A beautiful side-scroller #MadeWithBolt

A one man band

"Well, I’m a one-man-band basically, so I do everything myself. I’m very much a visual person, so any tool where I can see what’s happening in real time is what I gravitate towards", says Martin, the 21 year-old Swedish game developer and musician behind the BoltJam winning entry "Parallel." Currently studying at Dalarnas University for sound and music production, martin only got his start in video games two years ago (2016).

Without any formal education in game development, Martin had to find ways to teach himself. His first finished game was a jumpscare filled hallway-sim. Contrary to what one may he think, he actually found it to be a valuable exercise in game design. "How to time a scare, when and when not to use certain sounds. What and what not to show etc. Granted there are better ways of learning, but that’s how I got started."

Besides making games and writing music, Martin devotes his pastime to playing games, watching movies and listening to music.

Two roles

The project in question, Parallel, was built for Bolt's first online game jam. The, project, made in 3 days and submitted way before the deadline, received an undisputed first place position among a slew of engaging titles. Parallel is a platformer where the player takes on two rolls, with Oskar on the right and Stella on the left. The player can switch between the two in order to solve puzzles and drive the story forward.

When Martin approaches a project, he takes small ques from a multitude of different titles. Blending them into his own work, rendering their origin to be almost unrecognizable. Would you think that Parallel was actually inspired by the likes of "Silent Hill 2", "Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Portal 2"?

"I feel like it’s worth mentioning the very personal subject matter the game talks about. I’ve always been depressed, never to any extreme degree, but it’s always been there. So, this game was a way to express that." At first glance, you would only notice the visual differences, Oskar's side is filled with a dull, gloomy color palette while Stella's side is more bright and vibrant. More astute player's will notice that Oskar's movement speed is also slower than Stella's. Details like this may not be immediately apparent, but they make all the difference. To Martin, this was a way to represent the self that you show the world, vs the true self within.

Bolt hasn’t just enabled me to write code, it’s also taught me the fundamentals of game development.

Q. What got you started with Bolt?

A. For a long time, I used Playmaker when writing code, that’s mainly because I had around that time bought a Unity Plus Subscription which included a handful of tools such as Amplify Shader Editor. I was looking for something that was more involved than simply using state graphs. While they are good for certain aspects, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I wanted something truer to scripting tools like the Blueprint system in the Unreal Engine. I first found out about Bolt when Unity posted its first video showcasing it on their YouTube channel. Since then I’ve learned pretty much everything I can about it.

Q. How has Bolt enabled you in terms of game development?

A. Things that seemed impossible to do with normal code finally started making sense. I had no idea how a save system worked, I had no idea how to basic AI worked. But the more you thought about it, and the more features you discovered it became doable, easy even. I know someone is going to try to correct me and say coding is easy because of this and that, but I can't wrap my head around languages like C#. That’s just how I am. Bolt has helped me, someone who could never get into game development, get into game development and I feel like that’s commendable. Think of all the creative people out there who couldn’t make a game of their own, until now.

Q. Any final thoughts or comments?

A. I’m super happy with how Bolt is turning out, and I’m excited to see how it develops! I don't want to announce any new projects until I feel like there’s something worth sharing. You can't give out a book that’s almost finished, you can't share a movie that’s almost finished, I don't like the fact that the gaming industry has enabled that. So, you wait until I have something that’s finished, and when I do I’ll announce that on my Twitter page for anyone that is interested!