Hello all! I’ve slowed down a lot on the blog as you guys know. Don’t worry, SPFBO interviews are still going, and I have quite the backlog to get through. Rest assured everyone who has sent in responses will be featured, just taking a bit longer than I expected. Be gentle!
Now, I haven’t had many gamedev interviews lately. However, I’m happy to bring you guys the chance to hear from a really cool indie gamedev team! These guys are a family unit who are behind Popup Dungeon, a fascinating papercraft roguelike RPG that lets you create any weapon, ability, enemy, hero, and game imaginable. I picked up the game over the weekend and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it so far. I highly recommend it.
Click on the icon below to be taken to the game on Steam!
Also, to check out my previous gamedev interviews, here is a list of them down below:
Without further delay, here is the interview with the man himself!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?
My name is Enrique C. Dryere, and I developed Popup Dungeon along with my brother who focused on programming and my wife who did most of the 2D art.
What does being a game designer actually mean?
I feel like game design is a very broad field. The goal of one game designer can be very different from another. It’s sort of like defining yourself as a director, but not specifying if you’re directing a TV series, a movie, a commercial, a music video, or a play. For us, our goal is to create a game that provides a lot of replayability and flexibility. Maybe someday we’ll do a tight, controlled experience instead, but our favorite games have always leaned towards a more open-ended, explorative experience.
There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years about micro transactions in gaming. Not so much an opinion, but why do games tend to cut out content to sell later as DLC and lootboxes? Is it to do with development costs? Or is it time related?
Popup Dungeon stands firmly against that trend by empowering players to create their own DLC. Typically, I think it has to do with the basics of capitalism: maximizing profit. Microtransactions are only necessary for a game’s finances if that’s the way it was planned.
Tell us about your current project.
Popup Dungeon is a bit of a passion project, seven years in the making. Its primary goal is to turn players into game developers by lowering the bar to entry as much as possible and enabling cooperative development. Although making a game will perhaps never be “easy” we’ve made it as easy as we could! The game automatically balances abilities and handles their AI, regardless of what you throw at it. It turns 2D images into 3D cutouts. And very importantly, it unifies player creations so that they will play well with one another. I think we’ve built up a respectable library of media and game assets for players to get started with over the last seven years, but you can import your own images and sounds. We used these assets to create the 50+ hours of game you’ll get right out of the box!
As anyone who creates anything, we must all deal with criticism from consumers. How do you go about it particularly in the prolific and viral standard of gaming today?
I think it’s very important to remember that not everyone is going to like what you make. If you go look up reviews for your favorite games and movies ever, you’re going to run into some negative ones. With that in mind, it’s also vital to listen to feedback and respond to common complaints and concerns. I view myself as an employee of everyone who purchased the game. If it were possible, I’d like to satisfy everyone, but in the end one of the toughest skills to learn as a creator is which feedback to act upon to please the greatest number of your audience, knowing that many of the changes you make could displease a number of your audience as well.
What advice would you give budding developers into taking the plunge into game design?
I only recommend pursuing game design if you’re very passionate about it. There are far easier ways to make money, that’s for sure! And give Popup Dungeon a try! 😉 It’s a great way to dip a toe in game design.
If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?
I definitely don’t have as much time for games as I’d like. When I do have time, it’ll typically be a game I can play with friends. For a good while, that was Smash Bros. Recently, due to COVID, it’s been one MMO or the other. We played Everquest, yes Everquest 1, for a few months.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Simply: my love of games. Before I made them, I spent almost all day every day playing them. It’s a miracle I even graduated college!
What is the hardest part of your job?
The part I dislike the most is having to promote it, but unfortunately it’s very important.
What was your favorite thing about game development? Is there anything you find difficult or challenging in dealing with the struggles?
My favorite part is typically the planning phase, during which the bulk of design takes place. But in the case of Popup, my favorite part was creating the characters, enemies, and campaigns, simply because it was so easy compared to previous projects.
During development, staying motivated and passionate for a whole seven years is probably the hardest thing we had to do.
What lessons have you learned from your first game?
We learned a few things from Ring Runner (our first game), but making the game more accessible was high on our priority list. We’re still working to make Popup more accessible. We’d like to make it easy to play but very difficult to master. I think we’ve somewhat achieved that, but there’s lots to learn in Popup, so we’re still working to make it easier.
What are your future project(s)?
We’re going to focus on Popup Dungeon for a while longer, but we’d like to create another game within the engine. Our current plan is to make Dungeons and Deuces, another game we designed while working on Popup. It’s an RPG system that uses playing cards and poker hands to handle combat. Thanks to Popup’s engine and assets, we should be able to finish this game much faster!
If you couldn’t be a game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?
As long as it’s creative and productive, I think I could adapt. I feel like I need to create something in order to feel fulfilled.
What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?
We would develop an MMORPG without quest hubs and a strongly player-driven world.
Many thanks for the interview Enrique! I have very high hopes in Popup Dungeon. In fact, I won’t be surprised if this game makes it to my Top 10 games of 2020 list. But we shall see, there’s still a lot to go!