favourites Rocket Pets and Bearbarians.

You say on your site that you started making games by accident. Could you tell us a little more about this? What did you learn from creating your first game? Was it a lot harder than you thought it’d be?

Before I made games I was in a band for about 5 years, but when it broke up I went from having this exciting, life-consuming commitment to nothing. I decided to get back into drawing and animation and due to the ease of combining animation and basic coding in Adobe Flash, this casual pastime soon snowballed into an ambition to create a full game!

“It’s fun to have bright cute things running around shooting each other.”

There was joy for me in conquering technical challenges and a real curiosity sparked in me. What I didn’t expect was the sheer volume of work that is required to make even a simple game. I would say though, that if you love what you do and are dedicated to finishing it, even people who have never done it before can create great things!

You’ve spent time as an artist, a musician, and you’ve designed tattoos and clothing – where did all this creativity start?

The earliest creative thing I can remember was when I was still in Primary School. My friends and I would draw our own cartoon strips. We all came up with our own characters and wrote stories for them. Then as I got older I discovered music and from the age of 13 to 24 I was at all times in at least one band! Being in a band taught me the importance of teamwork and the most important thing of all; that a good idea is worth nothing until you put in the hard work to make it become real. Ultimately, everything is in the execution.

Your games have a very distinctive art style – lots of color and expression to the characters and environments. Was this style inspired by anything in particular?

I’m a huge fan of artists like Dan Paladin and Jimp. I love the bright and cute colorful art style of those guys. Everything they draw is full of vibrancy and excitement. One of the reasons I think it appeals so much is that the juxtaposition inherent in cartoon violence is just innately funny. Its just really fun to have big bright cute things running around shooting each other – that’s just science and you can’t argue with science.

We’ve all been looking forward to Zombinsanity landing on Miniclip – what are you working on next? Could you tell us a bit about it?

I’ve got a load of different projects at the moment! I’ve just recently released a game called Epic Time Pirates. In it you take on the role of a captain of a time ship and have to plunder and do battle across the space-time continuum.

What are the best and worst things about being an indie game developer?

The best thing about being an indie game developer is that you get to be an indie game developer! I feel so lucky that I get to wake up every day and be a full time creative and have my work reach millions of people! I love coming up with ideas and seeing them come to life – and I love seeing how people react to them. Its such a thrill to get that spark of inspiration and then through hard work see it come to life on awesome website like Miniclip!

The only downside is the insecurity. While you get to choose your own hours, there is no guarantee that a game will be successful. It can be scary when no one owes you a living!

Are there any other developers or development studios that you particularly admire?

Yes, definitely. I’m a huge fan of Juicy Beast, Pestoforce, Toge productions, Jimp, ChrisJeff, Joey Betz, Con Artist games and Bad Viking. They all create awesome games and I’ve been lucky enough to get to know most of them as well – so I guess you could say I am biased!

“I love coming up with ideas and seeing them come to life, and how people react to them.”

If time and money was no option, what would be your dream game? What would the setting be, what would it involve?

I’d love to make an online multiplayer Bearbarians. It would feature leagues, teams and championships – like a proper sport! It would be great to be able to hire people to help make the multiplayer aspect of it possible and to spend long enough on it to get it absolutely perfect. And of course… Oculus Rift support!

Have you ever looked at another game and thought, “dang, I wish I’d thought of that!”?

That is my reaction to basically every game that wasn’t made by me.

We’ve just had GDC in San Francisco, and one of the things that got a lot of press was virtual reality: Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. Do you think VR will gain mass appeal or end up like the Nintendo Power Glove?

I really hope the Oculus Rift takes off, I was absolutely blown away the first time I used one. I think the levels of immersion it can create when used well are absolutely staggering. I don’t know if VR will change everything, but it will definitely open up a new field for developers to create amazing experiences. I don’t think we’ve got another Nintendo Power Glove on our hands! (Pardon the pun…)

If you could do any job in the world (besides game development), what would it be and why?

I think I’d like to do something exciting and active. Something really different to game development, so maybe a professional surfer where you can go to the beach all day – and get paid for it!

Thanks for your time, Jay – we’re all enjoying playing Zombinsanity and we look forward to seeing your other games in future!

We also recorded a video interview with Jay, talking about Zombinsanity and game development – check it out below or play Zombinsanity now on Miniclip!