solohack3r games

Interview: Nick Schaer – Solohack3r Studios

Solohack3r Studios is an independent game developer, operating solo, with a mission to create impactful 8-bit and 16-bit games. The focus is on merging retro nostalgia with the freedom of open-world gameplay, all at a reasonable price. And thus, Solohack3r Studios was born.

I always wanted to make my own games. When I was a teen I made some freeware games but they lacked the quality I was hoping for. Then I stopped developing any games for about a decade. I got back into it after a health scare, and I realized life is too short to not pursue a dream. So I committed myself to actually finishing one commercial quality game. And here we are three games later with another on the way.

Knightblade was successfully funded on Kickstarter in early 2022, followed by Neopunk and Beast Slayer. With a fourth game on the way, will it be funded via Kickstarter like the previous three? What’s it like being an indie game developer? Well, we’ll get onto that in a bit.

If you want to check out Solohack3r Studios’ games, you get them at bargain level prices.

Kightblade on Steam. Knightblade is an open-world fantasy game with farming and life sim elements. Create a character, explore the sandbox, and solve a mystery.

Neopunk on Steam. Embark on a new journey as an agender mercenary in the neon-lit streets of Kaanalos City. Live a life of freedom in Neopunk, solve murder mysteries, buy apartments, and deliver pizza. Who will you become?

Beast Slayer on Steam. Defeat dangerous beasts in a unique adventure with various classes, genders, skills, and spells. Enjoy an 8-bit soundtrack as you fly on a dragon.

Knightblade raised $6,717 on Kickstarter

What inspired you to start making games?

As a kid I loved the freedom of the original Pokémon games. Having a world you could explore and immerse yourself in really drew me in. As an adult Skyrim filled that desire for me as well, losing myself in a fantasy world. I always wanted to capture that myself. I wanted to make my own games. The freeware games I made as a teen were a learning experience, and a stepping stone to bigger things. But it was Eric Barone and his success with Stardew Valley that really showed me a solo indie dev could make something truly special. He’s definitely someone I look up to.

What are some of the most rewarding and frustrating aspects of being an indie game developer?

For me it’s extremely rewarding when I hear positive feedback from players. It shows me I’m doing something right when people take the time to review or comment on my games and tell me what they enjoy about them. I develop games I would enjoy as a player, but you never know if others will find that same enjoyment. So it’s nice to see. One of the larger frustrating parts of being an indie dev is the marketing component. You have to do everything yourself with the game, but then you are also trying to be a marketing team and get the word out. It can be hard to make that happen organically.

What are some of the games that influenced or inspired your work?

All of my games have a retro feel – I love the different eras that have passed, and I try to mimic those styles while blending the modern gameplay elements. I love the original NES Legend of Zelda. I love dropping players into a world without too much exposition, and just letting them explore. And I love guiding them slightly while still giving them freedom. Meanwhile Red Dead Redemption helped inspire me with some of the more modern elements of the open world genre, and the storytelling.

You’ve used Kickstarter to fund your game development so far. Is the plan to keep using Kickstarter going forward?

Definitely. It’s a fantasic platform for indie devs. I never expected much success from it. With my first campaign I was hoping to meet the $100 goal, so I could publish the game on Steam. I had no idea I would crush that goal within hours. It’s pretty amazing. They have a fantastic community there of people who really love indie games and support the devs when it counts. I wouldn’t be able to make these games without Kickstarter.

Neopunk raised $4,297 on Kickstarter

Can you tell us what your favourite part has been in each of your current games?

For each game it has been the freedom that I can give players. I like giving them a retro world, and just letting them explore it at their own pace. With Knightblade it was a medieval world. With Neopunk it was a cyberpunk city. And with Beast Slayer it was a fantasy world that feels like it belonged on an NES. I really had fun making these games.

What has been the most challenging part?

For me the challenge has been trying to stay innovative while trying to capture the retro feel. I want my games to feel like they were made years ago, yet with the modern elements players expect. Nailing the right amount of gameplay length and difficulty level is also not easy.

Finally, what can you tell us about your upcoming game plans? I know you have at least one game coming up soon, which we’d love to hear about.

Well it’s going to be a busy few months for me. Beast Slayer seems to be bug free, but I’m watching each day to see if anything else needs to be fixed before the September 8th release. I’ll also be porting it to Android around Christmas time. Meanwhile I’ve officially started working on my fourth game. It’s going to be a monster capture style game but with slime monsters. I’ll be blending Pokémon with Stardew Valley as the game will feature farming and life sim elements. Including actual relationships and the things you come to expect from those type of games. It’s going to be a fun mix of genres and I can’t wait to reveal more later next month.

Keep an eye on Solohack3r Studios Kickstarter page for when game number four becomes available.

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