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Buckshot Roulette Developer on Making the Game Solo, Feedback & Success

Buckshot Roulette creator Mike Klubnika shared with us his favorite part of game production, explained why he switched to Godot, and offered his thoughts on the reason behind the game's popularity.

Buckshot Roulette surprised everyone with its tense atmosphere, engaging gameplay, and quick popularity. The grungy art style is a signature look of its developer Mike Klubnika, who kindly agreed to answer our questions about the game's development and success.

"My name is Mike, and I'm a solo developer based in Estonia. I mainly develop sci-fi horror titles that take place in alternate dystopias with an industrial aesthetic. For most of my games, I try to think outside the box when it comes to game design and try to experiment with mechanics that haven't been fully explored yet.

When it comes to Buckshot Roulette, I was initially very surprised to find that nobody had actually made a game of Russian roulette with a shotgun. The vibe of high-caliber Russian roulette really resonated with me, but at the time, I didn't have a solid design, so I left it on the back burner. I think it was almost a year later when I decided to take the time and actually design something proper for it, which ended up being the first Tabletop Simulator prototype. We played it with a couple of friends, did some more brainstorming, and after that, I was pretty much set to make it into a standalone game."

Buckshot Roulette's unique style has been influenced by sci-fi movies and literature, mainly the work of Arthur C. Clarke, as well as Lovecraftian horror. Apart from that, Klubnika is fascinated with urban exploring in abandoned buildings and factories, which found its way into his environments. 

"The most notable one is the old Volta electrical component facility in Tallinn, which we revisited with friends a dozen times. I believe now it's all demolished. Older computers, various devices, and their interfaces are also something I really like, so I tend to scatter those around whenever I get the chance."

The developer works on every aspect of his games himself and actually has a background in 3D. His path there started with making hard-surface models and renders.

"I was fairly active in a bunch of communities where competitions and collaborations were hosted as well and took part in them whenever I got the chance. Before I got into game development, I had spent around 3 years making a bunch of artwork and animations." 

Beginner artists might be happy to learn that Klubnika's go-to tool when it comes to 3D has always been Blender, and for texturing, he uses Paint.NET and Texture Ripper. Interestingly, he photographs some of the textures, mainly of electronics, himself.

We then asked about his favorite part of game production and found out that "making environments and all the small details that are scattered in them" is what holds his heart.

"I've spent way too many hours manually placing and hanging wires in various places. Back when I started, I didn't even know Bézier curves existed, so I extruded cylinders into the night."

Buckshot Roulette is not only its environments and assets, the logic of the game is held with Godot. When asked about this choice of engine, Klubnika said that his other games were developed in Unity, but he switched to Godot soon after Unity announced its Runtime Fee last September.

"I appreciate the fact that Godot is open-sourced because it means I don't have to worry about not being able to use my main tool due to a sudden license change. Compared to Unity, there are a couple of drawbacks. But I think that with the amount of support Godot has been getting the past year, it won't be long until the engine is at a true industry standard level."

All of these elements made Buckshot Roulette a very popular indie game that has spent a lot of time on various YouTube channels. Why has it attracted so much attention? Its creator thinks this is partly because it is "pretty engaging when you're watching someone play over their shoulder, which made it popular on various streaming platforms." Apart from that, the rules are fairly simple, and people not overly familiar with video games can easily get into it since it's a point-and-click experience.

"I think the main thing though is just the idea: 'What if you play Russian roulette with a shotgun in the backroom of a nightclub?"

Of course, this is not the only indie game that collects millions of views online. You've definitely heard of other wonders, like Lethal Company or Content Warning. Klubnika believes their popularity comes from just how fun they are. We asked him if small developers should try to think out of the box or follow classic strategies, and his answer was firm: everyone should make whatever they feel like making.

"Personally I don't really aim to make games that have designs already proven to be fun because I like trying to come up with new and interesting stuff. I don't think there's anything wrong with sticking to classics, since every developer is going to have their own unique approach to development anyways."

Klubnika also had some advice for other solo developers: they should "take things piece by piece" as learning different programs takes time. If you keep studying and experimenting, it will pay off. Before the creator got into game development, he spent about 3 years "tinkering away in Blender" whenever he had free time. "It helps if you enjoy the process," he said.

Whatever you do, there are always haters and simply those who don't appreciate your efforts. We asked the artist how developers can deal with criticism, and he shared that they need to be thorough with playtesting and feedback:

"Sometimes handling feedback can be tricky when you can't really get in the player's head, or you're not sure if the issue they have with the game is on their part or completely objective. During the development process I try to have a bunch of people try the game, so that way I can tell if some mechanic/design actually has to be tweaked or rewritten in another way. I've had playtests for some of my games where the general feedback is that it isn't fun, and I guess it's easy to ignore stuff like that, but in my case, I usually interrogate playtesters and try to figure out exactly what they didn't like. It can be discouraging having to rewrite or redesign parts of the game, but I think it's better to just learn from it."

Aside from working and learning, Klubnika plays games, not just makes them, unlike the creator of the poker roguelike Balatro, who says he doesn't play much. Buckshot Roulette's maker climbs the leaderboard on Hyper Demon most of the time: "I don't mean flex, but as of writing this I'm #25 on the global leaderboard." Other than that, he is going through SOMA, a great sci-fi horror game by Frictional Games, who developed Amnesia.

"I mainly play games with friends, though: stuff like Sven Co-op and Counter-Strike. Lethal Company was also super fun."

Buckshot Roulette has been released and its author is busy with a multiplayer mode for it. After it's done, he already has a few new ideas, although he didn't share them with us, unfortunately. But what we know will stay the same is Klubnika's unique style and love for horror:

"I doubt I'll be changing my style or the genre that I work in. Horror has a lot of room for interesting ideas and designs that haven't been fully explored yet, and I can't wait to get my hands on them."

While you're waiting for his new project, check out Buckshot Roulette on Steam and follow Klubnika on X/Twitter.

Mike Klubnika, Game Developer

Interview conducted by Gloria Levine

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Comments 1

  • Anonymous user

    I’m trying to make a game using godot and I started recently and it’s hard but it’s good hearing this

    0

    Anonymous user

    ·a month ago·

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