Interview with Taranasus, Developer of Synthwave Racing Game: VECTER

We got the chance to speak to Taranasus, developer of VECTER, a fast-paced runner that is launching on Steam, completely free, on November 4. 

October 19, 2019

I found out about VECTER a couple of weeks ago, after stumbling across a hilarious post in the /r/gaming community.

Upon doing some s̶t̶a̶l̶k̶i̶n̶g̶  research, it came to my attention that this one-man project is releasing FREE on Steam in a couple of weeks. It is also available for download on GameJolt.

Although racing games are not exactly my thing, VECTER’s fast-paced racing, procedurally generated levels, and synthwave vibe continue to provide a fun daily distraction. I was thrilled to sit down with its developer to find out more about the game, and what it means to create indie games as a hobby.

Read our interview to find out more about VECTER, or consider wishlisting the game on Steam. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t cost a thing. 

VECTER

Vecter is a fast-paced runner (and at some point shooter) game where your goal is to survive by the skin of your teeth.

Baabuska: Hey, Taranasus, thank you for chatting with me today. I’ve finally had a chance to check out Vecter. It’s pretty dope. Tell me more about your development process, and how the whole idea came along.

taranasus

TARANASUS: Heyoo, thanks for having me! I’m glad you like the game! It’s awesome to see people like yourself and many others enjoy it. Quite unexpectedly, if I may say so.

I’m a bit of a speed demon, but for health and safety reasons, I can’t practice that un public roads, so VECTER is the next best thing. The dev process started pretty chaotically. I was throwing a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks. These days I keep a Trello board with my own and other’s ideas and build them depending on my take on their priority. 

In the future, I plan on involving the community in the dev process more. I want to have a Reddit-style page on my website with submitted features, and people upvoting/downvoting, and commenting on them. For the most part, I’d like to focus on the most upvoted features on that page to keep the community’s interests on top, while also retaining some dev discretion.

Vecter indie game

 

B: The first time I saw Vecter, I was like, “hot damn, someone took those awesome synthwave wallpapers and turned them into a game.” What made you go for this aesthetic?

T: That was an interesting progression. Here’s the thought process: What’s popular? Pixel Art and Low Poly art because nostalgia. But hey, they missed a phase there: vector art, because it was… ugly. Frontier’s Elite from 1984 was an fantastic game for its time, but it wasn’t pretty.

I wanted to make a good looking vector graphics videogame. I didn’t realize that it already existed in the form of the synth-wave neon art style, but I had already set off and reached the same result. 

From a developer standpoint, it’s modernized vector graphics, but from an artistic perspective it ended up being synthwave. It is also fairly easy to model and create elements for it, considering it’s usually one color per element, and just a few lines.

Vecter Game Leaderboard

B: Tell me more about the generation of Vecter’s levels and leaderboards.

T: Okay, technical question, here we go! I wanted to create an objective that is attainable for anyone, any day. One of the biggest turn-offs on any leaderboard is that the guy at the top is some dude that just played the game 8 hours per day for a month straight or more, and there’s no way any other person can reach his status. For a person like me, who has other things to do (like pay bills), that’s unfair. So, I came up with the idea of having a daily leaderboard.

Second, the level had to be different since, with practice, you can just do speedruns again and again. You can’t hope to compete with the pros if you don’t invest the same amount of effort. This gives everyone a fair chance to be on the leaderboard and claim their place int the world. I know it’s not a perfect system, but it’s an improvement at least in my eyes.

Unique levels are procedurally generated:

  • You start from a seed (in my case the date 13/10/2019 or 14/10/2019). Using math, you can apply various transformations to that number to obtain all the positions and types of the level’s elements.
  • There are some built-in rules so you don’t have impossible situations like two walls with the slits at opposite sides of the track, but it all happens based on this seed.
  • Since the date changes every day, you get a new level every day. Because it’s based on math, every computer in the world will create the same level, even when offline.

No levels to model, not data to upload, no pain.

