Interview: Bootdisk Revolution chats about the success of “Bleed”


The quality of the games found on Xbox Live Indie Games isn’t very impressive.  But if you take the time to sort through the rubbish, you’ll find a few gems hidden on XBLIG.  One of those gems is a 2D action-platformer called “Bleed” which was developed by Bootdisk Revolution.  Bleed has you play as a pink-haired female protagonist named Wryn who is on a quest to become the greatest hero of all time.  The game has been well received by critics, and it’s considered one of the best games currently available on Xbox Live Indie Games.  PC gamers also have the ability to buy it on Steam.

Dromble would like to thank Ian Campbell from Bootdisk Revolution for doing this interview.


Talk a little bit about yourself and Bootdisk Revolution.  What  inspired you to get into game development?

I’m Ian Campbell, a 27 year old from Ontario, Canada. Bootdisk Revolution is the name that I make games under, and I’ve been doing it for about four years now! I’ve wanted to make games ever since I played Super Mario Bros. as a kid… I wasn’t allowed consoles at home so I’d constantly do things like drawing levels — and even whole games — on paper instead. I was halfway through my post-graduate year at college for 3D animation when I heard about XNA and XBLIG, which inspired me to pack up my things and give game development a try.

Briefly explain what Bleed is all about for those who have never  played the game.

Bleed is an action-platformer that gives you insane amounts of freedom — you have a steerable triple jump to dodge through hails of bullets, a slow-mo ability for extra precision, and infinite-ammo weapons that can be fired non-stop in any direction while performing all of these actions. It’s designed to be as fast, fluid and fun as possible!

Bleed gives me a Gunstar Heroes vibe.  Were there any games that  heavily inspired the gameplay or visuals of Bleed?

I’ve actually never played Gunstar Heroes, but I’ve watched several playthroughs and it looks incredible! I think my main inspirations for both gameplay and visuals would be Mega Man, Contra, Ikaruga and Bayonetta… I also have Cave Story to thank for reminding me so many years ago that it was possible to make a retro-looking game on the current gen.

What software or tools did you use to create all of the pixel art and  animations?

All of the art was created in Photoshop CS4, making regular use of Petr Stanicek’s Color Scheme Designer to combat the fact that I’m red-green colourblind. The animations were done partly with fancy coding and partly in Photoshop, mostly just by eyeballing it and iterating on them… I’ve since learned of programs like GraphicsGale that should make that process easier in the future.   🙂

What have sales been like between the PC/MAC versions and the XBLIG  version of Bleed?  Are you satisfied with the game’s sales? Did you  find the XBLIG market to be difficult to sell the game?

XBLIG accounted for about 7% of all Bleed sales, but XBLIG is a reliably difficult market to sell any game that doesn’t meet a pretty specific criteria. I’m honestly surprised Bleed sold as much as it did there, especially for the $5 price point.

As for PC and MAC… it’s hard to be precise with the numbers but PC dominates, making up at least 90-95% of all non-console sales — I made enough from MAC sales to cover the cost of porting it, but not a lot more.

Taking into account all the places and ways the game has been sold (online stores, bundles, sales, pay-what-you-want promotions, etc) Bleed has moved about 50,000 copies so far. As a one-man development team it’s hard not to be happy with that, though I believe very strongly in the game and would love for it to reach an even wider audience.

Bleed was developed with XNA.  Microsoft had recently discontinued  support for XNA.  How did you feel about their decision to discontinue  it?  Also, how do you plan to go forward with the development of  future games?  Have you been looking at alternative engines such as  Unity?

C# and XNA are the only coding tools I know how to use, and over the last four years I’ve gotten pretty proficient with them, so it was a harsh blow to hear that XNA was dead. I suspect it’s a blessing in disguise however, because it’ll force me to look into other engines like Unity, which is supposed to be great for cross-platform development. It would make sense for any big future games to be on as many platforms as possible, which is something XNA could never offer.

As far as consoles are concerned, Bleed has only appeared on XBLIG.   Are you interested in branching out to other console makers such as  Sony and Nintendo?  Have you spoken to either of those console makers  about creating games for their platforms?

Absolutely I’m interested — Sony seems very welcoming to indies, and I think for any developer who grew up in the 80-90’s it would be a dream come true to have a game on a Nintendo console. However I haven’t spoken to either of them yet, which is just as well until I learn how to actually code a game in something other than XNA.   🙂

We’ve seen the different indie policies from Sony, Nintendo,  Microsoft, and Ouya.  Is there one company out of those four that has  impressed you the most with their indie policies? Any company that has  impressed you the least?

I must confess that when I’m making games I tend to keep my head down and not pay much attention to news, including the various console makers’ stances on independant gaming. As far as I know they all seem to realize there’s a booming market in independant game development and are making themselves as attractive to  work with as possible, which of course I appreciate.

What does the future hold for Bootdisk Revolution? Could you see your  next project being Bleed 2 or something completely unrelated to Bleed?

More games! Making a sequel to Bleed is something I have a ton of passion and ideas for — it’s just not fully baked yet. Currently I’m finishing up a small puzzle game called The Useful Dead, where the corpses from your failed attempts are used to make progress and solve puzzles… I guess the best answer is, I’ll just keep working on whatever excites me!   🙂

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