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An Interview with Adam Kareem, Creator of Protodroid DeLTA

Adam Kareem is the creator extraordinaire of the new Protodroid DeLTA videogame coming to Steam and Nintendo Switch. His Kickstarter has already exceeded expectations, and he looks to bring his “solarpunk” vision to fruition in 2021. He was kind enough to spend some time with us here at BlackSciFi.

BSF: Describe the origin story of where the idea for Protodroid DeLTA originated.

Adam Kareem: The idea came from my “Megaman X and Zero” fan game . I had been spending a lot of time making fan games, and of the 3 that I made, “X and Zero” was the most fun to make and the one I was most skilled at making. So from all this time I’ve been spending on my fan games, but ultimately felt limited because it wasn’t my IPs. So I couldn’t ever sell it or expand on the worlds or characters without it feeling like just a fanfic or something. So I figured, with all this time I’m spending I might as well create something original that I can actually “do” something with. And that’s where it started, I was like “I love Megaman X, so I’ll use this as the base and remix it in a way to create something fresh.” As an example, the analogy between the name of “X” from Megaman and “DeLTA” from protodroid is that they’re both like math symbols to represent something. In the case of “X” it’s a variable and that he could become anything. And the case of DeLTA it’s the symbol for “change” and that she will be the change in the world.

Protodroid DeLTA. Image credit Adam Kareem.

BSF: Protodroid is obviously going to be compared to the Megaman franchise, but talk about the game aesthetic. The setting and storylines seem pretty unique.

AK: Yeah the aesthetic is “solarpunk” and it’s just something I stumbled upon when browsing Pinterest. I normally browse through Pinterest for inspiration for character design and when I came across this I just fell in love. I found it so refreshing and inspiring. I also chose it because of how common in sci-fi people resort to dystopian visions of the future. That and how overused the whole “cyberpunk” aesthetic is. I just felt “not every vision of the future needs to be like this and so sad!” The storyline is actually pretty different from Megaman in a number of ways. 1) It focuses on people. While DeLTA is the main character, the central conflict is one between humans – it’s a conflict brought on by the drone-gang pilots and between the doctors who created the protodroids. 2) There aren’t any elements of human fears of robots or a robot uprising. In this world, humanity is very “tech -positive” as I’m calling it. So they don’t fear the protodroids or any robotic life and instead view them simply as fellow lifeforms. Additionally, the protodroids don’t have any internal conflict about what they are.

BSF: Why the choice for 3D as opposed to 2D? Mechanically, how does this contribute to the shooting and platforming vision you are working to achieve with Protodroid?

AK: Mostly because 2D Megaman games are so plentiful. I like trying new things with my games and trying to advance or modernize gameplay. So with over 25 2D Megaman games and others, I don’t feel like there’s much of a need for yet another 2D Megaman game. That problem has largely been solved and those experiences are plentiful. What there’s much less of though is Megaman in 3D. I always personally felt that Megaman could play really well in 3D and it’d be an amazing way to modernize the series and increase its appeal. The Ratchet & Clank games are honestly perfect examples of what a great 3D Megaman could play like, especially if that were a Megaman Legends series. So I’m really energized by the idea of bringing things to 3D.

BSF: Amazingly, you have been working on your creative vision alone. Can you talk about the challenges of being a 1-man development team?

AK: Thanks for that! The main challenge has been just how many hats I need to wear. That’s the main challenge is the time it takes to learn different aspects and then commit the time to doing them. On the game dev side it’s not as overwhelming as prepping for the Kickstarter has been. From the character design to selecting music to building the KS to the promo trailer, all that was exhausting and very difficult. But on the game dev side the main challenge is in how long it takes to learn some new, very specific thing very quickly that I’ll only use briefly. Like lighting a scene or creating particle trail effect, or setting the right sounds etc. There’s a lot of little things that aren’t like complimentary skills but they take a while to learn and I’ll only need to use it for a short period of time. I much prefer just the programming, game design, and level design aspects since those are skills you learn and use and re-use over and over again.

BSF: I am seeing a whole host of characters with differing backgrounds, and that is coupled with many voice actors of color. Can you talk about the importance of representation, especially in the context of some of the protests that are prevalent in our world right now?

AK: Oh definitely and that was all very deliberate. I wanted to create a world with characters that aren’t often featured prominently in games. As a way to help normalize our appearances in games so that it’s commonplace and unremarkable y’know? Because for a really long time, we just haven’t seen it in games and that’s just been unfortunate. The best example of this to me the Smash Bros Ultimate character select screen. It’s got over 70 characters who are in many ways a celebration of over 30 years of gaming icons. And yet, the only black or brown characters are either (A) evil (Ganondorf) or (B) alt-skins (dark link, darker skinned inkling, etc.). I joke that there’s even more furries than there are black and brown characters! Hahaha. But that’s just how gaming has been for a very, very long time. Representation is important and a wonderful way to get even more people into gaming and bringing their experiences to it, which enriches the experience for us all.

BSF: What has been the most challenging aspect of this journey? The most rewarding?

AK: Most challenging has been doing game development while juggling a full time job and family. It’s safer for me this way because I have total creative freedom and don’t have the stress of needing to make a game that will sell a certain amount to support my family, y’know? The most rewarding has been seeing people’s reactions when they play my game or how excited they get about the character designs and other aspects of the game. It’s such a huge boost and an amazing thing to create meaningful and memorable experiences for people. And just to create fun in their lives.

Protodroid DeLTA. Image credit Adam Kareem.

BSF: Your Kickstarter is completely funded. Congratulations! Can you describe some of where that money will go, some of the cool stretch goal features that were funded, and how people can contribute going forward?

AK: Thanks so much! All the money will go towards the games development. That’s the benefit of still having a day job. I don’t also need the funds to live off of. So most of that will go to 3D models, 2D art, animations, and music. And the remainder to a myriad of game development things (SFX, VFX, production tools, etc.). Also a small amount will go towards improving my PC to make development much easier. The stretch goals were really exciting, they were the “Tribute Armors” which enable different playstyles for DeLTA in ways that mimic iconic characters from the X series. And they’ve all gotten a really strong positive reception from fans and backers. So it’s really cool to see. People can still contribute via Indiegogo actually! I’ve extended the campaign for anyone who missed the Kickstarter.

BSF: Thanks for your time today. Any final thoughts to add?

AK: Thanks for having me! Folks can follow the project on Twitter!

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Ryan Files is an avid comic book and video game consumer, reviewer, and critic hailing from the boondocks of Illinois. He has taken his ethnographic cultural studies background and applied it to his love of geekdom. He is a huge Star Wars nerd, Castlevania fanatic, and his power level is definitely over 9000. When he isn’t online writing about how he misses old school beat em’ ups like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or TMNT IV Turtles in Time, he raises his 3 Dora Milaje warrior girls with the most awesome wife a blerd could ask for. You can reach the mumbly one @moblipeg on Twitter or email him at moblipeg@gmail.com.

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