Interviewing VoxPop Games about their platform and “Outer Terror”

Try Hard Guides speaks with Marc Rodriguez of VoxPop Games, the publisher behind "Weaponeer".
Outer Terror Voxpop
Image: VoxPop Games

Outer Terror, an upcoming action roguelite from Salt & Pixel LLC and VoxPop Games, is inspired by classic horror movies and comics from the 80’s and 90’s.

Try Hard Guides had the opportunity to speak with Marc Anthony Rodriguez, the co-founder and COO of VoxPop Games, to discuss their platform, plans for the future, and details about the origins and concepts of Outer Terror.

The extended interview opened with Marc briefly explaining the VoxPop platform, and the relationship with Salt & Pixel LLC developer Brandon Rodriguez, who brought a unique and invaluable perspective to Outer Terror.

Marc Rodriguez: VoxPop in general is a distribution and development platform that utilizes profit sharing tools and acts as sort of a middleware toolset for developers to negotiate deals with streamers, content creators, advertisers, marketers, and other developers and artists.

VoxPop is dipping their toes into funding, micro-funding projects. And Outer Terror is this first example of revenue capture for us, and being able to use our platform as that middleware toolset.

So, from the developer’s side, we thought it was a no-brainer. Brandon had worked with us. I’d been tracking Brandon’s work for years, he’s an amazing creative. He builds a lot of pixel art, horror games, game boy games, so that kind of feel is what we wanted to bring as our first foray.

We all pitched in to get feedback, and really tried to make this game as cool as possible while sticking to Brandon’s original intent, design, and pitch for the game.

Outer Terror City
Image: VoxPop Games

What are some of the particulars you seek out in developers like Salt & Pixel?

MR: Anyone who has a passion for game development and collaboration and cooperation. We want to identify truly independent creatives. We look for the cream of the crop who can extend their own personal ROI (return on investment).

What we’re trying to look for is the next generation of creatives. The people who are tired of just throwing their games on Itch or Steam and having them underperform because they don’t know the logistics of a good marketing campaign, don’t know how to do outreach.

We need to try and be sure that people can make money, to make this a sustainable job. The vast majority of people that go into independent creation end up just working for another big corporation.

We’re trying to establish the next big corporate studios that can make money. Just earn a living by utilizing tools that weren’t available to them, or other platforms just aren’t keen on offering them.

The games we’re working on don’t necessarily have to be all pixel style or unity based. But we want games that are being generated by passionate creatives that don’t have the means to deal with the whole process of running a full marketing campaign.

Just people that feel like they’re on a ship by themselves in the middle of the ocean. They’re not alone, and we are a platform that’s geared towards helping them. That’s the higher purpose of our platform.

Do you expect to increase funding for indie games, and how many titles do you hope to fund per year?

MR: We don’t have a specific timeline. We have four titles that we are currently publishing and utilize this middleware toolset. Outer Terror is the first fully funded one.

For funding, there really is no number. It depends on what projects we’re being pitched that we deem that we could enhance properly with the budget that we have. You can’t expect to have a limitless budget. You’ve gotta have a demonstrable game that’s pretty much past the alpha stage, that we can fine tune together to make something great.

Outer Terror
Image: VoxPop Games

Do you plan to continue working with the same developers long-term for their future titles?

MR: Yes, that’s the whole point. It’s not going to be like a job interview. I hate carrot-dangling. This is more future collaboration…with the ability to want to do more projects with us for years to come.

I don’t want to say this is a guarantee for a job to work with us, cause we’re not opening a game studio. What we are offering is a platform toolset that allows us to pretty much handle the grunt work and problems that developers are having overall.

What features are you working on right now for the future?

MR: Right now the tools that we’re building are the middleware system, and the developer contracting system is what we’re growing with. The middleware tools, we’re looking to expand that, pretty much making it a hybrid of Patreon or Ko-Fi alongside Fiverr.

Giving power back to developers, influencers, and content creators is key. Allowing them to have a tool like, ‘I have this cool music guy, I wanna pay him’. Well, does he have a VoxPop account? Send the percentage you want to give him when the game releases, and it’ll pay him from now until whenever.

It’s a smart contract system. It’s a way for us to utilize systems that are already in place for people to make true income and not lose any, or devalue or short-sell their game products.

We have the store, we gotta get the gremlins out of it, but we are selling highbrow games from Triple I publishers and anything from garage devs that are just starting out.

And we’re hopefully gonna try to get involved with bigger, highbrow connections like Overwolf and the mod community with Ark and other projects.

There’s a huge market share out there for user generated content, but these users are just doing it for free. So why not license these products, and have these creatives also be able to get money through our system. That’s another cool incentive for players that we’re looking into.

When could fans expect those features to be rolled out?

MR: We’re trying to roll things out within the next 6-8 months. We’re in talks with high caliber investors.

