Current Articles Features Interviews

Interview: Adam (helpcomputer0, Indie Developer)

The homebrew development scene is absolutely on fire for the Master System and Genesis, and there are lots of talented people out there working on new titles that continue to breathe life into these cherished consoles. Adam, a pixel artist and programmer who goes by the username helpcomputer0, has been working on several games for different platforms, including the Master System. He graciously took some time to chat with us about his projects, including the upcoming Frontier Force.


Sega-16: How did you start making games?

Adam: I started by modding various games in the early 2000s, such as Half-Life/Counter-Strike and Civilization II. From there, I wanted to make my own games, and as there weren’t many “game maker” type apps at the time, I decided to learn C Language. Then I made basic platformers and shooters using the SDL framework.

Sega-16: You’ve made games for several styles and formats, including a neat Virtua Cop demake. Tell us a bit about those projects.

Adam: The Virtua Cop demake came about spontaneously back when I was taking part in game jams more often. I rarely saw anything inspired by the Sega Master System (SMS), so I chose that system and then wanted to choose a classic Sega franchise that wasn’t on the SMS. The relatively simple gameplay (aim and shoot) also lends itself well to a short game jam.

Sega-16: What got you into developing for the Master System? What attracted you to it?

Adam: The SMS was the first console I owned as a kid, and I’ve always loved it’s colourful palette. I stumbled upon the idea to develop for it as I saw a shared post on Twitter/X about the “SMS devkit” and wanted to see how easy it would be.

Sega-16: What kind of tools do you use to develop your games?

Adam: I use Visual Studio Code for programming, Aseprite for pixel art, and Tiled for tilemap making. I sometimes use Construct 3, which is a Game Maker-like app and is good for prototyping. I also really like the Pyxel engine, which is a retro game engine for Python. It’s also a good platform to prototype ideas.

Sega-16: How did Blast Arena originate?

Adam: This was a game I prototyped in Pyxel several months earlier. I got interested in SMS dev around the same time and thought it would be a good fit to practice SMS dev. It wasn’t really heavily inspired by anything, but I played games like Geometry Wars and Robotron 2084 when developing it.

Sega-16: Have you thought about expanding it or making a sequel?

Adam: I like the idea of console games being finished, even if they’re short, buggy, or even broken, so if I went back it would need to be a sequel or spinoff. It’s a pretty basic game, so there’s plenty of ways to expand it.

Sega-16: Frontier Force was inspired by Power Strike and Space Harrier, correct? What elements of those classic Master System games stood out for you?

Adam: I took different elements from each game. Power Strike I/II are some of the best 8-bit shmups around and just fun to play. Compile are one of my favourite developers too, and I wanted to dig into what makes their games feel good. Space Harrier is more about the crazy artwork and world design. I love how weird it is.

Sega-16: The game has some huge bosses. Are you trying to push the hardware? Are there any new tricks you’d like to make the Master System do?

Adam: I don’t think I can push it technically, although I have plenty of help on the SMS Power forum. I’d say I’m trying to push it graphically, and although I’m not the greatest pixel artist, I do have time to polish things more than some retro developers did. There are some great-looking older games (Aladdin, Phantasy Star, Wonder Boy III), but a lot were (understandably) rushed that could’ve looked much better.

Sega-16: How is the game’s development coming along? Do you have a tentative release date?

Adam: The easy/fun part of development is almost over (graphics and mechanical design), and I’m beginning to build the stages and enemy routines. It’s a lot of trial and error to squeeze out the fun. Release date… I want to say 2024, but that might mean it’s 2025.

Sega-16: How has the experience of developing for the Master System been for you? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Adam: I prototyped the game in Python, but I didn’t test the mechanics enough before beginning development on the SMS version, and it cost me some time to redesign. Not perhaps done differently, but I’d like to work solely on the pixel art for a future SMS project and see how that pans out.

Sega-16: What are your plans after Frontier Force? Would you like to see physical releases for it and your other work?

Adam: I’m hoping that Frontier Force will be worth a physical release (not just a pretty box), so will be looking into it once the game is done.


Our thanks to Adam for talking with us. Be sure to check out his developer page, portfolio, and social media for information on Frontier Force and his other games.


Leave a Comment