This SAGE ‘22 Interview is an interview between I (Rummy) and Tpot. Tpot has been a part of SFGHQ for a very long time, having worked on many fan game projects. In the past few years he ventured out of the fan game scene and released his first commercial title called Teabat! Between his creative mind and introspective personality, I have interviewed him today to gain a bit of insight into his current mindset going towards his new project, Stellanova (of which a Demo is available right now during this SAGE!) With that, let’s start the interview!


Rummy: Hey Tpot! it's been awhile since we (SFGHQ/SAGE) have interviewed you, was it back in 2019 or something?

Tpot: It has been awhile! I think so, sounds about right. It would’ve been around the release of the Teabat! Christmas demo! which I believe was at the end of 2019.

Rummy: Right on, so what have you been up to since then?
Tpot: Oh, a lot has happened since then haha After several more demos of Teabat! and grinding away at it over the course of the next couple years, I finally released the full first episode on Steam earlier this year in March. It was absolutely a huge milestone for me, because I had never finished a commercial project or released a game on a digital storefront before, and having to figure that out mostly on my own was admittedly very scary. I made my fair share of beginners' mistakes, but I really learned a lot through the process.


(Barrel O' Fun until you get hurt!)
Rummy: Honestly I had a lot of fun helping you out with Teabat's Media around then, I think you handled yourself just fine really.

Tpot: Oh, thank you! I am tremendously grateful too, the Teabat trailers you made were phenomenal, and there is really no way I could have done anything like that. I have basically no experience with video editing or 3D modeling, and so you really saved me there. (Laughs)


(Bark BARK!)
Tpot (Continuing): Since then I've been working on a horizontal shooter called Stellanova, which I'm extremely excited about! Having learned so much with Teabat, I've been able to accomplish a lot more with it in a much shorter time frame. And it will also have a demo at SAGE 2022 next month!

Sidenote: This interview was conducted on August 7th, 2022


Rummy: So as for Stellanova, that's your new project? What sorts of inspirations have you had that led to its creation?

Tpot: I think it's actually an interesting story. Just before Teabat launched I was brainstorming ideas for my next project, I had a few in mind but I was very much concerned Teabat's sales wouldn't provide enough funding for large scale projects and that I'd have to scale my ambitious down quite a lot to make a game I could handle almost exclusively on my own. I was struggling to come up with a game idea that fit that criteria, be fun to make and be interesting to a wide enough audience to pay for itself.

Tpot (Continuing): At the same time I started playing several 16-bit games I hadn't experienced before, and one that really stood out to me was Thunder Force IV. I never really got into shoot-em-ups but there was something unique about that game that I really enjoyed. At the same time, there was still a lot I still wish I could do. Fire backwards, dash across the vertical space, swerve around and between enemies, and though I know it's a staple of the genre, I found myself a bit disappointed with how little inertia the ship had. I really wanted to feel like I was piloting a ship, laying out an attack, swerving in and between enemies and hazards at high speeds!


(Totally didn't steal this from Wikipedia -Rummy)
Tpot (Continuing): Then I realized I could just, make exactly that, I could take inspiration from what I loved about that game, and make something new that also fills in what I wanted from it which would scratch that itch and solve the main problem I was facing. That format was something that I knew I could handle, it's a perfect compliment to what I'm best at, and what I enjoy working on the most. But it was also exciting that as far as I was aware, what I wanted to make hadn't really been done for shmups before, and so I had the chance to experiment and cross elements from other genres a little bit. I just really hope that I'm not committing shoot-em-up sacrilege! (Laughs)


(Even underwater, there's hazards to be had.)
Tpot (Continuing): I promise I just want to make a fun game, and I hope that people will enjoy it for the same reasons I made it. From there the ideas just started flooding in, a lot of my favorite films tie in a lot to the initial concept I came up with, and also in part because I felt free not having to design under the hardware limitations of an 8-bit handheld anymore.

Rummy: As someone who barely plays shoot-em-ups, having tried Stellanova, I quite liked what you had going for here. It shows that you often really think about the aspects of games more broadly rather than in a linear sense.

Tpot: Although I'm trying to play and study them now that I'm working on one, I honestly haven't played many shoot-em-ups either! But I’m very glad to hear that. Thank you! (Laughs)


(Press B for Massive Damage.)​

Tpot (Continuing): For better or worse, I do like to think of game development sort of from the ground up, it's often less for me about what games I enjoy and more about when I pick up a controller, what do I wish I could do or experience that I can't already? Even if it's just the small things!

Rummy: Besides that, have you run into any hurdles as you started Stellanova's development? anything you needed to define or adjust from the specifications of the original documents already?

Tpot: Though it's still only the first 5 months of development, thankfully it has been pretty smooth sailing so far. I haven't had to change much, but the game plan is also very loose and a lot is still definitely subject to change. I did have to scrap some things for the demo specifically for time like the third act boss and some additional set-pieces, but there is always time to add those later. Lack of funds is still an issue, I can't afford to risk being fully confident that people would be interested in it, so I have actually multiple design plans as I decided to focus my efforts on making a demo first to gauge interest, then decide how much to invest in it and where to go with it based on that reception.


(Boost to reflect the debris back to the Hydro Scorpion!)
Rummy: Well, for anyone reading this, I would highly recommend giving the demo the time of day, it might strike your fancy or be a new game to wait on. But besides that. Would there be anything you have to say to the people? any teachings or wisdom to partake?

Tpot: Thank you very much for the recommendation! I really hope people have a great time with it, but I'm also really interested to hear what people think about it overall either way. So far the reception has been surprisingly overwhelmingly positive but, you really never know until people have the game in their hands whether or not they think it's any good. I've already got my pen and pad on hand and ready to take notes.

Rummy: HOLD ON! One more question Tpot! Have you been sleeping well..? I do hope you’ve been holding out as a programmer.

Tpot: (Laughs) I greatly appreciate the Sonic CD reference. Not particularly well, especially just before releasing a demo but I try! It's the nature of the game development beast.


(Sleep well!)

Game Development is a beast alright, that was Tpot! I hope you all enjoyed reading this and gained some insight into the mind of this varied developer. Below we will have his twitter, a link to his game Teabat! And a direct link to the SAGE 2022 Stellanova demo. Check it out!


Tpot's Twitter
Stellanova SAGE '22 DEMO!
Teabat!'s Twitter