Meet the Devs: PizzaTodd

Hi there pizzas! I wanted to do something different for a few weeks and give everyone a peek into the beautiful world of Pizza Club Games development team. We’re lean, being that there are only four of us, but we’re scrappy. It allows us to iterate really quickly and we love how agile we can be with Raid Boss.

Anyhow, for the next few weeks, I thought it would be fun to do a Meet the Devs series an posed some questions to the team, which they graciously answered. First up, our resident artist…Todd Gunther aka PizzaTodd.

Question: How did you end up getting into game development?

Todd: My journey into game dev came late in life. Kind of a second career. For most of my adult life I’d worked in the outdoor industry surrounded by backpacks, climbing gear, mountain bikes, backcountry skis and sea kayaks. We didn’t own a TV much less a computer, and any free time that wasn’t being spent outside was usually spent reading, playing guitar or drawing. In the late 90’s my wife and I found ourselves in a sort of limbo between jobs and living out of the back of our old 1986 Toyota pickup (by choice). When we finally settled down, I decided I didn’t want to go back into the outdoor world and wanted to pursue something in art. So I enrolled in the graphic art program at a local community college where I stumbled into a 3D art/animation class (using 3D Studio Max R2). I was instantly hooked! I loved how I could take my 2D ideas and make them come to life. It was also in this class that I met Rich, an extremely talented animator and all-round great guy! He asked if I’d ever considered working in the video game industry and said the company he was working for was looking for 3D artists. He gave me the card of his art director and as they say, the rest was history! I got my first game job in 2001 for a small studio in Carlsbad CA called Solworks, where I worked as a character artist on FaceOff for the PS2 and then moved to art lead on Atari’s Backyard Basketball title.

RIP SolWorks.

Question: When did you start working on mobile games?

Todd: After Solworks closed its doors in late 2003 I was doing some contract work for Atari when one of the artists I had worked with at Solworks called me saying that he had landed with a small company called Superscape. They had developed an early 3D mobile game engine and were making cutting edge 3D games for mobile phones. This was back pre-smartphone when the Motorola LG 7000 and Razor flip phones were cutting edge tech! We developed the first 3D mobile game for the theatrical release of Pixar’s The Incredibles as well as the first 3D mobile version of Disney’s Kingdom Hearts along with a number of original IP. It was a lot of fun working with a small team trying to figure out how to make decent looking 3D art under some extremely strict limitations. In 2008 Superscape was bought out by Glu Mobile where I was brought in remotely to work primarily on animations for the Gun Bros titles. After Glu shuttered its North American dev studios I went back to freelancing until landing with Iron Tiger studios where I worked as a lead animator on the mobile version of Lineage and Criminal Empire. This is also where I met Dan, Lisa and Ben who would later become my partners in crime here at Pizza Club Games! 🙂 

Question: What is your all-time favorite mobile game?

Todd: I’ve always loved puzzle games on mobile. Combine that with quirky art and you got me! Some favorites of mine include; Machinarium, Monument Valley, Gorogoa and Kami. There’s also a pretty sweet new game out called Raid Boss that I’ve been pretty obsessed with lately…But then I may be biased 🙂

Monument Valley is such a beautiful game. Everyone should play this at least once.

Question: What is your all-time favorite video game (non-mobile)?

Todd: SO many to name! From the first moments of stepping out into the island of Myst I’ve loved getting lost in virtual worlds! While my wife and I were traveling around the west we stayed with her sister for a few weeks where I was first introduced to Tomb Raider and the quirky stop-motion world of The Neverhood. Then ultimately to the Mother of all open world games Skyrim! I still go back and wander those mountains! I also love games with good storylines. The Last of Us, Dishonored, Life is Strange, Heavenly Sword are a few favorites.

The Neverhood was brilliant. Fully stop-motion captured with hilarious puzzles.

Question: What is the next thing you’re most looking forward to for Raid Boss?

Todd: Creating more characters for players to collect and hopefully some crazy bosses for them to battle is high on my list. I’d also love to go back and create some fun custom animations for the existing characters. I’m also just looking forward to continuing the process of developing Raid Boss with Dan, Lisa and Ben. It’s truly been an awesome year and I can’t think of three better people to create with!  I’m extremely proud and impressed with what just the four of us have been able to create. The other thing I’ve been enjoying is watching the community that’s springing up around Raid Boss. There’s some AMAZING fan art that’s been posted to our Discord channel that is truly inspiring! And seeing people coming together and enjoying this “thing” that we’ve created has been very satisfying. I know it’s a somewhat tortured metaphor, but creating a game is much like having a child. You have this creation you’ve worked on and molded over time, then you let it out into the world and watch it take on a life all it’s own. It’s been a fun adventure this past year and I hope you enjoy playing Raid Boss as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it! Here’s to more to come!

Thanks for the great answers, Todd! And thank YOU, pizzas, for continuing to support Pizza Club Games.

Stay cheesy pepperoni!

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