An Interview with Boss Baddie’s James Whitehead

05th December

With the action packed twin-stick shooter ‘Big Sky Infinity’ coming to the PS3 & PS Vita next week (exciting we know), we thought we’d catch up with developer and Director of Boss Baddie, James Whitehead; to find out when his passion for games started, how he comes up with the concepts for his games and what advice he’d give to those looking to get into game development.

At what age did your passion for developing games first begin?

When I was around 6 years old I used to draw fake Game Boy screenshots, for little top-down racing games and platform games. They were quite detailed though! I’d annotate individual items in the screenshots, like how lasers would move, or the specs of the vehicles; the furthest I got was creating fake NES game cartridges, complete with box art! Soon after that, my parents got me an Amiga 600, where I started drawing up sprites and maps on Deluxe Paint!

What’s your favourite game of all time?

I couldn’t say now! The game I’ve spent the most time in is ‘Team Fortress 2’, it’s just so simple and fun, and you can just see the amount of fun Valve have with that series. I’m currently playing Pokémon White 2, Borderlands 2, Gravity Rush and The Walking Dead (when I have the time).

How did the creation of Boss Baddie first come around?

Before Boss Baddie I used to release games under my own name, or work with friends under daft names (Tixy Jenkles was one of my favourites). After university I started working on a huge project called Tormishire with a musician friend. We thought it’d be best to formalise the studio and by formalise I mean come up with a name and get a domain for it!

During the 90’s you always called the final boss in a game the “boss baddie”, or at least I did! Maybe it’s a northern UK thing? But I loved the phrase, purely because Boss is such a great word. Say it looking into the distance with squinted eyes whilst nodding. “Boss”….See?

With a game portfolio including titles such as ‘Lunnye Devitsy’, Wake’, ‘Really Big Sky’ & ‘Big Sky Infinity’, how do you come up with the concepts for your games?   

I like to make games where the player is given a basic set of rules and then left to explore the game themselves. The idea for Lunnye happened whilst driving to my girlfriend’s university graduation, I wanted to make something the player had to learn and experiment with. Wake was the end result of wanting to create a huge but doomed area, and letting the player run around it.

Having previously developed games for the PC, your latest game ‘Big Sky Infinity’ is coming soon to the PlayStation®3 and PlayStation® Vita, are you still having to pinch yourself? 

It’s exactly where I want the game! It really feels at home on both the TV screen and on the Vita’s brilliant display. It feels like such a bigger, better game thanks to being able to work with some great talent.

What’s the best thing about developing games?

Seeing others play them, and in some cases totally kicking my arse at them. I expect to spend a lovely 24 hours on top of the Big Sky Infinity scoreboards.

What advice would you give to other young & ambitious individuals looking to succeed in game development?

Build up a stock pile of ideas. I took to creating a list of stuff I’d like to see in a game that either hadn’t been done right, or at all. Whenever I’m designing a new game I’ll dig through this list to see if anything will fit. But it could be anything from design ideas to characters, to just little quotes. You never know when you might need them!

Check out the Big Sky Infinity website Here

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