Baabs: Why did you make the game free? Was this always planned, or did it just… happen?

T: There are a lot of reasons, actually. Most importantly, I wanted to not be held accountable to anything or anyone. When you’re making a game for free, every single small success feels extraordinary. I’ve had several successful posts about Vecter, and every single person telling me they love it still feels like Nirvanna. On the other end of the spectrum, if someone tells me that it sucked or that they don’t like it, it doesn’t hurt that bad. I didn’t take their money. Don’t like it, don’t play it. It’s very liberating. 

I might have to charge a nominal amount for porting to consoles, since those are pretty expensive, or maybe I’ll find a different model to keep it free on consoles. I don’t know. Thankfully my job right now keeps my hobby alive quite comfortably.

Vecter Game Screenshot

Baabs: I know you’re on Reddit a lot. How has the community reacted to your game so far?

T: Reddit is a… mixed bag. I’ve had excellent reception for the game but there’s also a lot of… using the right title, at the right time, with the right video. The people of Reddit are very dynamic and diverse so grabbing the attention of a lot of them at once is difficult, but I seem to be getting better at it.

My last post certainly went surprisingly well. 

Baabs: Right now, the Vecter experience involves firing it up, and racing until you feel like punching the monitor. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me going, but it may not be the case for other players. Do you have any cool updates planned, or are you thinking of developing more levels/abilities?

T: Honestly, I don’t know. I rely on my community a lot to tell me what they like, what they don’t, and what they’d like to see to keep them going. Steam achievements will probably be a thing (and achievements in general). I’m hoping somewhere in the far future to host actual competitions. 

I haven’t thought about that much, and it’s probably something I should consider more. Thank you!

B: I noticed you keep adding new mechanics to the game. Have you ever considered adding rhythm elements?

T: Sort of, one of the things that are on the endless to-do list is a level editor tied to songs. The idea is to make custom levels that would have an end and could be synced up to a song, so they provide a very in-sync experience. But that’s a bit further down the line.

B: I’d love to see a collab between you and other synthwave bands like Dynatron or Turbo Knight. Is that a possibility? And since we’re on the topic of music, are you planning on including more songs in the future? I always die before the best part of the song.

T: Without a budget, and considering it’s a free game, it’s hard to approach artists and ask them for a co-lab. I’m always happy to include more songs if they fit well with the game, but so far, I’ve only had one person express interest and I’ve yet to hear back from them.

But yeah, Gunship, Dynatron, Turbo Knight if you like the game hit me up! I can pay you in exposure dollars.

Vecter new animation

Baabs: I’ve heard about your game, but I know nothing about you. What’s your favorite band? What game would you like to erase from your memory ? What keeps you up at night?  

T: I’m an ALMOST 30yo microservices software developer by day. That’s only interesting to me as I’m met with blank expressions when I say my job title. By night I’m trying to apply my skills in more creative ways – making games.

My favourite band hasn’t been a thing for a while, as my music tastes have become VERY fluid over the years. Right now I’m having a bit of a Synthwave funk (gee I wonder what triggered that? ) and I have Gunship playing on loop.

What game would I like to erase from existence? Everything has its place I think. Usually, if I don’t like something, I just don’t touch it, and let it go on its way. I’d however like loot boxes to burn in their little special corner of hell for the rest of eternity.

W̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶k̶e̶e̶p̶s̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶u̶p̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶l̶e̶t̶e̶ ̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶.̶ ̶I̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶6̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶r̶s̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶,̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶h̶a̶l̶f̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶j̶e̶a̶l̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶i̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶g̶i̶v̶e̶s̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶l̶o̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶e̶x̶t̶r̶a̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶d̶a̶y̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶p̶e̶r̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶r̶t̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶s̶c̶h̶e̶d̶u̶l̶e̶s̶.̶ ̶I̶f̶ ̶I̶’̶m̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶o̶s̶e̶ ̶6̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶r̶s̶ ̶e̶i̶t̶h̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶i̶t̶’̶s̶ ̶b̶e̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶R̶e̶d̶d̶i̶t̶ ̶/̶ ̶d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶r̶d̶/̶ ̶t̶w̶i̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶s̶a̶i̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶g̶a̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶w̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶e̶g̶o̶’̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶b̶i̶g̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶n̶o̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶i̶t̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶d̶.̶

Scratch that. What keeps me up at night are non-standardized things like the fact that continental European countries separate their decimal places with commas while English speaking countries separate them with periods. They cause annoying and pointless bugs that pop-up at the most inconvenient of times, like in the middle of someone’s Twitch stream.