“Made for VoxPop” games are clever incentives. How is that additional content determined, and will that expand in the future?

MR: So the Made for VoxPop program is essentially what I took from working at Capcom. A lot of these developers that have these Made for VoxPop incentive games, pretty much have the de facto, definitive edition of what they wanted to accomplish with their games on our platform. But they’re also giving back a lot more to the people who purchase their game.

It’s sort of planned out to give everyone a proper send off with their published titles, and give them some new cool content. The expansion on that is essentially what we’re doing now, we’re popping in this middleware.

How interested are you in creating or investing in DLC and sequels for indie games?

MR: Right now, the litmus test is Outer Terror. For me to claim that this is gonna be a one and done, I can’t say it either way. I wouldn’t wanna close any doors to any of that.

But we are building tools in the platform right now to enable pass-throughs of games that are sequels from other publishers, that maybe the publisher doesn’t want to pick up.

Are there any details or plans that you’d like fans to know about Outer Terror that haven’t been released yet?

MR: It’s going wide to Epic. We announced it before, but we didn’t announce the timeline. So we’re working on that. It’s going to be probably within the next 2 months that more news comes out about other partnerships.

We’re trying to focus specifically on gamers enjoying the current chapters that we have. We’re working with Reverb Communications…to get as much cool content about the game out in the coming days ahead.

We have a woodland scenario, a desert, the arctic area, you have the altered world area, an alien-style otherworldly area. We wanted to encompass all those horror tropes.

The arctic section is pretty much idealized as representations of movies The Thing, 30 Days of Night, Lifeforce, From Dusk till Dawn. That’s our Vampire Survivors thing, our vampire chapter.

They’re not presented as normal vampires. They’re presented as skinless beings, man-bats. You encounter the nemesis character that follows you around the entire map, which is the vampire queen.

Each of the chapters plays on different themes, this theme was climate change. You unearth this fountain of youth, you were doing scientific experiments as Paul. You’re in Alaska and thought you were finding the fountain of youth, and you’re seeing that these eternal beings are going to overrun the town.

We wanted to take from all of these EC golden age comics from the 50’s, 80’s and 90’s, and take the anthology series from that similar timeline, and put them into a newly imagined art style that’s a hybrid of its own.

Outer Terror Comics
Image: VoxPop Games

What horror movie or comic is your personal favorite?

MR: Anything that involves the references to [Outer Terror]. So, huge Creepshow fan, anything that falls within the realm of anthological horror. The essential theme is over horror stories.

My favorite movie overall is Desperado, so there’s a couple sequences in this game that play off of From Dusk till Dawn, Robert Rodriguez style stuff.

How did digital artist Joe Roman first become involved, and how much did they influence the story or mechanics?

MR: Joe Roman, or as we have always called him Chito, is a phenomenal artist that has done various gaming projects in collaboration with VoxPop.

We worked with Joe on Outer Terror mostly the same way we had done before. I worked with him to fine tune the idea and concepts of the pieces, and he takes care of the rest.

We worked to get references for Joe, for specific characters we were trying to build. Each of the characters of Outer Terror have callbacks to old school horror pulp from the 80’s and 90’s. I am a true 80’s baby so all these beats and nods are built around Chito’s vision from our direction. The balance and flow of this collaboration is truly the proudest I have been in my entire 17-year career.

Can players complete the story together in co-op mode? And are there any unique mechanics or features in co-op mode, like reviving teammates?

MR: Players can jump in and assist their partner in each scenario, so couch co-op was really built and designed around the concept of the whole “Don’t Die” earmark. All missions have that jump-in, jump out mechanic.

The best mechanics that we have focused on are the Dash system and our Hard-targeting toggle system. You can bait swarms in one direction, line them up to get a huge swarm kill, and Dash away from the onslaught.

The pattern aiming system is also unique. At any point in time, the player can choose to toggle a more twin-stick shooter vibe while engaging with specific mini-bosses and bosses.

This fluid combat system is not found in any other game, and it is something we pride ourselves in accomplishing. It feels very fun to achieve, over and over, and allows for all kinds of weird scenarios of escape, and narrow death to be avoided.

The Steam page artwork for volume five teases an ambiguous ending. Is that just thematic, or do you have plans for any DLC or sequels?

MR: No plans for formal DLC. However, the overall concept was to provide players with a huge series of horror scenarios. Currently the plan is to keep the game to its 5-episode format, to give users a truly unique horror action game that everyone can pick-up and play at any moment.

[End]

Anthony Fertino

Anthony Fertino

Anthony Fertino is a novelist and lifelong gamer, born and raised in Southern California. He's been a content writer for over 10 years, and studied film at SMC for 4 years. When he isn't playing shooters, RPGs, or indies, he's reading SFF novels and trying the latest tabletop games.

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