🎤 Interview with Akira Abe

2023年 8月 17日
Indie Tsushin 2023 August issueThis article was featured in our 2023 August issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Akira Abe of studioBBQ about creating a sense of camaraderie in the zombie action game, 7DAYS HEROES!

English (Translated)

Translated by Renkon

Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the pug talking with a giant carp.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Akira Abe, and I am a solo developer who makes games under the name studioBBQ. I do all of the planning, graphics, music, programming, and so forth. Currently, I have two games out now on Steam: Dragon’s Tower and 7DAYS HEROES. I primarily make games with pixel art, and apply my personal light approach to inject humor into the games I make.

How did you get started making games?

Before I started making games, I played bass in a band. We performed at live houses all over Japan, released CDs, and were very active. A few years ago I retired from the band due to personal reasons. That was also right around the time the COVID pandemic was going on, and thus I was trapped in my home and couldn't go out.

I figured that since I had a lot of time on my hands, I should try something new, like posting videos to YouTube, live-streaming games, and working on my homepage... I pushed myself to try everything possible. During that time, I came across some YouTube videos about video game development.

In elementary and junior high school, before I set my sights on joining a band, I used to enter in and play around with computer programming code that I got from a PC magazine. My heart danced when I learned that you could get started making games for free just by owning a computer and using a game engine.

When I was a kid, all I could do was play other people's games, but now I realized I could make my own games. Once I came to that realization, it didn't take long for me to start making my own games.

※ The band I used to be in is called winnie, and they are still active. They are really cool, so I want people all over the world to hear their music. They also provided music for games like GUITARFREAKS, jubeat, and LET IT DIE. If you are interested, I highly recommend checking out their music on YouTube!

Can you tell us about some of your favorite games and genres?

I like games with action elements. It's hard to say if this is my favorite, but I was surprised to find that I liked Call of Duty 4. The online modes are great, but the single-player campaign was excellent. I love scenes like when the player infiltrates a ship on a stormy sea, or when the player sneaks into an abandoned building to pull off an assassination attempt with a sniper rifle. It's a first-person game, but I wonder what it would be like if it were a 2D pixel art game... you can see my line of thought reflected in 7DAYS HEROES.

Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the party facing down a helicopter raining bullets on them.

Please tell us about 7DAYS HEROES!

7DAYS HEROES is a 2D pixel art action game in which you control a group of four characters to fight zombies. At its foundation, it is a side-scrolling shooting game, but you can take on various challenges throughout the stages by making use of the unique abilities of each character. There is not much replay value, but there is a lot of focus on the story, so I hope you can enjoy it in the same way you'd enjoy a movie. The Steam version (Windows) is currently on sale. An iOS version is scheduled to release on August 25.

Can you tell us about the process of making 7DAYS HEROES? Was it different from the way you made your other games?

This is only the second game I've made, so I don't have many experiences with which to compare, but I started this project by drawing a picture. Using that picture, I developed ideas on how to bring it to fruition. Since I didn't have much experience, there were many ideas I had that I wasn't sure I'd be able to realize. Since I was experimenting with ideas during the game's production, I prioritized making assets like the pixel art and music that would spark more ideas, rather than focus on the game system.

Scene from 7DAYS HEROES of the children and pug being raised in the laboratory.

What was your greatest influence when making 7DAYS HEROES?

I was influenced by games from the Famicom generation like MOTHER and Battletoads. In particular, the graphics were overwhelmingly influenced by MOTHER. Even though I wasn't doing it on purpose, it just came out that way and I couldn't stop myself.

Battletoads is an action game starring frogs, and takes place across a variety of dazzling stages. Some stages have you jump to avoid obstacles, others have you ride around on snakes, and these seemingly disparate game elements are put together well. I used this as a reference when designing the scene in 7DAYS HEROES of chasing the Phoenix while riding on a car.

I was also inspired by movies from the '80s like E.T. and Gremlins, as well as the band Weezer. And if I could, I would make Weezer's song Hero the theme song of 7DAYS HEROES. It carries the emotional spirit of the game.

I'm sure most people are the same, but I like things with a sense of humor, so I try not to forget to put that in my games as well.

What was the most challenging part of making 7DAYS HEROES?

The biggest challenge I had was creating a way to control the movement of all four characters. I was greatly influenced by the '80s PC game Sorcerian and its system of switching between party members to control their formation. But in 7DAYS HEROES, the characters are relatively spread out, so I think the movement in both games ended up being quite different.

