Interview #010: Adam Jeffcoat - Pixel Trip Studios
The 80s are alive and in full swing with The Videokid. An indie title that breathes new life into the Paperboy formula. With such a strong love for that era, I had to speak with the #dev behind the title. Enter: Pixel Trip Studios' founder, Adam Jeffcoat.
Thank you Adam for allowing me the chance to speak with you today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Adam Jeffcoat, founder of Pixel Trip Studios. I have worked as an animation director for the past 15 years and I created and designed The Videokid.
What was the first console/game you remember playing?
My experience began when I visited my cousin in Canada back in about 1987 and he had a Nintendo and this game called Paperboy. We both found it insanely hard, but I was just fascinated by it. All the cool little neighborhood houses, some friendly and some not and the goal of delivering newspapers to become a delivery boy legend was just so appealing.
What is your fondest childhood video game memory?
I loved visiting the arcades with a pocket full of change and playing all the amazing but very tough to beat games. NBA Jam, Operation Wolf and my personal fav - Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles!! There was just something so awesome about playing co-op with your friends, choosing your favorite turtle and whooping some serious @$$ while picking up bonus pizzas :D.
Before we talk about Pixel Trip Studios, I want to focus on your career before video games. You've held numerous roles in the animation industry, from storyboard designer to illustrator and more. Was this something you always wanted to pursue growing up?
Games always held a special place in my heart and actually my first job was at EA games as a concept artist on Harry Potter. I think I always wanted to make a game. For me, the best thing is that the player gets to BECOME the main character and play out the story. Plus, animation is such a big part of games so the two industries kind of run side by side.
Prior to Pixel Trip Studios, you formed StudioNX that has worked on multiple projects over the years, but there is one in particular that really garnered a lot of attention, Niko and the Sword of Light. This fully animated web cartoon series completed its first season in 2017 and is currently working on season 2. Could you please share some background on how you helped to come up with this series?
So that all started back in 2013 when we met up with some old college friends who had gone onto become famous concept artists, working on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. They wanted to work on something cool and we were desperate to do something independent, so we came up with an idea to make the first fully animated comic book. iPads were new back then so the fact that they were interactive meant we could fulfill our childhood dreams of bringing comics to life. Almost two years later we finished the app and upon release it got the attention of Amazon Studios who said they were looking for content and Niko and the Sword of Light seemed a good fit to them. As we had practically already made a cartoon of it they could clearly see the potential and it got greenlit for a pilot. My role was to oversee the production, from scripts, storyboards, character designs and animation.
Additionally, Niko and the Sword of Light has been nominated for multiple awards since its inception and even won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program in 2016 and the Behind the Voice Actors Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series in 2018. What's the feeling you and your team had when receiving all of these accolades?
Ah, it was amazing to get the recognition! We had an incredible voice cast working on that show and a top animation studio in Titmous over in L.A. The crew they put together worked so hard to make that show as good as it could be. We kept pushing them to do the oldschool 2D traditional animation which looks great, but can be very time consuming. So the crew really poured their heart and soul into the project in order to get it done and to a really high level for TV and the Emmy was proof of that.
Moving onto Pixel Trip Studios, you co-founded this indie company back in 2015. What made you decide to enter the video game market?
I always loved games and after working on the interactive comic book it was my first taste of coding. The challenge of coming up with puzzles for the player to solve was so fun and I was hooked. I found an investor and creative partner, Vince Kamp, who shared the same vision and pixel trip was born :).
Your first title, The Videokid, released on Steam back in January 2017. This runner captures the essence of the '80s as you control your Marty McFly-esque character down the streets to deliver VHS tapes. This feels like a very fresh take of Paperboy. Was this where the inspiration initially drew from?
Yes, absolutely! I wanted to make a simple, yet highly playable game and pay homage to the classic arcade games of my youth. When I realized Paperboy had not been rebooted yet I jumped on it, but gave it my own twist by making the main character a kid who delivered pirate videos to his customers and had to stay one step ahead of the cops. So kinda like paperboy, yet this kid was just a little more bad@$$ ;).
The Videokid arrived on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One on August 30, 2018. Were there any challenges with bringing your title over to consoles?
It was actually pretty smooth sailing as we built the game in Unity, so its fairly straight forward to port to consoles. It took a while to get through approval, but once we had a build I tested it on the Switch and it played great. It really lends itself to the more oldschool style switch controller too.
As a Switch fan, I am beyond excited to play this on the console. Personally, I am a handheld kind of guy. Is your preference docked or on the go?
I would say I have always loved docked consoles – that is until I played the Switch. It delivers the best of both worlds and the portability is great.
The Breakout is Pixel Trip Studios second title and is currently in development. Can you provide us with an update on the progress?
Oh yes, that's a real time adventure game where you have to escape from a WW2 prison camp. Its still ticking along and we work on it whenever we have spare time. Soon as we can find a publisher, we will put that game properly back into development so watch this space :).
Will The Breakout be coming to consoles and most importantly, the Switch?
Oh yes, I think now our main focus would be on console gaming, especially as they are co-op. I always felt it was funner to play games with your friends and the breakout has a really strong co-op element!
Besides your own, what game(s) are you currently playing and looking forward to?
I'm a big fan of other indie games as the playability is always so fun and addictive. I played a ton of #Broforce, Ridiculous Fishing, the Metal Slug games, Machinarium and Limbo! The game i'm most looking forward to is a cool adventure game/shoot em-up hybrid called StarrMazer.
Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share today? Just that if you love the 80s and you are a fan of the old arcade classics then I think you'll love The Videokid. Its a real nostalgic trip down memory lane :).
Download Videokid from the Nintendo eShop here.
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