Interview with “Dustforce” creators, Hitbox Team

I was very pleased with Dustforce, one of the latest featured indie games on the Steam platform.  Its a marriage of precision controls and style with a fantastic soundtrack to boot.  I asked creators Hitbox Team if they would like to sit down and answer some questions and they were kind enough to respond.  Hit the jump for the full interview!
First off, who all is on your team, where are you from and what did you do before working on Dustforce?

Woodley Nye: I’m the artist/designer on Dustforce. I did animation at college, but worked mostly in 3D. I then spent a lot of time doing absolutely nothing but playing/analyzing games, and then we started prototyping stuff in my mom’s shed.

Lexie Dostal: I do all the game code for Dustforce.  I started out making little games in high school, and later went on to study game design at college.  A year passed of not learning anything substantial, so I dropped out, but i was lucky enough to meet Matt. Everything I know about making games is self taught or through discussions with our team.

Matt Bush: I’m coding the engine that powers Dustforce, currently in Brisbane, Australia. I went to a game development college for a year where I met Woodley and Lexie before I dropped out.  P.S. Don’t go to a game development college, unless you’re going to meet Woodley and Lexie there.

Terence Lee:  I’m a developer from Ohio where I studied software engineering and art.  I made my own games instead of paying attention to classes.  I met the rest of the team when they came to the US for a contest they won with an early version of Dustforce.  I joined them shortly afterwards to work on the sound and music for the game.

 

Could you summarize what sort of game Dustforce is to you?  What’s your “elevator pitch” to people who have never heard of it?

Terence: Dustforce is a game about elegantly maintaining your momentum in precarious situations.  The context of this is a 2D platformer where you play as an acrobatic janitor, sweeping off dust from the walls, ceiling, and objects.

What was your major inspiration(s) for creating Dustforce?  Any games, movies, books, music or even life experiences that might have influenced it?

Terence: Our primary inspirations for Dustforce are Super Smash Bros Melee, Nikujin and N.  I think Dustforce is unique in how it combines maneuverability and combat in a way that rewards successful play with a satisfying, unbroken sense of flow.

 

After playing Dustforce, I felt like the game was incredibly challenging, how hard do you think this game should feel to a new player?

Terence: Dustforce is intended to be quite difficult, because we wanted it to be a game about real player growth. Older games used to push players to their limits – likewise, we want players to really feel like they are actually getting better at the game instead of just luckily stumbling through it after enough brute force.  Getting the full experience of the game isn’t just encountering all of the levels, art, and music – the full experience is the journey of earning it all.

 

When I was doing my review of the game I kept coming back to Sonic the Hedgehog, I felt like this game really “gets” that style of fast-paced, yet difficult platforming.  Are you fans of Sonic and/or was it any sort of influence, or is this just coincidental?

Terence: We didn’t really look to Sonic for inspiration – instead of speed, we were more focused on maneuverability and precision.

On another personal note while playing, I wasn’t feeling the game completely until I  hooked up my game controller to it, suddenly the game just made sense and the controls were much smoother.  Do you have any plans to port this to consoles such as through the Xbox Live Arcade or PSN where a controller would be native?

Terence: We’re still working on adding in other features, like the level editor and Mac and Linux versions.  We’re not at the point yet to be thinking about console versions, but we’ll get there soon.

 

Now that your game is released, is there anything you would have added, changed or just done differently?

Terence: We are happy with the choices we made, given the limited time and manpower that we had.  In our next projects, we hope to prototype our ideas more – there were a few instances where we used up a lot of time on some ideas that didn’t end up being fun enough to make it into the game.

 

What has it been like working with Steam as your distributor?  Any good or bad experiences?

Matt: Working with Valve has been good – it was pretty simple to get everything discussed and set up, meaning we could focus more on just making the game.

The music for this game is incredible and I can already hear people clamoring for the soundtrack (myself included), do you have any plans for one?  And on a related note, have you produced anything outside of this game in terms of music?

Terence: Thanks!  Yes, the soundtrack is now available at Bandcamp here: http://lifeformed.bandcamp.com.  Dustforce is my first finished musical project – I will definitely have more in the future.

 

Lastly, I know its a little early, but what’s next in store for Hitbox?  Have you made any plans for another game or even a follow-up to Dustforce?

Lexie: Matt is working on the Mac and linux builds, so they should be out shortly. We plan on releasing the level editor and some more levels in an upcoming update, as a way of saying thanks to the public for supporting us. After that, who knows? We have a lot of game ideas that we want to work on, but we will see where the road leads us.

 

Thank you to everyone at Hitbox for taking the time to answer my questions and best of luck to all your future endeavors!  You can find Dustforce on Steam for $9.99!

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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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