SXSW Gaming 2019 had a lot of hidden gems in the Indie Corner during the Expo. One of the big surprises was Khaos Wind by JT Mitchells (Dos Gatitos Games).
Khaos Wind is a FPS survival horror game taking place in deep space while we are on board of a colonization/research vessel. Always on this types of games goes wrong, a fatal error in the food manufacturing unit caused mass starvation sparking an all out class war on board of the ship. To make things worse… in the midst of all the chaos an ancient evil was unleashed upon the ship causing the crew to go insane.
We had the opportunity to learn more about his game and how JT Mitchell decided to create his own path inside the indie world.
For everyone that doesn’t know about Dos Gatitos Games, would you mind introducing yourself?
My name is JT Mitchell and I’m a self-taught indie game developer (I actually studied music in college). Dos Gatitos Games is a name I came up with for my company when I was getting set up on Steam. I originally had a dozen of name ideas written down and I was going through them all and finding out that they were all taken when my cat (Rosie the black and orange one in the logo) jumped on my lap and I said ‘Hola gatito!’
That’s when I came up with the name. But it is actually just me working by myself out of the living room. (Though I had a lot of help from my fiancé and her dad getting everything ready for the booth at SXSW Gaming). Everything you see on screen I made myself primarily using Unity and Blender.
Tell us a little bit about your game and where did the idea came from?
My game is Khaos Wind, is a survival horror game that takes place in outer space. It’s a first person shooter that is heavily influenced by challenging games like Bloodborne or Dark Souls with steep difficulty curves. It currently has two modes: Survival and Story Mode.
Story Mode is more of a stealth style exploration based game where you explore a massive spaceship trying to survive this crazy zombie/cannibal outbreak and watching out also for giant monsters. While survival mode is just action, wave after wave of zombies/cannibals crew members with a steep difficulty ramp.
This mode is still kind of in its early phases, where I’m figuring out how to show the plot to the players. I have a book where I tend to write my ideas about the plot with character development, plot twists, optional story arcs and lots of drama. But since it’s just me working alone on Khaos Wind, I’m a little reluctant to give to much away about the plot that I have dreamed up.
So as of right now the Story Mode is about a character who goes through this giant ship just trying to survive, hunting down these gigantic intelligent monsters that have begun to eat both other cannibals and humans alike.
My goal with Survival Mode was to make a rewarding survival wave style experience that has very short waves so that players don’t end up playing one game of survival for hours and then having to quit because they got bored or had to leave.
I’m hoping when the game comes out making it to the final wave (wave 10 in regular survival mode) only takes 10 minutes but is also a massively rewarding experience for hardcore gamer’s and dedicated fans. At the convention I had only 3 or 4 people ever made it past wave 3 (6 zombies) which I am very proud of.
The idea for Khaos Wind came to me two years ago at another SXSW Gaming festival. Before I began work on Khaos Wind I was working on my 3rd game/prototype (which never made it past alpha) when I had an inspiring conversation with some other indie developers (the super cool team behind Mythic Ocean). The game I was working on before was an adventure game about our pet Axolotl.
After I talked with the other indie developers, I went home and played my Axolotl game again and thought…well this game is not fun…that’s when I started brainstorming my next idea and I landed on Khaos Wind. I was playing call of duty zombies with my little brother online and we got to some ridiculous wave like wave 30 or 40 and we just got bored and quit. So I said to myself I wish there was a version of this with less zombies but was still hard and had shorter waves. I began work on the prototype that night.
Originally it started out as a space game because I was working on a 15 year old Macbook with no graphics card so I needed a way to keep performance costs low. My idea was to have the game take place in a close quarters spaceship so that I could make every room you couldn’t see disappear as soon as you walked out of it (saving on run costs in a big way).
Once I started getting more serious though, I realized that My technology was holding my dream for Khaos Wind back. So I started working more hours at my day job to save up for the cheapest gaming PC I could find. (As well as a ring to propose to my fiancé while I was at it).
What was your biggest challenge making the game, and how did you overcome it?
So far my biggest challenge while making the game has been balancing work, game development and personal life. I originally went to college to study music and got used to working 70–100 hours a week balancing school and work. Once I graduated, I was still used to working that much but had nothing to do with my excess of free time (even when I was working 50 hours a week at my day job).
That’s when I started watching tutorials online and buying used textbooks from some of the greatest game development teachers of North America and teaching myself to code, design levels, build 3D models, texture and do foley work.
The capacity to work tons of hours is great for game development but it also means that I turned into a massive workaholic and a lot of people seem to shy away or be bothered by the fact that I find it hard to talk or think about much else. I have been trying very actively to use this opportunity (SXSW Gaming) to try and be a better listener and a more present friend and fiancé.
I hope that I am succeeding but I think it may be a lifelong goal trying to be a better person every day and I will just have to take it one day at a time. My approach so far has been by listening to a lot of philosophy podcasts while I work and focusing on the things that I am grateful for.
A great example of this would actually be the start of SXSW Gaming 2019. First thing in the morning one of the computers I brought for the convention stopped working. A few months ago something like that may have sent me spiraling. But with my new found approach to dealing with problems I decided to look at it and just say:
- I’m still very fortunate to be exhibiting at SXSW
- 2. I still have one computer running so we’re good to go
- I’m so lucky that my father-in-law is an engineer for AMD and he took the computer apart and put it back together as soon as we got home from SXSW in time to have it up and running for day two.
What indie games are your top inspiration?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one inspiring game in the indie space (everything about the indie space is so inspiring). The indie world started when a lot of people got tired of waiting for an opportunity to arise and decided to make their own opportunities.
It’s kind of punk rock and I love everything about it! I guess you could say I’m more inspired by the people than anything! Almost every indie game I’ve ever played I’ve found inspiring. I’m most inspired by the smallest teams, I love getting to the end of game and seeing that the whole credits screen fits on one page. Every time that happens I get so inspired.
Other than those amazing small teams I have been very inspired by a lot of bigger games like Bloodborne and Dishonored.
Since the game has been playable at SXSW Gaming, what has been the feedback you got so far?
SXSW Gaming has been my first convention and Khaos Wind is my first game to make it this far (past alpha). I think I may be my own harshest critic because I was really prepared for people to sit down and tell me this game is so bad and just be very negative. The reception I got at SXSW Gaming was on such a higher level than I was prepared for I was really blown away.
Almost everyone who sat down seemed to really like it. I got a lot of valuable constructive criticism and a lot of people really took to it and were motivated by the challenge. I think the worst criticism I got from anybody so far was from myself before SXSW I spent a lot of time beating myself up. A few people were even impressed/shocked to find out that Khaos Wind was a one man team, which felt really good to hear.
Finally, what are your plans for the future?
After I get my game shipped on Steam and it’s been on steam long enough for me to push out the first handful of updates, my plan is to try to get it on Playstation and Xbox.
After that it depends on the success of the game. If it does well enough that I’m able to quit my day job and work on games full time I may get started on a similar first person shooter style game. If not I might spend some time prototyping some of the ideas that have popped in to my head over the course of the development of khaos wind.
Whatever I do next it will probably be super challenging because that’s just how I like my games and how I wish more games were. I find that (for me) there is no greater thrill in video games than getting to a point and feeling that rush like wow I really accomplished something special and I want all of my games to have a little bit of that in them.
Not unfair but very challenging. I think my proudest achievement as a gamer is having gotten the platinum trophy in Bloodborne and I want people who beat my game to feel that same kind of pride and accomplishment.