Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Chaser Tracer’s Adam Zerlin (Co-Founder) and Masaki Pierce (Co-Founder), who detail the game’s development cycle and so much more.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Chaser Tracer born?
ADAM: We grew up in the ‘80s and have very fond memories of that era, so we’d been itching to make a game rooted in that period. Once we determined the gameplay, we knew it would fit well with the retro-synthwave style you see everywhere today!
MASAKI: Both being sentimentalists, we’d often talk about games we’d played growing up – and these conversations would often serve as a source of inspiration. We started riffing off of one early childhood game, Duck Duck Goose – where you had to reach a goal before getting caught. Seeing as though we’re both children of the 80’s, having that retro 80’s vibe to the game just made sense.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
ADAM: Both Masaki and I wore many hats throughout development. Masaki did an amazing job with the original soundtrack, all of the sound effects, and some of the programming and art. We have friends who regularly listen to the soundtrack while they work, which is pretty cool! I did most of the programming – so if something doesn’t work right, it’s probably my fault.
MASAKI: Being a two-person indie studio, we’ve definitely had to juggle multiple roles. Adam masterfully handled the lion’s share of the programming, while I took on the music and sound effects. In addition to the core gameplay, Adam also did an absolutely incredible job putting together the different biomes, Oblivion Orb, and shape effects.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
ADAM: Creating Chaser Tracer was a huge learning experience for us. We had a lot of fun making it, but there were certainly challenges (e.g., ensuring that it worked well on both iOS and Android). We love making games – and we’re super proud of what Chaser Tracer has become in the end. We’re beyond thrilled to know that others are enjoying our game!
MASAKI: It’s been an absolute blast! I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to learn and create together. On more of a personal level, I’ve wanted to compose a concept album for the longest time. Being able to do this during development was a dream come true.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes Chaser Tracer special?
ADAM: There are so many great games out there made by those who are far more talented than us, so it’s hard to say what’s so special about our game. I think it may be one of the few games that really focuses on turning one of the many ‘80s retro wallpapers and art you see online into something real and tangible that you can immerse yourself in.
MASAKI: I think it’s the sights and sounds of the game. The neon glow, the synth riffs – all of it comes together really well!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
ADAM: There wasn’t anyone game that we looked to for inspiration. It was mostly our own memories of the era and the nostalgia we have for the ‘80s.
MASAKI: For me, the major influences and sources of inspiration came from other synthwave artists like Mitch Murder, Futurecop!, and Miami Nights 1984.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
ADAM: I think getting a request to be interviewed by you counts! Seeing the positive feedback on social media as we were making the game is really mind boggling to me. But I think my favorite moment during development was when my then four-year-old daughter burst into my office one day to tell me about a bug in the game. I had to fix it “now” so she could keep playing 🙂
MASAKI: Some of my favorite moments during development were having dance parties with my kids after mixing down a new Chaser Tracer track.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
ADAM: If you’re going to simultaneously launch on two platforms, definitely set aside a lot of extra time in your schedule! You need to sort out the various issues that could arise – or get someone to help you. In hindsight, we probably spent more time than we should have in the lead up to launch – making sure that the game worked well on both iOS and Android. Luckily, we learned a lot from the experience and can apply that to our next game!
MASAKI: This was probably due to our lack of experience making games – but I’d say that if we thought something would take one day, it would end up taking two. This was because we just didn’t know what questions to ask ourselves at certain points. But we got better and better with every iteration – always striving to improve.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
ADAM: Absolutely. I think that the limits developers had to work with in the past forced them to make some very creative decisions and solve problems in ways you just wouldn’t have to worry about today. Sometimes having limits will help you in the creative design process. We don’t have those same limits today, so I hope we continue to see game developers and designers utilize older gameplay mechanics in their games – even with current graphics.
MASAKI: Yes, definitely. These older games are like a microcosm of a bygone era – and for someone like me, it’s a way to reconnect with my childhood. Now that I have kids of my own, it’s such a great way to connect with them as they experience the same things I did as a kid.
Old School Gamer Magazine: The marketplace is crowded. How do you think you stand out?
ADAM: I don’t think there are too many games that focus on the synthwave experience and try to turn familiar ‘80s retro visuals into something real.
MASAKI: The gameplay itself is a pretty simple concept, but the sights and sounds of Chaser Tracer really make it stand out.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How have your previous experiences in industry helped this game?
ADAM: We have a lot of experience outside of the game industry, but we’re relatively new as game creators. We’ve spent years building games for ourselves but never releasing them until we finally decided to share our games with the world. I hope to continue to learn and just have fun doing what we love to do!
MASAKI: The game industry is very much uncharted territory for us. This stop in our journey was certainly filled with opportunities to learn new things and solve new problems!
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Chaser Tracer to ultimately be remembered?
ADAM: I hope somebody out there has fun playing our game and enjoys listening to the amazing music Masaki composed. Knowing that people enjoy something we created is so incredibly cool.
MASAKI: I would love for it to be remembered as the first of many great games created by Adki Works!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
ADAM: We’re working on updates to Chaser Tracer based on feedback we’ve received from players so far. We’re also currently working on an endless 2.5D space exploration game called Cosmo Leap – and a 2D top-down dogfighting game heavily inspired by old genre classics with a unique spin.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
ADAM: We would love to hear from people who have played our game! Please contact us at email@example.com or check us out on Twitter @ChaserTracer. We are always looking for ways to make Chaser Tracer better.