Breaking into the video game market is never easy, but that’s just what Cameron Tyler is aiming to do with his surprise hit game Friday Night Funkin.
Tyler, 21, the game’s programmer, said Friday Night Funkin was a “small little project” that he made just over a month ago with some friends from Newgrounds, where the game is hosted.
He and his friends – two artists and a musician – had meant it to be a small weekend project where they challenged themselves with making a full game in a short period of time as part of the Ludum Dare Game Jam, similar to November’s National Novel Writing Month.
After completing it, Tyler said he posted a demo video online which “kind of blew up overnight.” He then began receiving requests from “thousands of people” to keep developing the game. This momentum continued through the month of October, with the game even receiving fan art until Tyler officially released a web demo on Newgrounds. The interest has continued to grow.
“Now it’s at the point where it’s the highest-rated rhythm game on this website and this website is 20 years old at this point. It’s become a sort of phenomenon, I want to say. It’s a very different situation for me to put something out and get so much attention,” said Tyler, who graduated from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary and describes himself as a “good old hundy boy.”
The game is rhythm-based in the style of games like Rock Band where players are challenged with hitting keys along to the music to match the notes of the beat. Accompanying the groovy music made by KawaiSprite is animated art of the player characters and the antagonists they’re having a sing-off against, provided by animator PhantomArcade and artist evilsk8r.
Tyler has been cultivating his skill for the last four to five years on Newgrounds. Founded in 1995 this website has long been a place for artists to showcase their work in games, film, music and visual artwork, providing independent creators with a forum and platform to enhance their skills.
Tyler, who participates under the name ninjamuffin99, has made friends with a variety of people, some of whom he brought together for this project.
“The way my brain works, programming kind of came naturally. Everyone my age is very much a gamer or gaming, so I guess it just came naturally,” Tyler said.
He’s especially happy that it’s bringing attention to his friends who worked on the game with him. Getting the chance to boost Newgrounds’ profile is also something he’s also been more than happy to do.
Tyler intends to capitalize on the interest in the game and work towards putting together a full commercial release for both Steam and the Nintendo Switch. The full release would have at least 10 weeks worth of songs with different character designs and other changes that would make the game charming and replayable.
As to when the game will be released, Tyler said it’s difficult to judge how long it will take to design and pitch the game.
“This game, in particular, it’s a little taste of (game development). Is this going to get my foot in the door, you know, of independent game development?” Tyler said. “This is something that has been in my head for years and finally the work is paying off.”