Player actions such as double-jumping and wall-jumping prevented the characters from moving together as a group, and I was often frustrated. I sometimes thought about scrapping this system to focus only on one character.

I adjusted a lot of things so I can't really explain how I cleared this hurdle, but I can tell you that it basically took a miracle to reach the end after many attempts. I'm glad I took on the challenge because being able to control the children as a group increases the sense of going on an adventure together.

Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the pug jumping across platforms and battling a giant carp hiding behind a waterfall

Is there any one thing in 7DAYS HEROES to which you'd like to draw particular attention?

Of course I want players to enjoy the action parts of controlling the four characters, but what I really want is for players to enjoy the story. There are cut scenes between the stages that were made with pixel art, and I spent about half of the production time making these skits. I tried my best not to draw too many negative beats throughout the story.

The strong emotional connection between the three children and the pug left a strong impression on us. How did you use the stage design, character actions, etc., in order to express their relationship?

I wanted to draw attention to each character, so I structured the stages in a way that the number of party members would fluctuate.

Even though he's not very useful, is a troublemaker, and is mostly just there to be very cute, the pug ended up being the character with the most screen time in the game.

You can play as all four characters in this game, so you can say that each character is the protagonist, but the true protagonist is the pug.

As the game designer, I also made sure that there was a stage which you could only take on as the pug.

Screenshot of the party in 7DAYS HEROES standing on a ledge overlooking a pit filled with zombies

I thought that the way the player-character bots behaved really added a lot to the story of these four characters looking out for one another. Were there any difficulties implementing this feature?

Because the pathing for each character can be affected by player actions and orders such as waiting in place, there are many possible movement patterns. Because of this, it was far more difficult to implement this for all four characters rather than just one.

I wanted each of the characters to follow the one before it, but it didn't look natural if they were following too closely, so I had them maintain some distance from one another.

I adjusted the jumping distance and changed the layers that the characters moved on so that they look beautiful when they are all moving in a line.

Also, if you are not used to the game, you might accidentally leave your friends behind, so I made it so that you can't clear the stage if even one of your friends is missing.

I was satisfied with the final result of the party members feeling like they were helping one another get to the end.

If you were the fifth member of this crew, what kind of powers would you have?

I want to leave the fighting to the four characters, and act as the adult who can support them.

Do you have any indie games that you'd like to shout out? What do you like about them?

I recommend the pixel art survival game called Death Road to Canada, which is a top-down game with zombies! It's a game where your goal is to drive your car to Canada while taking on zombies.

More than anything, it has tons of zombies and the action is chaotic, but the parts where you talked with your party members in the car felt novel.

It's quite difficult, and although I've never made it to Canada, I keep trying again and again.

I played this game when I started making 7DAYS HEROES and there was a lot of overlap in elements that I envisioned for my own game, so I endeavored to make my game into the opposite of Death Road to Canada.

Title screen of Dragon's Tower

(2020) Dragon’s Tower

Can you tell us about other games you worked on in the past?

The first game I made was called Dragon’s Tower. It is on Steam, iOS, and Android. It's an action game in which you control an apprentice swordsman and defeat a dragon to rescue a princess.

This is also a 2D action game with pixel art, but it can be cleared in a few hours. The smartphone versions are free, and the Steam version is reasonably priced.

The thing I am most proud of in this game is the BGM that plays during the true ending. You can't hear it unless you play it to the very end, but I want you to do your best to be able to hear it.

Can you tell us about anything you are currently working on?

I am currently working on the iOS version of 7DAYS HEROES. I am working hard to release it this summer. I would like to spend the rest of this year continuing to try more things with 7DAYS HEROES.

I already have some ideas for games that I want to make in the future, such as a fixed-screen action game using a heavy metal band as a motif. If I make any progress on that, I will post about it on SNS.

Screenshot from 7DAYS HEROES of the enormous Phoenix flying across the screen

Do you have any messages for your players?

