Mr. Shifty Post-Mortem Interview - with Josh Sanderson

Mr. Shifty is a top-down beat ‘em up that launched in April on the PC and Nintendo Switch. Gamespot gave the game an 8/10 while others noted the framerate issues on the Switch version. Since then the game has received multiple patches and has also been released on the PS4 and Xbox One. 

We caught up with Josh Sanderson, one of the founding members of Team Shifty, to ask some questions.

Brisbane Byte: What’s it like developing a game for the Nintendo Switch and how important was it to be available on the Switch near the console’s launch?

Josh Sanderson: When the opportunity to do Switch came up, we definitely saw the possibility for success right away. There was a big positive buzz around the console and we knew that if we could get in early, it could help secure our chances at success. That said, the timeline was very short and we had to crunch hard to make it over the line. It is a real badge of honour to be the first Australian made game to release on Switch.

BB: What do you say to people who dismiss Mr Shifty as a Hotline Miami clone?

JS: We didn’t start from a point of “Let’s make a Hotline Miami game with a twist”, we started with the teleportation mechanic and then made design decisions to complement the main mechanic. The top-down perspective is there in Mr. Shifty so that the teleportation is easily used by the player to devastating effect. The single-hit retry is there to reinforce the need to be mobile and agile; to shift out of danger. Mr. Shifty is really worth coming into with fresh eyes as its own game.

BB: The game development process seems absurd at times. What keeps you going?

JS: Personally, I get a lot of support from friends and family. Hi, Mum! Game teams, especially small ones, become really close when doing the hard yards on a project. The rest of Team Shifty definitely seem like family to me now. We go through the trenches of game development together and come out battered and bruised but wiser and hopefully successful on the other side.

BB: How long was development and what was the reaction internally to the launch of the game? Would you have done anything differently?

JS: We made Mr. Shifty in just over a year with just 4 of us full time on the project. 
Launch was very stressful. It’s difficult to know what to do exactly and the strength of the launch can make or break a company. For us, it came off the back of a crunch to get the game done and led into another to patch some bugs which also took its toll. I’d definitely be trying to give myself dedicated time to look after the launch next time if at all possible.

BB: Do you have plans on any future updates for Mr Shifty? Do you have anything you would like to plug to end the article?

JS: We’re proud of Mr. Shifty as it is. If we can justify adding more to the game down the line, we still have ideas that we didn’t get to put in. Enemy types and level concepts left out due to the reality of shipping are still in our source control history. I’d personally love to be able to show some of those to the world.

This was first published in the November 2017 issue of Brisbane Byte magazine. Subscribe below to get future issues delivered straight to your inbox.