Developer Interview: Björn Schellin, Umaiki Games:

It is an interview of Björn Schellin who composed the music of Skellboy.

Björn is a talented musician and composed the soundtrack of an action RPG game, Skellboy. It was his first game and he has absolutely nailed it. To know more about Bjorn contribution to the success of the game, Games Cover has contacted him for the interview and the answers are listed below:

Skellboy Cover
Skellboy Cover
(Image Credit: Umaiki Games)


Question 1: Let’s start with something about yourself. How long have you been developing games?

Answer: Before Skellboy I had a small contractual work for the game Planet Centauri, for which I was asked to create some songs. I created about 10 or so songs for it. Skellboy is my first “big” project though with a full soundtrack completely composed and mastered by myself.

Skellboy is our very first commercial game, so you could say we’ve been in the biz for the last 3 and a half years.


Question 2: What made your start this career?

Answer: I’ve been a fan of video games ever since I played the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES for the first time. I got more and more interested in video games and especially video game soundtracks in the following years.

When I was 17 I stumbled upon RPG Maker 2000, a tool to create jRPGs easily. I started a few projects but never finished one. The community around it was when I met csg (programmer and level designer of Skellboy, as well as head of Umaiki Games) and Sabaku (artist and writer of Skellboy), first online, and not too long after IRL. Another few years later I got asked to do a few songs for a game jam project that eventually wound up being Skellboy. And this is where I am today.


Question 3: Skellboy looks beyond awesome! Tell us a little bit about your game.

Answer: Thanks for the kind words! Skellboy is an Action-RPG that takes place in the Cubold Kingdom which is overrun by the undead and demons from hell after Squaruman, the king’s court magician, got rejected by the princess, when he asked her out on a date. To prove his powers he decided to resurrect the undead which, by accident, also resurrected Skippy, the hero of the game. In order to defeat Squaruman and bring back the peace to the Cubold Kingdom, Skippy has to use different abilities which are acquired by swapping out body parts with those of defeated enemies.


Question 4: Tell me about your role in the development of Skellboy.

Answer: I was responsible for creating, composing, editing and mixing all the music and sound effects for Skellboy. I used FamiTracker (or rather 0cc-FamiTracker), which lets you create music with the exact limitations of a real NES, so the soundtrack and sound effects are entirely done in a chiptune style.

0cc-FamiTracker is a bit different in that it lets me use more than one additional sound chip at once, so I have a few more sound channels available to be played back at once.


Question 5: Music is such an important part of the gaming experience. What music inspired your game?

Answer: I was mostly inspired by two games, namely Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario Land 2.

Banjo-Kazooie was a big influence in the overall style of Skellboy’s music. Cheerful, comical, memorable. 

Super Mario Land 2’s influence on the Skellboy soundtrack was basically the re-usage of a main melody throughout the game, mixing it up into different styles so it always sounds fresh and new, yet entirely familiar.


Question 6: What kind of games do you like to play?

Answer: I play a bit of everything that isn’t related to sports, realistic racing games or military style shooters. My Top 5 favorite games would probably be NieR (the original one, not Automata), Chrono Trigger, Yakuza 0, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

Basically as long as a game has an appealing art style, a great soundtrack and/or interesting gameplay, I’ll probably like and play it.


Question 7: Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work?

Answer: Umaiki Games doesn’t have a central office as all of us live in different parts of Germany. So we do all our planning and organization via Discord (to “hold meetings” and discuss ideas) and we use Trello as a sort of online white board to set up plans and set priorities for what has to be done throughout the coming week(s). Astoundingly this actually worked way better than I would’ve thought at first. I’m even very glad that it worked because that shows me that you don’t necessarily have to be all in the same place at once to do that kind of work.


Question 8: What was the hardest part and how did you overcome that?

Answer: The hardest part for all of us probably was actually having to cut stuff out of the game. Especially if it’s a thing that you were really excited about. Close to the end of the development of Skellboy we ran into a bit of a crunch time, which we were trying our best to avoid at first. Sadly that also meant we had to cut some things out to meet deadlines, like a handful of bosses, a few songs, and so on. Some of the cut songs are actually still available on the official soundtrack.

Luckily we live in a time where content updates are a thing. We actually added some additional content with our first update that got released some days after Skellboy’s release, and we plan on adding more content to the game through future game updates. Maybe we will even be able to work some of the cut content back into the game. But for now our focus lies on fixing bugs and working on the PC version of Skellboy.


Question 9: Do you have any advice for beginners who wish to make games like you?

Answer: This may sound a bit cheesy, but everyone’s a beginner at first. Nobody starts out at the top. Everyone makes mistakes. You gotta learn from those mistakes. Make it better. Don’t let some foolish negative comments let you down. Never overthink negativity. Stay positive. It’s hard, but you’re gonna get through it. As long as you stay passionate about what you’re doing, you’re gonna make it.

I won’t lie, there is definitely at least some amount of luck involved. But it is possible to make it even without that luck.

And no matter what you are working on: Show off your work. Don’t let it be a secret forever.


Björn, I appreciate the time you have taken with me and it is an honor to have you on Games Cover. You explain the journey undertaken during the composition of music of Skellboy. I believe that with your skills, passion, commitment and enthusiasm; you can perform way better. I wish you greater achievements.

5 Comments

  1. Well done Bjorn, incredible work and you must be relieved after completing the game. Have you started working on a new project?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice article and great to see professionals opening up and sharing their experience with others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike!
      Thank you for kind words. Have a nice day! 😀

      Delete
  3. Nice article and great interview

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gamer!
      Thank you for an encouraging feedback. Enjoy rest of your day! 😀

      Delete

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