Team2Bit Q&A

In this Q&A, we have Matt Kain Lewandowski of Team2Bit, developer of Fist Puncher and the all-new Reagan Gorbachev.

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1. How many people were on your team to make Reagan Gorbachev?

A majority of the heavy lifting during the development of REAGAN GORBACHEV was done by myself and my brother Jake – we’re the two founding and primary members of our studio Team2Bit.  We like wearing many hats and getting our hands dirty, and most importantly, handling a bulk of the workload ensures that our creative vision really comes across in our games.


2. Do you contract out any of the work to part-time or temp workers?

The in-game art was done by a very talented French artist named Edouard Albert.  We were really lucky to snag Ed.  He’s worked on major franchises like Metal Gear and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but has also done art for some smaller, more personal indie titles.  Ed matched AAA professionalism with an ability to be a part of a small, cohesive team that develops at a rapid pace.  We also had the benefit of originally being an OUYA funded title.

You can say what you want about what worked and didn’t work with the OUYA console, but they had a very talented team that gave us a wealth of feedback about gameplay and difficulty balancing.  In particular we worked closely at several points with Kellee Santiago (co-founder of Thatgamecompany).  Kellee provided us with critical insight concerning level design and narrative cohesiveness.  We benefited immensely from having someone with her experience acting as a sounding board as we built the levels and story.

A handful of other folks also were contracted for things like promo art, gameplay trailer, etc.  In short, the indie process is often a collaborative endeavor where you build a sort of ad hoc team based on the scope and nature of the project.


3. Have many games has Team2Bit published?

This is our third major release after WASHINGTON’S Wig and FIST PUNCHER.  We have some other smaller titles that have also made their way out into the wild, but they’re hardly notable!

4. What other games have each of your team members worked on?

Jake and I have been making games together for a long, long time and we’ve built titles using Texas Instruments and Commodore computers, ancient PC clones, Flash, AGS, XNA… the list goes on and on.  We’ve made everything from sports games to simple arcade spoofs to longer adventure games (and even a Max Headroom simulator).  There’s too many for me to even remember (and many aren’t worth remembering!), but I’ll try to give  a few recent examples.

I did a short series of jam games with an artist who painted fictional ’80s arcade cabinets, and then I raced over the course of a weekend to turn one of his paintings into an actual game.  It was an odd and interesting creative process that resulted in titles like HANG IN THERE which was based on that famous poster of the cat hanging from the clothesline and SQUARE PEG which was a fast-reaction shape matching game (we originally wanted to have the games as companion pieces for a gallery exhibit, but that never came to fruition).

I’ve also spent the last couple years as the lead designer and engineer on a group of educational mobile games published by UC Berkeley.  Last year alone I shipped SPACE CHEF, a game about a robot building healthy recipes in outer space, I GOT THIS, an interactive story about a young teen who discovers she has type 2 diabetes, and MONSTER HEART MEDIC, a game where you learn about the cardiovascular system and help diagnose and ailing three-eyed monster.

So, yeah, we try to keep the creative juices flowing both inside of and outside of our studio.

5. What advice do you have for your other indie developers at ID@xbox?

The documentation and forums are your friend if you’re willing to take the time to wade in and do some reading.  Microsoft really did an excellent job documenting things, and there is a good chance that if you find yourself facing a roadblock someone else has already found a way to jump over it.  I also know the certification process can be intimidating for a small studio, but with persistence you’ll get through.  Heck, we’re just two dudes, and we we’re able to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

6. Will you be bringing your products to Windows 10?

We don’t have any plans at present, but I think it’s important to keep all options on the table.

7. Any future projects you can discuss?

I’d like to refresh my palette by working on a shorter, possibly mobile experience for Team2Bit, but we’ve also kicked the tires on a few longer, more story-driven ideas.  I think once REAGAN GORBACHEV has been out for a few weeks, we’ll be able to sit back, dig through our notes, take a look at some of our prototypes, and make a decision about our next project.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

If you know me, you probably know that I’m passionate about health and fitness.  Game development often requires grueling hours and intense commitment.  So be sure to take breaks, stand up, and move.  Take a walk, go to a park, hit the weight room, take a yoga class.  Do something to counteract all the sedentary time that our profession requires.

A change of scenery and a little physical action is often just the thing that we need to hit the refresh button and allow our brain to get back into a healthy, productive state.  Good luck!



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