A Series Of Interviews #3 : The Piratebaby Team


Well-Known Member
Jun 23, 2010

PokeParadox is the author of PirateBaby with teammate Dragons_Slayer, let's know a bit more about them...

BAF : First, could you introduce yourself and your team briefly ?

PokeParadox : Well I'm PokeParadox (Kevin Winfield-Pantoja), I've been a member of the GP32X community since I originally bought my GP2X(Possibly September 2005(Joined GP32X in Dec 2005)). I had my eyes on a GP32, but never had enough spare cash around that time to buy one. Dragons_Slayer (Siegfried Croes) helped me with art on PirateBaby and since PirateBaby was my idea, we worked together as "Pirate Games".

BAF : How did you two meet ? What made you decide to work together ?

PokeParadox : Basically the OpenPandora Pandora console was the common interest. It started with PandoraPanic! in Oct 2008, the idea was going around to make a Pandora specific game in a massive collaboration, a game by the community, for the community. Ben Monk sparked the idea to do a mini-game collection/Wario Ware inspired game, so me and Cameleon got to work... Cameleon provided a very simple example minigame, and I set to work adapting my current source of Penjin into something that would work as a mini-game framework.

From there PandoraPanic! continued to be popular and people found Penjin fairly simple and felt able to ask any questions should they need help. This attracted a wide range of differently skilled developers, some with no previous c++ experience stumbling there way through making a mini-game. One of these developers was Dragons_Slayer! With the continued support I provided in pushing PandoraPanic! through to completion, and his own perfectionism and determination, he was able to make the impressive Arena mini-game. From there I asked if he would like to be associated with my games release group Pirate Games and help with art and thankfully, he said yes, and an artist that can also think like a programmer is a very valuable friend to have!

That was then, this is now, so more recently I saw the Riot compo announced and decided to go forward with PirateBaby. I ran my idea by D_S and he was already thinking of entering the compo, he agreed to help me out with artwork AND work on Rainy Day with Archibald... machine, absolute machine! And sorry that was a very long-winded answer...
But in short we worked together since we have had a good experience working together and have become good friends that want to make good games.

BAF : What was your background as developers before working on the Caanoo? Is this the first console on which you develop?

PokeParadox : This is certainly not the first console on which I've personally developed but I can't speak for D_S. The very first HW I coded for would be my Psion series 3a where I "programmed" snake. What I actually did was find the source online and copy it word for word into my Psion, since I didn't have any link cables... and from there hacked the source improving that Snake game. Since then I learnt c++ hacked about with some GBA coding and during my uni days starting collecting useful code snippets forming Penjin. My first open handheld was GP2X... and I have been doing various project since those days, and improving my code quality, ha ha.

BAF : Can you tell us a little about your project for the Riot Tag-Team Coding Competition ? How came the idea ? What are your inspirations ?

PokeParadox : PirateBaby was inspired by my , then to be born, son. He is plain and simply the only spark of inspiration I needed to form the game idea. Obviously it draws aspects of the popular Tamagotchi, but my thought process was "Hey, I'm going to be a dad, I'm going to be caring for a baby soon, how can I share that experience in a fun way!?"

BAF : How do you divide your work ? What part of the game, at the technical level, gave you the biggest difficulty?

PokeParadox : The workload in this case is a very simple split. I was on code and D_S on graphics, I had to work with some of my own placeholders, however. And I was on code. D_S ran all art assets by me and I had final say, but normally if D_S is happy with how it looks, it's going to be ready. Additionally I was working on rewriting Penjin as PenjinTwo. This is all part of the development process as I normally use my current project to drive my engine technology forward.

The most difficult aspect... well that was actually juggling coding with caring for my pregnant wife, Mariela, doctors appointments, lack of sleep, hormones. Luckily I planned time of work and I could fit enough time to get PirateBaby to what it was for compo deadline. The extension helped GREATLY. Basically no time to think, just code... at every spare moment I had. OK... you wanted something more related to the game itself - PenjinTwo Prescaling feature. I wanted/needed to make this available for PirateBaby since we aimed for the super small resolution of 240x180 as on Pandora, we wanted this to be windowed, for multi-tasking.

Obviously consoles, like the Caanoo, Dingoo, Wiz and GP2X, they use a 320x240 fullscreen resolution. So I needed to scale the GFX. It's was difficult because I need to write general purpose code in Penjin, I can't just hardcode a hack... What I actually did was get theprescaling of graphics working and find that text was broken. I couldn't fix the broken text positioning in PenjinTwo in time for the deadline so I hacked in a semi-working fix into the PirateBaby source for compo release. As I type this thought I've already pushed several text positioning fixes to the PenjinTwo git repo.

BAF : In your opinion, how your game will make the difference over the other games in the competition ?

PokeParadox : I think it's just different. It's inspired by real life events and it's a game you can multi-task with, even more-so when sound will be added in the future. I just hope people enjoy it and can see it's potential, since we have so many ideas we want to continue developing.

BAF : What do you think of Caanoo as a open source console ? And about the development of homebrew on it ?

PokeParadox : I think the Caanoo is more like what the original GP2X should have been. I think this time GPH got most aspects right. This is just my opinion, I have never held the machine in my hands, I can only comment from the images and impression I get based on user comments.

Developing for it is nice. The toolchain is straight-forward... Not actually owning the Caanoo makes it impossible to test but several people stepped forward, yourself included(Thank you!), to test and let me adjust my code/packaging scripts/launchers until it worked! I think the community is most important thing behind the Caanoo and consoles like it.

BAF : What advice would you give to those who wish to embark on the adventure of creation ?

PokeParadox : Hmmm... Keep a positive attitude, just do it. Also whatever your skill set, you can all provide SOMETHING creative. If you can't code, if your art sucks, you can still contribute with things like documentation, promotion of great homebrew games. Also if you can't code and really want to, learn to code. Don't be afraid of failing, we learn by making mistakes and adapting ourselves not to make the same mistakes.

BAF : What are your future projects ?

PokeParadox : PenjinTHREE! Ok... I'm joking... Well I will continue improving PenjinTwo to be the nice homebrew friendly games engine. I also various ideas that are progressing at different rates.
a 3D space game and a genetic evolution shapes game... I can't comment on when/if they'll be ready, but that's some idea on what I'm working on. Also we are not finished with PirateBaby! :)

BAF : A word to add ?

PokeParadox : Well thanks for your time, I hope I answered your questions correctly, what do I win? :p
Thanks to everyone that helped me test, thanks to all that have taken time to play with PirateBaby and lastly thanks to Mariela and my son Aidan! :)

BAF : why the name "PirateBaby" ?

PokeParadox : The name PirateBaby comes from Pirate Games - Baby. I was going to go for PirateDaddy or something... but then I realised that girls may be playing too so PirateBaby, the working title, became final. Currently there is no Pirate Baby in the game, but the original plan is that you could evolve a Pirate Baby depending on how you cared for it.

BAF : Thanks a lot PokeParadox.

PokeParadox : Bye! :)

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