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Luca Contato on Space Wave Race, Rising Pixel and games of the future

Luca Contato is the founder and the CEO of Rising Pixel, a dedicated team focused on Games, Software, Design and IT. Here, we’re talking about Rising Pixel and one of their games, Space Wave Race – a quick reminder: a new update of this audiogame is now available!

Can you introduce yourself? What are your main interests?

I’m the founder and CEO of Rising Pixel. A suitable definition for me is: “I solve problems with games”! I am Italian and I moved abroad to open my game studio, Rising Pixel. My main interests are design and development of games. I’m a hobby musician and I spend a lot of my free time randomly browsing Wikipedia. I always put a lot of effort in accessible games, and audiogames in particular. 

What do you like about audiogames?

I like the challenge, the twist that you have to think about during design and, of course, making something for the good of humanity. At Rising Pixel we believe that everybody should be able to enjoy games, since shared experiences are what bring us together. I’m really happy to see how things are changing fast: six years ago, when I started making audiogames, we were only a niche, audiogames were only a niche, but now also big companies are starting thinking seriously about accessibility in games – for example, The Last of Us 2 and Fifa have a lot of accessibility options. As an indie developer, audiogames are also a soft introduction to the game dev industry and put you up to accessibility. 

Is this the first game you work on?

No, I started making games as a hobby when I was 12. It has been 8 years since I worked the first time on a game as a developer. My first audiogame, Inquisitor’s Heartbeat (now free-to-play on the AppStore), has been released in 2014. That makes me feel old… 

How is Rising Pixel born?

Rising Pixel born as a group of four friends gathering in my bedroom. We all had the desire to make games. We chose the name “Rising Pixel” while eating an ice-cream, in my yard. Our first motto was: “We make games and stuff”. All this was in 2012, in 2016 I decided to move to Gran Canaria because, well… the sun, nice place, taxes, good internet, good people. I’m still working here, now we are about 14 and our focus is business-to-business, so we work for hire, we do games or part of games for others. HTML5 is our main focus in game dev. I think we developed more than a hundred games with millions of play-per-week but few games released under the name of Rising Pixel. Space Wave Race, of course, is one of them, and we are proud of it. 

Space Wave Race is a kind of racing game: how do the races work?

Space Wave Race is a reflex arcade game about driving a spaceship through a path full of obstacles and enemies, not a proper racing game. We’ve adopted a quite different approach from our last audiogame, Nicolas Eymerich – The Demon. In Eymerich we created one of the biggest audiogame ever with a lot of interactions, stories, dialogues, mechanics… This time, we didn’t exaggerate too much with complexity. Instead, we focused on few inputs, simple mechanics, but with a comprehensive experience to maximize gameplay. With the right synthwave atmosphere.

You also worked on the sound design. What can you tell us about it? 

Audio was made as a combination of sounds that I feel okay with. There are some gameboy sounds, digital space sounds… The music of TeknoAXE does the rest to give the right 80ies atmosphere. Also, all the voices are synthesized speeches, we used a system we developed for this game: this allowed us to work faster and to focus more on the game, while being coherent with the sci-fi theme. In sci-fi there is an artificial intelligence that is talking to you so it’s okay that there is this voice talking robotically. We’ll keep this in mind for some future sci-fi audiogames.

Which is the story behind Space Wave Race? Who is behind it? 

All my team, apart from me, is into production: in particular, Laura Del Pino and Juan Alberto Santana for development, and Jenn Lopez Hernandez for art and design. Of course Audiogame Association, that helps me release and distribute the game. The story of Space Wave Race… I have plenty of concepts about audiogames. A simplified racing game combined some ideas of Audio Moto Championship and Space Encounter; these audiogames are two of the Audiogames.Store games. One, of course, it’s about driving motos on a track, and the other one is about spaceship fights. Lastly, I’ve always wanted to make something with this synthwave mode: low poly, neon colors, digital sounds…. Long story short: I was already working with Ivan Venturi when another opportunity presented itself and we started working on it.

Space Wave Race is a bit different from other audiogames because there’s graphic, it’s not audio only, and it has been developed to be fully accessible, including modes for players with reduced mobility, visual or hearing impairment and dyslexia – do you think that this might be a road for all video games to follow? Video games suitable for everyone? 

I’m proud of how the game looks. We found the right compromise between quality resources, accessibility to support all the impairments you’ve mentioned. Audio clues are clear for blind players, we have high contrast mode for limited vision, dyslexia-approved font, full-shown graphics because you can play without using audio at all, few buttons and in borders of the keyboard, so reachable buttons. In the past we also made an experimental game which used mind-reading devices and voice to give the input, but maybe in this case it was too much… So, I would say Space Wave Race is accessible enough. But we would like to expand the game more: regarding this, a big update is coming. We are adding to the iOS, Steam and Audiogame.Store versions leaderboard, new tracks, new languages (now we have Spanish, English, Italian, Chinese and French), a lot of game balancing in order to add more competition, an issuing request from our players. We received a lot of feedback from them, and we’re trying to make everyone happy! Tweaking a lot of the value of the game, adding more stuff, enhancing audio, a lot of small touches that make the game more interesting. And video games suitable for everyone are the future, yes. As I mentioned before, The Last of Us 2, Fifa, also some recent Star Wars games have a lot of accessibility options; but the quality and the size of productions depends on how many players will support and buy audiogames so… Long live to audiogames!

You can listen to this episode of the podcast of Audiogame Association: https://youtu.be/BY7hSAWGg9M

You can also download Space Wave Race with its new update (leaderboard, new tracks, new languages, more competition) here: https://www.audiogame.store/en/shop/space-wave-race/