Tommy Refenes

Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 05, 2015

Discussion

Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
Hi! I'm Tommy Refenes. You might know my name from Super Meat Boy or Indie Game: The Movie. I'm pretty decent at design, writing, and programming, I'm terrible at art and I work constantly. I have diabetes, a wife and a cat and I hate the phrase "no worries" when it's used out of context...like when you're at Starbucks and they hand you your coffee and you say "Thank you" and they go "No Worries". That irritates me.
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's been the biggest struggle for you, creatively, since your success after SMB?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@jakecrump The biggest struggle is finding my place. Edmund went and carved out his own career after Super Meat Boy...meanwhile I was making all the tools and stuff for our new games. I think I have a handle on it now...I'm doing my own stuff which I'm finding very rewarding.
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
I think that's about it for this AMA thingie. I want to thank everyone for asking me questions. This was a lot of fun and I hope it wasn't a super waste of time for everyone:)
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes It was awesome dude! Thanks for your time.
SeaBass@murder_punch
Would you ever consider doing a contest where you and a fan do a weekend game jam? Or given that you are looking for an artist, would you consider doing a weekend game jam as a trial to see if the artist has grit?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@murder_punch A gamejam trial might be a little much on me. I think I would do something more along the lines of "Here's a paragraph I wrote from a story for this game I want you to art from, draw this how you see it". If I like what I see, hired, if not, not hired!
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes @murder_punch Sounds pretty fair!
Aaron Silverberg@bashabookoos
@tommyrefenes @murder_punch That's sound cool, I would love to give that a shot! Do you have a paragraph of story ready or are you waiting to find an artist until later?
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
Hey man, thanks for joining! Few questions for ya: 1) It seemed like Mew-Genics was making some good progress. Any reason it took a backburner? 2) Any juicy Super Meat Boy Forever news you can share? 3) What's your take on mobile games today? F2P cesspit or filled with diamonds in the rough?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@russfrushtick 1. MewGenics might have seemed like it was making good progress, but it wasn't. The design got away from us and it got to a point about 2 years in where it looked like there was no end in sight. One day it will be re-designed and put out, but I think that's a ways off. 2. I wish I had some, but unfortunately nothing new to share. 3. Mobile games are no different than AAA or Indie games. There are good and bad. I enjoyed Crossy Road...hell I even enjoyed Candy Crush before it became too painful to wait for lives to continue playing. I don't think a platform determines if a game is good or not, I think the designers do.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What's your take on the current state of indie games?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@ems_hodge I don't really follow "indie" games. I follow good games. In that respect, I think there are tons of good games out there today:)
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes Thanks for doing this! At what point did you and Edmund decide to quit your day jobs and go full time on Meat Boy? And what were you doing prior to being a full time Indie dev?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@murder_punch Neither one of us had day jobs when we started SMB. I was already living off contract work and savings from my previous job and he was doing flash games here and there. Before I worked on Meat Boy, I was working on a game with a friend that didn't turn out so great...it wasn't something I wanted to do. Before that, I was working an industry job in Amsterdam for a fucking shitty company.
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes @murder_punch Thank you for the response.
SeaBass@murder_punch
Hi Tommy! How much do you think IGTM benefited from Meat Boy sales-wise and how much do you guys think Meat Boy benefited sales-wise from IGTM?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@murder_punch I don't know how much. We did see an uptick in sales when the movie released. I don't think IGTM benefited from having Super Meat Boy in it...the merits of that film are in it's composition, directing and editing and not in Meat Boy. They could have done that movie in that style with any indie story and I think it would have been just as successful and important. They are masters at their craft.
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes @murder_punch Thanks for the response. And while it's nice to see such a humble answer, I'm sure that you added much more to IGTM than you realize, if even indirectly! Can't wait for your lecture at HandMadeCon!
@lelac8@lelac8
@tommyrefenes Do you like Migos and Young Thug?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@lelac8 Not sure who that is...they sound like rappers and I adore rap.
Denton.@drstinkbomber
@tommyrefenes How far along is your metroidvania game, will we expect it earlyish next year?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@drstinkbomber Map generation is a big deal. I can't just throw a bunch of rooms together randomly and expect it to make any sense or be fun. That's what I'm working on right now and I feel like I will be done with the map generation by the end of the year. At that point, then I just finish designing enemies, grab an artist and a sound guy and go to town. My goal is to have it out before 2017.
codythedragondude@realdragondude
@tommyrefenes ok now a serious question whens the next walking in video games marathon happening?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@realdragondude Currently our house is being renovated and we are living in the half of the house without a kitchen, dining, and living room. Once the renovation is done, I really want to do another walk across the map charity because I love doing them and there are so many new open world games I want to walk across. I would guess sometime early 2016
Aaron Gutierrez@argutierrez92
