Secret Ponchos Dev, Yousaf: An Interview

Hey guys! We’ve got a treat for you today. Yousaf, at Switchblade Monkeys, was nice enough to do an interview with us!

He is currently working on Secret Ponchos, a top down pvp spaghetti western game. The gameplay focuses on character position in combat and very unique move sets from character to character, similar to that of a fighting game. The cool twist to this equation is the control scheme. Its a twin stick shooter.

Secret Ponchos is currently in the early access on steam for $14.99 and includes a free gift copy so you and a friend can check it out!

Yousaf was nice enough to take the time out of his day to answer some questions for us. Enjoy!


1. What made you want to design games for a living?

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The CGI intros of games in the 90’s really blew my mind, they would always be so exciting to watch whenever a new game came out.  One that really struck a chord with me was the Soul Blade Intro on PS1… I  can still remember Mitsurugi cutting down enemies in the wheat fields, and Taki jumping off the temple roof.  At the time I was playing a lot with computer animation, and these intros were so inspirational to watch that I would work endlessly on my own intros and Cinematics.

2. What was the biggest road block you have run into during the development of Secret Ponchos?
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Switchblade Monkeys is not a traditional studio,  we’re a group of friends who decided to pool our skills and make our own game in our basements.  So we always have had to find ways of making the game without Publisher dollars behind us. There were times when it did not look like realistically we could bring our game to market. In those cases we decided to use our energy to keep making content, instead of worrying about the financial realities and opportunities seem to present themselves at the last minute.
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3. Which modes will be available when the game is released?
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The game has a lot of variety for a fighting game, you can fight 1 vs 1,  team up with your friends for Gang Fights, or get in shootouts with up to 8 Players.  To break it down,  there are 3 major types of Game Modes,  DeathMatch, Domination, and Free For All and then different player counts within each mode.   Deathmatch is a last man standing mode,  once you gun down an opponent on the opposing team, they stay dead until the end of the round. This mode is very tactical, every bullet that hits you matters, so people take cover, protect each other and play smart. It can be played 1v1, 2v2, or 4v4.
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Another mode is called “Domination” and its essentially a gun fighting a tug of war. You are trying to get 5 kills ahead of the enemy team.. The first team to achieve this wins.  You respawn on death, but you have to be careful not to feed or you’ll put the enemy gang closer to their goal.
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The last mode is Free for all, where 8 players all are on their own.. Your score is the difference between your Kills and your Deaths. 
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All of our modes penalize death, to create an environment where spamming your way through is not productive.
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4. What is the first thing you will do once Secret Ponchos is released?
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Play online with real Players! This will not only be fun, but puts us in position to be ready for player feedback so we can pounce on developing Patch 1. We plan on supporting this game actively after launch, and expanding / improving what it can do over time. 
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We also need to make sure we catch any mistakes we have made right away.  As prepared as you think you are, going into a multiplayer launch is going to reveal anything you did not think of, or edge cases you missed in testing.  There just is a huge difference between an internal Dev team connecting with each other, and 500,000 users connecting with each other from across the world.  We’re all going to be ready to jump on any problems discovered so we can get Patch 1 integrated with any fixes.. If nothing needs fixing, then we can go straight into continuing new features and content for the game.
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5. Are there any features that didn’t make it into the final product, that would had previously worked on?
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We have had to put AI for enemy-hoards on the back burner, and the Legendary “Gordo” did not make it into the game, as we swapped him with a new character “The Matador” when we switched engines. She was just so unique in terms of having a Matador fighting gun fighters, that we could not refuse her.  We miss Gordo and are continuing to develop him as an expansion character.  AI hoard mode is something that we really want to continue developing,  While It was the right decision to put it on hold to focus on making sure we do  the multiplayer properly, but we are looking forward to working on that mode again 🙂
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6. Who is your favorite character in the game?
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Everyone on the team actually gravitated to a different character which is very interesting.  We have a large portion of our team that plays regularly during testing,  Tony (Casper) uses Phantom Poncho.  Yous (me) uses Killer,  Jared (Dirty fry) uses Kidred, and so does Chris_SBM.  Steve uses the Deserter, and Spiffy uses The Matador.  I like the Killer because he’s a precision character, and if you land your shots he’s very effective and you feel super efficient.  The thing with Killer is if you miss a shot, he has a long recovery and he can be easily punished.  Each character has their own Rhythms and quirks, so it really exposes your play style. 
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7. Out of your team, who is the best at the game?
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It changes a bit.. Tony (Casper) was dominating our matches,  but he’s been away working from Hong Kong for a few weeks, without access to a test kit – and I’ve been testing the PS4 build so much that I rediscovered new ways of using my character.  I am counting down days for his return  I am going to give him a beat down when he’s back! 
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8. Are there any tips you would give someone who is interested in making games?
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Just dive in and start creating, do not over think things and let that be a barrier to start. The experience you get each time you create is invaluable, and those tiny projects that you create at the start end up becoming the foundation of awesome skills & knowledge down the road.

And there you have it guys! Thanks again to Yousaf for taking the time to do this review with us! Make sure to check out their site at secretponchos.com and for more updates on the game follow them on twitter @switchblademkys.
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Enjoyed this interview? Want us to interview your favorite dev or talk about your favorite game? Let us know in the comments! 

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