My dream is to create a game that people all around the world can enjoy, not just people in Japan. If you have the opportunity to play a studioBBQ game, I would be very happy if you left a review that tells me your impressions and opinions.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

日本語 Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the pug talking with a giant carp.



studioBBQとして個人でゲーム開発をしておりますアベアキラと申します。企画、グラフィック、音楽、プログラミングなど、全てひとりで行っています。現在「Dragon’s Tower」「7DAYS HEROES」の2作品がSteam(Windows)で発売中です。ドット絵のゲームを中心に、個人開発のフットワークをいかして、ユーモアのあるゲームを制作しています。



せっかく時間があるので、何か新しいことをはじめようと、YouTubeで動画を配信したり、ゲーム実況したり、ホームページ作ってみたり… 自分のやれそうなことは全部やってみました。そんな時にYouTubeでゲーム制作に関するいくつかの動画に出会いました。



※自分が在籍していたバンド「winnie」は現在も活動中で、めちゃくちゃかっこいいので、全世界の人に聞いて欲しいです。「GUITARFREAKS」「jubeat」「LET IT DIE」などのゲームにも楽曲を提供しています。サブスクやYouTubeなどでも聞けますので、興味のある方はぜひチェックしてみてください!


アクション要素が入ったゲームが好きです。一番と言われると難しいですが、意外なところだと「コールオブデューティー 4」が好きです。オンラインも最高でしたが、キャンペーンモードが秀逸でした。嵐の海で船に潜入するシーンや、廃墟となったビルに忍び込んでスナイパーライフルで暗殺を試みるシーンが気に入ってます。FPSのゲームですが、2Dのドット絵になったらどうなるんだろう… というイメージが「7DAYS HEROES」にも反映されています。

Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the party facing down a helicopter raining bullets on them.

この度の「7DAYS HEROES」という作品についてご紹介お願いします。

「7DAYS HEROES」は4人のキャラの隊列を操作してゾンビと戦うドット絵の2Dアクションゲームです。基本は横スクロールのガンシューティングですが、4人のキャラの特性を活かして様々なステージに挑戦できます。やり込み要素は低いですが、ストーリーに重点をおいていますので1本の映画を見るような感覚で楽しんでいただけると幸いです。現在Steam版(Windows)が販売中です。8月25日にiOS版での販売も予定しています。

「7DAYS HEROES」を作成するにあたり、最も影響を受けたものは何ですか。


「バトルトード」はカエルが主人公で、多彩なステージが魅力のアクションゲームですが、ジャンプで障害物を避けるだけのステージとか、蛇にのって移動するステージとか、一見バラバラなゲームデザインをうまくまとめていて、「7DAYS HEROES」でも車に乗って不死鳥を追いかけるシーンで参考にしています。



Scene from 7DAYS HEROES of the children and pug being raised in the laboratory.

「7DAYS HEROES」を作るときに、どのようなプロセスで作成しましたか。他のゲームを作るときと何か違いがありますか。


「7DAYS HEROES」を作成するにあたり最も挑戦したことなどはありますか。

制作にあたり一番のチャレンジは、4キャラの隊列を操作するところです。4キャラを切り替えて隊列を操作するシステムは80年代のPCゲーム「ソーサリアン」に多大な影響を受けていますが、「7DAYS HEROES」ではキャラが割とバラバラに動くので、動きとしてはかなり異なると思います。



Screenshot of 7DAYS HEROES of the pug jumping across platforms and battling a giant carp hiding behind a waterfall

「7DAYS HEROES」において、プレイヤーに伝えたいこだわったポイントなどありますか。







Screenshot of the party in 7DAYS HEROES standing on a ledge overlooking a pit filled with zombies










「Death Road to Canada」というトップビューのゾンビがでてくるドット絵のサバイバルゲームがオススメです!車で移動しながら、ゾンビと戦ってカナダを目指すゲームです。



「7DAYS HEROES」を作り始めた時にこのゲームをプレイして、自分が思い描いていたゾンビゲームを体現していたので、このゲームとは逆のゲームを作ろうと思いました。

Title screen of Dragon's Tower

(2020) Dragon’s Tower


一番最初に作ったゲームになりますが「Dragon’s Tower」というゲームです。Steam版iOS版Android版があります。見習い剣士を操作してドラゴンを倒して姫を救い出すアクションゲームです。




現在は「7DAYS HEROES」のiOS版を制作中です。今夏中にリリースする予定で頑張っています。今年いっぱいは引き続き「7DAYS HEROES」で色々とチャレンジしたいと考えています。


Screenshot from 7DAYS HEROES of the enormous Phoenix flying across the screen




studioBBQYou can follow studioBBQ on Twitter @bbq_studio and YouTube. Find more of their games on Steam.