E3 Underground: Sinksadventure
As part of our E3 2018 coverage, we decided to reach out to a number of indie game developers for a series of interviews highlighting some of the voices that might be overlooked amidst all of the big industry news. It's a little corny, but what else would we call it besides E3 Underground?
If you’re familiar with the name Sinksadventure (heretofore referred to as Sink), chances are it’s because of Crowtel, the colorful crow-based cute ’em up from 2016, updated and re-released in early 2017 on Steam as Crowtel: Renovations. Crowtel demonstrates a lot about Sink and her sensibilities- it’s light, colorful, and whimsical, at once simple yet also bordering on the idiosyncratic- but the whole of Sink’s artistic output and aesthetic sensibilities go far beyond the few hours of Crowtel’s gameplay, which you can whittle down to around twelve minutes if you’re a world-class speedrunner. 2017 also saw the release of Sink’s FIRST DAD, a 130+ page comic themed loosely around chain restaurants, friendship, and job interviews, with a decidedly surrealist bent. Since then Sink’s Twitter and Patreon, along with the occasional Twitch stream, have been host to a weekly outpouring of drawings, often depicting detailed scenes of everyday life with a splash of fantasy, resembling something close to traditional genre painting à la Bruegel’s The Peasant Dance by way of contemporary slice-of-life anime and manga, like Nichijou. Maybe comparisons to Flemish masters like Bruegel are overselling things a bit, but it’s clear Sink is doing something truly special, and after reaching out to her she agreed to answer some questions about her past and current work and inspirations, along with a few surprises.
How did you first get into making games? With some people who grew up playing games it’s just a natural progression of their interest; they always imagined themselves making games professionally as they grew older. Was that the path you followed, or was it more something you tried on a whim that worked out?
I started making games when I was about seven years old or so. I used a really old and bad version of GameMaker that sucked and just made Mario fan games for the most part haha! I was really awful at coding though so I didn’t really take making games seriously until I was in high school when I saw other people were actually making big full games with GameMaker. That made me excited and I wanted to see if I could do something as impressive as that!
Your last game Crowtel Renovations draws a lot of inspiration from Kero Blaster, and it’s no secret that you’re a huge fan of Super Mario 64; are there any other games that are particularly important to you, or that inform your work in some special way? If not games, are there any other specific pieces of media that you draw inspiration from?
Crowtel didn’t really take inspiration from this game, but the Bayonetta series is really important to me! Kind of in the same way that Mario 64 appeals to me Bayonetta does as well, you move really quickly and seamlessly glide through big combos, if you’re good at it the battles can feel like a dance almost haha! That might sound a little dramatic or cheesy but the combat and movement in Bayonetta is just so fun to me! Besides games I think my biggest inspiration is Nichijou and Arawi Keiichi’s art in general. That is probably obvious if you look at my drawings haha, I really admire his art style and sense of humor.
Has your putty alignment chart changed at all since you originally posted it last year? If so, what prompted the change?
Hahaha I am glad you brought this up, the addition of glue on the chaotic neutral slot of the alignment chart was always obviously me grasping at straws for one more type of putty to add to the chart. However I think I have a good replacement for it now, those tiny spherical magnets. Some would probably take issue with this as magnets are not putty in the traditional sense, however I see them as mechanically the same. You squish it in your hand and you could build weird little shapes with them. I think this qualifies them to be putty.
In the past you’ve talked about wanting to make a ROM hack for Super Mario 64, is that still something you plan on doing? What ROM hacks would you recommend for anyone looking to get into them?
Absolutely, I would totally love to make a Mario 64 ROM hack. I have an idea for a ROM hack based on a dream I had one night about a long-lost Mario game that was about Mario as an archaeologist and you go to famous landmarks finding buried treasures, taking them back to Mario’s house and decorating it with all of your goodies. This is probably what I will make in the future. Please look forward to it. I think the best ROM hack for someone starting out would be SM64 Sapphire, its not too difficult, it’s short and really well made! It is definitely one of my favorites!
You get a call on the phone- it’s Ronald McDonald. “Sink,” he says, in a measured, earnest tone, “we need your help. The Burger King broke into McDonald’s corporate and stole the design documents for all of next year’s Happy Meal toys. They’re going to put our Happy Meal toys into their kid’s meals, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve been working around the clock to come up with new toys to replace the old ones, new toys that are better than what we had before, but we’ve come up short; we need one more toy and we don’t have time to do it ourselves. We want you to make that toy, Sink, you’re the only one we can trust to do this for us. Are you in?” What’s your response, and what would your Happy Meal toy be?
Mister McDonald’s I have just the thing, it is a small cube that has a hole on every side and comes with small dowels that allow you to connect multiple little cubes to each other. Every time you get a McDonald’s Happy Meal you get another small cube and some more dowels. There are some super rare cubes that are sparkly and some that are even different shapes like a pyramid and stuff. They would be good for trading with your friends or everyone coming together as a community to make one giant creation out of these small cubes. Mister Ronald sir I hope I could help you with your problem.
Since the release of your comic FIRST DAD you’ve put a lot of focus into your drawing, sharing new drawings through your Twitter on a really consistent weekly basis in addition to putting out stickers through your Patreon and doing the occasional art stream. Do you see yourself writing another comic in the future, is that something you currently plan on doing? If so, is seeing it in print something you’ve considered, or are you happy just publishing your work digitally like with FIRST DAD?
Coincidentally I started my new comic about a week ago! This comic will be similar in tone to FIRST DAD but the art style will be totally different, I am trying to go all out with drawing it! That might make it take quite a while to be released though hehe… I would love to get this book printed, it is still pretty early on though so I don’t have any definite answer on that sadly. I hope it comes out well though and people look forward to it!
Although you haven’t released any new games since Crowtel and Crowtel Renovations, you’ve talked on Twitter about starting and stopping a number of games projects in the past two years, struggling to find something that works out the way you want it to. What has that struggle been like, did Crowtel’s success raise the bar for you in any way? Have you been able to finally find a project that sticks?
Yeah honestly it has been weird making games since I finished Crowtel Renovations. Nothing really feels good enough to me, nothing is fun enough or interesting enough for me to want to spend all the time and effort of making a little prototype into a completed game. I’ve probably worked on over ten different games since finishing Crowtel, never finishing any of them. It has been so long since I have felt happy with a game I was working on, so lately I have just stopped and focused on drawing instead like with FIRST DAD and the comic I’m working on right now. Making games just isn’t really fun for me anymore sadly. I think one day I will just suddenly find it really fun again and will finish something but right now making a game just feels like I’m forcing myself to do something I don’t want to do.
Finally, is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing from E3, any announcements or games? Is there anything from the indie games scene you’re looking forward to, anything that won’t be at E3?
Bayonetta 3 is what I’m looking forward to the most!! I only have two games on the Switch so I really want something else to play on it hahaha! I don’t know if this counts as an indie game but I want to see more about Wattam. Something I would want to see but probably won’t be there is something about a new Nier game!