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This episode is the first two-parter dev interview we’ve done. We love doing these interviews, and we found that we wanted to keep as much of this interview from the cutting room floor as we could. As such, we’re releasing a (largely) unedited version of the recording
save for a few tweaks and some post-production magic from Squidge
so that you can listen to our almost 2.5 hour conversation with Charles.
Also, the guest for this episode is Charles Griffiths. He’s one of the masterminds behind the amazing Sexy Brutale
but for copyright reasons, it is completely different
The usual rules the Thunder Plain Games are:
You have been trapped in the Thunder Plains
You will get help, at some point in the future
Before you are sent there, you can pick a number of video games to take with you
You can have an Internet connected game, if you wish
But you cannot tell anyone that you are stuck in the Thunder Plains or ask for help
Final Fantasy VI
Squidge calls this Soul Blade in the episode.
it was known as Soul Edge in Japan, and Soul Blade everywhere else
Resident Evil Gaiden
Because of course Squige brings up Resident Evil Gaiden again. Here’s a screenshot of the battle mode in action:
And while discussing RE Gaiden, we talked about the Sega Game Gear. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent blog post that I’d written about the whole Game Gear mini thing.
I’ve noticed that since writing that blog post, the folks who were all "I’ll never buy Sega again" are back on Sega’s bandwagon
And those were the folks who were perpetuating the rumour that it was a Dreamcast 2, too
something something gotta get those YouTube views, right?
The Sexy Bruale
What’s in a Name?
The first thing thing that we challenged Charles on was the name:
To us, it’s the same thing as "Moulin Rouge", right. It’s just the name of the place… you have the glamour of gambling, and the very hard edge to what gambling is.
And what’s great about being an indy developer is that you can call your product whatever you want. Which is pretty cool to have that freedom, to be honest. And sometimes, you can just make a name work:
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
A Scritch in Ipswich
And suddenly I hit us all with a stupid “joke” from programming:
There’s two things that are difficult in computer programming: naming things, cache invalidation, and off-by-one errors
But What’s The Sexy Brutale All About?
I only agreed to do this interview because I didn’t know how to pronounce Boon’s first name
Charles drops some knowledge on how The Sexy Brutale was a slightly different game when it was in development. Although the styling of the game weren’t finalised at the start, it was something that the team were moving towards from the start: Bobble-head characters running around an area in an isometric view.
Views and Puzzles
Every room has it’s own distinct angle… rather than have the perfect, crisp line, that you can get from having everything uniform, I think it’s more important to have the ability to refresh the eye and give it more life
We all agree that the ability to refresh the eye, and move around freely is a lot better than the old SCUMM games where you end up pixel hunting because the puzzles use Moon Logic, and end up being so infuriatingly stupid that you have to call the helpline in order to get the solution.
Getting the difficulty of the puzzles right is so very difficult to get right:
Difficulty is difficult
Aspiring games designers will want to really pay attention to this part of the interview; Charles drops some really deep knowledge on how to design puzzles such that they aren’t that difficult that they put people off, but also not too difficult that folks discount them out of hand immediately. And they’re not just points which apply specifically to puzzle games, too.
[looking at it with fresh eyes] is one of the most important skills for a games designer
I really liked the conversation about the time loop, as it really underscores the idea of making it difficult for the gamer to get too upset about having to wait for the loop to end and start again. Another instance of a tight game loop is Shenmue, which has a full day
albeit a "day" being from 8am to 11pm
going by in around 15 minutes.
Reduce the penalties [to nothing] and you end up with a game that’s really flat
The element of struggle can make a game fun, as long as it’s not too much of a struggle. Which is the key point to take away from this part of the episode, I think.
Remember to check out part two when it drops - it’s due out one week from the release of this episode. Unless you’re reading these notes in the future