@tommyrefenes I was surprised to see you on the speaker list for Handmade Con. Have you been following Handmade Hero? If so what's your take on Casey's education of low level programming? What else can the community do to get more people interested in building their own game engines?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@argutierrez92 I haven't been following it very close. His videos and streams are super interesting and very distracting while I work so I tend not to watch them. I'm unsure of his view on education of low level programming, but I tend to think he's pro-education in order to make people better programmers which I very much agree with. You shouldn't build your own engine unless you REALLY REALLY want to. There's no reason to unless that's who you are. It isn't required for making a game, its just something you do. Like, you build a house if you have an interest in building a house, otherwise you buy one:)
Andrew Gorgol@andthegargoyle · Aspiring Game Dev
@tommyrefenes How do you feel knowing that your appearance in Indie Game: The Movie has helped inspire many people to pursue their dreams of making video games? And what advice could you give to anyone who is starting to make games?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@andthegargoyle It's strange to me. On the one hand I get it, but on the other I can't really process it yet. As far as starting out, be honest with yourself and don't get frustrated. Games take time...LOTS AND LOTS of time. When you're just starting out it can get frustrating when you work long hours and have nothing to show for it. Just realize that's normal and keep on doing.
SeaBass@murder_punch
@andthegargoyle I have to second the sentiment here. If it weren't for IGTM and specifically the Tommy/Edmund Meat Boy portions, I wouldn't be building games today.
Aaron@thoughtbacon · Software Engineer
Hi Tommy, another question! I'll be seeing you talk at HandmadeCon in December. Are you going to be sticking around after your time with Casey or do you plan to leave after? Do you know plan/expect to sign any autographs or take pictures with anyone?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@thoughtbacon Whenever I'm around those types of things I feel it's my obligation to stick around and say hi to people. I don't mind it and it seems to make people happy...so yes, I'll be around afterward to talk, take pictures, blah blah blah. Don't hug me or anything though, people tend to be sweaty at cons.
JJ@outdreamer · Web Developer/Writer/Idea-generator
Do you think video games could be used to determine the next president, & if so who do you think would be best at shooter games? I'm thinking there would be obstacles in the game like, 'defend your platform', 'dodge that leading question', 'display support of an organization without betraying funding sources', 'high-five/fist-bump that voter', 'critique your opponent's platform without using fallacious arguments', 'appeal to notorious unpolitical techies', etc.
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@outdreamer I certainly hope not. The last thing I want is Fatal1ty as president.
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
[Moved to JJ / @outdreamers question]
SeaBass@murder_punch
One more for you if you have the time. When you formed Team Meat on a tight budget, how did you go about doing that? And how has the business infrastructure changed at Team Meat post Meat Boy becoming a huge success? I'd like to build the business stuff at my company in a way that scales so I can focus on game art and stop putting so much damn time into the business stuff. I guess the short way to ask is how do you juggle/split your time between "business time" and "development time"?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@murder_punch I just did it through legal zoom when starting out. The structure hasn't changed really since there have been no additional employees. If you are building a business you wish to control and grow, make sure your operating agreements allow for that. 50/50 might seem fair, but inevitably someone is going to be doing more work than the other with a small business so keep that in mind.
SeaBass@murder_punch
@tommyrefenes @murder_punch Yeah I structured it all as contracted revenue share on a project to project basis so I wouldn't have to give up shares in the company itself. Thanks again for the response!
Yung Samwich@yungsamwich
@tommyrefenes Hi Tommy! What's your thought process when you start to program the mechanics of a game? Do you like planning your code (flowcharts, pseudocode etc) or just jump in the deep end?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@yungsamwich I jump in, flowcharts don't do anything for me.
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Hi Tommy! What do you when life is the opposite of "no worries," you're super stressed and need to pull it together before you fall apart?!
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@lejlahunts Well, it's going to sound weird, but you just "pull it together before you fall apart". I mean that's your only choice right? During SMB development I never wanted to quit, but near the end I was beat to hell with bug testing. There wasn't an option to just stop, I just got up every day, did what I could, went to bed and repeated until it was done:)
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @tommyrefenes thanks so much for joining us today. Would love to hear how you started programming and what you would advise someone looking to learn? What language do you recommend? What resources do you suggest? Also, side question, what does your reading habit look like online, blogs, newsletters etc?
Tommy Refenes@tommyrefenes · Legendary Gunsmith, Outer Heaven
@harrystebbings I get this type of question often on my Tumblr. I started programming when I was about 11 years old in QBasic. My dad taught me QBasic syntax and light logic and from there I just kept doing it. As far as what you should learn, I'm the wrong person to ask about this I think. Personally, I think people should learn every aspect of programming if they want to be a programmer, be it in games or any other industry. At it's core, programming is just the application of syntax and logic. Logic is hard to learn I think which is why some people are better at programming than others...syntax is easy. For that reason, I don't' really recommend any language in particular because once you have a general idea of how computer programming works, learning syntax can be as easy as a google search. As far as my reading habit, I read comics and books. Nothing really in particular when it comes to books, just what interests me at the time. I just got done with a book on mythology that was interesting. For comics...I love Hulk, Iron man, Walking Dead, etc etc etc. Pretty much all the comics everyone likes!