Hopefully you’ll be able to save the world in early 2013 by traversing multiple dimensions wearing only a mask and some fancy pants. To shorten the wait just a tiny bit we had a talk with Graham Smith of Toronto-based developer DrinkBox about the upcoming and wonderfully titled Guacamelee.
PSM: Some of the support for the game comes from the SCEA Pub Fund. We assume the fund isn’t made up of British people spinning around on bar stools with their pints, so what exactly it is and how does it work? Is it like a Kickstarter, only cooler?
Graham Smith: Ha! It’s pretty different from Kickstarter in that you don’t get any money until the project is done. The Pub Fund is essentially an advance on royalties for your game. You agree with Sony up front on the lump sum amount, and then when your game ships, you get that amount. It’s appealing because it helps you alleviate much of the risk of putting a game out there. Even if your game is great, it might not have the mass appeal to be a financial success, and knowing that you are going to get at least a minimum amount helps you sleep a bit better at night.
PSM: Before your journey into the mexican folklore and all things Lucha libre, what were you up to?
Graham Smith: Well, we made two Blobby games, the first was on PS3 (PSN) called Tales from Space: About a Blob, and the second was a PSVita launch title Tales from Space:Mutant Blobs Attack. Both of the games are puzzle platformers. Mutant Blobs Attack has been pretty successful for us, and has recently also been released on Steam. Check it out!
PSM: The game reminds us of the rather splendid title Outland in terms of gameplay. Did you draw inspiration from this or other games in the same genre?
Graham Smith: We heard about Outland some time after we started pitching Guacamelee to publishers. I only recently picked the game up (as part of a PS+ promotion) and have been playing it. There are definitely some similar feelings in the way they do the dark/light swapping, especially when fighting enemies that are different colours. The platforming feels really different between our games however. I feel like their game draws more of the challenge from the bullet-hell aspects, while we have much more of a puzzle-oriented focus on our platforming challenges.
PSM: For all we know, wearing a mask and kicking ass in 2 dimensions might not always have been Juan’s destiny. Did you decide on the style and story from the getgo, or was Juan originally a river dancing chap named Angus from Ireland?
Graham Smith: The title of the game, and the characters were actually the first things that were determined for the game. These were pitched to the team by our resident Mexican, Augusto, and then the team sat down and brainstormed a game around these aspects.
PSM: We always hear of great ideas being ditched in the process of creating a game. Are there any sorely missed mechanics or ideas stuck in the nooks and crannies of a piñata on a field somewhere, or that you had to cut for some reason or another?
Graham Smith: Initially there was going to be another third dimension called the World of Nightmares. This was the home of massive creatures (called Alebrijes) that the player would be fighting throughout the course of the game. Unfortunately we were a bit ambitious with this, and much of it has been cut at this point. We managed to get one of these giant guys in to the game though, and you can the Alebrije in some of the footage taken at PAX East.
PSM: To kill a Pollo. Or rather not! Of all beastly things, what’s up with the chicken?
Graham Smith: Believe it or not, the chicken power is actually now an important part of the story of the game. Initially though, the chicken was introduced as a NPC that ran around in the town. One day one of the designers (Teddy) decided to hook a controller up to this character and jump around. It worked really well, and we decided to try and incorporate it as a power in the game. The chicken form can be used to squeeze in to small spaces, similar to the Morph Ball in Metroid.
PSM: Talk to us about the PlayStation Vita. How awesome is it?
Graham Smith: As a gamer, I love my Vita. I just got back from vacation in New Orleans, and I spent a lot of time playing the new Little Big Planet game during the trip. As a developer, the Vita is surprisingly easy to work with. The tools are really great, and there are so many options from a design standpoint on how to use the many features it offers.
PSM: How long is the campaign expected to last for the average player, and except for co-op, have you done anything else to add replayability for the average sombrero loving gamer?
Graham Smith: Right now we expect the game to clock in at 5-6 hours for an average player. There are a ton of secrets and power-ups that will be scattered around the game world, which we hope people will want to try to find. There are also a couple of very challenging optional sections in the game (platforming and combat challenges) that we hope that people will enjoy trying to beat!