Don’t even get me started on Date Formats, Timezones, or, best of all, the JavaScript Date variable.

B: How many hours have you played Vecter, so far?

T: I genuinely have no idea. Somehow too many and not enough at the same time since most of my Discord server kicks my ass on a daily.

B: Be honest. Did you break anything yet?

T: RIP my Razer Black Widow Tournament. You will be missed.

B: Are the similarities between Vecter and Race the Sun a coincidence?

T: Hell, no! I loved Race the Sun, but I always felt like it could have done SO MUCH more. That’s why I hope to work on Vecter for years to come. Race the Sun is an excellent game, but I’m on a personal mission to do better.

B: Was Vecter your first indie game? Do you have any experience working on other games?

vecter animation

T: It’s not, I’ve made one before that did not do so well, even though it’s very similar. I have a lot more experience now and Vecter is a much better game in every way.

I’m still a little sore over the first game, so I don’t much like talking about it.

B: We’re always on the lookout for awesome indies. Care to share a few titles we might have missed?

T: YES! Oh my god. I’m so glad you asked.

First off, StudioSploot’s PlayBound, a platformer game which is about a boy named Kelvin, whose parents have become fatally boring. I recommend gameplay videos as the flow looks excellent. 


And secondly, Marshin made by… well, I know him as Pawelori, but I haven’t seen an official company name anywhere. Anyway, it’s a cold war era atmospheric puzzle platformer. It gives me interesting vibes and emotions that are not portrayed by most games, and I like titles that explore such un-tapped feelings. 

B: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add anything else?

L: Thank you for having me, it’s been a pleasure. One big step I’ve taken is bringing Vecter to Steam on the 4th of November. Wishlisting it helps us grow as a presence on the store, so if you like it and can do so, drop us a wish on there. 

If you can’t wait, it’s already available on GameJolt, also for free.

Vecter video

I also want to give special thanks to the following people on my Discord and in my life:

  • First of all, Trisy, my wife, who’s been supportive like you wouldn’t believe. She is probably more than sick of me talking about this every day of the week. But even so, she does a lot of proofreading and game testing. She also has first say on various visual and mechanical elements of the game, and always picks me up whenever I’m down and silly. 
  • Sergiu, Creator of Unbound: Worlds Apart – It was his success and determination that inspired me to take another swing at making something, even if it’s small-scale and silly. 
  • Roczo, who was there from the beginning. He helped me with moderation and maintaining the server alive during the quiet ages. A huge help and I owe him a lot for it. 
  • Xi – He went out and promoted Vecter like you wouldn’t believe. Nobody asked him to, he just did, and I am immensely grateful since I’m pretty sure he single-handedly got us to the top of GameJolt for a few days.
  • Robo – This insane man is making a goddamn Minecraft version of Vecter as a mod. It is insane 

Thank you all for contributing and thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoy Vecter if you decide to give it a sniff. If you like the game, don’t forget to buy/wishlist it and follow on social media:

VECTER

Vecter is a fast-paced runner (and at some point shooter) game where your goal is to survive by the skin of your teeth. You get in your ship, you push the throttle on max, rip it out of the console and then try to survive for as long as possible.

Baabuska

Baabuska

Founder

PC gamer since I was 7. Back then, the only way to install games was from floppy disks (if you were lucky enough to have friends) or Level Magazines. Avid lover of RPGs and Soulsborne. Streamer on twitch.tv/baabuska and amateur cosplayer. 

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